“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
When mom died, I felt sad because I would surely miss her. She was a loving person. She loved life, food, going places. There are lots of instances when I remember her: seeing chestnuts being roasted, bibingka (native rice cakes), barako (strong Filipino coffee), her expressions, the places we went to, what she would say at certain times, so many others.
Two days before she died, we went to visit her. When we (my wife and my son, Jeo) arrived at my brother Dennis’s place in Tagaytay, Dennis said that she’d been waiting for us and Mom wanted to go to the mall. That was a little strange as she’s been bed-ridden and she’s been in and out of the hospital months before. When I spoke with her, she said exactly the same thing Dennis said. I told her that she’d have to get well before we went to the mall. She needed changing, so I helped her get up to be get cleaned. We barely walked a meter when she said that she was really tired and wanted to get back to bed. She was in pain. I told her that I can’t let her go back because she really needed cleaning. I told her to hang on for a short while until I got her to the bathroom. When I sat her on a plastic chair in the bathroom to get cleaned up, I asked her what she wanted for merienda (afternoon snack>. She said she wanted bibingka. I told her I didn’t think there was any to be had in Tagaytay, and that I’d get her something else.
When we got back, she had been bathed, dressed and her hair was being combed. I told her we got her fresh Oriental lumpia (spring rolls) from Max’s. She enjoyed itt very much. Before we left, I told her to get well so that we can take her to the mall…just like we used to on weekends. That was the last I’d spoken with her. My sister-in-law, Marianne, called me up Monday after to tell me that Mom passed away. When I heard the news, I was stunned. Amidst the jumble of emotions, the most dominant was that of relief…now she wouldn’t be in pain anymore, no more insulin, no more suffering…she was going home to Heaven. She was in a better place now. That made it easier. I was at peace because I knew I did everything I could for her. I knew she knew it too.
It was one of the darkest hours in my life, and yet, there was goodness there. In God’s kindness, Mom was finally alleviated of her suffering. Whenever we visit her gravesite, we’d tell her the things my son, Jeo, did since our last visit. Weng, my wife, and I could almost see the smile on her face. We fondly remember how she would make gigil (sorry, I don’t know if there is an English word for this) at any of Jeo’s antics…he’s such a playful boy. Now that it’s just over a month to All Soul’s Day, I remember Mom with love. I don’t know why I didn’t cry at her funeral…but once in a while I just let the tears fall when I miss her. And I smile in instances when something we see make us remember her. I remember reading somewhere that nobody really dies as long as someone remembers. We remember you, Mom, we miss you and we love you.