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Knowing That You Are Dying...- (and living to the fullest)

October 18 2020 – Joshua Levi Rasen

Knowing That You Are Dying...- (and living to the fullest)

Knowing That You Are Dying...- (and living to the fullest)

Not the typical story you often find me writing...

It's hard to imagine how someone can live with the thought of not knowing what tomorrow may bring. Just like everyone else, each day to me is a mystery. However, unlike those who suffer uncertainty, I have the chance to wake up with the excitement of working towards a future that i often dream about...

The first time i started to understand what it felt like to live with your days hanging on a thread was the time i had to accompany my grandmother to the hospital for her quarterly check-ups. I remember as clear as day what it was like for her, being at the mercy of the decisions of others; not being able to make a choice on how she wish to live the remainder of her days just because someone fitter thought they knew what's best for her...

I remember how she used to be anxious in the days leading up to her doctor's visit. She would get restless, worried and often say extra prayers starting the week before her scheduled check-ups; simply because the doctors didn't have the empathy to share with her the news that she was dying in a more gentle way...

The doctors would tell her, "If you don't go for dialysis, do you know that you are going to die? You need to listen to me and start going for dialysis." She would rattle and tremble in fear each time she heard those words; fearing the possibility of spending her final days in the hospital...

On one occasion, i could no longer bare the inhumane way of these doctors speaking to her. I decided to look at the one attending her in a fierce way and requested to speak to her privately; tearing through her with my words, "Where is your empathy?" And before she could give me a reply, i let loose the thoughts that were boiling inside of me.

"Can't you see the signs and her body language that she is shaking? Are you trying to put her into shock? You and I both know that dialysis is going to kill her at this age and what she needs is to be free of stress and worry. If she refuses it, stop reminding her about the consequences. She knows what will happen. It's her choice on how she chooses to live; and it's your duty to employ empathy and care, knowing the outcome of her choice. It's written there in her file that she has refused it each time one of you ask her the question, and yet you still so naively insist on asking? Put it down in your notes once and for all and make sure that she is never asked this dreadful question again.."

Those words must have left an impression on the doctors seated in that room as she was never asked the question again. And rightfully so...

My grandmother was 88 years of age at that point. She knew her days were numbered and that her life is fully in the hands of God. I remember each time her visit to the hospital was over, she would be filled with so much of joy and relief because she knows that she avoided the possibility of being warded into the hospital for at least another 3 months till her next visit...

She had undergone such an experience before prior to this which has kept her in fear of the doctor's ever since. She lived with kidney failure from 86, for almost 4 years; with 2 of those years baffling the doctors as she was not supposed to be alive any longer based on the readings. The doctors said she had 6 months to live, but i guess God was on her side...

She lived till 90...

It's hard to imagine how she stayed optimistic and hopeful, despite having to live with the knowledge that her time is almost up. Not only does it break your spirit, but it kills every part of you that is still alive; draining away your faith leaving you with nothing but a boulevard of broken dreams...

Mama said this to me not too long before she lost her memory in her final months, "You know Joshua, I lived a good life; blessed with good children that put a roof over my head, daughter-in-laws that loved me as their own, and grandchildren that looked after me. You were all angels in my life. Truly God sent..."

Knowing that she is surrounded by all of us was enough to make her feel fulfilled. I remember the times she used to bring out her scrabble set, asking us to play a game or two with her. It was her way of catching us to spend some time with her while keeping the sharpness of her mind, and boy was she good.

She was extremely hard to beat mainly because of the depth in her vocabulary. At times, I would sit at the table to accompany her; playing a couple of games together; however there were many times i was so sucked into my work that i had to refuse...

I didn't see it earlier, however as the days went by, i started to realise that she kept asking us to play with her a little more frequently than usual; till one day she stopped completely. She would just sit in front of the TV watching her shows for hours...

On one particular occasion, i decided to take a sit with her and treat myself to some grandma time. As I called out to her, she was trying to guess where my voice was coming from; looking in directions where i wasn't seated. Then it struck me like a bolt of lightning that she had lost her sight...

The flashes of her asking me to spare some time for a game of scrabble started coming back to the forefront of my mind. Each time i said yes; and each time i said no. I realised the reason she started to get more desperate in her requests as off late was because her eyesight was giving way.

I tried pestering her to play a game just to keep her mind focused, but she would refuse; mainly because she didn't want us to know that she had lost the majority of her eyesight while also suffering the loss of another child, my father; nevertheless, we did manage to play a game with her in her final days; a moment that we will always cherish together, forever...

Having lived a life filled with endless suffering, the only way she saw the world was through her travel shows on TV coupled with her imagination; this would be her only experience of the world outside these borders. The modest life she lived was an example of a successful life on her own terms; to live with gratitude, happily and together...

Truly an inspiring woman she was...

Come this 18th of October, we will be celebrating the 1st year of her death anniversary. We're glad that her trials on Earth is over, but also sad that we will never hear the sound of her gentle voice again...

Sometimes it breaks my heart to think that I could have done more for her; however in other times, i take my shortcomings, regrets and failures as lessons that i must never repeat the same mistakes again; and doing so with the thought that time is precious, moments are few and memories are eternal...

 

Tagged: mama, memories, theresa francis

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