Today is the third day after my Mom passed away. The past few days have been very difficult indeed, but with some heartwarming moments. Emotions are very high, so senses are sharpened and perceptions very deep. The day she passed away and the day before, the weather was horrible. A thick, close sandstorm that made breathing difficult and which compounded any sort of depression into deep depression.
As usual when I woke up on Monday 3 March I called the hospital and they said that she was on the ventilator and that she was still critical. I got up, and with my friend, got ready to go to the hospital. My cousin called and said she will be picking me up at the hospital to take me for the check-up I was scheduled for at 12.30 at her husband’s clinic. My friend and I went to the hospital, and as usual she went to sit in the cafeteria and I went into ICU to see my Mom. She looked worse than last evening and what was worse was that the monitors were indicating a slowdown in breathing and heartbeats. I asked the nurse and she did say that she was not doing well and that her breathing, with the ventilator is still labored. Thank God, though, she was unaware. I left and went to sit with my friend in the cafeteria, but was restless. A few minutes later I couldn’t stay put, I got up again and went to see her. Reaching the cubicle, the first thing that struck me was the sound by the monitor. One long beep. Although I had seen it numerous times in films, it did not register, then the nurse came rushing in and tried to pull me out, but I was nailed to the floor looking at her. When I said or did nothing, the nurse calmed down, squeezed my arm and paid me her condolences. It was at that moment that it registered that she is gone. I took another step towards her bed, bent down and kissed her still warm forehead. Kissed her several times, smoothed back her lovely hair, and said goodbye. I then turned around and went back to the cafeteria and broke down into tears.
A few minutes later I tried to call my brother but he did not pick up. When in the field he sometimes does not receive a signal there. I tried to call him again, but still no response, so I called his wife. She picked up immediately and said that the hospital had already called and that she was on her way. I asked her about my brother and she said she has already called and they are going out to the field to let him know. I then had to call my cousin to cancel my doctor’s appointment as I couldn’t go for a check-up now, too many things to be done.
I could not stay away, I went in again to see her, the machines were turned off and the quiet was very strange. I was not allowed to stay this time, I was chased out by the nurses.
I don’t know how long it was but I remember thinking where did all those people come from? My sister in law was there, but I did not see her, she was chasing papers. My cousin and her eldest daughter were there too. Many of the nurses who had looked after my Mom during our two previous stays came over to pay their condolences. This is all very hazy. As though the whole scene is happening behind a grey veil. Even the sounds were muted. I started being aware of a headache, but even that was sort of removed and being felt second hand. The orderly who was always around and acted as a gofer came in and asked me if I would like to accompany her downstairs to the morgue. I got up and waited by the lift. They brought her out on a gurney, wrapped in a blanket, her face covered. We rode down, then through the long corridor, out into the open air, then around the corner to another building, at the end of which was a door through which we went into a fairly large, air-conditioned room with only two things there, a huge silver box with a door, and a very large concrete table. I found out that the large box was really a fridge. We stopped inside the door, they uncovered her head to show her face and left me alone with her. This time instead of tubes coming out of her mouth they had a piece of gauze tied at the top of her head, wrapped around her chin, to keep her jaw in place. I remembered seeing this done before when an aunt died at home, this was done. I kissed my Mom’s forehead again, then called them in. They opened the door of the fridge and slid her in. The door closed with a final click. I turned around and walked back to the cafeteria. My friend then said we should be leaving as I should be getting home. I did not have a driver so I had to drive, but I usually do so on automatic pilot. We got into the car, my friend, my cousin and her daughter and left the hospital. We hit bad traffic twenty meters out of the hospital. The drive from the hospital to the apartment usually takes, maximum seven minutes, this time it took us over an hour. I had to go to the Church to arrange for the funeral next day and to book the hall for the evening, that done we continued to the house.
When we finally got home, I called a restaurant near by and had them send food around as I knew I shall have at least part of the family coming. Everything was set. People started coming in. The only calls I took were those from my brother, his wife or anyone from his office who was involved in arranging the funeral details. My headache was getting worse, but I kept as quiet as possible. Then my cousin’s husband, the cardiologist, came in and sat beside me and started asking me a lot of specific details about the pains I was having in the chest. After a few minutes he said he needed to get some analyses done, and after a brief debate he opted to go to a hospital, across the bridge for all sorts of analyses. My friend’s daughter volunteered driving us there. Another half an hour in traffic for a drive that would usually take five minutes. We finally got there, I was whisked up to the lab where they drew blood for the analyses, then again up two floors to ICU for an ECG and blood pressure. The nurse prepped me for the ECG and I calmed myself to try to get a good reading. She tried it four times, until she was finally satisfied, then asked my to try to relax until she called the doctor. He came in with the equipment to take my blood pressure, did so, then asked me if I had hypertension and I said slightly. It seemed that my blood pressure had gone through the roof. The nurse was dispatched to get me a pill that I had to place under my tongue to try to lower my blood pressure, then I was told to stay put in ICU till the results of the analyses comes out. I started getting suspicious, why do they want to keep me in ICU? No way was I going to be held over, no matter what! Tomorrow was my Mom’s funeral and nothing was going to keep me away. So I calmly got up and walked out, called my cousin that I shall be waiting for the results in the cafeteria, and started fuming at the delay. Finally around 45 minutes later the results came out, I called my cousin, read him the results and told him I was going home. He said OK. And we did. Another horrible drive home, with a slight detour to pick my cousin up and get back home.
I can barely remember how the rest of the evening went, but there were a lot of details that had to be ironed out about the obituary, and the funeral arrangements, the burial, and the reception. Towards the end of the evening two of my neighbors came to pay their condolences, but finally everybody left. I took two sleeping pills and kept tossing and turning till 4 am.