My mother passed on June 14 2014, aged 83. I was her firstborn. She wasn't sick, she was just very tired. Intensely lonely and helpless without her husband. Even though her grandchildren, my siblings and I tried hard, there was very little we could do to fill up the void left by the demise of dad in 2005.
I was in the middle of a project in Romania when a phone call with her beckoned me home. On the day I left for Bucharest she had been admitted with a mild stroke. Now she told me not to worry, everything was fine, how were the street children coping?
The next day, I find mom at the hospital, sleeping. A nurse explains that she is very weak, they'll start up palliative sedation soon, as mom has requested to stop all other treatment.
She's eating and drinking like a bird.
We don't speak a lot. We never did, in our family. Now isn't any different, but we speak when we feel the need for words, have a few good laughs, and she seems to find comfort in my presence.
Reading her passages from dad's beautiful love letters he wrote when they were courting. Freddy Quinn's "Dort wo die Blumen blühen" in a loop on the laptop. Dad writes the song is on the radio while he overlooks the garden behind the little flat where they will be living together soon. "Only you are missing in the picture" he writes, "and the sun".
The room is too hot. Time ticking away thickly, the clock turns viscous, hands barely moving. Every now and then, mom launches into a feverish string of Hail Mary's.
A few drops of water to wet her lips, no more food or drink because she is sedated. Holding hands.
Sun goes down, sun goes up. I kiss my mother good morning and cry because her heart is still beating.
Eighth night. Moon lights the room. Her resemblance with my grandfather strikes me. When I walk back in after the morning cigarette, she is no more. Cows are grazing in the distance, but the blades of the windmills stand still, frozen against a clouded sky.