My mother was a fierce, spirited, strong woman. She was a tough cookie. She really was. I was brought up being told I would be just as fierce, just as spirited, and just as strong a woman my mother was. I grew up believing those words, too.
I lost her on the 19th of January this year, to cancer. I still find it funny how I left her just the day before to go back to school in Jakarta, [she was staying in a hospital in Singapore]. She fought a long and hard battle against cancer. Well, it had better be. It had eaten away four years of her life that she could have spent with me, teaching me about life and how to be a real woman. I was only fourteen when she died, for God's sake.
All those times I accompanied her to the hospital for chemotherapy or radiation and the works, never once did I take an interest to what was really going on behind the scenes. I didn't have the guts to tell her then that it was because I was afraid of what I would know. I didn't want to know anything. I didn't want answers. It killed me to be in the hospital, surrounded by all these sick, dying people. I thought I could have passed it off as me being a teenager, not being interested in anything. It killed me knowing my mother died, not knowing the truth behind why her only daughter never went near anything that had to do with cancer.
There was this one time I was listening in on a conversation between my mother and her doctor behind a closed door. I couldn't hear exactly what her doctor was saying, but I understood that they had to increase her medication for some unknown reason. "Please. Do what you have to do to keep me alive. I need to be there for her. I need to be alive for my daughter." That just about killed me inside. She never once thought about herself. She always thought about me. Always about me. Always.
I went to visit her in the Christmas and New Year's break last year. She was still looking good, she was still able to do just about everything, she was still laughing. About two weeks after I returned from Singapore, I was told that she was in the ICU. I flew back and the woman I saw that was supposed to be in her bed in her room was not the woman I knew. She was covered in tubes stuck into her body and she looked so weak a handshake could have just about crushed her. Watching her breathe was painful. She couldn't speak. She couldn't even open her eyes for more than a minute. I tried to talk to her like I did everyday. I told her about the new John Green book I was reading. I told her about my latest math test and how my teacher thought I'd improved a lot. I told her that I loved her.
When I was told she was gone I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't even feel the numbness that was spreading within every inch of me. I was so speechless. Everyone thought that she would come out the victor of her battle, I guess that's why no one had anything to say. The ironic thing was, everyone had so much to say about my mother, but almost nothing to say about her loss.
It's been eight months and I don't know how I'm doing it but somehow I'm still breathing. I am depressed and getting medical help and therapy for it, but I do my best to keep it all locked away inside, and I'm still doing my best to make both my parents in Heaven proud. Others don't understand the path I've chosen, and I know they won't understand even if I explain it to them a thousand times, but it doesn't matter to me. My mother's acceptance and belief in me is all I ever need.
My mother was a fierce, spirited, strong woman. And someday, I hope to be just like her.