Death is there to be considered

She was so kind, kindness that had patience for everyone, I don’t even know if you can call it patience she was genuinely interested, listened and care what anyone had to say to her. She was the person if you went grocery shopping with and she met someone familiar, you would go “O, no!”. Because there she would be listening and me waiting.

In a family where the rule is the loudest gets heard, she was the calm middle point with us the chaotic tornado forming around her. Middle sister to two dominant sisters and two manchild brothers where blame and judgement were thrown around as if it was a tennis match. Who would win by being the loudest with the best stinging comment, Ego’s flaring up. I can never remember her being part of any of it. She would hear my hurt and celebrate my victories.

With being that kind she was praised by people who needed attention and unappreciated in a fast pacing world were people don’t have time for human contact, she would be seen as uncool and weak. People she knew would look the other way, ignore her in plain sight and it hurt her. Because she was such a good listener, they would impose their opinions on her and she being the person who listens and considers everyone would drown in everyones opinions even though she was the most educated out all of them.

Then she got cancer.

I will never know what insights she received when she heard she had cancer but she kept quiet. She went alone, and even her husband didn’t know. When her husband discovered, she made him swear to not say anything and this went on for two years. Then she confided to her older sister, but she being who she is told the youngest. And she was so angry. She was never angry but now she was so angry. Her sisters couldn’t understand the secrecy, “but we are your family”.

When I discovered something was off it was a mistake. Everything was always so vague, you never were able to know what was going on and the C word was never used. She downplayed it constantly. I was worried and asked for a meeting of the ones who knew. I will never forget how closed of she was. The person who was most kind and open to me through my life was now so stubborn and closed off. I try to ask what was the plan and she just mumbled and jumbled us, got us off track of the point. Now no ones opinions were welcome with the most important choice how to stay alive.

She kept it all so private it became a mystery. People around us who have been though it asked questions and us as family couldn’t answer basic questions. As if we all were with our head in the clouds. She kept it so positive, private and vague that actually it did gave me the perfect excuse to have my head way up in the clouds. I see now how people were giving very carefully implied suggestions. As my best friend suggesting to write a journal of all she did and said. I could just not capture. My ignorance even made me selfish. Instead of staying awake with her, while she had these insane backaches she said was her osteoporosis, I would come from a night out find her awake talk for ten minutes and say “ok see you later”.

She also never asked. Her never asking was so severe even on her dying bed, she couldn’t ask her daughter to fly home. When we the family asked her daughter to come fast as her mother couldn’t, she started about exams etc. I don’t blame her daughter because she kept it all so vague and continued on so normal that how can we suddenly comprehend that it is the end of her life. Especially for her daughter that was afar and kept even more in the dark of the situation. She had a genuine fear of telling her daughter anything about it. As I mentioned the C word was never even used.

You can judge all you want now but I believe she really truly believed she was going to heal. So much that her believe became our believe. It was just a hick up, nothing to grave. When she passed away and we got a a scan from her doctor, it was everywhere. It had eaten her whole body. I don’t have to explain to you the backaches had nothing to do with osteoporosis.

You must think it can’t be. The thing is when someone hides their pain so much and is so stubbornly positive and even just the thought of losing that person would hurt so much, you seem to just want to join that positivity. Even when this little creature did start to eat at you, something isn’t right, we humans are masters of ignoring what we don’t want to admit. She kept everyone outside and us her family she took to the land of Oz, she was the wizard. The one that we’re afraid she bestowed courage on, the ones with thoughts of panic she dismissed with positivity and the ones with a doubting hearts she swirled with believe. She kept us all in a daze of calmness.

Then she died

And the curtain came down. I am left with a confusion of her as a good good woman but a bad bad wizard. So now do I remember her for the most kindest, supportive, positive influence she was for me through my life or the secretive, stubborn, confusing influence she was to us at the end of her life. I love her for always but she didn’t give us a goodbye while we could have made every last moment special if we could accept what was happening but that’s my lesson to learn. Nothing is more important than your loved ones, no sleep, no tiredness, no avoiding uncomfortable feelings, no turning a blind eye. You have to be fully present and fully truthful in your presence. Death is part of life. It doesn’t matter how old, what was left to do, who is left behind.

Death is there to be considered, not in fear or panic and yes the taste is bitter bitter bittersweet because you know you can still touch, hear, see, feel, talk, stroke the loved one now while you will be left with an empty presence soon while it hurts to much now how even when truly gone. But the fight against death also steals so much of us. Words to be said, insight that should have been shared, memories to reminisce on, longer lasting hugs to be felt, tears to be shed together, details to be discussed.

8 months have passed and finally the daze she left me under is wearing off and I feel grief. The tears are hard to find which seems weird when grieving but the effort of participating in life, the effort to be attentive to the ones left, the effort to accept. Being busy with daily life facades it, avoiding her house and her widow husband does the trick but then Christmas is arriving and with every Christmas ornament the facade is decaying. Her favorite holiday brings the first time she won’t be there. No head in the clouds only feet on the ground, as the curtains are down and I have to return home.




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Suyin Ridderstaat

Suyin Ridderstaat

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