I think I know what was needed.
What was needed was Dr. House. Somebody who could diagnose what was wrong with her rather than the useless young adult who thought we should keep feeding her food. Protein in fact, preferably chicken and egg.
While we saw her body being eaten alive by microbes, he said it will be fine. She will heal. The antibiotics take time to work. She needs to eat. That's all she needs to do.
While her body oozed fluids from every tiny pore, he said she needs to be fed.
While she cried out in pain every time her wounds were dressed, he said it will sting a bit but its healing.
While the damn microbes were creating havoc all over her, he said she's recovering.
I lost her.
I lost her during an emergency surgery at a better hospital. We didn't take her there earlier because the learned ones around me told me I should learn to trust people.
I am not a doctor. I cannot do a better diagnosis than them. I cannot ask them to take a scan of her swollen belly if they believe its only fluid retention.
During those sleepless nights, when she told me she's on a journey looking for solace, I thought it was the drugs talking. She said that's the only thing left.
The nasty germs hadn't got to her brain. She was sane and coherent. She told me I shouldn't get upset over little things.
When I said goodbye to her in the ICU before she was taken to the operation theater for that surgery which could take her life, I knew it would be the last time I would ever see her alive. She asked me why I had a grin plastered on my face. I told her its because I am happy to see her. I did not want to scare her. I told her she is going to be perfectly fine and that she will not feel any pain later. I was telling the truth. She never felt any pain. Later and forever.
I don't know if you have ever been waiting outside an OT when there's a Code Blue announced in the hospital. There's panic, there are a dozen people running about. You get this sinking feeling that they are still trying to save her but they might fail.
They failed. They told us they tried for twenty minutes. Her heart failed. It quit. It was tired of trying.
Someday we will all quit. Sooner or later.
The doctors were sorry. Everyone in the lobby was sorry. I didn't understand what they were sorry for. Giving her solace? Helping her die with dignity?
It would have been worse if she'd made it through the surgery. Countless days in isolation. Quarantined in the ICU. Pain. Medications. Tubes all over the place.
I had always wondered how you know when to let go. You don't. There's no little voice in your head telling you to let go.
Those years of sleepless nights feeling helpless because you cannot do anything to help her live pain free. Those times when you speak to her and realize how strong she is in spite of being unable to even get up from the bed on her own. That reassuring smile even while she's being ripped apart by pain inside just so that you don't get upset. The countless times you shouted at her for asking you to eat and take care of yourself.
My mother never complained. She prayed to some invisible power asking for salvation, probably. I will never know if her prayers bore fruit. I might choose to think it the lethal bacteria infecting her body that helped her.
The cause of death was reported to be necrotising fascitis. 'Flesh eating bacteria' invading the system, like pacman, eating away everything on its path. The bacteria must have entered the body thorough an initial flesh wound and negligence of the initial doctors in treating her. It was a nosocomial infection, hospital acquired, in layman terms.
I had to write this, for posterity's sake. I am scared I will forget all this later. Like I am scared I will forget her face. How she used to sound like. How the hugs felt. How comforting it was to lie beside her.
I remember the kisses. Especially the last one, before she turned cold, from inside the ICU. You wouldn't know she was no more. It felt like watching her sleep. She had not slept for 7 days before that. I was relieved to see her sleep. I almost didn't notice that she was so sound asleep that she wasn't even breathing. She was at peace.
I am at peace. Or so I try to convince myself every single day.
Yes, we learn to live with loss. It's not hard. Because that's the only thing you can do.