Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo In Real Life’s sentiments.
When I was 3, my mom was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called scleroderma. She battled the disease like a warrior for 20 years.
My mom was the bravest and strongest woman I had ever known.
She instilled a love for reading in me, and introduced me to the world of k-drama. She told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as I set my mind to do it.
But there was one thing I could not set my mind to: Believing in a God that had let her suffer for the last 20 years of her life.
I grew up doubting God
Every Sunday morning, dad would load mom’s bulky wheelchair into the back of our car, and the whole family would attend church.
During the church service, mom listened intently to the pastor’s preaching.
I sang along to the worship songs, listened to the sermons, read my Bible dutifully, and prayed every night before I went to bed.
When I was growing up, we rarely missed Sunday service. But a part of me would always ask, “If God is real, why can’t he heal my mum? Why would he let her suffer?”
Whatever happened to “Ask and you will be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened?”
As the years passed, mom’s condition got worse.
I watched my once healthy mother wither into a shell of her former self.
She was constantly in pain. Moving about was a challenge. It got to the point where she did not ask God to heal her, but instead to take the pain away. Every night, she would pray for God to let her die.
Despite all that, she faithfully kept going to church.
It was heart-wrenching seeing my mother suffering like this. But I was scared of losing her. She was my pillar of strength. Whenever I faced a challenge, she was the first person I went to for advice.
I knew she was worried about us.
She was worried about how my dad would fare without her and how I would grow up without a mother. Selfishly, I did not put her mind at ease, I did not want to envision a life without her.
I could not bear to lose her. Even when she was fighting a losing battle against her illness, I did not want to let her go.
So I prayed for the opposite. I prayed for her to be healed.
I prayed, even when her condition worsened, when the doctors told us it was only a matter of time, when it was evident that she was never going to get better.
I prayed so hard for us to stay together forever, but my prayers were never answered.
Funny isn’t it?
I loved my mom, but not enough to see that all she wanted was to die. She had told me over and over again that she wanted this all to end.
Then one night, I had an extremely vivid dream.
In the dream, I found myself standing at the bottom of the grey-carpeted staircase in our house. I looked around, and there was no one else at home.
For some reason, the front door was wide open and I could see the sun setting in the distance. Daylight was fading, but not in a scary way.
I walked up the staircase and headed out to the balcony. As I stepped outdoors, I could feel a gentle breeze blowing in my face.
I could see our neighbourhood from where I stood. All seemed normal until I looked up.
In the sky was the most magnificent sunset I ever saw. The clouds had brilliant hues of pink, blue and orange. It looked like the ending scene in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
Then a voice boomed from the sky. It was deep and authoritative, and yet gentle and loving. I knew, without a doubt, that it was God’s voice speaking to me.
God said to me, “Your mother is unhappy. She wants to go home. Will you let her?”
I stayed quiet for a moment. I thought about how I was selfish for making her stay, all because I was too afraid to let her go.
Finally, I looked up at the clouds and answered, “Yes.” I smiled.
I had made a choice: To finally let go.
I woke up the next day feeling more refreshed than I had in a long time. The weight in my heart had somehow disappeared. Strangely, I felt… lighter.
Everything changed after that day. Instead of praying for healing, I prayed for mum to be released from her pain and misery.
A month later, I sat by my mom’s side stroking her hands as she took her last few breaths.
I remember telling her, “It’s okay mom, don’t worry about us. You can go.”
She left not long after that.
I Used To Doubt God. I’m A Firm Believer Now
It’s hard to describe my dream without sounding like a madwoman. Even to this day, I get incredulous looks from people when I tell my story.
Some people may argue that the dream could have been conjured up by my brain in desperation.
You might think, perhaps unconsciously, I was feeling guilty for wanting my mother to pass on, and therefore my brain created this dream to deal with the emotional guilt.
But I know what I saw, and I know what I heard. I’ve neither seen nor felt anything like it after that dream. How do you explain the unexplainable?
In the Old Testament of the Bible, God would often speak to people through dreams, showing them the way. Whatever people say, I believe with all my heart that this is what happened to me.
I thank God every day for giving me that dream. Because now I know that my mom has finally gone to a happier place, a place where she no longer experiences any pain.
When life gets me down, I think back and remember that dream. I remind myself that the big guy up there is in charge and nothing in life is too big for him.
And because of that, I have nothing to fear.
For more stories like this, read: These Are Three Malaysians Who Got Fired for the Most Ridiculous Reasons and After Malaysia’s Borders Were Closed, Here’s What 5 Pilots Are Doing To Survive