No truth can cure the grief & sadness we feel from losing a mother. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it. My mother ensured I learnt one of life’s biggest lesson – there is love in holding and there is love in letting go.

Early morning on the 19th of May 2021, my father opened my bedroom door and the way it was opened told me something had happened. He said, “Uma, Mamma is feeling unwell & breathless.” I was out in a moment and walked into my parents’ room. My mother was sitting on her bed and was struggling to breathe, rasping sounds coming through. She could not sit up for long and when I went to her bed to hold her, she used me as her support.

My father sat next to her trying to comfort her and also call the doctor. She held on to his hand and leaned against me.

All her attention was on trying to breathe easily. That was not to be. Something that all human beings take for granted, became a laborious task for Mamma as every second went by. I asked Pappa to call Shekatkar Uncle, our neighbour and Shivaji, our driver. We just had to get her to the hospital. Pappa slowly extricated his hand and stepped out of the room to do the same. It took him five minutes to come back followed by Shekatkar Uncle.

Those were the longest five minutes of my life.

Mamma was cradled in my arms and lying on her bed. Her breathing was slowing down and I foolishly thought that she is getting better because the rasping had come down. I kept calling out to her and she squeezed my hand a couple of times in response. At the same time, every second I could sense her slipping away. The essence of her life was weakening by the moment and there was nothing I could do to strengthen it for her. So I did what I thought would bring her some comfort and ease – I continued to hold her, stroked her back and kept talking to her. What I spoke I have no idea. I was just a paradox of emotions. I could not bear to see her gasping and wanted her misery to end. I wanted her to recover from whatever pain she was going through.  All I could recall later was the feeling of being submerged in Mamma’s experience the last few minutes.

Pappa came in at 0550 and it was as if she knew. I felt her last breath go out and she was gone.

Mamma spoke about how she wanted to die a couple of times with some of us in the family. She always said that she never wanted to be bed ridden or die in a hospital. She prayed that she would never have organ failures and be miserable. She just wanted her breathing to stop and God answered her prayers.

It has been two weeks now and when I look back, I feel blessed that I was able to spend time with her in the last four weeks of her life and I was with her on her last morning. Mamma had me in her womb for nine months, fed & nurtured me, and passed on life’s essence to me. I can never give back to her what she gave me. That I could just hold her in those few minutes is something I will always be grateful for.

I miss her, in everyday little things, my conversations, disagreements & silly jokes with her. I miss her when I see Pappa sitting and sipping his cup of tea or watching the television. When someone you love dies, and you are not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time – the way the calls stop coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes – when there is a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever – there comes another day, and another specifically missing part, which reminds you of her.

God speed Mamma and I pray you have found that happy spot in heaven where you are with your sister and mother. I know for sure the three of you will be smiling and laughing at all our shenanigans down here on earth.

I Will Always Miss You Mamma…

I awake each morning to start a new day,

But the pain of losing you never goes away.

I go about the things I have to do,

And as the hours pass, I think again of you.

I want to call you and just hear your voice.

Then I remember that I have no choice,

For you are not there, my heart gives out a silent cry

I want to see you again, and it’s not to say goodbye.

To say, “Mamma I love you and I always will,”

And hope that much of you in me you have instilled.

The day that you left I just did not know

That you were going where I could not go.

And now all my memories of you are so dear,

How I miss you and wish you were here.

Who now will hear me when I need to talk or cry?

It is so hard to say, “Mamma goodbye.”

Someday I know all will be well

And I will see you again with stories to tell

Of how you were missed and how we have grown

And how good it is to finally be home.

Until then my memories of you I will keep near,

And cherish them with those who are dear.

You paved the path; it is clear, as far as I can see.

Each step a bit easier, ‘coz you left your shoes for me.

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