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It started with the news that she had some bleeding during the night and that the urologist had ordered an ultrasound for the morning. I hurried to the hospital to find her already up and starting to get anxious about me. A good thing I got there on time. But the ultrasound was not ready for another couple of hours.
Once they were ready for us we went down to the clinic and they prepared her for it. I was keeping my fingers crossed that they won’t have to do any procedure that would give her pain. Even went so far as to ask the doctor to give her local anesthesia so she is not put through any pain or discomfort. The ultrasound technician was a gem. He joked with her, told her exactly what he was about to do, that she would feel the cold gel, that he will be moving the monitor where, and she was in her element and kept joking with him, tit for tat. To the extent that after the ultrasound was done, the guy bent over and kissed her on the forehead.THAT is my Mom.
The result of the ultrasound was not good. It showed several ulcers that were bleeding. I did not know the extent of this till I talked to the doctor later who said that the reason for the bleeding ulcers could be the infection, but again could be a malignancy. That the only way to really assess the situation and get a definitive prognosis is through a biopsy. I stopped him right there. No. Nothing invasive. If it is the infection then the antibiotic will take care of it, if not, then just palliative treatment. At her age and in her delicate condition I am not subjecting her to any more pain. Both doctors agreed with me, no invasive methods of prognosis or treatment.
Then came the long day, where the pain started, so I asked for a pain killer for her. After a few minutes of it being injected, she felt the relief. Thank God for that. My family and friends started calling to find out how she was, and it was very difficult to explain as I was sitting not half a meter away from her, keeping up a cheerful attitude. Just twice I went out to explain, once to my brother when he called, and another time to my cousin and asked her to let the rest of the family know as I cannot explain it to each member individually.
The day dragged on, with her dozing on and off. She simply could not eat, drinking was very difficult as well, she just could not bring herself to do it, but complied when I insisted. My cousin came in, in the late afternoon, a few minutes later a neighbor and friend dropped in as well. They stayed till early evening. Then we were on our own. We spent an hour and a half all alone, talking. She was very lucid, a bit weak, but very very clear. I think she knows. What she said was that she has lived a full life, she has done everything she ever wanted to do, and that I should do the same. She made me smile, because she said: Aida, you have to become a bit more selfish, start living for yourself. Live to the fullest and don’t let anything or anyone stop you. It was a long, long talk, sometimes funny, sometimes heart wrenching. I told her about my writing and how fulfilling it has been, how I feel, that I have come into my own, that I have found my vocation. I told her how lucky I felt to be able to just pour out my feelings and that these were well received by my readers, that God has blessed me with a talent to enable me touch the minds and souls of others with my words. She seemed relieved, and smiled happily, nodded and said she was glad I found my niche.
We talked on for nearly ninety minutes, till I felt she was flagging. She gave me a great deal of advice about life in general and made quite a few, unquotable remarks that were very funny. She touched upon her early life, the huge love that she shared with her siblings, the ups and downs of her adult life, but that in total it was a good life, a fulfilled life. Again she egged me on to go out and live mine to the fullest.
As it was nearing nine in the evening, I had the nurses come and prepare her for bed, made sure she was comfortable and all settled in, before kissing her goodnight and leaving after a really difficult day, that nevertheless had some beautiful highlights to it. My cousins’ and friends’ rallying around and giving me support, my wonderful conversation with her at the end of the day, her support and pressure in trying to get me to enjoy life to the fullest, that ultimate expression of love in urging me to be more selfish. She loves me just as much as I love her, but I think she is less worried about me now because she knows that I do have an aim in life with my writing, and that I do have the support of my cousins and friends.
A difficult day, but with some extraordinary moments that will be remembered for the rest of my life.
8 February 2014

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