How does one prepare for a death?
Logically one knows, of course, that it is a unavoidable fact—cruel as it may be. That to have life, you too must have death.
Logical fact, however, does not equate understanding, acceptance, or willingness to embrace.
With all the facts—medical statistics, test results, the picture I saw before my eyes—I knew—intuitively, logically—that it will come soon. I had dread this for years and years and lived my life with an underlying but palpable sense of anxiety that it will come. But at that moment, with all evidence of its impending presence, I, still, could not accept it. Not truly.
The doctor said her conditions were better, and I was happy. I really was. Happy, but also so, so scared. Scared because I know that it is known to happen. A moment of peace for loved ones to say their goodbyes.
And the next morning, I woke with the sound of knocking on my bedroom door, a text telling me that things had taken a turn for the worse, and a understanding that I should prepare myself.
I was not prepared, and at the same time I was.
The hours that followed were curious. The clock, in the form of a monitor that counted time by heart rate and blood pressure, began its countdown. Her eyes were opened as we say our goodbyes and promises, trying to rid her of her worries so that she could be at peace.
It took hours. During that period, the ding, ding, ding of the monitor slowly began to stutter and became irregular. Her eyes remained opened until the very last moment, until the green clock of her heart rate turned to zero.
I wept. Everyone did. I wept for a woman who raised me since birth, and was with me through every stage of my twenty-six years of life. I wept because I was a horrible grandchild, letting my irritation get the best of me despite knowing true well that it was part of her condition that made her the way she was. I wept because I wanted my cousins here—family was her only true joy and purpose of life. I wept because I was not ready, despite having so long to prepare, that the woman who was once the pillar of our family would not be at home with me, as she had been for my entire life, anymore.
I also wept because I was relieved, that her passing was a painless one, surrounded by the people she loved. I wept because she would not need to suffer anymore. I told myself that I was lucky I was able to fly back and say my goodbye. I told myself that I was lucky that I had over twenty-six years with her, and had memories of her at her best. My efforts had made her proud—she always said that ours was a family of scholars, and she smiled so beautifully when I graduated four years ago. I told myself that I was lucky that I was able to show my gratitude in some ways, that I was not too late in everything I myself I would give to her.
I told myself that she is with me always, in my very cells, but also in my values and the manner in which I live.
I told myself that I can still make her proud because she still lives in me.