May is a beautiful month no matter where we are. It is a perfect time for us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished for the year so far, while we still have so many months ahead to plot and dream about what more we want to do with our lives.
For me, it is also a deeply personal and emotional time. My father was brought into this world on a day in late May. Some 60 years later, my mother left the world on it. Timing is everything. My friends told me that my mother must have loved my father so much that she chose to die on his birthday.
Coincidences in our lives are hard to ignore and sometimes even harder to decipher, especially when it comes to the lives and deaths of our loved ones. While she did love Father in many of her own ways, I doubt at the time Mother had any strength left to gather from her cancer-conquered body. And, powerful morphine shots had already taken her otherwise very lucid mind from her, as well as any possible will to carry out such a loving deed.
During the last few weeks of her life, Mother was weaker than a helpless newborn, having stopped eating months before. At the time, every day we feared the possibility of being left as orphans, and every day, she surprised us with her determination. But, it was on Father’s birthday that she finally surrendered and joined him on the other side.
Lives taken away by disease are cruel, and watching our loved ones embarking on a final journey is brutal. If we live long enough, we are sure to witness someone we love and care for have the life squeezed out of them one breath at a time, tortured and tormented, until our own heart breaks and bleeds for not being able to do a thing about it.
Months and years later, we still live to ponder what we did or didn’t do at that last critical moment that could have possibly changed a dreadful, fated outcome. As the Earth once again follows its familiar, eternal course from winter into spring, thoughts about my father’s birthday and my mother’s death give an ordinary, colorful day in May a tint of grey.
Reflections From the East Column
By Qin Stubis