I find the mornings the hardest.

When everyone else is up and the day is humming along… when there are things to do, dinners to attend, meals to prepare, instructions to give, the day moves along. The mind is given focus and the memory, reprieve. The part of the brain that deals with anguish is muted.

When everyone else is up and the day is humming, I can almost fool myself into thinking that my mother is still alive. Sure, we’re living in her house and sure, I’m sleeping on her bed. But it could feel like all those other times we’d returned to Singapore and crashed at her place while she stayed over at my aunt’s. When everyone else is up and the day is humming, when the day darkens to night, I can almost fool myself into believing that my mother is out with friends somewhere and she’s returning home late. Care team meeting, perhaps. Some church function we had chosen not to attend.

But when the morning comes around and I am alone in her bed, in her room… when I wake up to the knowledge that this is one more day where my mother will not wake up in this earthly realm, I feel like someone has socked me in the gut. I keel over and weep.

I know they mean well, but I don’t understand some of the things people have chosen to say to me. It might be the cool observation that I don’t seem as affected as other family members and therefore can’t possibly hurt as much. It might be the advice one dispenses about how I should go about settling my mother’s affairs. I cannot tell you the number of times people outside of my family have asked what I will do with my mother’s house and her maid’s contract, before telling me what they think I should do.

But, I want to say, my mother is still in her coffin. But, I want to remind, today’s my mother’s funeral. But, I want to scream, I have only just released her ashes in the sea on Monday.

Please cut me some slack.

Is nothing sacred anymore? When did the contents of my mother’s will become fodder for general speculation? When did it stop being vulgar to ask? Or am I so young and stupid that I cannot figure out what our next steps should be?

I move at the pace that I move because I am winded and in a fog. Do not ask me when and how I’d like to pack my mother’s things. Do not be so hasty to remove all physical traces of my mother’s life from the walls that have seen and heard how she had brought me up. I cannot bear to move anything. Her white box with cream brocade still sits on the tallboy, chockful of pain meds. Her bottle of liquid morphine stands and winks at me. Her clothes are still hanging behind the door. The top right drawer of cosmetics still smells beautiful and delicate. Her reading glasses are still in her handbag.

Do not ask me to touch anything. Do not ask me to erase her.

I find the mornings hardest. And the evenings. And the nights. But I find the judging and the advice the most brutal of all.