Death. The word you won’t understand until you have a person you love breathing for the last time in front of your eyes.
I never witnessed death in my whole life. I never understood the feeling of losing loved ones. I had no idea how it felt. I never experienced it. Having to live abroad for most of my life, I don’t get the luxury of being close to my extended family and relatives. We seldom see each other, perhaps only once in 3 years. So when the news about the passing of a family member brought to my attention, I didn’t feel the effect of losing him/her. I was sad, but the feeling only lasted for a day or two.
It was only a month ago that I had a painful experience of having to lose someone I dearly loved.
On the 23rd of January, my grandma passed away.
She was my only grandma that I personally had known since I was a kid. The only grandma whom I always referred to as Ibu (mother). The grandma who used to take care of me when I came back home from the boarding school during my high school years. The grandma who used to be very active, full of energy, sociable, and friendly to anyone. The famous grandma that everyone loves, from our neighbour’s security guards to tukang ojek; from her grandchildren to her great-grandchildren; from the old to the young souls. The super-generous grandma who loved to help and give advice to others. The independent and tough grandma who was a natural businesswoman and who could earn money more than the average grandmothers in her age. The traditional grandma who were very fashionable and knew how to use a mobile phone. “I cannot use this MS!”, that’s what she always said, referring to SMS.
Losing her was no doubt one of the saddest moments in my life. Until this very day, I still cannot believe that she’s not around anymore. Her voice still freshly resonates in my mind. Having to wake up every morning in Jakarta without hearing her voice seems surreal. Am I dreaming? I have to remind myself that I am not. Even though she is no longer physically there, I can still feel that she is sitting on the terrace, walking around the house, talking or commenting about something, or giving some allowances for her small grandchildren. Her presence was strong that the house became so empty and dull without her. Her death was a huge loss for our family. It was no doubt a huge loss for our community.
Perhaps, the saddest thing for me was when I realised that I did not spend a lot of time with her. But despite all the regrets, there is one thing that I am extremely grateful about: the fact that she would wait for my mom and me to be by her side before her last breath. It did not matter that we could only see each other for 2 hours (that were very precious to me!). It did not matter that she could no longer speak anymore. But what mattered is: I saw my grandma before her soul parted from her body. I saw her beautiful and peaceful face before she was covered. These are the moments that I would never forget.
Ibu, I miss you. I hope you are in a better place now with the One you truly love. Al-Fatihah.