My mother used to tell me this when I was little. Back then I couldn’t really fathom its depth, neither what it meant to me, nor how it would have an impact in my life. Until a surprising event altered our lives—and my life as an only child.
Let me tell you a short story. A story of my life.
My mother was a chain-smoker and a frustrated writer. She didn’t get to publish her creations, but to me she was the best writer in the world. She has written countless fiction stories that she would read to me during bed time. She’s so creative, her imagination is limitless. She told me I was her inspiration, that most of the qualities of the protagonists in her stories are the ones she hoped I would have one day when I grew up. Sadly, I didn’t get any of them. I grew up disappointing her for being the girl who did not possess such character of a princess of strength. I just couldn’t be who she wanted me to be. I tried, but I failed. Expectations unmet, promises undelivered. I promised her I will continue what she has unfinished. That I will write stories that will change the world. But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it.
She would usually say, “Write a novel and put your heart in it. A fiction with words that would speak of love and inspiration.” Not the exact same words and tone of voice because for sure, she would have said it better. She’s my idol, but I despise the idea that she smokes two pack of cigarettes a day. She said that it helps her become more creative, hence I wasn’t able to do anything to stop her.
Unfortunately, it has taken its heavy toll on her.
Fast forward to today, my mother couldn’t even remember me. She has Stage 4 breast cancer and dementia, as per the doctors, which they said has nothing to do with her smoking that much cigs. How come? And why her? Every single day from the time we found out she was very sick, I have anticipated the nightmare of losing her and being alone. I’m scared, really scared. Nevertheless, I’m happy that she’s still with me, that I could take care of her, even though my Idol in her was now gone.
She would usually call me Ella or Mina, some of the girls from her stories. And then last night, I came home and saw her lying in her bed, staring blankly out of nowhere. I took advantage of that moment to study her, to remember all the memories we have shared when she was still sane. I felt that pinch in my heart, like a stab in the chest, but no blood came out. I then wished my mum comes back, even just for a short while, I murmured.
And even before the tears run down, she looked at me as if she’s calling me to come right beside her. So I did. I held her hand and closed my eyes as I rub them in my cheeks. My way of telling her how much I miss her and her bedtime stories. And when her left hand brushed my hair, I could no longer hold the tears from falling. They fell hastily like a bird who needs freedom. I freed all the tears my eyes could release. And she spoke to me the words she would always tell me when I was young:
“Have courage and be kind, Darling..” she wiped my tears and smiled after saying those words. My wish was granted. My mother’s sanity was back, she’s back and she remembered me!
Ah, really? Guess not…
“Ella, call your father and tell him the dinner is ready!”, she said in peremptory fashion, just like how Ella’s mother in her stories would do. I just sighed in utter frustration. Subsequently, she kept on coughing non-stop, I quickly prepared a glass of water and searched for her meds—there I saw a bunch of them scattered in her drawers. My mother has been cheating, she hasn’t been taking her meds all this time. Guess she really wants to leave, to leave me, and she left me with such words that used to be blurry.
That same night, she closed her eyes, so peacefully I could almost see an angel giving her wings so she could fly.
And now that I’m alone, I get it. To have courage and to be kind would probably be the only thing I could instil in me, and this time, I won’t disappoint her.
I promise, Momma, I will have courage and be kind. Always.
(This story was inspired by the Cinderella movie I just watched an hour ago through Fox Movies Channel. The title was mentioned several times it got stuck in my head I had to write it down this way. Thanks for reading!)
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