I don’t know how to feel. Sometimes I feel upset, like an entire wash of current hitting against the back of my neck. Sometimes I feel nothing, like nothing’s changed, as if to say that the emptiness were nothing but minute distance. It’s been seven days and I still don’t know whether to cry or move on.
It’s an unusual feeling, having death pass by you so intimately. The plane felt longer than it needed to, and throughout the journey I was always holding a photograph of her, dad and I just outside the porch smiling before I was headed out to meet with my friends. It was always that sacrifice that she gave me, all in the name of a happy life, a strong education, an independent mindset and of course - a successful future. There is no parenting without sacrifice, and when it came to my mum, sacrifice was as easy as folding napkins and sheets. From being five to being where I am right now, she never stopped giving.
I arrived late, though in certain eyes I probably arrived on time. Maybe not being able to see her breathe her final breath was a good thing after all, maybe it would’ve helped me deal with all this much more quietly. But I arrived with whispers of family relatives telling me how many times my mum screamed out my name on the final night, and worried about what I would wear come the following morning. And my aunts, with their depressing recounts and tearful stories, would never stop telling me how much my mother loved me. That I knew from the very beginning. And so we all just sat down with out own stories, our own narratives of what we saw, in front of my dear mum lying down in peace covered with her favourite Batik.
But it all came to a corner when the funeral arrived. After seeing her buried, her fragile face faintly touching the soil of the earth, flowers rained above her along with the covering ground soil. As everyone left for their final farewells and goodbyes, I was left pressing my hand on the soil, pretending like I was touching her.
“I love you, Mum. Goodbye. Thanks for looking after me, for teaching me how to be selfless, empathetic, caring, kind, determined and hard-working. Everyone here’s gonna miss you, especially since you’re always the one helping others and believing the best of us like it’s something true. Most of the time it is, but whenever you meet the bad kind you always seem to handle things well, protecting us. I’m sorry I never got to share with you all the stories that I wanted to. Of love, of being alone, of experiencing new adventures. But I just wanted you to know that you are the reason I am kind. You are the reason I give so much to others and you are the reason why I know how to love and care for others. I promise I’ll take care of dad, and everyone else you’ve helped out. I love you, good bye, I love you Mum.”
I left, leaving every bit of sadness I had in me. And so now here I am, seven days passed, back to the beginning of where it all starts. Late nights, writing with music, the usual activities.
There was a reason why mum put the Indonesian word “Tegar” inside my name. I might not be able to carry as much as you, punch as hard as you. But I believe my heart, and the kindness my mum has given me, is able to overcome so much more than what people think. This is my kind of strength; the kind that bounces back, the kind that’s able to stand up again.