(Note: This is part of a series of stories dedicated to my mother who passed away last 13 April 2000. Her birthday is on April 27th)
Just like how it was before the day was normal and yet we were all excited. Unlike what happened 7 years ago, today's event was something we looked forward to. By three in the afternoon, I was inside a taxi towards Fort Bonifacio. The day was normal and yet the emotions were raging. For the first time since I was ten, I hugged my mother.
The day was 23 December 1999. It was the culmination of a long journey, completing the full circle that began and ended in the arms of the people that she loved. At ten, I was a little boy with so much innocence; now, I was seventeen, not yet fully grown but as a young man full of ambition. There wasn't much talk, it was a silent homecoming with a dying mother holding her three children for the first time in seven years. I can't believe that was actually happening.
My mother went home after realizing that her cancer will kill her. In 1996 when she first discovered her ailment, she battled it out, standing her ground against the disease all because she wanted to see the fulfillment of the dreams of her children. Her reason for leaving the country did not waiver and not loneliness nor disease can stop her from making sure of a good life to me and my other siblings. It was a fierce battle between the spirit and the body. The spirit continues to go on while the body ceases to do what it should do.
My world came to a temporary halt when out of the blue there wasn't any communication from my mother; not a phone call, not even a letter. There was also no money coming in for my education and I was broke. By September 1999, I got a phone call from my aunt in Manila, Mommy was dying.
I could remember the exact moment where it seemed that the rest of the world was some noisy haze and all I was feeling was the tremendous fear of losing a mother. It was a reality that was not easy to swallow but it was the truth and I can not do anything about it.
With all four of us (my mother and the three of us) on the bed, she directed us to a wound on her abdomen, still very fresh. It was a one week old incision that was evidence to the rabid effect of cancer taking my beloved mother away from me and the rest of the world. After learning that it was hopeless, she immediately decided to fly to the Philippines even against the instructions of the doctors who were seeing her. I knew she was desperate, she did not want to die without seeing us for the last time.
Christmas of 1999 was both the saddest and the happiest Christmas I can remember. Happy because finally I was with my mother but sad because although I keep on denying it, I knew this was to be my last Christmas with her. We did not have a lavish feast, I do not even remember what the food was, I was focused on my mother. I also knew that while we suffered seeing her in that situation, she suffered the more knowing that she was to leave us. But being the woman that she was, she was tough, her spirit did not falter and she tried her best not to show how much pain and suffering she was going through.
The nights that followed was a torture to me. From across the room, I could hear her screams over the pain she was feeling. I can not do anything, I can just listen as my mother, the mother that I have not seen for seven years, suffer in agony of her illness.
This was to be her last homecoming not just for the three of us but for the rest of the world. She tried meeting all the people she can think of, going to many different places despite her state. Finally, in 13 April 2000, she left us. She left us for good and she will forever remain a memory-- a loving memory.
to be concluded...