The sound of shattering glass broke through my reverie. I jerked awake, disoriented. It took for a while for the reality to surge to the surface. I realized, panicked, that I had dozed off- I had become insomniac for the past seven nights.
I sprinted down the hallway, my ears straining to locate the reverberating sound. They need not have worked so hard. I already knew where the incident had occurred.
I came to an abrupt halt in front of the glazed doorway. Taking a number of deep, calming breaths, I plastered on a fake smile on my face. With one last attempt at a soothing demeanor, I pushed open the door and entered.
“Oh, honey. I am so sorry if I awoke you…you look exhausted,” she whispered in a hoarse voice.
i took a moment to scrutinize the room before answering. The walls were covered in bright plasters. A king-sized bed was positioned right at the center. Occupying it, lay my mother.
She was an elderly woman in her late fifties. The tumor that was eating away at her brain had finally taken out its toll on her physique. Her face was waxen, the cheeks sallow. Wrinkles seemed to cover every inch of her once-flawless skin. She lay in a heap on the bed, the strength having drained from her body.
“Shh, mother. It’s okay. I wasn’t sleeping,” I lied.
Realizing that she had unsuccessfully reached for the glass of water on her bed-stand, I fetched her some more. Rearranging the pillows, I supported her to an upright position. Holding her head, I fed her the water. Just the mere sight of her excruciating pain exhausted me. Sapped the energy from my body. I gently lowered her on the bed and covered her in a blanket.
Looking at the watch, I noted that it was time for her lunch. I prepared her the usual food- a bottle of milk, apple juice and chicken soup. She was too weak to chew. I fed her with my own hand, one small scoop followed by another. Watching her struggle with the miniscule amount of food, I was reminded of my childhood. I thought back to the days when she used to force-feed baby me. Instantaneously, a torrent of tears threatened to overwhelm me. Nevertheless, I withheld. I had to be strong for her sake.
After the meal, I rolled her to the washroom in a wheelchair. I bathed her gently and helped her clean up. Pain and fear had made me immune to what I had once considered disgusting…
This was the story of my life, five years back. This was how I took care of my dying mother. It was a routine-bound procedure. Everything patterned he same, repetitive pattern every day. I fed her, cleaned her and gave her the medicines. At times, I sat by her side and told her stories of the good old days. We watched TV until she drifted off to an uneasy sleep and I laid awake, nigh after sleepless night, watching over her like she once did for me. And then one night, it all came to an end.
She did not make it through the end of the year. Nevertheless, caring for her would always remain an integral part of my life. That time as my mother’s care-taker taught me the purity of the precious bond between a mother and her child. It also taught me how to truly give my all to someone I love.