I soon grew accustomed to my new routine. Work. Hospital visits. The kingdom hall. Field service. And more work.
Keeping busy with something I was good at and could control to a certain extent, somewhat diminished my feelings of helplessness about things I couldn’t control. One cold winter’s day in June, I woke up to find a missed call from the hospital. I just knew she was gone. I was beside myself with grief. In that moment I was inconsolable, no promise of eternal life in paradise was enough to take the pain away.
Later, I just went into action mode. Being in charge of the funeral arrangements meant I couldn’t afford to fall apart just then. I was grateful for the practical help my kind friends offered me. The outpouring of support from friends, workmates and from my congregation was overwhelming. Not everyone’s circumstances permitted them to the with me in person, but they were certainly there in spirit.
To my surprise, even in moments of grief, there were things to smile about. Three days after my mom’s death I went to the Bluff in Durban, where the funeral was to take place the following day. I sat on a bench over looking the sea and coming towards me was a man in his 40’s , walking arm in arm with his elderly mother. I could hear their conversation, she wasn’t making any sense at all, but he kindly kept saying ‘It’s okay, mom…’ It was heartwarming to see that interaction but in the fragile state I was in, I burst into tears. She came and sat next to me and her son stood by. She asked me what the matter was and gave me a huge hug when I told her. They both showed such empathy and compassion towards me, a complete stranger. She then took my face in her wrinkly and trembling hands and told me a nonsensical story about having seen angels the night before, and one of them had had a sweet face like mine. I managed to let out a chuckle through my tears. It felt like momentarily experiencing the warm rays of sunlight after a long cold season.
The funeral was modest and dignified in the context of my beliefs and worldview at the time. I can’t recall exactly what happened, only that I didn’t shed a tear, even though I was bleeding inside.
The hardest thing was going back home alone. It was comforting and oppressive at the same time. Comforting because in that home, my mom and I had shared so many happy memories together. Oppressive because of the unhappy reminders everywhere. The pink see- through packet (from the hospital) with a white label that had her name and date of death on, it contained her clothes and toiletries . The smell of her lotion in her room. Too many bittersweet memories that played tug of war with my emotions.
As painful as it was then, and still is, I knew that I couldn’t put a pause button on life while dealing with my pain. Life just doesn’t work that way. You just have to find a way to move forward.