I remember when she was alive that the thought of not seeing my children grow old saddened her. “Pag binata na ang anak mo wala na ako sa mundo (When your becomes a man, I would not be around anymore),” she said sadly.
In my head: How can you say that mama when you are my world?
The night she died I was scared to step out of the hospital. I dreaded stepping out into a world that did not include my Mom anymore. This is a world I did not want to be a part of, where my mom doesn’t exist.
I sometimes dream about her.
In my dreams she’s alive dancing, being her usual jolly self. And then reality drags me back and I wake up. Each morning I have to face the reality of living in a world where she has ceased to exist.
It’s my children who keep me functioning. My daughter often calls me “Mama, mama” the same way I called for my mom when she died.
It’s a constant reminder that my Mom wants me to carry on with my life. That there’s a little version of me who will love me the way I loved my mom. Who will sing to me when I’m old, who’ll hold my hand when I’m sick.
Three days before Mom died she whispered to me behind her oxygen mask. “Mahal kita, yakapin mo ako (I love you, hug me.).” As if she knew that she was running out of time and she wanted me to know before death robs her off her chance to remind me that she loves me.
Now I tell my daughter “Mahal kita” and I savor the feeling of hugging her while I say it. That must have been how my mom felt that night.
What I’ve learned is that…
It’s okay not to be okay for as long as you want. Your grief, your pain is the love you have for that person pouring out. And that’s okay.
Even the anger and hatred you feel about what happened is equivalent to the love for the person you lost.
Aside from the extreme pain, I feel anger. For my mother’s two caregivers who got lazy and at times left my mother soaking in urine because they were busy flirting with the nurses. For the hospital staff who didn’t have the sense of urgency and I felt left my mom there to die. The nurses on shift there were even horsing around , joking amongst each other as I cried for my mom to come back. They seemed so relieved that that patient they couldn’t do much for is now gone. For the hospital and the doctors who I think failed to explain what was happening. Anger at what had happened, anger at the way things turned out.
I often ask people: When will I stop crying? When will I stop being mad?
Will I ever be be happy again? The night before she died did she hear me singing Carpenters songs to her? Did she know that it was me with her? Did she hear me calling mama?
I don’t know the answers to these questions now and I don’t know when I will find the answers to them and I think that’s okay.
To those who still have their moms
Go and get that ticket. Visit her while you still can. There’s no ticket I can buy now that will take me to where my Mom is. No trip can ever let me see her again.
Talk to her and listen to her while you can still hear her voice. I used to make fun of mom’s garish voice; now I miss her call my name from afar.
Hold her hand while you can still feel the warmth of her touch, the comfort of her skin against your cheeks. Before they lowered her down the ground I held my mom’s hand one last time because I knew I wont be able to hold her ever again.Buy her the most expensive gift you can afford while she’s still there to see it. While you can still see her smile. No matter how much money I save up for a gift now my mom won’t be able to receive it anymore. No matter how expensive, no matter how beautiful.
This experience forced me to grow up and made me realize that moms are angels we borrow from heaven. They’re with us only temporarily but time will come when God will call them back. So savor every moment with her because you don’t know when she’ll be called back by the big boss up there.
Today I will celebrate Christmas without my Dad as usual but for the first time also without my Mom. I’ll be alright, I know because she wants me to be alright. No fuss, no drama.
I don’t know when I will stop crying when I see fireworks or hear Christmas songs though. But I will take it one day at a time, one Christmas eve at a time.
In two days, it’ll be my first month without her.
I made it Mama! One month down, a whole lifetime without you to go.
#parenting #losing mom
My whole piece was originally published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle December 24, 2016. Click here to read the full article.