“Paano pag namatay ako, paano na kayo?” she would usually say when she would find the house unkempt. I didn’t believe that I would ever have to ask that . . . until recently.
Ma, paano na kami?
I still have so many questions.
Why did it have to be my mom? Why her? Until now, I am not able to understand why it had to be her. She never did anything to warrant this suffering. These things kept on running through my mind.
And every time I think about losing her, I would ask, “When will I be ready? When will this pain stop? Until when will it persist?”
It’s just as difficult when someone asks, “Anong nangyari? Kumusta ka?”
I don’t know. But I know I’m not fine. And I know the pain will never go away . . .
But with the widest smile I could give, I’d be able to say, “I’m trying to be strong,” just like how my mom would say it.
April 9, 2018
On her last Monday, I had our picture framed. Pangarap kasi ‘yon ni Mama. We had several attempts to have a “frameable” picture as a family, and last December 31—New Year’s Eve—we finally had one. I would never forget her smile the moment she saw it. Every time a visitor would arrive, she would tell me to show it off.
I wanted her to live longer so she could see me put it on the wall in our house.
But I guess she thought that just seeing me fulfill her dream was enough.
She almost slept the whole day. When she awoke, I sat beside her and cried for the nth time. She told me not to cry. She said that she was strong, that she would be well. I told her she should because we have a lot of plans.
I told her, “I love you, Ma,” and she replied, “I love you too.”
I never thought that that would be the last time I would hear her voice.
April 10, 2018
It was five in the morning, and I was already panicking. She has slept for too long. I tried to wake her up multiple times, but she just faintly sighed. My older brother and I were crying again at this point. After several minutes of gently tapping her shoulder, she woke up, but as soon as she did, she fell back asleep.
I reported this to her pulmonologist, and he told us something we hoped we would never hear. She had too much carbon dioxide in her blood and had to be subjected to BiPAP. After her MRI scan, the doctor told us that the cancer already overtook her left lung. Her heart was displaced rightward.
I still had work; fortunately, the company that I work for allowed me to work outside the office, but I was too preoccupied to focus and deliver any meaningful output. I was actually about to go home, but the previously stated events prevented me from doing so.
Imagine . . . accepting the fact that Mama was slowly dying . . .
She was able to briefly gain consciousness that night. I was able to serenade her with her favorite song, “Top of the World” by the Carpenters. I was surprised when she raised her hands and was first to clap for me . . . It was bittersweet.
There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here
—”Top of the World” by The Carpenters
I knew, even in her current condition, that she was proud of us.
And while she was still lucid, we were able to say our sorrys and ‘thanks’. I told her, “Ma, sorry kung ako ‘yong pinakarebelde sa ‘min. Sana hindi na lang ako nagpahatid noong araw na ‘yon . . . sana hindi ka nafracture.” She shook her head as if knowing that I had been blaming myself.
I knew I wasn’t able to fulfill her dreams for me. She wanted me to take my masters, and continue teaching. But when I asked her if I was a good daughter, she nodded, lifted her hand, and caressed my cheek.
Masakit . . .
April 11, 2018
It was her last “healthy” wake.
We were already crying, ready to let her go, when she opened her eyes. We were so overwhelmed. We could not hide our tears, but we managed to ask her what she wanted.
Mama was such a very thoughtful person that she wanted us to eat. And so she watched us eat.
That was my last lunch with her . . . with her eyes open.
April 12, 2018
Every time she would open her eyes, it pained me. But how about her? I knew she kept fighting, for us. I knew she wanted to embrace us and be with us and eat with us and do more things with us. But she couldn’t. Her tears flowed then, but I wasn’t sure if they were just a reaction, or if they were from her agony.
I didn’t know.
But I knew she struggled.
It was four in the afternoon when she exclaimed of something painful. She was trying to point at it, but she couldn’t. I knew that I would lose my mom soon. I told myself I was prepared.
I wasn’t. I saw how my mother fought until the end, how she wanted to take her mask off, how she wanted to breathe. Helpless, I could only shout “I love you, Ma” over and over . . . until she breathed her last.
Ma, paano ba maging strong?
It was a question I often asked in her last two weeks. She would always tell me to be brave. We had our own ups and downs, but in the end, it was her motherly love that I would always remember.
It’s the morning of her wake’s third day. Even though I temporarily forget the pain of forever losing her by talking to our friends and relatives who sympathize with us, when they go home and I’m left with my mom’s lifeless body, I could not resist to think of the times when she was alive and soak myself with tears of missing her.
I know I’ve told her the things I wanted to tell, still . . . Mama, miss na miss na kita.
If your mom is still alive, please hug her for me. I know that I will never be able to hug Mama anymore, and it breaks my heart, but I’ll be strong, just like her.
To everyone who has been sending messages and comments, I read all of them, but I am still at a loss for words. I apologize if I wasn’t able to post the details of her wake (her last night is on April 18) and interment anymore, but you know that I’m just a message away. To all those who reached out and went to see Mama, you know what my heart wants to say. And if she were still alive, I know she would’ve said the same thing.