How Much Separation Hurts

I feel so confused about how I’m ‘supposed’ to feel. My heart is totally heavy with grief and it feels hard to feel light-hearted again as it’s too painful and hard to bear.

I never imagined it would be this painful to lose your family member for good. One of my ‘godmothers’ has just passed away and it makes me torn into pieces now…

Act I.

Living the fact that I didn’t grow up and was raised by my biological parents but my grandparents and 3 aunts who were like my ‘fairy godmothers’ will be a major heartbreak for me when I lose one of them. Each of them has a special role in my life. One of them is Te Ana (the youngest child of my grandparents), who is more like my spiritual teacher all this time.

People say that whoever dies will live on in the memory of those who remember them. Truly.. Te Ana will live forever not only in my memory and heart but also for our family and everyone who has been there during her lifetime.

I still remember vividly when in early 2019 Te Ana wanted a vacation trip to meet me in Kuala Lumpur which ended with visiting Singapore too. It was our special trip as we had quality time together. Then when I returned to Indonesia for Eid in June 2019 Te Ana told me that her chest was painful. For people who are not used to complaining like her, I responded half-heartedly but still told her to see the doctor. Because a few months earlier, in early March 2019, my grandma had an accident when she was hit by a motorbike while trying to cross the road which required her to carry out various operations and checks, Te Ana postponed a check-up to the doctor for her chest pain. She didn’t want to be another burden to the family.

In July-August 2019, it was discovered that there was a tumor in Te Ana’s breast, and surgery was required. After the lab results stated the tumor had become cancer and spread, the only rescue option at that time was chemotherapy. Long story short, Te Ana became a cancer survivor until the end of her life.

I’ve never counted how many tears there were from the diagnosis to Te Ana’s ‘back and forth’ treatment. One thing I know for sure, no one will be prepared for death and forever separation for the person left behind.

It was a slow and painful journey called ‘having to watch your loved one lose herself to a chronic disease’. I quietly sensed that everyone was slowly losing themselves in taking care of her. Becoming a caregiver of cancer survivors is not an easy job. I remember crying a lot, feeling like there was a new weight on my shoulders I never meant to carry, but I love her…

Act II.

On that one particular morning, when I arrived at the office, I received messages from my other two aunts–Te Ana’s two older sisters. I know something’s happened. And that was it. After one week Te Ana was back in the hospital, and then… she was able to go home… Not to our house, but to God’s house… Forever. Exactly on September 14, 2022, Te Ana returns to the Almighty, the owner of this universe.

I felt very guilty because I couldn’t be there with her at the time of her last breath. I didn’t even get to see her for the last time and take her to her final resting place because my plane from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta was delayed and the trip from the airport to my house was very jammed.

That night I slept in Te Ana’s room. How could I sleep when I imagine my aunt struggling with pain alone every second in that room for the past 3 years? I could still smell my aunt’s scent in that room.

I feel a mountain of guilt when I feel like I wasn’t a good enough niece. Every time I did a slow response to her text/ call even when she called me last time when she suffered from her chest-pain and only cried. All I could tell during that time was “I don’t know what to do” and at the end of the call she said, “I’m sorry I disturb your sleeping”. Now I realized it felt like I was doing a crime.

Act III.

Even if I could choose to be reborn, I would like Te Ana to be my Aunt again. I’m grateful to be her niece. The only person who can accept and embrace me without patronizing me when I do something wrong.

So far I have never found anyone who has a very pure heart, accepts all destiny gracefully, and still believes in the greatness of God. My aunt told me that humans were created by God in pairs, so she is always sure that God’s promise is certain, that’s the reason why she is never angry and disappointed when God hasn’t given her a mate/ husband. Te Ana always believed that even if she didn’t find a soulmate in this world, she believed there would be one in Heaven. That’s why she always walks in the way of God in order to become a resident of Heaven someday and meet her soulmate there.

InshaAllah… God will place her in the highest Heaven. Amen.

Dear lovely aunt, Te Ana… Hopefully, I can be like you who is able to be sincere and continue to surrender to God’s power. That way I hope I am worthy enough to reunite with you in Heaven because I want to be with you again. Let’s travel and eat a lot there.

Al-Fatihah to the forever spiritual teacher of my life, Te Ana. I love you!

I will never forget Te Ana who always put God first until her very last breath, where she always raised her hand just to ask the Almighty, not begging for compassion for humans – even for her family.

I dearly miss you here, Te… Can you come to me in my dream when I sleep?

Tokyo, 2017 with Te Ana.

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