The first ever funeral I remember attending was that of my mother’s. I was 10 years old then. My mother had died.
Final diagnosis being double pneumonia. My mother had been living with HIV/AIDS, I found this out later in life.
I watched my mom fight off illness after illness.
Her last days on this earth she spent them with my little sister, Mbali and I. Andile had unfortunately gone to JHB and as such missed my mom. I don’t even know when she had last seen her.
That was the first time I remember attending a funeral.
While some things are a blur now, some things are very clear to me.
Like the image of my mother lying in her coffin. We all saw her.
I moved in with my great aunt Nelly and in November she passed away due to an AIDS related illness as well. This was my second encounter with death.
All deaths thereafter were just deaths. Sad. But not as devastating.
When I became a nurse I worked in a ward that saw people dying like it was in fashion. I still remember the first patient I saw die. It was a foreign man who had defaulted on his medication and was wheeled into the ward barely conscious.
He didn’t last too long. By handover, he had died.
Another poignant death I remember as a student was the death of a white man who had given up his body to science.
And lastly the death of a man who had been brought in from home with one of the most massive bedsore I had ever seen. He died in the early hours of the morning.
Growing up, I hated hospitals. I didn’t like how they seemed to be a place of doom and gloom. They made me anxious.
Fast forward a few years and guess who calls the hospital an office, a place of employment?
Having been in this profession has made me really look at death differently. It still hurts to lose a loved one. Like when my dad suddenly died in 2014. That was hard. But the grieving process was not as long. I allowed myself to talk about how I was feeling. To talk about missing him. To talk about the dreams I would have that involved him.
I have learned to deal with death in a whole different way.
I am not even afraid to die. Whenever my time comes, I am ready. Even if I were to die today. I know that I would have fulfilled my purpose for this lifetime.
I am grateful that I have been able to find ways to deal with loss of loved ones the way that I can.
I do worry now and then about my mom dying and it scares me on the one hand but I also know that I will handle it and get through it.