An unrequited love

Artist: Jayasiri Semage

It’s been a while, but I still remember those heady first days and weeks of falling in love, when the first thought in the morning, the last thought at night and all during the day, your mind and your heart is full of thoughts of your new love. You want to be with them all the time and can’t bear when the time comes to part.

Now, in a strange way,  I feel as if I am going through a parody of those feelings. My mother is on my mind constantly, my lips silently saying her name over and over again, like a prayer of invocation.   All I want  is to be with her, to hold her hand in mine, to stroke and kiss her face;  but it’s an unrequited love, because our mother doesn’t want us there any more.

My mother has only 3 words left in her vocabulary – ” yes”, “no” and “go”. She can’t say our names, she can’t tell us what she is thinking or feeling, but she says the word “go” to us almost as soon as we arrive at her bedside.  She makes it clear by turning her head away from us that she wants to be left alone. We want to spend as much time as possible with her, but she has gone to a place where we can’t reach her or comfort or reassure her. So, all we can do, is take it in turns to come in for her meal times, because she can’t feed herself properly with the paralysis on her right side, and honor her wishes to be left alone, even though it breaks our hearts not to be with her all the time.

Cancer is the cruellest of thieves.  It steals so much from our lives.  This I already know, but I wasn’t prepared for it to rob from us our last chance to comfort and love our mother, to talk to her, to be by her bedside as her loving family together. I am coming to realize that the tender death bed scene I’ve seen in the movies is just another Hollywood moment which cancer wants to stomp its big ugly hob-nailed boots all over.