The new vocab I learned today: euthanasia.
This is not the first time The New Yorker’s articles made me cry. Rachel Aviv’s The Death Treatment, subtitled ‘When should people with a non-terminal illness be helped to die?’, had stirred me to tears. I ended my Saturday night in my new armchair, moved and thought of my mother.
The article is about the arguments regarding Euthanasia law — the law that allows doctors to conduct mercy killing for patients who no longer wish to live, due to, both, incurable physical and mental pains. A very informative article it is but, without having weaved in the personal story of Mrs.Godelieva De Troyer and her family, it wouldn’t have achieved such an applauding outcome as this, which is the ability to engage readers emotionally, making them glued to the story, and in my case, made my nose run and start writing something afterward.
“The loneliness, no chance of a cure after forty years of therapy, nothing to look forward to—all this has led me to see that the only thing remaining is a dignified end of life,” a farewell letter written by Godelieva before her decision to undergo euthanasia, discovered later by her son, Tom, caused my emotional breakdown. The article tells that, in the end, Godelieva ended her life in a hospital bed “with three photographs in her pocket: a picture of her holding Tom on her lap when he was a baby, a picture of her feeding one of Tom’s young daughters ice cream, and a photograph of her and her daughter walking together through a field.”
“Your mother loves you very much,” my mother’s sister told me once, on the phone, after I had a big fight with my mom. I’ve heard this before, time and again, “Your mom loves you very much.” Yet all my life I have always had this feeling that she’s the only human being that I have never loved, and could never love.
I’m now twenty-eight, and all my twenty-eight years of life, my idea of my mother has never been a good one. She was always crazy, unstable with emotional ups and downs. She hit me. She scolded me. She had fights with my father. She screamed very loud. She embarrassed us. In short, she’s never been a good mother, and I have loathed her.
She’s never been a happy one either. Now my mother is in her 60s, sixty-three to be exact. She’s old, and on medication which helps calm her down. She doesn’t scream anymore lately, nor violent. But poor soul. She has still never had peace of mind. Sometimes, she lay down in bed, not sleeping, yet not doing anything, eyes watching the ceiling. She was thinking, I know. There were chaotic thoughts racing in her mind. She’s never stayed with the present. My poor mother.
For all her life, my mother suffers a mental illness — a bipolar. That’s the cause of her emotional roller-coasters. My father said not only the illness, but it’s the illness combined with her personality. He said she’s a spoiled child who used to get everything she wanted and would turn very disastrously upset when she didn’t get it.
I’m a grown woman now. I’m not scared of her anymore, it’s now she who’s scared of me. But my father doesn’t agree. “She doesn’t really scared of you,” he said, “The only reason that you’re the only one she never argues with is because she’s afraid you will not love her.” She’s afraid you will not love her, I sometimes had this voice echoed in me. These later years, she expresses her love in her own ways. Knowing that I’ve never adored her, the way of her saying she loves me comes in forms of gifts — a new handbag, a cosmetic, a watch. They were usually laid on my desk, in my old room, when I come home to visit my parents– with notes. If it’s a birthday present, the note will say something like “Happy birthday. I love you – mom.” Sometimes there’s no special occasion. She just bought them, and most of the time they don’t suit my taste: The handbag is a bit too girly, or that I don’t use lipsticks. But I’ve always kept her notes. I pasted them in my diary.
I know my mother is not a kind of person who’d ask for a euthanasia. First off, because she’s never heard of it and it’s not legal here. Second off, she’s more on the manic side. I hardly see her being depressed. She’s just unhappy from time to time. And to help with that she uses shopping as an instant, temporary bliss-boosting steroid. Nevertheless, reading Godelieva’s story reminds me of her. In a way that she too — as I can feel it — has always wanted to be a “better mother”. She too, has endured a demonic illness that has and always will be with her. I have hated her. I have pitied her. Sometimes I sympathized with her. I wish I could bring myself to really love my mother someday. I hope that day won’t be the day I’d stand at her funeral crying and realizing how much she has loved me and think I should have loved my mother more when she’s alive. I hugged her the last time I visited her at home. With medication and regular appointments with a doctor, she’s calm down a lot now in her later years.
I’ve been crying all along while writing all these. Ah, a story about euthanasia and euthanasia law…
You never know what a good article is capable of.
[Participated in Today’s Prompt: Capable]