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Happy Mother's Day Ma!

Me and mama after my graduation in 2012.

My dearest mama,

How are you?

How is everything up there?

Are you doing well there? I hope you’re doing great.

Is it true what they tell us here? That there is no pain and sickness there? Only happiness and eternal peace?  If that’s true then I’m envious of you. You are in a better position than all of us here.

To update you on my life here’s the status quo: Grief has always been a daily thing for me now. Since the day you left us, there’s that emptiness in my heart – a hole that remains, a void that sits somewhere and always tries to make its presence felt.

There are also these waves they call, when out of nowhere I am reminded of you and then a wave of emotion just stirs me to tears.  It leaves me for a while and returns with an increased intensity. Somehow I get used to these waves and the heaviness that comes with it. There are bearable moments, when I can just fight back the tears. But then there are also tough days when I’m at a public place and I cannot control myself from crying. Once while on a bus, the other time inside a rest room cubicle.

I can’t help but become emotional whenever I remember you. I try to stop my brain from going back to the past – specifically during the darkest and most painful months of my life. Whenever I recall those hours, days, months leading to your passing, I am transported to a place I have no plans of returning to. But needless to say, I inevitably surrender to my thoughts and willingly experience the same feelings of sadness and hopefulness.

On the first day of 2017, we were together.

A day before New Year, I was wheeling you from one room to another following nurses’ instructions. We were placed in a room full of people waiting to be sent to their respective wards. We waited for your turn to be situated in a ward. When evening came we were still in the same room. Nurses took your vital signs every other hour. When midnight came everyone was celebrating – even the patients found the nurses’ shouting and jumping a relief, somehow for a minute or so they forgot their own situation.

I looked at you while you were asleep while covering your ears so that the noise from the outside won’t wake you. At that moment, I felt hopeful and peaceful. I thanked God that I was able to celebrate New Year with you. I was hopeful - looking forward to the day when you’d be better, when we can already go to places and travel and also eat.

Days went by and you’d get a little better – you can now eat.

There were good days – when we can talk about many things while you lie on your bed, laughing till you can’t anymore. And then there were bad ones, when you’d get disoriented and angry. Remember when you had a seizure episode which left your heart enlarged? When I learned of it, I was shocked and afraid. I went directly to PGH expecting the worse. But when I got inside the ward, there you were with so many tubes intravenously injected on your both hands. You were irritable that time. I can’t help but laugh, because that was not you. It was the medicine that altered your behavior. You have always been kind and thoughtful, especially to your visitors. The mother lying on the bed was not the mother I knew. I kept on laughing every time you’d request for food. It was childish how you explained repeatedly how you were treated badly by us because you were deprived of food. It was golden.

Mama, I forgot the fact that you just experienced a near-death episode which can cripple you or even get you into a coma. I chose to forget that and instead laughed at you being childish and all, because if I did, I’d lose my mind.

I also remember that time I had a serious fight with kuya. We fought over who would go home that time. I cried while explaining to kuya my point – I haven’t gone home for 3 days straight. You were watching us until I concluded the argument with a proposition: that you’d divorce kuya since he was already tired of everything. I was aware you were also tired, even exhausted, emotionally and physically. But you were able to fix the mess we both made. You were even emotionally stronger than both of us combined. You always surprise me ma, with your grace and wisdom. I’ll always be proud and honored to call you my mother.

Until your last week, you were tough. You continuously surprise doctors of your fighting spirit and resiliency.

You tried opening your eyes whenever you hear us calling you. I knew you were fighting. 

You knew you had to because that’s how strong and committed of a fighter you were. You tried to eat but failed after chewing for a couple tries. You really fought for your survival until the very end.

When the doctors told us you needed to be intubated and eventually be revived when the situation calls for it, we did not know what to do at first. But it was your decision even before to not proceed with it should it happen. You have been in the hospital for months. You have seen patients suffer while doctors try to revive them. You saw people with worse condition than yours die painfully while being intubated.

You have been fighting for as long as you could – for yourself and most importantly for us. But this time, you knew you just have to surrender and give up the battle for your own sake.

I felt that if I agreed to have you proceed with the tracheal intubation I would be selfish for deciding what’s best for us. But we still need you mama. We need you still. You’ve been fighting this battle the whole time. It was our turn to fight for yours.

After calling my sister to confirm the decision and also crying for minutes over the phone, it was clear that we chose to do what you think was best for you. You have been through a lot – a painful lot. It was time to let go already. We called our relatives to break the news. Ate told me, Papa Sol – your eldest brother who visited you on January – cried during the phone call. Everyone was notified.

The night of February 24, 2017 Jett visited you. She did not have any idea what we were expecting. To her it was just a normal hospital visit. I was relieved to see her that night, at least we were somehow complete, with the family you love surrounding you on your deathbed.  

You passed away at February 25, 2017 at exactly 4:16 AM.

You really made it a point not to interfere with ate’s training and my work schedule.  Until the end you kept it together for as long as your body could. You never wanted to burden us further. How was that possible? I could not come up with any explanation. One thing I know: You loved us beyond words and actions. We love you more mama.

For others it was a battle lost but for me it was the opposite. You won the battle ma! The ordeal you went through – the battle in your mind to stay with us and continue or to surrender and wave the white flag – makes you deserving of your eternal reward. You’re having the best time of your life up there in the heavens. Knowing that full well, I can be at peace and go on with my life without you. But know that you’re always a part of my life and my experiences. 

Thank you ma for your bravery and perseverance. Thank you for everything. Thank you for giving life to me and for allowing me to experience life. Thank you for taking care of me and ate singlehandedly. For your sacrifices and the silent tears you cried just to send us to school. For pushing me to go to church every Sunday. For encouraging me when I'm down while massaging my forehead. For being a living testimony that God does exist and that He loves us so much. And for raising God-fearing and God-loving children. You’re one mighty woman of God!

There’s a viral post of a guy in his teens where his pictures have this laminated note which reads: “Mama, okay lang ako.” He shows this whenever he’s travelling. There are photos of him with his note on top of a mountain, while taking a hike, on a beach somewhere, always telling his mom that he’s just fine wherever he is. Because mothers get paranoid all the time. Especially when their kids travel somewhere or is far away from home. I know you get stressed sometimes when I don’t text you when I’m staying up late with friends. I know you’re always thinking about me when I left for Puerto Galera. I’m sure I was always on your mind the moment I walked out the door that early morning. I was always in your prayers, praying that I’d arrived safe in Puerto Galera and get back home alive. Whenever I’d get home late you’d always be waiting for an sms from me. But I always tend to forget. I’m sorry. I was always thinking of myself and forgetting that never in a day that you don’t think of me.

Right now ma, wherever you are, know that I’m doing fine. Not great but fine. But I’m getting there. I’m grieving daily but that’s normal. Know that you’re always on my mind each and every single day of my life even until my last breath.

Life has always been difficult, but without you around, it has become unbearable at some point. I’ll get used to it. I need to, because that’s how I’m going to wake up in the morning able to go through my normal routine. That’s my new normal now. Ma, don’t worry about me. I got this. I’ll be just fine. There will always be sad recollections and tears but I’ll be okay. I promise you.

“Mama, okay lang ako.”

Mama and I after my choir presentation. 

“Mama, okay na ako.”

With Love and Gratitude,

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