Fading memories

What is life but a whirlpool of fading memories? We drift through endless days without knowing anything about the future, not believing that it might one day all end. Death creeps in so silently, you never see it coming. This year it made its way into our lives as well. COVID had taken many lives since its arrival in 2020 spreading misery and helplessness in its wake but never for once I had imagined that our family would be one of those who suffered that fate. When I got that first call that her test results came back positive I was so sure that she would recover. I had always seen her as a fighter, battling old age and the many diseases that came with it. She was always the caretaker, and never someone who needed to be taken care of. How clueless and ignorant was I? Now all I do is wonder. Almost at the verge of 80, she was like the warmest ray of sunshine on a cold winter day. She was like a jewel, the finest of us all, yet there were cracks in her skin, cracks making her fade and wither, cracks I failed to see even when they were becoming more blatant every day. It all happened so quickly and yet so carefully as if it had been so precisely planned. She was weak but holding her own, being monitored and tested thoroughly and then she came crashing down in only a few hours. We were not prepared for it even though the world around us taught us that we should have been. She collapsed at home, and they rushed her to the hospital. My sister messaged me telling me they were leaving in an hour by car, it was a 13hour drive. We were in Karachi and she lived many many miles away in another city, I couldn't reach her in time even if I wanted to. All I could do was wait helplessly and make calls, over and over and over again. I talked to her doctor on the phone and all he could say was that they would try but it was near the end. That call shook to me to my core. I finally started to picture a scenario where there would be a world where she would no longer exist. Where we would breathe and eat and laugh but she would not. How was that possible, that she would no longer be there to experience all that life had to offer? How was it possible that she would not meet my children, that she would not hold them in her arms, like she used to hold us? I felt time slip by through my fingers like grains of sand, and I felt it hold still, all in one night. I remember spending the night only praying and crying and then I remember waking up to my mother's call telling me that they had reached the hospital in time , that she was still there. Everyone had reached in time, everyone who could at least. Of the many things COVID had barred us from doing, international travel was one of them. So a few had to wait, and mourn alone thousands of miles away. Her breathing was getting worse. My cousin sent me a picture of her, but I could barely look at it. I had never imagined of seeing her like that, pale and struggling to breath her last. All my brain could remember was her warm smile, the spark in her brown eyes, the way she softly called my name. Swollen eyes made it hard to even see the screen properly, but I had no other choice but to see her through it, my only means of being near her. Of the many times I have felt helpless, this sense of defeat was something I could not understand. My brain felt numb, my heart frozen. The call came at night the next day. She was gone. No longer a part of this desecrate world. No longer able to breathe like we were breathing, so carelessly, and so ungratefully. The next few hours are a blur. She was buried in the morning, all clad in white, and her face passive as if she was sleeping. I felt my childhood slip away, the most beautiful days of my life play like a reel before my eyes. My beloved grandmother, we called her mummy, was not going to say my name anymore. She would not call me in the middle of the day worrying about me. That old house would be empty when we went back. The ones who were there could still see her, in places all around the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the veranda praying. I could still see her waiting for us in the porch whenever we went to visit her. Now there would be no one waiting, no one hoping that we would come. No one to pamper us or shower us with endless limitless love. My children would not be able to know her, for the unimaginably amazing and kind human being she was. She was a queen, a queen of our hearts, and I was not grateful enough for her when she was here. I regret not thanking God enough for making her my grandmother. She was more than perfect and I didn't tell her that. I didn't tell her I loved her. I didn't tell her I missed her. I was so busy living a mundane routine that I could not fathom how important it was for me to tell her. And now I never could. I wish the world taught us more about being grateful for those who love us . It is only when we lose them, we finally realize what we had.

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Bernard Jan

Award-winning, multi-genre author, novelist,...

Zagreb, Croatia