Beginning Of The End

Two years ago today.

It is just another date, I kept telling myself. In my mind, it is not. I am becoming more restless as the day nears. Anxiety, despair and hopelessness all are beginning to descend on me like an inescapable storm. It is dark, it is intimidating and I am scared. Suddenly, I feel so lonely here in Penang.

There are these throbbing aches – in my heart, in my abdomen, everywhere. I sat still and closed my eyes hoping that they would go away. They ached even more. Two years on, images of those last days are still running in an unending loop in my head. I knew it would not be easy but I did not know it was this difficult.

Each time I wheeled across the long corridors the pungent odours of antiseptic, medicine and death assailed my nostrils. Those were the least of my worries. Those times, there were only two thoughts that swirled in my head as I got nearer to the room. Fear and hope, two opponents from extreme ends yet were so intermingled in me that I was confused beyond comprehension.

The inherent fear was to enter the room to see an empty bed. It was not something I was hoping for but was prepared to reluctantly accept. Seeing that familiar face was a great relief but that morning, two years ago, it was different. The cheerful cherubic mien after the blood transfusion was no longer there. In place was a face that showed resignation.

“Take me home. I want to go home. If I die I want to die at home.” Those were the only words she kept repeating in her soft weepy voice. Although I had expected the worst, those depressing words were completely unexpected. Her dying did cross my mind only to be hushed away most times by my optimist side. She was a fighter. I had expected her to live on for many years still. And there that morning her voice was one of utter defeat.

Were those months that I had looked after her in vain? Did I not do enough? If there was one thing that I did not do enough of, it was not praying for her to all the Gods I that knew. Was Buddha listening? Was the Goddess of Mercy listening? If I had not prayed hard and sincere enough, I was willing to do it again and even more fervently. I felt so forsaken, abandoned. Those sporadic times when I was young and innocently kneeled in prayer with jossticks for the health of my parents were absolutely in vain. Had they listened? At that very moment, the burden of many months felt even heavier. Strength just gushed out from my every muscle. I felt drained, totally. There was nothing more fearful than losing the person who had been my source of strength when I needed it most time and again.

I would have given anything for her to be well again. No sacrifice would be too great for the woman who had selflessly given me thirty seven years if her life. My heart was heavy. I looked at her. There was only pain in her expression. This chubby woman I had known all my life had been reduced to skin and bones. Her once lush grey hair was sparse, clearly revealing her scalp. For the first time, I looked at her for the longest instance that morning. I had hoped to remember every crease, every wrinkle, every feature that made the sight of her so soothing in my mind lest I never get that opportunity again.

Tears filled my eyes as I got closer to her. Never once had I expected to see her in that condition. Her hand was still as fleshy and warm. That was the hand that had cleaned me when I excreted all over the bed. That was the hand that had cooked for me and fed me when I was hungry. That was the hand that had stoked the charcoal stove to make herbal soups for me. That was the hand that had nursed me innumerable nights when I was unwell. That was the hand that I had stopped holding many years ago. That morning, I wished I could hold on to that hand forever.

“If you die, who is going to look after me? Who is going to care for me? Who is going to love me?” I had hoped those words would spur her on. That was the second time I had tried to psych her up this way. It was effective the first time. Obviously it did not work anymore. She was too weak to fight on. Defeat was written all over her face. I felt defeated too. I had thought that by triumphing over my disabilities nothing else could crush my spirits. Evidently this was one that did it very convincingly. I was a thoroughly broken man that morning. I was heartbroken. My spirits were absolutely crushed.

“I cannot help it if I have to go,” was her feeble reply.

I let her hands go and turned my face away. I did not want her to see the tears that were streaming down my cheeks. I did not want her to see me sobbing. I did not want her to see the disconsolate look in my face. Truly, she had given up. Those words cut deep into me. I could not bear to see the pained look in her face. I could not bear to let her see the pain in mine too. How did we reach that stage? It was all a blur to me.

“I want to go home. Ah Choon, take me home, I want to go home.”

That was all she had in her mind – going home to die. Should I? All her life, she only knew how to give selflessly. Never once had she asked anything from me. Take her home I will, to recover. I will fulfil her wish to go home only. I will not let her die but she knew better. She knew her time was almost up.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

27 thoughts on “Beginning Of The End”

  1. I think we have gone through the same stage of life.
    I have been thinking about my death since I was 6 years old… I realise that life is not really about the past nor future, it is now, when we are still breathing.

    be strong.

    a blog reader
    – Life Feel

  2. I started to think about death a lot when I found out I had cancer. Then I realized I wasn’t really thinking all the right things about death, but rather all the wrong things about life.

  3. I heard when we reach the moment of death,
    everything that we have experienced when we were alive will be replayed.
    That might be a rumour.
    Maybe there is some explanation in NDE (near death experience).

    a blog reader
    – Life Feel

  4. A truly heart-wrenching post. I know those days are hard to pass but all I could say is hang in there, Peter. My thoughts and prayers to your own well-being. Take good care.

    *A silent reader*

  5. …happens from here on is beyond your control. You’ve done all you can. Hope for the best.

  6. My mum is my only real friend and ally. She’s still alive (thank God) so I can’t pretend I know how you feel. But I know I’d go nuts when the time comes.

    I hope things only get easier for you and yours.

  7. As much as I try to deny, it scares me everyday. Mum is not getting younger by the day. And everytime she complains of pain, I get scared a little more. If there was one day, that I dont want to go through in life, that day would be it. The day when we really feel alone.

    Be strong Peter.

  8. yes I can feel how you felt. Reminds me the last few days before my dad passed away I was shattered.

    I was so emotional in agony (tears will just roll down beyond control) Yes I love my father but did not show the love that I should have shown.

    May she rest in peace.
    Take care man.

    On another note:
    Sometimes we don’t apprecaite our love ones until they are gone than we realise how much we miss and need them but that’s too late already.

  9. I read ur story..I feel the strong spirit within you..Seriously,I am emotionally shaken..
    Feel so proud of you for being so strong to go through all these.
    Take care Peter *hug*

  10. Reading your blog really brought tears to my eyes.Makes me appreciate my parents so much more.

    Stay strong Peter and never give up!

  11. No matter how well prepared we think we are for the eventual death of our loved ones, it will still hit us really hard! For 8 yrs my dad was on dialysis, and in that 8 yrs, we knew he could be taken from us anytime. Yet when the time comes, it felt like the entire world had collapsed! I feel for you, Peter. But I also know from reading your blog that you are a very strong person. I know it is a small consolation, but be comforted in the thought that she is in a better place now. Take good care of yourself as I’m sure she would be happy to know that. God Bless.

  12. I wish I could offer words to console you and make you feel better. *hugs* . My prayers are with you. Let her remember your old familiar, cheerful self..and her familiar environment.

  13. I believe it was just as difficult for her to let go of you so that she can return to her Maker that loves her but I see her smiling down from heaven because by ‘letting you go’, you became a stronger person, relying on God instead of man to see you through each day. *Hugs* You are now well loved by many and like I shall say it again, you will see her again someday. She is in a better place now.

  14. peter, be strong!! i always think everything happen wif a reason behind, god wan us to learn things from mistake., learn things from our life, so we can live happily..

    be strong ya!! take care..

  15. Saw this somewhere. Thought you might appreciate it.

    “To the world, she was only a part
    To us, she was the world”

  16. Thank you all for your very kind words. I am truly touched by your concern. I am all right now. Peace be with all of you.

  17. I was in tears by the time i finished reading this post. I really admire your strength in being able to go on with life. Nothing i could possibly say could lessen your pain. For what it’s worth, stay strong and have faith in God.

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