Birthday at the cemetery

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

People often anticipate future events, including those that are not beautiful or pleasant, such as the painful loss of a loved one. They attempt to prepare for such moments, only to find that they are not truly ready when they occur.

My mom is no longer alive, and I hope she has found a better place beyond this world, which has become increasingly unbearable. The insensitivity, lack of appreciation for real values, jealousy, envy, and selfishness prevalent among people contribute to the world’s problems and its potential destruction. Thankfully, she left before witnessing even greater horrors predicted for the future, some of which we are already experiencing—climate change, infectious diseases, and ecological disasters.

The saying “You don’t need a doctor” holds true today more than ever. The coronavirus has shaken the world on various levels—human, health, and financial. There are numerous theories about the origin and cause of this scourge, but one thing is certain—it will not end well. The current events are indicative of the state humanity finds itself in—slowly dying and decaying. Every system tends toward self-destruction. While I regret not having my own children, on the other hand, it is a relief that they will not experience these challenging times.

The destinies of people are often influenced by malicious individuals who openly express an indescribable desire to destroy others. These individuals, deeply unhappy and possibly once victims themselves, now revel in the suffering of others. It is a mental illness that is unfortunately becoming more prevalent. The only way to safeguard oneself is to surround one’s self with people of similar moral values and to live peacefully and modestly in one’s micro-world. Trying to fight back is akin to fighting zombies—doomed. However, finding solace in the fact that you have soothed your conscience and justified your purpose for being on this earth can be a small consolation, contributing to the never-ending struggle.

My mom is synonymous with the word ‘mother’—absolutely dedicated to her children, making maximum sacrifices for the family. She was always there for us, never showing that she was tired or that we bothered her. We always came first. Traditionally, through the preparation of food, she showed concern for our daily existence. Every day I had a fresh lunch (that’s why even today I don’t like reheated, except for sarma): soup, main course with a side dish, salad and dessert. And we were never fat. Even industrial food, cans, or chocolates were acceptable—because the raw materials were different and healthier.

When I got sick, my mother wanted to ‘enter my body’ and drive away the disease—she was always by my side, massaging me with komo brandy, putting potatoes and onions on my feet, making sherbet with milk, toasting bread, and preparing mashed potatoes and carrots (I liked that the most). She watched over me and visited me constantly. When I threw up, she always held her hand on my forehead and sympathized with me. Only now do I realize how healing it was to have her constantly there when I was having a hard time? Feeling that you are not alone is the best way to boost your immune system. So much of her attention pleased me when I was sick, but as soon as I revived a little, her constant questioning and caressing would start to annoy me.

Her existence gave me security; I was never afraid because Mom was always there for me and took care of me. And I knew that everything would pass. Unfortunately, life also passes. Inevitably, my mom turned seventy-four years old. I couldn’t understand that she couldn’t do some things so quickly and easily now, that she got tired, that she couldn’t keep up with me, and I often rushed her. I didn’t understand, and she was trying to speed up with her head down. I regret very much that I did not understand her, and I regret that she did not want to tell me how difficult it was for her to get old. I saw my parents as superheroes—that they can always do anything, that they never get tired, and that they are always there for me to help me. They probably also felt that magic and happiness that we still need, and that’s why they didn’t try to expose the truth about old age.

When I became independent, there was still that unbreakable bond between mother and daughter. She always knew (sensed) when I was having a hard time. By the sound of my voice over the phone connection, she could always judge whether I was okay or not—as if there were video signals in that earpiece of hers.

I was lucky that she was my mother and that she took care of me for so long. Every parting is difficult, especially the one with the closest people for whom you feel unconditional love. And when you don’t think of the end, it appears faster than you expect, and it is always endlessly painful.

My mom was chronically ill—she had bronchitis. Years ago, she often had her lungs scanned and received antibiotics to help the inflammation subside. Doctors prescribe drugs out of inertia and do not delve into all the details. It cost her her life. With the appearance of the corona virus, she got bronchitis, as usual, at the beginning of the year. She took a handful of medicines, but the inflammation slowly subsided. Of course, everyone was talking only about the corona, as if other illnesses do not exist. After three months of constant antibiotics, the condition did not improve. On the contrary, it got worse, and she fell into bed—she couldn’t eat or get up. Dad was by her side all the time. She only asked to eat pretzels and cream cheese. She was afraid of vomiting, and fatty, fried food and meat caused her nausea. She even stopped drinking milk, which she used to love. There were occasional signs of improvement. We stopped the vomiting, but she walked very weakly—only with the help of others. We also went to a private doctor to examine her in detail and tell her what to do next. He prescribed therapy and added another new medicine—she was taking almost ten medicines a day. Since she could not walk, doctors from Home Care visited her. What is an enigma is that the results of the blood test were fine, but the woman was thirsty—she could not eat and mostly lay down and slept. I was aware that we had to find the right diagnosis. After she did another corona test and it was confirmed that she was negative, they continued with antibiotics, i.e. longacef injections for pneumonia. Pneumonia in regression. All the focus of doctors is on respiratory diseases, and until that is solved, they do not analyze anything else. Since she was diagnosed with vertigo, a neurologist examination was requested. When he came for a home visit, he did not want to examine her in detail, convinced that she had corona (even though she had already had negative test results twice). The neurologist stops all therapy and says that the vomiting may be caused by the Plavix drug and requests an internist’s examination. When it’s critical, doctors often shift the responsibility to another specialist. I understand that the local doctors cannot help her and I schedule an examination in Belgrade. It’s a mistake that I didn’t do it earlier. And maybe she was destined not to reach Belgrade because, on the very day when we were supposed to leave, she couldn’t get out of bed. She was already in a state where she could not eat or drink anything for two days. I think it’s either from drugs or from some digestive tract disease. According to the recommendation, we went to the internist at the hospital, who should receive her hospital treatment, but alas, during the transport in the ambulance, which does not have air conditioning, she registered a slightly elevated temperature at the reception. This complicates things and the corona test is again requested. Before the results arrived (since she had a slightly elevated temperature and signs of regressive pneumonia), she was admitted to the Covid hospital. That’s the end, to put a person of that age, chronically ill, exhausted, in an extremely contagious ward. I didn’t manage to stop the admission without confirmation that he was positive. And that’s my mistake, and the doctor’s mistake—that he received based on an unproven suspicion. Since then, I’ve lost all contact with her, as she is semi-conscious (under sedation and oxygen), she doesn’t even have the strength to answer the phone and I don’t know if they give her water to drink. The nurses who answer the phone give scant information about her condition, they even get angry because I call two or three times a day. One told me that mom took the mask off her face, so they had to tie her up. It bothers me a lot, and I cry and I can’t sleep. Do you have to treat the oldest like that? At least give them a dignified exit with more tranquilizers. It hurts me to be far from her and I can’t help her, hold her hand, or hug her. I feel that I let her down and left her alone, surrounded by impersonal spacesuits in a COVID hospital with no way out.

On Thursday evening, they informed me that my mother had passed away. Diagnosis—the thrombus stopped the heart. Test for covid—negative. Only God knows the truth, and the doctors. When I went to identify the body, I saw that her lips were all cracked and bleeding—probably she was not given enough water. I don’t blame anyone, I know it’s hard, but let’s be human. Help those in need and the helpless—it’s all recorded somewhere and returned.

Her death had a great impact on changing my attitude towards material things. While I was sorting out her closet, I saw how many wardrobes were left, household items that she kept for special moments (some unwrapped). The man disappears, but things remain. Cloths, sheets, glasses, shoes, and dresses outlive us. Why do we need to buy a bunch of things that we wear once a year? Do we want to fill an emotional void by shopping? We should stop and ask ourselves what we want from life and whether we are truly happy in the direction we are going. It is never too late to find the meaning of our life and to do everything to spend the rest of the day satisfied.

Well, my mom is gone, and it’s an indescribable sadness. Facing the fact that the one who always protected me and fought for me like a lioness is gone is terrifying. Before my birthday, August 20, we mark seven days since her heart stopped working. We commemorate it together at her grave—mom, dad and me. As it began, so it ends—the three of us together.

You will remain in my thoughts forever, and my heart will beat for you and all your exploits. You have fulfilled your mission to be a MOTHER. Thank you endlessly for everything you have done for me and forgive me for all my hasty words, things that I didn’t think to tell you, and which hurt you a lot. You know I love you the most. Forever your daughter.


Author: Dobra Odlučić