20 August, 2006

I have never written about the death of my mother.
It is four years ago that it happened.
I feel ready to tell the story as I experienced it.

It was a Saturday morning.
I was at work.
I was one of the managers on a major audit and we were approaching our deadline.
I would have much rather have been at home with Sohail and Annie, who was only eight months old.
 But everyone had been working a lot of overtime, so I had to pull my weight.

I got a call from my brother.
It was his matric farewell that night. His year end dance, it was his final year of high school.
He asked me to phone him back.
I remember laughing, thinking that it was funny that he didn't have money on his phone and his big sister had to phone him back.
I phoned him back.

The rest is a bit of a blur.

Something has happened to mom. 
Dad found her in the bathroom. 
She was unconscious. 
He has given her CPR. 
We are rushing her to the hospital.

My friend drove me home. She didn't want me to drive myself. I phoned Sohail on the way. I told him that he had to pack.
We had to go to my parent's place.

Something had happened to my mom.

I got home. He had hardly packed anything. I was irritated. We had to go now. He was so laid back about all of it. Eventually we got into the car.
We drove the one hour drive to my parent's house.
I sent a text message to all of my friends.

My mom has had an accident.
Please pray for her.

We got to the hospital.
My brother's friend was there. His parents came to us. Told us that they would watch Annie.

We saw my dad in the ICU.
There was a body lying in the bed.
 Covered in tubes.

It was my mother's body.

She was no longer there. 
Her essence, her spirit was gone.

The doctors showed us the x-rays of her brain.
She had had a brain haemorrhage. Or stroke. Or aneurism.
I still don't know.

It doesn't matter.

The black was the blood that had leaked into her brain. 
Her whole brain was black.

My dad had kept her body alive with the CPR. And now the machines were keeping her body alive.

But, she was gone.

I knew it.

I went and sat with her.
I told her, "Thank you for being my mommy."

I must have said it about a hundred times.

Thank you for being my mommy.
Thank you for being my mommy.
Thank you for being my mommy.

That night, we tried to sleep in my parent's house.
I have never heard my dad wail.
My dad wailed for her the whole night.
His wife was gone.
The epicentre of our family.
We were all lost.
She was our leader.
Our team captain, as my brother said.

The next day, we went to turn off the machines.
I knew that no amount of praying was going to bring her back.

Her time had come.

There was no point in trying to drag it out.
Wish it away.

She was fifty years old.
Always precise, my mom was.
Even in deciding her age to die.

We are given a limited number of breaths when we enter this world.
When we take that last breath, our time is up.
My mom had taken all her breaths.

Too quickly, I think.

I sat next to her.
Held her hand.
The nurse pressed a bunch of buttons.

I was waiting to feel her spirit leave her body.
For some sort of heavenly moment.
Angels singing.
Her ghost appearing.

I felt nothing.
I noticed her fingers turing blue.
Her body going cold.

I had done what I had come to do.

I was not going to stay until her whole body was blue and cold.

It was hard enough seeing a body.
And not my mother lying there.

She died the day before.
On the 19th of August.

We switched the machines off as a technicality.

The moment I stepped into that ICU the day before, I knew.
She was gone.

She left a void in me.
One that will never be filled.
She was the oak tree in my garden.
That had been uprooted.

It has been the worst period in my life.
I have never known a pain as deep as the pain of losing my mother.

I write this.
And I still don't believe it.
I feel like I am watching someone.
Who has lost their mother.

She is in my heart.
I carry her heart in my heart.
And her heart beats in the hearts of my children.

I wear her clothes.
I wear a necklace she gave me.
Of the Virgin Mary.
Maria, was my mother's middle name.
I connect to her and her mother and all the mothers that came before them and to our heavenly mother.
And our earthly mother.
And I mother my children in her spirit.
And I mother as a tribute to her.

She is in my heart.
I carry her in my heart.


  1. Oh Ola, this brought tears to my eyes. I feel your pain. Losing my mother to cancer was the worst thing I ever experienced.

    You write so beautifully.

    Big hugs to you my friend xo

  2. Thank you for writing about that day.
    I will always come to this post on this day.

  3. Ola, that was beautifully written, but so sad to read. I cannot imagine losing my mother; I feel for your loss and I hope someday you will find peace in your grief.

    Thinking of you.


  4. Ola, this was so tender and heartbreaking, so sweet and sad. Thank you so much for sharing it with us ... it can't be easy to share something like this with the world. It takes courage and a certain amount of acceptance.

    Sending much peace and love your way.


  5. @Agi. Big hugs to you too. xxx.

    @Sohail. I think I may also come back to this post next year.

    @Nicole. I also could have never imagined losing my mother. She was such a big part of my life. The experience made me so grateful for every moment, because I literally lost her overnight. It made me realise that I could lose anyone overnight, so I appreciate so much more.

    @Juliana. Yes, you are very right about the acceptance part. I actually found writing this very healing.

  6. Such a beautiful tribute to your mother, but so heartbreaking. I was touched reading this, thank you for sharing.

  7. my mom passed away in February- our stories are similar. there are no words for the loss of a mommy. i am sorry your mom had to pass away so young- she was my age.

  8. Ola, this is such a moving post... It has touched me deeply. My thoughts are with you.
    With hot tears running down my cheeks, I think of my family who is also far away. Thank you for always reminding me about what is important in life.

  9. I cried on every word i read, this is a beautiful and painful blog, but thank you! We miss you Mommy! Thank you for the amazing impact you did in us, we will never forget you!

  10. Olu, tak bardzo z serca plynace slowa, ta prostota w wyrazaniu uczuc, wzruszyly mnie do najczulszego miejsca,jako matke a takze jako Twojej mamy kolezanke.


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