The Book of Life

During the last year, I’ve kept you updated about the status of my next novel Vandella: Resilience. My intention was to publish the book earlier this year. However, as I mentioned in my previous posts, I’d to put aside the manuscript for several months to take care of my mother through her health issues. She suffered a peritonitis last year, which nearly killed her, and while she struggled during her recovery, complications with diabetes finally took her life during the small hours of July 1st, 2023.

As I stood by her side, as she gave her last breath into this world, I could not help but feel mad and disappointed with myself. During the last couple of years, I’ve been working on this new novel, touching on the topics of motherhood and hardship in life, as I’ve learned through my mother’s eyes. And so, I’d dedicated this book to her. However, as often happens, life has other plans. My mother abandoned this world without knowing that my next book, which she didn’t have life enough to read, was dedicated and inspired by her.

“If only I had worked twice as hard to complete it on time,” “If I just had shared with her an incomplete version of the manuscript,” or “If I’d at least told her…” are some thoughts that came to my mind and which more likely will haunt me for the rest of my life. What was supposed to be an in-life recognition to my mother, now, it will be posthumous.

Death will always claim the lives of our loved ones too soon. Highlighting how time is the non-renewable commodity we can’t never have enough of, to do everything we want in this existence. Emphasising the remorse and guilt of what could have been but will never be. As we ponder on Death as the inexorable destiny, it becomes clearer that life is not other thing but time.

During the last months, as I struggled to complete the last pages of my novel, my mother was writing her last chapter as well, sadly, hers ending prior to mine. I could not avoid drawing parallels to a concept/ analogy I’ve mentioned in past posts, the concept of the “Book of life”, as this metaphor of life seen as an unpaged book one day we will finish. But like when we read a splendid book, it would be shocking figuring out is incomplete, with no more pages to turn, so it is in life. Sometimes we live in constant anxiety of not completing the story we’ve planned for us and our loved ones, and in depression, of not been able to turn back the pages of our lives. Because those passed pages don’t belong to us anymore, just like the people who have abandoned our lives.

And that is the paradigm of time, even when sometimes days could feel endless, in reality, we have just a tiny window of agency to act on this world, to say “I love you” to our loved ones and spend time with them. We only have the present moment, a window of time as brief as the turn of a page, and everything that has passed doesn’t belong to us anymore. It belongs only to Death now.

Looking back, all the months I got “delayed” to complete my manuscript “on time”, months which I spent taking care of my mother, I’m certain now that time was better spent by her side. We suffered, we laughed, we learned, and we discovered an aspect of life together. After decades of not living at my parents’ house, I had the opportunity to spend countless hours by her side, taking care of her, as she did every time I got sick as a kid. And be able to understand all the selfless love and devotion she had for me, and the strength for not giving up on me, even through hardship.

Now that her time has come, it would be selfish of me asking for more, more time, more love, because everything my mother had, she had already given it up to me. Even those lessons that I yet don’t know she has already taught me. It will take only time for me to reach that future page in my Book of Life, when I’ll come across a situation in life that will make me think, “you were right, mother.”

But for now, I’ll remain saddened by your departure from this existence, mother, but also happy about the idea of your reunion with my father in the afterlife. I know you suffered his absence with every cell of your being, and counted the days, hours and even the minutes to be together again. And worry not, is only a matter of time, for the whole family to be reunited together… we are coming.

 

In some place, where the circles of time converge, we will meet again. Goodbye. Until my last breath of life on the sea of stars, your memory will remain in my heart.

Rest in Peace, Mother.

Wholeheartedly, your loved son,

M. Ch. Landa

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