My bestest friend Katarina had a mom. Like we all have had moms – or are lucky enough to still have them. Katarina’s mom was called Majda and she sadly died of cancer in her early forties. She was a doctor and a warrior. She battled this fierce disease for a decade, just long enough to see her daughter become a woman. And I am absolutely positive that she would have admired her daughter … and would have been proud of her.
Over the few years I have known Katarina, I have learned a few things about her mom. She was exigent and determined. She was sweet and caring. Someone told me she was the nicest woman he had ever met … and for a long time, she was the love of someone’s life. But then life takes a different turn and great people don’t get to stay with their loved ones forever.
The idea of dying was something that I ran away from as fast as I could. It was – most fortunately – something that I didn’t need to confront in my young life. For a long time I even did not like discussing it, as if it was a disease that I was afraid to catch. One does not talk about death or one will provoke it. At least that is what I thought.
Then I became friends with this girl who had lived through losing her mom at a very delicate age. And she was left alone with a grieving father whose life had been shattered. Katarina talks about her mother with complete honesty. And I ask questions. I want to know how it felt, how it happened and what is to be done when it happens. I wanted the brutal honesty, the honesty that often made me cry and actively feel the loss. Because even if the years pass and the pain fades, the loss is still here.
Story after story, I am starting to feel like I know Majda as well – or better said – I feel that I am getting to know her little by little. I have met her parents, Katarina’s grandma and grandpa, I have worn her cardigan and read her gardening books. And now that I am a mother, I decided that I want to sew. So, Katarina gave me her mom’s old sewing kit. And when I examine every little item in the box, I feel like a historian getting to know this woman who I will sadly never get to really meet. And I can’t help but wonder – who was Katarina’s mom?
Here is what I found out.
Majda liked sewing. She also liked to keep her clothes nice. If a button fell of of her shirt, she would sew it right back on. She had this little thing that protects your finger while using a needle. She had neat little scissors for cutting the thread – and a white pencil for drawing on fabric. She had tons of different colour threads and elastic bands of different widths. Basically, she had everything that you need to have. Majda was like that, a perfectionist.
Majda loved her garden. She had all the utensils one might need. And she had books about gardening because she wanted to educate herself on what she was doing. Today she would have probably watched gardening shows or looked for meaningful clips on Youtube. Although I also flipped through these same books, a love for growing plants did not settle in my heart. I did love to harvest the vegetables though. On the other hand, I did not like all the work that this took. Majda loved the work too – because she knew that it takes hard work to achieve something. To achieve anything.
Majda wore about my size, but she was way shorter. She picked her clothes so that they were practical and good-looking at the same time. I have her woollen grey cardigan that I imagine her wearing at work. She put it on when it got cold in the office. I wear it for the same reason.
Majda had a daughter … just as I do. The love you feel for your child is out of this world and I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for her all those years when she knew that she will eventually not be strong enough to fight. To be there for the broken hearts, the moments of success … for the grandchildren.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But we are still here so let’s be grateful for it, m’kay? That is just the best way to honour it.
And I will get back to sewing. Because I like to sew too. Thank you Majda for your kit, it’s awesome.