The little things that made it worthwhile

I went to the cancer hospital this morning full of apprehension. I woke up extra early and made a really, really pleading prayer to ask God be with me through it all. Actually, I had almost forgotten that there is an interfaith memorial service. But she called me last night to tell me she will come along. I had asked her when I visited her during Deepavali and later on, called her once. I do not want to pressure her so I told her it is up to her whether she is ready to go back to the hospital which have left a lot of sad memories for her.

Every nurses, janitors and other staffs were so happy to see her. Everyone has only good words about her husband. Many of them had spent many months with him and they shared with her what he used to tell them. Right down to his aquarium of fish.

Things went very well, with some tears here and there. Father EP was very frank in his little pep talk and he recognised the pain and despair many of the cancer patients and their loved ones go through. There are Buddhist nun, ustaz and a Hindu swami as well and each of them said their prayers for everyone.

They read out all the names of the patients whom had died in the recent year and sadly, I recognise so many names because I had once spent some time with them. Even the stoic Indian elderly lady had died. But I feel a little glad because she had always told me she would be happy to never wake up in the morning because of what she has to go through everyday. I cannot recall her name but remember vividly her very heavily Tamil accented Bahasa Malaysia. Their faces were on my mind and all I recalled are their courage and positiveness in facing cancer.

When the memorial service was over, she chatted with the sister of the ward. Sister told her that before Deepavali, she remembered the last Deepavali when V was around. I told the ward sister that I too felt so emotional and kept thinking of V. I comforted V’s wife that probably it is the Divine and maybe V too whom had whispered in our ears to bring his wife to this morning memorial.

It is not so much about the service but rather, the chance for every nurses and everyone whom had once known V to tell his wife what a wonderful man V was. V’s wife was rather sad that V did not at any time showed her that he knew he would die. In fact, when V died on Christmas day, he died without her presence because he told her he is fine and asked her to go back to sleep (early morning). When she woke up, he was already gone. It is not frustration but something like that which she had carried for a long time. Today, we told her that V already talked to some of us that he didn’t want her to worry so he had acted very brave. It probably put a closure to her that it is out of love and concern for her that he never admit he already knew in his heart he had lost the fight.

She has a long journey ahead, with two small sons and no job at the moment. But, she is a brave and strong woman and I know they will cope well.

I went to visit one very elderly patient. She was a teacher, aged 80+ yrs, brain tumor that made her unable to communicate, eat or move. This morning, I can feel that she has lost a lot of weight. But her clear, light brown eyes are still as soft and gentle. I had spent many, many mornings with her when I was volunteering there. Whenever I felt tired, I would go to her room and sit down. Or when I dare not approach certain rooms, I would hide there till I get the courage to knock on the door.

Her room was like a solace for me. It is clean, bright, cheerful. She had stayed there for nearly two years. I had seen the bills before and oh boy….

But what made me most happy is she still recognise me. She would blink her eyes if she understand what is being said. I went in with my usual cheerful greetings, remind her my name is Lilian. I could notice the eyes moving. Long time ago, she had even told me she was a teacher in Convent Light Street and she could mumble where she stayed. The nurses told me that on and off, she would mumble something. And she would only do so with people whom she is familiar with.

This morning, I coaxed her to say bye-bye to me. She moved her tongue and I heard audible bye. I was soooo happy. I reminded her that I will always keep her in my mind and though I cannot visit her regularly anymore, I always pray to my Jesus (she is not a Christian) to give peace and comfort to her.

Oh yes, I recalled the times when I used to sat next to her. It is no fun just sitting there and looking into her eyes (which is the only responsive part) and hold her hands. So, sometimes, when people aren’t listening, I would sang her some songs I know. Or I would read something out loud to her. I even told her about the new Penang state government. I do not know if the 80 yrs old, brain tumor patient cares about politics or not but it is fun to tell her anyway because I ran out of things to continue a one-sided conversation.

I left with a heavy heart. I reminded a nurse to make sure that someone tells me if her health deteriorates because I want to be there for her. Now, I meet this nurse in my new church so it is easy for her to update me.

It doesn’t take much to make me feel that what I had done in the seven months had been most meaningful. It is very fulfilling when I can see these little signs and assure myself that it is worth it.

3 thoughts on “The little things that made it worthwhile

  1. Oh auntie lilian, if everyone is as caring as u, all the cancer patients will be braver to fight for their life. But… oh well, human are selfish. I’m glad that you were there for me too. Far from sight but close at heart. =)

  2. Whenever i read your sharing abt the cancer hospital, the patients…..tears rolled in my eyes. My father who had lung cancer had passed on last Dec. His ‘battle period’ coincidently was around the time when you did the ‘volunteer visit’ at MT Miriam.
    I had read and treated those post as my ‘moral support’ then. I know i was not alone caring for a terminal cancer patient. I am glad that i’ve found your bolg.
    Thank you

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