Jasmina Cordero works for Malmö City’s Cultural Department (Malmö Kulturförvaltning). She is 30 years old. Everyday she sees herself, bit by bit, taking on her mother’s knowledge and guidance in life. Now that her mom isn’t around to give advice anymore, she keeps her memory alive by thinking, “What would mom say now?” She hopes to always remember her mother’s wisdom.
This interview took place on the 28th of February, 2018
“My mom never complained about anything. And then, all of a sudden, she complained a tiny little bit. And an alarm went off in my head. So, I took her to the emergency room with no evidence to go on, and I basically lied. I just said she had a fever. She went through these whole body examinations, and then they discovered it was cancer, and it had spread. It was strange because she was so healthy. Then we took her to the hospital, and then she was dying.”
“Soon, her symptoms were getting worse, and she needed care 24 hours a day and our doctors started thinking about palliative care. We started getting these house calls every day. She was a very independent woman, but when she became very sick, she knew also that help was needed. I think that, from the beginning, the staff did not treat her as a ‘dying patient.’ They never spoke of the ‘time left’ with her. She never wanted to know. And that is one of the great things about palliative care. Because they actually respected that. They didn’t talk to her about the prognosis all the time. They also talked to her about normal things. About vacations and children and grandchildren. The normal stuff in life. They were good people, and my mom always complimented them. Because they were so cool.”
“My mom did not want to die, but she was very courageous throughout. That was really nice to see. One of my friends, her mother died a couple of years ago. Her mother died awfully. It was a really awful death. That story made me feel that death was not a natural thing. But my mother’s death was different — it was more natural because she didn’t resist, because she knew.
She has always been like that. For example, when I had my son, I had postpartum depression. I asked my mom, ‘what should I do?’ and she said, ‘nothing, be depressed.’ She told me to not fight it. Eventually, I realised that she was right. It was all going to be ok. One doesn’t need to make a huge deal about these things. It is a deal, but it doesn’t need to be a catastrophe. I asked her ‘have you had this before?’ And she said ‘yeah. I went to the doctor they gave me medication. I took the medication, I didn’t feel like myself, and then I threw out the medication.’ Then I asked, ‘and then what happened?’ She said, ‘nothing! I threw out the medication! And it just took time after that.’ She was a very honest person. And sometimes she was also very very tough. She knew that some things in life just happen. And you have to embrace them. Just be. Not run. She also died in that way.”
“I read this quote, I can’t remember where. It went something like: ‘when you raise your children, you’re actually raising them to be aware of the fact that you’re not going to be there one day.’ And my mom always did this. She loved us a lot, and she was also very aware of making us independent. My mom knew that she was going to die, and she wanted us to know that too. She wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves. When she did die, it was a huge shock, but she also had trained us to deal with it. So we were not just left with no direction or tools.”
“My mom was 59 when she died. And she just started her life. She never ever had the possibility to take care of herself. That’s also maybe why she never had the time to feel her body, I don’t know. She used all of her time taking care of us, taking care of others, taking care of what was needed. After my parents divorced when I was 16, she started to think about herself. Later, she met a wonderful man, and that made me happy. But, then time flew by so fast, and soon when we all moved out, something suddenly happened. She started to talk about her pain. Four months after my brother left, she got her diagnosis. It’s strange because … She told me that she was done, and that she had gotten everything in life that she wanted. She got us.
My mom immigrated here during the war. Me and my sister were born in Bosnia. When we were kids, the war was full blown. We had this huge family. And my father was in the army — so we didn’t see him for a couple of years. During that period of time, I remember, she was the only one who had a job in our entire family. She was supporting this huge clan, around forty people. She took care of people, and she has always been like that. When it came to her funeral, so many people showed up whom I didn’t invite. She always had what you could call ‘adoptive children.’ A lot of people thought of her as their mother. She was a parent for people. Even to my brother, she wasn’t just a mother, she was a mentor.”