Today after work I had mad cravings for Malaysian food. My tastebuds must truly be feeling its Asian food withdrawals, of various Chinese/Vietnamese/Japanese/Korean/Malaysian and Taiwanese varieties . Makes sense, as it’s been 11 months since I’ve departed the accessible food haven of Melbourne. It doesn’t help that the only thing my Australian colleague and I do all day is send each other photos of food; the theme of the past 2 days being Malaysian. So, onwards I marched towards getting my fix, roti being my first step in rehab and char kway teow being my second.
Still uncomfortable with dining out alone without something to read or occupy my attention away from the fact that I am indeed dining by myself, I had a local magazine with me and dived straight into it after I ordered my feast (including takeaway for later). It was themed around Mother’s Day gifts and restaurants that the writer swore every mother would absolutely adore for the upcoming occasion this weekend. Not usually sensitive to the insinuations attached to these type of occasions – being every type of celebratory day centred on family, it surprised me when I felt my heart clench and my breath draw short. It was briefly on my mind during the day when I accidentally scrolled too far back through photos on my phone to chemotherapy proof. But it surprised me that my feelings didn’t switch off. It surprised me that it’s been almost exactly 2 years since my mum was last conscious, since I said bye to her that morning and went to work despite what was going on because I wanted to be strong and do normal things and pretend everything was ok. 2 years since my dad called to tell me he had to take my mum back to hospital because she was tired, just so tired, and wouldn’t open her eyes. I spent the next 5 days unable to sleep, on the verge of panic attacks, because I was scared every time my phone light blinked that it was the hospital calling in the middle of the night to tell me my mum had died alone and I wouldn’t be there for her. 5 days later she passed in front of my eyes. I felt her leave. It surprised me to remember these things, but at the same time, realise that I am slowly forgetting as well.
What if I forget the sound of her voice, or the way her hugs felt. What if I forget the rhythm of her footsteps, or how much I secretly loved to listen to her stories, or how good she used to look in white and red.
What if I forget what it’s like to have a mum.
Safe to say the excitement of my Malaysian feast ended abruptly. I came home and re-watched for the first time since her funeral the slideshow I made in her memory, creating impressive fountains in the process.
This will be a hard week, but I promise to treasure better ones to come.