This is probably my most difficult blog entry to date. It took me exactly a year to sit down and write this since my beloved mum Chan Yoke Lan passed away on Wesak Day 2011.
She has been undergoing treatments for cervical cancer the last 7 years. Last April, her condition deteriorated so quickly that it made her unable to walk, stand, talk, eat & drink within just a few days. Little did I know then all these are signs of active dying.
My mum condition deteriorated the month I resigned from my taxing job. It was as if she doesn’t want to burden me earlier when I was tied up with my demanding job. This is her most admirable trait: she is always thinking of us first.
Instead of talking about her battle with cancer, let me share about the extraordinary events that happened from the time she was dying till after she passed away.
On the eve of Wesak Day last year, the Dr Felicia from Hospis Malaysia came to check on my Mum and failed to detect her pulse and vital signs. Dr Felicia said my mum is unlikely to make it pass the night and asked us to be mentally prepared. Despite being told as early as April that my mum is dying, this news still struck us like a sword piercing our hearts. I still long and hope that she can stay with us longer. There are so many things I wanted to do for her that I didn’t get the chance to.
But surprisingly, she did not pass away on Wesak Eve. We waited and waited and kept vigil by her bedside, watching her labored in slow gasping breath. As it passed midnight into Wesak Day, we realized that it must be quite significant for my mum to bypass the Doctor’s prediction and survived into a very auspicious day.
From midnight, the morning passes into noon, then into evening and my mum is still breathing, defying all odds. My daughter became very restless from staying at home the last few days so I took her out for a quick dinner. After we came home, I went upstairs to change and I heard my Sister yelled “Come down! Come down!”
I ran downstairs and rushed into my mum bedside and saw she her struggling to breathe. All of sudden, she OPENED HER EYES WIDE (she has been unconscious the last few days). I held her hands and kept telling her to think of The Buddha, encouraging her to reflect on the pure and peaceful qualities of The Buddha. I asked her to imagine she is The Buddha and The Buddha is her because all of us have potential to gain enlightenment, hoping to set her mind in right direction. It was extremely hard for me to stay calm and not cry at this moment because I don’t want to trigger any longings or regrets that may risk rebirth in the lower realms. As I whispered gently to her “ you are The Buddha, The Buddha is you”, she closed her eyes slowly, took 3 long breathe, and passed away on Wesak Day 2011 around 8pm.
By this time, I couldn’t hold back, tears were streaming down my eyes, but I resisted from wailing or crying out loud. I realized at this moment just how shallow is my practice when face with Dukkha (suffering) of this magnitude. I knelt in front of her, recalling all her good deeds: being a filial daughter, faithful wife, loving mother, caring and gentle person (she never raise her voice), resilient and patience despite her condition and most of all, putting all of us first before her. I then recalled whatever good deeds that I have performed and dedicate it to her by chanting the transference of merits.
My Sister noticed that our departed mum has a very peaceful and serene look on her face, almost as if she is smiling while sleeping. That gave me some degree of comfort.
Continue to Part 2..