I remember her singing, and accompanying her on the keyboard. I remember thinking that she had a relatively thin voice, but sweet and had emotional depth. I remember at least 3-4 of the songs she used to sing. I remember the way she would squint her eyes when the song got too high for her, and she would ask if we could take it at a lower key. I remember thinking of her as a gentle soul. I remember her never shouting. Only stating her points vehemently. With passion and conviction. I remember her dedication to her family and her sincerity to everyone around. I remember thinking that she’s one of the nicest aunties I see every Sunday. I remember how Human she was.
Then, she stopped coming for a few months.
Then we heard: she’s in critical condition.
Then yesterday: she’s passed away.
To say that we are shocked is an understatement. We did not even know she had cancer. After all, people come and go all the time. Sometimes they disappear for months due to busy work periods. Sometimes they don’t turn up for an entire year to spend weekends preparing their child for national exams. No one is obliged to turn up every week, maybe except the musicians. I guess we all just assumed that she was busy with work. And because she wanted to keep her condition secret, no one ever knew.
No one knew, and no one questioned.
I think that’s the source of our guilt. As S mentioned, we all noticed her absence, but we all just assumed. No one bothered to find out, or ask. We just assumed.
I must have slept for less than 2 hours last night, tossing and turning with that heavy feeling in my heart. Then my alarm rang, and I actually felt liberated from the chore of trying to fall asleep. I switched on my phone, and there they were: all the expressions of grief and anger at the fact that we had not been able to offer any support earlier. And that heavy feeling in me swelled forth into a flood of tears again.
Do you know what makes me feel more guilty?
The fact that I will feel guilty now, the fact that I will cry for her now, the fact that we will offer our condolences and best wishes to her family now, and after a few days, weeks, months, she will fade into the recesses of our memory. The fact that the thought of her will bring pangs of sorrow every now and then, but even those will fade with time. The fact that I will be able to move on with my life, but her daughter and husband will live the rest of their lives in the shadow of her absence.
And the fact that even this guilt will fade away.