At about this time last year, I was busy running to the hospital visiting my late brother who was showing signs of serious deterioration in his health. Whenever he was discharged, it was shuttling to his house on the mainland either before school or after. There were times I had to pay midnight calls.
I could still remember the 1st time he broke the news that he had cancer. The world crumbled on me. Yes, it was him who had cancer but still I was the one who felt devastated at that time. After our parents had passed away, it was always the 4 of us. He, being the eldest, was the strength of the family.
Slowly he got worse and it was evident to me then that the cancer he had, was truly terminal. Then in February, we were all packed to go to Shah Alam for my nephews wedding reception. Before making the trip I went to the hospital to visit him. My second brother was there. My younger sister who I am sure had badly wanted to be with us couldn't make it because it was her son's wedding reception that we were supposed to attend.
He was really bad. I couldn't find it in myself the strength to pry away from him. My second brother was with me and we called our sister saying that we could not make it because we thought that he wouldn't be able to make it through the day. I felt so very bad about missing the reception. My sister was all alone in Shah Alam and in times like that she really needed to be with close family. She needed us her brothers to enjoy that joyous occasion but then we all know that some things are just not meant to be. She gave us her blessings and I can still remember the quiver in her voice, that sad tone that shouldn't come from someone who was supposed to be in the mood of merriment.
Now as we all know everything is history. My brother passed away on the 23rd of May, a day after my 51st birthday and exactly 28 years and 1 day after my late father's departure.
Why do I write this, since this is not exactly an anniversary? Well, something that we don't realise when we were so engrossed in our own sorrows is that while we were down, or in this case, I was down, my wife was with me through it all. She was with me through all those visits and sleepless nights. She would stare at me while I cried a helpless tear and gave me courage.
Now she needs me because she is growing through what I went through a year ago. Her mom with whom she is so attached to, who was her only parent ever since she was 3, who slogged through poverty to raise her 5 children and school them is now completely bed-ridden, in a serious condition, probably living on borrowed time waiting for the day to meet her maker.
2 weeks ago, my mother-in-law, who lives with my family succumbed to a bad flu and we had to get a doctor to make a house call. She could still walk with the aid of that four-legged contraption that she has been using for the past year or so. One day while walking into her room from the bathroom which was hardly 5 metres away, her legs simply gave way. Her legs were weak prior to this but decided that they have had enough. We had to carry her to her bed and she has been there ever since.
Diapers replaced her daily visit to the bathrooms. She has to be spoon-fed all the time. Her words are no longer clear and now she can't even urinate. Sometimes they will be a huge swelling just below the navel from the urine that simply refused to go out the natural way. My wife has to press hard on it for the urine to flow out. Through this all, there was no pain. I think she has lost most of the sensation from the lower part of her body.
Once when my-wife's niece gave her an injection of vitamin c with a 2 inch needle almost fully embedded into her buttocks, she didn't even flinch. Now she begins to show signs of memory lost. She couldn't make out the time. She was confused if it was day or night and complained that she was not given her meal hardly an hour after her last one.
She refused to be taken to the hospital and we do not know what our next action should be. I began to feel exactly how I felt when my brother was going through his last days. I now feel that it won't be long. I am sure my wife feels the same too. I know she is putting up a brave front but I know the she herself knows that the end is near.
Anyway my mother-in-law is 81.
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