Although I had debated with myself whether to follow tradition and celebrate the third day of her passing, or just pack up and leave for the house, as I was near collapse, yet my final decision was to go ahead and finish what I had set out to do, which is send her off properly, with all traditions and rituals observed and completed. So the traditional prayers, this time at home, were arranged, my cousins notified and friends who asked, told.
The previous night, without benefit of sleeping pills, but with the help of a glass of wine, I slept very deeply and for a full six hours. Still I woke up tired and achy feeling drained. The weather had turned yet again with a thin veil of dust in the air and heat worthy of July not March. The house was beautifully clean and fragrant with all the flowers. I started preparing what will be needed for the ceremony: a jug of water, a loaf of bread and for a green plant I opted for a bunch of parsley. All was ready and then my cousins started showing up. They had all shown up before the priests arrived, but we started the ceremony right away. Part of it is for the principal member of the bereaving family to read a paragraph from the Bible, specified by the priest. It fell to my lot. I read it very carefully, and for the life of me I don’t know what it said. Then the ceremony continued to its final conclusion where we were blessed by the clergy and the house is blessed and the the spirit of grief asked to leave the people and the premises. I had asked my cousin if this was just tradition or did it have a basis in religion and she said that it was a mixture and intertwining of both pharaonic and Christian traditions all mixed up. Anyway I definitely felt better that I had observed all aspects of a traditional send off for my Mom’s departure, and could finally try for a much needed rest. The priests left but my cousins stayed on. The atmosphere was light and peaceful, with my cousins teasing me and my friends defending me. We snacked on sandwiches and drank a great deal of water. More friends came in and more cousins came in. All women. It was a lovely warm gathering, like the meeting of exhausted but triumphant warriors after winning a very costly battle. Mixed with the light banter were pieces of advice from those who had gone through that process before me, telling me that things will probably get much worse before they start getting better, that this is normal and that I should not think of myself as a wimp when things get bad. But they were mainly drilling into my brain that I am not alone, that they will be there for me if and when I need them.
I called and asked about a dear cousin who had undergone a rather tricky heart procedure and was told that she was doing well. I even started looking at Facebook to try to catch up with what was going on in the world, since to all intents and purposes I had shut out every other aspect of life and concentrated on my Mom for the past couple of months, but more so since her second stint at the hospital. I now started to try to catch up with the news.
More importantly I felt the need to write. Over the past few days I had neither the inclination nor the time to write, but now, all of a sudden, I have so many things to say, I simply cannot stop until I have said it all.
Again today I felt dizzy and faint, and again today I had my blood pressure taken and it turned out to be pretty low. So towards the evening yet another relative called and after finding out about my blood pressure, said that she will be over with some caviar as this would help in getting my blood pressure to rise a bit so as to become normal.
A couple of hours later she came in with the much looked forward to caviar and we stuffed ourselves with it on fantastic fresh bread and butter. And when we had nearly finished it, we ate bananas. All in a good cause! While the mess of our feast was still on the table, the bell rang and in came my neighbor from downstairs to pay her condolences. I should have been embarrassed, but I was not. She sat with us and whiled away an hour reminiscing about the first few days of the January 25 revolution and how it affected each one of us, and how we each handled the trauma.
After they left, my friend and I started packing up and getting ready for bed when we discovered that it was still too early. We sat out in the living room and I could not stop myself, I started writing. Half an hour later my friend said she really wanted to sleep so we both turned in, she to sleep, and me to my writing.
I have now chronicled all that has happened over the past three days, and am sure that I am in for some difficult times. I have called my house boy who doubles as my driver and asked him to come to town to help me pack all the food that is filling the fridge, but mainly really to drive me back, as I simply don’t have the energy for that. I am trying to brace myself to going back to the house, with her not there, and am thinking of things that need to be done to keep me physically moving and which would help in keeping the feeling of loss at bay. I shall work on my room first, try to put it into some semblance of order after leaving it for nearly a month with a couple of blitz visits to pack and leave again. Then I might work on the living room. Maybe I’ll rearrange the furniture. I don’t think I could keep looking at her empty chair for long before I started going a bit crazy. But mainly I am hoping to get in some rest before the whole compound starts descending on me to pay their respects.
I shall manage. I am a fighter, I shall survive, after all I do take after my Mom.