She lies there on her bed, in a room where all is quiet. It’s been two hours since she opened her eyes but she hasn’t moved, save to clumsily stretch out towards the bedside table, hunger propelling her hands to pick up a biscuit. It takes her ten minutes to finish her little meal. Thirsty, she ponders on her ability to get some water but she knows it’s not something she can do, not now.
Closing her eyes, sleep escapes her. She isn’t tired. Her ears perk up whenever someone shuffles past her apartment, but it will be another hour before someone walks through her front door with lunch. It’s interesting how the body becomes sensitive to the slightest pressure, when forced to keep to one position for long periods of time…
She thinks about the pain. It’s a welcome relief from the tormenting thoughts that demand entrance into her mind. Not much longer… she tells herself. I can wait. I can do this.
‘I’m flying back to Japan tonight,’ Mother said to me.
‘What time’s your flight?’ I didn’t need to ask why. I already knew. Still, this was a departure grossly accelerated.
‘10.45pm. Enough time to head home after work, pack, and reach the airport for check-in.’
Earlier that morning, Mother told me that an email had arrived from Obachan’s care manager. Obachan lives in an elderly care estate and while it’s stipulated in their contract that all occupants must be able-bodied, Obachan was completely immobile. Two weeks ago, she hurt her back and since then, had been confined to her bed.
‘Why won’t she hire a full-time nurse?’ I asked.
‘She’d rather be alone than to have a stranger in her apartment the whole day. She’s obstinate that way.’
Obachan did have a full-time helper for a while, but a week ago, fired her. They had been quarreling and she was tired of being told what to do.
‘She’s only comfortable with a nurse coming in at lunch and dinner, for an hour each visit. That’s barely enough time to feed her, clean her and tidy things up.’ Mother sighed. ‘And this morning, the care manager wrote to me saying that it seems she’s starting to become a little delusional. Can you imagine lying there for the whole day? Unable to do anything but think? Anyone in her position would start having weird thoughts. And she’s talking about darkness and oppression, being unable to breathe at night…’
‘When will you be back?’ I asked.
‘A week later. I’m just hoping to help get her eating again and well enough to manage things on her own… at least till I return to take care of her for good.’
I nodded, refusing to let the tears fall.
But after Mother left, I did cry.
For my grandmother who’s fighting for her life.
For my mother who’s trying to stay strong and positive.
And for me who’s trying to say goodbye.
‘I’m not ready for this,’ I marched up to the Dream Maker. ‘Seriously, this is all too rushed!’
I had plans to visit Obachan, to take her stories and document them down in a book for our future generations. These were stories that needed to be told – stories of her courage and commitment, of living through the war and raising up a family amidst poverty, of a life that today, doesn’t exist anymore – there is still so much to learn from her. And I wanted her to see that.
I didn’t have the chance to celebrate Mother’s birthday either. We were planning on taking her out with the family to do everything that she wanted to do…
‘What is going on?’ I sobbed angrily.
‘Are you crying for yourself or for them?’ He asked.
‘For all of us! We had plans… but now, it feels as though we’re barely able stay above the tidal waves, there’s no chance to breathe in deep nor think clearly…’
‘There is only now.’ He replied. I glared at Him in frustration. What kind of one-liner was that?
‘You are angry because the future doesn’t line up with your plans. You feel guilty because you know you could have done more in the past. But both don’t exist. And that’s why you’re frustrated. You aren’t where you’re supposed to be.’ He continued.
‘Now? And what can I do with now?’ I shot back.
‘What would you do, if that’s all you have?’ He asked.
I kept quiet. I thought about the Mother… perhaps she’d appreciate it if I sent her an encouraging email. And grandmother? I could do a video recording of the family telling her she was in our prayers… that we loved her and were looking forward to seeing her get better.
‘The future is for Me to handle…’ the Dream Maker said. ‘It’s what I’m here for. And I am faithful.’
For a split-second, I thought I saw a fiery glint in His eyes. Then bowing my head, I nodded.
‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these… is love.’
– 1 Corinthians 13:13