When my mom died of cancer this year, my world stopped. It didn't stop for just a moment, it didn't stop for just a few months, it paused like a broken record, playing the same tune over and over again. Refusing to go forward, stubborn, a heart not wanting to beat anymore, feel anymore, be anymore. I lost a part of me, the part where I'm supposed to feel alive and well and motivated and excited and just plain happy. Suddenly, there was no one to wallow in my tales of sorrow or share the joy or just laugh out loud for no reason at all. Yeah, that's it. Something we take so much for granted, the ability to just laugh, smile for no reason at all. Or, maybe there is a reason after all. Just knowing that you have a mother, the epitome of a Goddess who will love you unconditionally for the rest of your life.

Yeah, that's it.

Unconditional love—I know now that only mothers are capable of that. God gave mothers the ability to give love no matter what without asking for anything in return. Because that's how my mom was like. She exemplified a living Goddess, a smiling heart, a soft lullaby, a welcome escape, a cashmere mitten in the dead of winter, an umbrella in the hard, blazing rain, a soul mate, dark chocolate, candle-lit dinner, a long-awaited embrace, a much-needed kiss, two hands folded in prayer, a lover's gaze, a teacher who never gave up, a secret whisper, a good book, cold water in a hot summer, a friend, a true friend.

She was here, then she was gone. Life.

Fourteen months ago, mom was preparing for the upcoming Dashain, teaching me the ropes of the trade. "You have to give thanks to God," she said, as she put the tika on Shiva's statue, "Look carefully, this is how you do it." Mom was not too keen on traditions but keen enough to be labeled religious. On Tihar, she would get up in the wee hours of the night to sweep the lobby and door step to welcome Goddess Laxmi into our house. Last year, I made up my mind to experience Tihar, mom's way, and struggled to wake up when the alarm went off at 4am. Sleepy and lethargic, I managed to sweep with her. She was silent, almost mute, as she did her chores so diligently like an obedient child. I knew that this was passed on to her by her mother who was also big on god worship, but I also knew that she was born with it. Mom just knew...what most people take lifetimes to grasp, that whatever is put before us is our duty.

When mom was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, we were shocked. But no, not mom. She took it with a grain of salt. She spent time on the hospital bed reading or scribbling something on a notebook that I had bought for her. She was doing so well, going on her morning walks, eating, smiling, worried, of course, of what the future will bring, but hopeful that God will take care of her. She had faith and that was written all over her, in her ability to face adversities with "what is meant to be will be."

She didn't stop there, no, not mom. She didn't waste a minute scribbling on the notebook. The doctor had told us that she had 3-6 months to live, a prognosis common for one of the worst forms of cancer. But we never told mom. We didn't want her to lose hope or to succumb to the disease without a fight. And fight she did. Facing death eye-to-eye must do that; suffering allows that. I know because I saw mom at her best in the few months that I got to spend with her. Not a single day did she wallow in her sorrow and cry over her woes, even when she had every right to. Anyone who has cared for a cancer patient knows that this disease takes you for the worst ride of your life; it's a selfish disease with no concern for the pain inflicted on the victim. And, trust me, mom suffered, she was in agony, but she never gave up.

A week before she died, mom lay on the bed gasping for air, her lips dry and chapped, her eyes small and weak, her frail fingers unable to even grasp a pen. "Give me the mirror," she mumbled as she lifted her heavy arms, pointing to the mirror. "Here, mom." Mom looked at the reflection on the mirror, "Oh, lala thik chha (ok, ok, that's fine)," she said, signaling me to put the mirror back where I found them, her face blank. She must have known at that moment. She must have seen death then. She must have realized her days were nearing. She must have known.

That day, I wept for the stylish woman who loved to dress up. I wept for the strong spirit who never took no for an answer. I wept for the talented cook who wanted to eat but couldn't. I wept for the mother who wanted to care for her young. I wept for the soul that had already left her, waiting for her arrival. I wept for the hope that never came. I wept for the zillions of mothers who left before their time. I wept for the children left alone to cry. I wept for the lost prayer. I wept for the devil that had won. I wept for the life that was gone. I wept for what was left of her. I wept for the soul trapped in a failing body. I wept for the what-ifs. I wept, I wept and I wept some more.

When she didn't wake up that morning, I tried fervently to jolt her back to life. "Mammy, mammy, it's me, wake up, wake up!" Her tired eyes struggled to open, quivering, listening, but unable to. "Mammy, mammy, wake up!" A desperate cry, hopeless. Shaking her, hoping, wishing, just one more day, mom, just one more day. Her eyes trying, she can hear me, a far distant cry from where she was traveling, a thousand miles up the milky way where elves with wings guide her to a big, white gate, where goblins sing to the tunes of trumpet, where fairies grant a thousand wishes, where the maker awaits with arms wide open.

And, then I let her go.

I just stopped. In that moment, I just knew what I had to do. "Mammy, you can go, you can go. Don't worry about us. You can go." In that moment, I was my mother's child. Strong, unwavering, determined to let her fly, a welcome rest after a weary path, 65 years of nurturing, loving, obligations, money-making, mothering, schooling, giving, worrying, laughing, eating, sleeping, painting, singing, playing, joking, wandering. And I understood unconditional love, something mom gave so naturally. That when you love someone, you just let them go. You let them fly. You let them be. You just let them be.

Moments after, a big, bellowing silence. An eerie pause. Floating on air. Slow motion of disbelief, denial, deadly reprieve.

Goddess back in the arms of the universe, smiling, end of her struggles, the family she birthed, the legacy she left, the character played so well.

I found out only later that mom had written her own obituary. She knew. Like a director staging a play, she wrote down all the family members worth mentioning, knowing very well that we would not know how to do that. A compassionate spirit till the end, her frantic scribblings on the notebook were all about her wishes postmortem, regarding every detail. She refused to leave any stones unturned. Until her last breathe, she cared, even after her body refused to listen, she was relentless, making sure everyone was taken care of. Even in her last moments, she loved unconditionally without fail.

Anyone who has lost a mom knows that losing a mother is one of the hardest things to endure, especially when she dies young on short notice. And, anyone who has or had a mother knows that she is the closest you can ever get to God. Maybe that's what moms are. Goddesses in embryo manifested as unconditional love. A sacrifice to give us a glimpse of what heaven feels like.

A mother embraces, caressing ever so softly, her womb incubates, ready to house an offspring, waiting patiently, rocking ever so gently, humming with eyes half closed, birthing endless actors in the chapters of life, till the page reads...The End.

In Memorium: Sumitra Maskay May 5, 1945 ~ June 5, 2010

P.S. Rest in peace, mammy. Death will never do us part.

More on: http://www.ventzine.com/blog/yuko-maskay/my-living-goddess and http://reasontopause.blogspot.com.

Comment on this Post


Dear Yuko,

Reading your words brought tears in my eyes. You are lovely daughter of your mom and as you said none can take place of mother. But this is life. Before I had my own child I used to wish that I should die before other my closed one but these days I couldn't say that might be my love for my child, my dream for him. I am not strong person, I easily get worried when somethings goes wrong. So when I find you writing your feeling I feel you are strong person and this is what we should be to keep our life going on. All the best for your future and memories of your mom shall be your strength to move ahead.

Regards, Sajani

Thank you for sharing this. I lost my mother to emphysema 5 and a half years ago, and it is the hardest thing I've ever had to endure. Even now, this much later, I miss her terribly and from time to time break down in tears mourning her.

My mother was the one I called when the bad things were happening and I needed a shoulder to cry on. She was the one I called when the good things were happening and I needed someone to get excited with me. My world stopped for a long time, too, when she died.

The hardest thing for me to accept in all of this is that I have to allow myself to grieve, even this long after she died. I'll be mourning her forever, but that's okay. Because a loss like that is irreplaceable.

Hi, thank you so much for writing. I hear you...I know I'll mourn her for a long time and only ones who have lost their mom knows how it feels. It's been really difficult to connect with people since mom died. I'm not really myself these days. I miss her so much. I just want one more day with her...I'm in denial too. Just came back from Nepal to take care of things there and it was so emotional. I am up and down, and I don't feel like hanging out with people. I have a few good friends, the ones who really listen and those I cherish. Others I avoid because right now I'm way too sensitive to be with people who are not sensitive enough to understand what I've been through. My world stopped but for everyone else it's still going on. I'm sure you know what I mean. You said you haven't allowed yourself to grieve. I know what you mean. To face it is too difficult, it's painful. I'm letting myself be and letting myself experience the intensity. Being alone helps alot. Do stay in touch. Again, thank you for writing. Really helps to know there's someone out there who feels like me. With much love, Yuko

Founder/Managing Editor V.E.N.T! Magazine | ventzine.com Sattya Media Arts Collective | sattya.org

Yuko you are a true descriptive writer. You have a talent to make people feel from your writings...My eyes were filled with tears at the end of your post...I feel the same way about my mother and even a simple thought of loosing her, makes me enormously scared...I do believe god is taking care of us through our mothers. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother, the bestest friend one daughter could have. I pray to god that her soul find peace and right now looking down on you so that she could be proud of you...

Hi Tripti, thank you so much for your response. Yes, mothers are the greatest gift from God. I treasure her...do keep in touch! With much love, Yuko

Founder/Managing Editor V.E.N.T! Magazine | ventzine.com Sattya Media Arts Collective | sattya.org

With love for my own mother. You made me remember to love her for every day that she is on this earth and beyond. Your writing is beautiful, Yuko - you poured your heart out and this is one of my favorite pieces i have read for a long time. I know many people will connect with your experience and grieving. - you put into writing what so many of us feel. Your mother is always with you, she is in your blood and DNA and watching over you even when you are sleeping. Thank you for writing this - your words are a temple for her. Jensine

Jensine Larsen World Pulse

Didi, you are such an amazing writer, and a beautiful person, too. Your love and respect for your Mother is so beautifully articulated and you are very talented. Thank you again for sharing your love and experience with the world.

Happy Tihar!


S. Green

Your mother will be very proud of you Yuko. I agree with you, our mothers are our living Goddess here on earth., I lost my Goddess, too died when i was very young. Yet, I feel her in my midst guiding me., and in my heart, making me happy. I wrote about her,too in Coming Full Circle.

You are a talented young woman. Keep on writing and share your thoughts to the world.

Take care. With much love, Paula

Paula, thank you for your message. Wishing you all the happiness always. With much love, Yuko

Founder/Managing Editor V.E.N.T! Magazine | ventzine.com Sattya Media Arts Collective | sattya.org

Beloved Yuko,

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Your writing has made me feel your loss -- and your love. You are a gifted writer. An exquisite tribute to your relationship with your mother. Keep writing, Usha. xx

Founder and Director, Adi Shakti Empowerment Group

Let your light shine!

Yuko, Namaste. Thank you for posting this moving tribute to a woman whose spirit carried so much light. You are the inspiring person you are because of her love, support and teachings, and so in you, I feel touched by her. The gifts our mothers bestow on us are easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our daily activities so I thank you for reminding us of how precious they are in life and the legacy they leave us in death.

Dherai Dherai Maya. Hardik Subhakamana, Janice xx

Oh dear Yuko, I am so sorry for your irreplaceable loss my dear! I dont have words to express....anything, anything that may console your broken heart, your tearing soul as i try to write holding back my tears! I pray that wherever She is, she be in peace and stay as a guiding light forever! I cant imagine the unbearable pain that one has to go through when one's mother leaves for eternity. Thank you so much for reminding why we must love and praise our mothers while she's still with us. She must be watching you strong and thriving as each day passes, and must be feeling proud to have a daughter like you. All my thoughts and prayers are with you!