My mum’s passing was briefly mentioned in a few of my writings. I’ve referred to myself as a suicide survivor instead of plainly spelling it out that she took her own life. I’ve personified Death and told about her date with him. Perhaps these were my attempts to romanticize her passing. I can no longer recall the storey, was it the 8th, or 9th, or did she make her way to the rooftop? In short, she jumped off a building. What a glamourous leap. For one who loved to doll herself up, that end must have been unsightly. I could only imagine for I was not allowed to grace her body before it was dressed up by the mortician.
I had wondered countless times throughout my life what she was thinking every step of her way that fateful January evening. She left a note in her wallet, not for me though, for my Dad. I need no detective to tell me it was neither a spur of the moment nor foul play. She deliberated. And she decided. The thing about my mum, she was great with surprises. Whenever she prepared little notes and gifts for me, she never failed at surprising me. She was meticulous, thorough, even till the end.
Dad and I were clueless. So were her parents. And her siblings. And her friends. Nobody had any inkling or picked up on anything amiss.
My teacher, Angela, once asked me, “Every painful experience has a lesson to offer, what might you learn from your mother’s death?”
“That life is precious?” I replied, without much thought or hesitation, a slight spike in my voice.
My answer conveyed a fact. It did not speak of my truth. It was a statement repeatedly shoved into me by others who cared and worried for me. I regurgitated it. I have no qualm, neither interest in refuting that.
My mother’s death speaks not of the preciousness of life to me. Rather, the contrary. She demolished the notion of it when she chose to end hers. I took no offense in her passing. I wasn’t naïve to conceive of immortality since she wasn’t the first death I’ve experienced in my life. It was how she died.
It is still heart-wrenching for me to consider the circumstances surrounding her before she leaped into the afterlife. How distressing, excruciating. How lonely, helpless, she must had felt. How tortured within she was.
Did she have mornings when she woke up and wished she never did? Or perhaps she was too bogged down with worrying for the well-being of her family that she got up and started her day immediately. I wished she continued those worries. What inner demons were she fighting? What and whose expectations did she bear?
I don’t want to die like her.
I am my mum’s daughter through and through. I’m aware I carry much of her unresolved trauma. And as much as I pray for a release, I don’t want to die the way she did. Too cruel.
“How do you need to live to be sure you do not die this way?” I stared at the question, my hands gripping the sides of the book a little tighter, shaking.
Alas! Two and two meet.
The painful experience from my mum’s passing was to show me how I might seek a way out, break the cycle, and live. I need to work through my experiences and free myself from the same chains that weighed on her.
How might I want to die?
Gently, if God permits. Gently like the sun receding beyond the horizon, like a tungsten bulb dimming, like the autumn leaves fading. I don’t need many people physically around me. I just need them in my heart. I hope my last view will be of the sky or the clouds or the trees or the lake or warm smiles. A peaceful, silent dwindling, contented and grateful for the breaths I’ve received.
How do I need to live then?
Boldly, as I can be. Boldly as me.
Along with the lives of the women in my lineage, live the life I truly desire, whatever it may be, live it free and fully. I need no grand vision to fulfil that, but a new belief in what I possess within. To be faithful to the seed I carry; meeting it, knowing it, resting in it despite not yet having the full grasp of it. I trust my seed. I will be true to God’s image of me. I will get out of my way to let his grace flow through me.
I am braving each day, working on myself, mining my past in hopes of a different path from my mother. Writing is salvation. I need not wait for a rescuer. I am saving myself each day by writing. Still approaching an eventual end but with my own volition. Chance is for the moment I die, choice is for the moment I live.
She chose. A quick release from the human struggles.
I choose too. A gradual release as I explore the struggles of being human.