I’m not good with sudden wake ups. Especially not at 2am.
My sleep was bothersome, restless and unsettled.
Thoughts of my elderly mum played on my mind. I felt like I was reliving the past four years of my sleep deprived life before my dad had passed on.
Sometime in September 2015, my dad was 90 (in his 91st year) was when he initially suffered from renal failure. We were compassionately told by the emergency doctors that it would unlikely that my dad would celebrate Father’s Day or his 91st birthday that year. Over the next three years my dad had multiple check up visits to his renal specialist Dr Siva. Dr Siva explained in his caring and sympathetic manner that it was just a matter of time as my dad’s kidneys were deteriorating and beginning to fail. My dad would always nodd, smile and say “thank you for looking after me” . I’m not sure if dad really knew or if he just simply agreed with Dr Siva, knowing that there was nothing that could be done now and to simply appreciate the life he has.
My dad was becoming increasingly more frail. Yet he always remained smiling, laughing, carefree with an an amazing appetite for his Singaporean Peranikan cuisine. He was lucid and mentally able, but physically he had slowed down , more breathless, walks were shorter and needing more rest time. I often wondered that if what I saw on the outside was how he truly was on the inside. I could see and feel his declining health. It was something I silently and gradually came to terms with.
My dad passed peacefully in late July 2018.
Five years of Sleeplessness
I knew it wasn’t deep sleep but I thought I was getting good sleep at the time.
When dad passed (I don’t like the word died or death, it just seems too final). I grieved of course but I wasn’t a blubbering mess. I believe it was because I had begun my grieving 4 years earlier, when I initially brought him to the emergency department of the hospital back in September 2015.
I experienced a sense of relief and sense of letting go and acceptance when he passed. The relief that many of my friends and friends of friends spoke of. I often considered those words to be harsh and insensitive because no one want’s their loved ones to pass. Part of me believed that for me to experience relief would mean I’m being selfish, heartless and uncaring.
I soon realised that the relief was for him. No longer suffering from his knowingly failing health. His body shutting down. My dad has his mental marbles but internally, organs were saying it’s time to rest now. And I believe he knew but never spoke of it. He knew that soon it was time to leave and I knew and I could see it in his eyes he was ready. Though I never did want to admit it to myself or anyone. I too never spoke of it.
My relief was also for myself. I felt selfish and self centred saying so (as I mentioned previously). I now have only one parent to care for. I’ve never considered looking after my parents a burden or a imposition on my life , after all they looked after me and gave to me. It was the logistics and emotional energy in caring for two elderly people that you love dearly with the knowing that the inevitable will happen one day that would often fill my mind. Not knowing which day or how and how you will be or cope after.
My relief was and is also about the emotional heaviness I carry with me, feelings of guilt because of the aging process. It’s shit! (sorry for the swearing). It’s not a situation anyone wants to be in or chooses. Becoming more reliant and less independent, and having that awareness that this is all happening and yet helpless to do anything about it.
After experiencing some months of “relief” (it’s been a year since my dad has passed) I feel like I am going through this all over again with my mum. It’s not her fault. It’s just called life and the cycle of life.
Sudden Wake Up
2am I suddenly woke, I couldn’t sleep, I was unsettled and bothered , I walked quietly in the dark to my room I call my sanctuary. My Himalayan rock salt lamp still on from the night before casting a soft warm pink glow, giving me comfort as I sank into my Ikea Poang chair. The gentle bounce made me feel nurtured as if the chair was rocking a baby off to sleep.
Sitting quietly I looked around my room, reached for my sketchbook and fine tip sepia pen, I then did the thing that comforts me and gives me peace.
I felt settled and soothed.