Kindness: The Lost Frontier
For there are times when kindness won’t do
I have been very quiet lately.
More so on the writing front but also in everyday dealings with people around me as I have struggled with myriad emotions brought on by the loss of my mum.
The quietness has shrouded me like a thick smog, heavier some days than others. I wouldn't call it depression, but a deep sadness and a whirling turmoil within. I guess I am trying to grapple with the meaning of existence, what to hold dear, what to dispense with. What memories to cling on to, which ones to erase.
My mum was a connoisseur of beauty of everything on the home front, a trait I have inherited from her. She was a very creative soul and passionate about good design. She found beauty in the unlikeliest of things and lovingly cherished them as she gave them a home. Over the years I saw her re-purpose many items and give them a new lease of life.
But as she grew weaker and more fragile nearing her end, the beautiful things she had so lovingly bought gathered dust and looked forlorn. Her house took on a neglected look. Her garden and plants she so cared for grew wild and unruly. It is almost as if death signifies not only the end of ones life, but the end of an orderly existence of things, places and emotions.
And the final curtain falls only to lift to chaos ensuing backstage. Everything breaks lose and it takes a while for things to fall back in order again, for some people, perhaps life never does go back to the same order ever again.
But I did find one thing to be grateful for and I am sure so did she — the kindness of everyone around those last few weeks and days of her life. The nurses and doctors who attended to her, family and friends who cared enough to call and make the trip to the hospital. As they stood and talked in hushed tones to her, I am sure she found a lot of comfort in their soothing words. Even if the things she loved were not around her in the last moments of her life lying in a hospital bed, the people she loved and cared for her were, and their kindness saw her through to the next frontier.
The loss of my mum has also brought home a painful realization — that I relied on her to ground me.
Every time my mind and actions have taken a fanciful ride, a phone call with her has always been my saving grace. She could talk me out of my hyper-paranoia about people and situations I thought and fretted my self into.
Those times, where I felt cornered and stifled like a person being chased who finds themselves in a dead end alley, my mum could show me a way out of that alley by simply talking and shifting my perceptions to a more mellow, sane meadow of thinking, where roses smelt sweet and warm sunshine evaporated all my worries and fears.
I let go every time I listened to her calm reasoning.
A few weeks into my mum’s death and I found myself in a similar stifling situation at work. Not having her to turn to, I turned to the next best people in my life — my husband and friends. They, being perfectly supportive, listened, handed me tissue to wipe my tears, patted my back, made me cups of tea and echoed my worries and indignation word for word. They pushed me deeper into feeling being wronged.
I ended up resigning at work.
And now thinking back, I realize, how shallow the support of my near and dear ones has been. They had listened to my tales of woes without perceiving my undercurrents of cry for help to set my thinking on the right path. They patted my back, with a there there, we are here for you without being truly there at all emotionally, wrapped up as they were in their own centered selves.
Most people, even the ones you dearly love, are only superficially present for you is what I have learnt from this experience. They don’t want the hassle of anyone else’s drama. I on the other hand needed someone who could deeply, truthfully talk me out of my irrational thoughts. I needed someone who could show me the errors of my ways. I needed my mum.
Out of job now and having plenty of time to reflect on what having my mum around meant to me, I have come to the realization that sometimes kindness does not cover it. Kindness of my husband and friends did me no favors other than inflate my rogue ego — when I needed to hear the blatant truth.
Mum, I do so miss talking to you.