Nothing’s Set In Stone

*Thanks dad for helping me edit this. Everyone has lost a loved one in their lives; a mother, a father, a sibling, a friend. This is my story.

My mother was a beautiful, tall, slender woman with dirty blonde hair and a lovely personality to match. Her name was Dianne, similar to Diana like the late Princess of Wales and both women were equally gorgeous; a Buddhist vegetarian, with the exception of bacon. My mother loved batik style outfits and a lot of her casual dresses would have some sort of colourful style to it. She enjoyed cooking a lot of Thai dishes and curries which is how my love of cooking came about. I enjoyed coming downstairs and seeing the table set with Deep Forest music playing in the background and the smell of something frying in the kitchen. It was made all the more better because I knew it was my mother cooking.

My mother was energetic and stayed healthy by exercising a lot. She had a love for abstract painting. If you ever looked at her paintings they’d be a blend of purple and green and spots of white and with her talent she could make it look like outer space despite the odd colour blend. You had the sense of infinite possibility. I remember my mother painted the kitchen walls one time a peachy yellow and then used a sponge dipped in white paint to create a pattern across the wall. Technically she wasn’t allowed to do it because we were renting the house but my mother enjoyed being creative so who was going to stop her. Clearly no one if the wall had anything to say about it. She said we could paint it back some time in the future. My father said she was soft spoken and was actually pretty shy even if her artworks and her dresses said so otherwise. She was loved by those around her and her students adored her.

I remember how much I loved her cooking and how she would let me lick the batter off the bowl. To others watching someone paint could seem tedious but I loved watching her paint and create flower arrangements. Even though I do not follow everything to be considered a Buddhist I’m appreciative of what she showed me. I have memories of waking up early to go with her to the entrance of the neighbourhood to pray with the monks in saffron robes that would walk along the streets with their silver bowls for offerings. I was always beside her and I thought she would never leave me. Why would she leave me? But then I realised that you could lose anybody. It’s a hard truth to comprehend especially as a child.

There was no way my mother would leave me anytime soon, not with how careful she was at what she ate and all the exercise she did. Sometimes I wish I had that motivation to wake up early and go running. I guess the past really catches up to you and we all saw it coming when the hospital visits became more frequent and her skin became paler. But she’d be OK, right? She was so strong. Flashback to when my mother was younger and smoked a bit and had Hodgkin’s Disease during middle school. Around the age of 14 she got diagnosed with cancer and was in the hospital. But she was a fighter and she beat it… twice! There was nothing she couldn’t do. I believe I remember my father mentioning that when she started healing from that cancer her hair ended up becoming more blonde and was even more beautiful than it was previously. I guess that’s one benefit. She got stronger and older. Got married and started a family but I guess the cancer decided it didn’t want to let her go. It became difficult for her to do normal activities that she loved like walking. But she’d be OK, right? She was so strong.

Even as a ten year old I knew something was wrong when my father, my brother and I would get into the car on most days after school to go visit her in the hospital. I skipped a lot of after-school activities or had to leave my clubs early to to the hospital. But she told us not to worry, she would beat this.

I hated the smell of the hospital and how plain and white the walls looked. It was a large hospital located somewhat in the city of Bangkok. Everything was white with fluorescent lighting and different areas of medicine. Everywhere we walked it was basically the same scenery with doctor names and fields of medicine occasionally penetrating the blandness. The view from her hospital room was beautiful though, the layout of the city of Bangkok at night even if everything else was as white as paper. From her room I could make out noticeable shopping malls and hotels with their large, lit up signs. It was a rough year juggling 4th grade and hospital visits. But she’d be OK, right? She was so strong.

Then during the summer we ended up staying longer in America because of all the treatment for my mother. I found out a couple of years later that we were actually going to stay and live in America that summer but we couldn’t because of my dad’s visa and had to move back. We visited so many hospitals during that year. It was difficult knowing that any day my mother could have passed away. But she was a strong woman and an even stronger fighter. She woke up every day and did as much as she could despite how tired she easily got or how weak she was. My mother still liked to cook and she would spend time with us. Even when she was in the hospital she would still be up to spend time with us. When we visited her we would spend time with her and then give her a break and go have a bite to eat in the small café they had in the hospital. During this time the doctor would check on her and she would have a break before we went back to see her again. But she’d be OK, right? She was so strong.

Her death impacted everyone around her greatly. No parent should ever have to lose their child let alone bury them regardless of their age. My father lost his other half. I know that he’ll probably meet another woman in the future but she’ll never come close to what my father and mother had. My brother and I lost a role model in our lives. Everyone who loved her was affected greatly. Her high school friends whom we see every summer carry on her memory through story retelling and memoirs around their homes. We relive the stupid things they got up to and how amazing of a person she was. The students who had her as a history or a language arts teacher lost a role model and offered their condolences to us.

When we went to the States during that summer I knew there wasn’t a chance we were going back with her. She spent the last couple of weeks at her parent’s house. We took care of her as best we could and tried to make life easier for her. By this point my mother was too weak to do very much on her own. It was difficult. My brother and I were jittery and wanted to go out and do stuff like go to the Galleria or watch a movie in the cinema but we couldn’t do it as often because of my mother’s doctor visits.

Then she was gone. My brother and I didn’t really understand what was happening. We just knew it wasn’t good. People were running about carting my mother away amongst other stuff. I don’t remember how long it took for the funeral to happen but it did. I might have blanked out during that part because I didn’t want to accept the reality that she was gone. I’d lost someone who I thought I would never lose.

It’s been a whirlwind of emotions these past eight years. My mother passed away close to the beginning of July 2007. I have no trouble telling people about being adopted but when they ask about my mother I often have to stop and think about what to say. Sometimes I tell people that my mother is in America taking care of her parents. I suppose it’s somewhat true if you look at it from a religious viewpoint considering she was buried in Alabama. Other times I’ll come right out and tell people that she passed away. There’s not much you can do about it but knowing everyone else has lost someone special to them helps soften the blow a bit. My mother was quite the health freak and you’d think that’d translate to long life. But it doesn’t. If I could have saved her in any way before cancer got its hands on her again, I would. No longer would I walk into the kitchen to the smells of homemade curry or hear the music played by Deep Forest.

My life seems a bit empty now that she’s gone. I thought I could fool myself into thinking she was still here but after a while of receiving everyone’s condolences it dawned on me that my mother was really gone. She wasn’t coming back. Just like that I realised, nothing’s set in stone, especially when it comes to something as fragile as one’s life. I thought my mother would live forever, I thought she’d be able to fight this cancer like the last one because of how healthy a lifestyle she led but I guess everyone’s bodies fade away eventually. I find it unfair that she was taken away so soon but her memories will always live on in the stories I enjoy hearing over and over from her high school friends.

She wasn’t OK, but she was so, so strong.


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