If someone will ask me with what my fears are? I have a few, but talk about irrational fears? I think I have a lot. I can go from fear of vomiting to fear of plugging
electrical things. I’ve looked it up and it shows that I have Emetophobia and Electrophobia. Jeez. These names are sure scary already.
Fear is something that you can’t control. I thought that I fear no one nor a thing, but as I age and experience what it takes and mean to be alive, I realized that no one can hide from it. Everyone will have their own and I think that the last thing you can do is have some balls and guts to know and accept your fear.
First on my list is death. Why? Only because I don’t know what to expect or feel when my time comes. How it’s going to happen, at what age and where will I be when it’s finally time to go.
The second is not being able to live my life to the fullest and just be stuck with this so called “quarter-life crisis”.
And last but not the least is to lose someone that I love. Someone from my family, someone I love or any of my closest friends.
I already lost two important people in my life at such an early age and it was evident enough in my end that I was not able to handle such situation. I just simply can’t.
Before all this, I really don’t see anything special with Valentines Day. Not because I am bitter or I don’t have a date, but I just thought of it as a typical day I guess? You can only imagine what more after his passing. Instead of being remembered with the joy being in love, I’ll remember how painful it was when I lost the best grandpa one can ever have.
All of us in the family grieved so much after that day and it only shows how good he is not just a Lolo but a Father, husband and a friend. We tried to be strong and consider other positive things just to move on with us losing him.
Not only a year after this dark phase that we have to face another one. Again. In less than a year, We found out that my Mom has rectal cancer. A battle that we all fought for our beloved Mother, but after 2 years of fighting with pain and everything else in between, We lost her in the battle of life and death.
Today I finally have the courage to write about everything about my Mom when we still have her, how she fought hard for her life before finally letting go. It took me 4 years to share what it feels like to have a big hole in my life. A hole that can never be fixed nor covered by anything or anyone in this world.
I think I wanted to express everything. From how gaining a real life angel can be so painful. The kind of pain that never goes away. I tried, We did, But brief happiness only covers the pain, but not completely erasing it.
It’s been 4 years of not having a Mother. It’s been 4 years, but the pain feels like it was just yesterday when we found the news.
Now that I wanted to describe how she was a mother takes me back when we (I) did the eulogy for her funeral. It’s not just the words we used to describe her that I remembered, but as I type the letters, the feeling of saying goodbye, realizing that she is indeed gone and seeing her face for the last time feels like it’s just now.
She is a damn good mother.
I grew up being the youngest out of the 3 children. I used to have everything that I can wish for. When I was in grade school, Once she got in her reporting school, She would call me and ask if I have eaten already. This was the time when the landline is the biggest thing Ha-Ha! My Lola would call me Miiiiiiiin, Mama mo! Min by the way is my nickname. Before she hangs up, she’d ask what I want for a pasalubong and my answer are always consistent. It’s either a chuckie drink
and I used to pronounce it like chokolayt! Ha-Ha! Or a gelatin that comes in 3 with a scoop. #90’s kid eh.
My siblings are 10 and 7 years older than me, but all of us get to experience how it is like to be spoiled. Although my parents never really had the chance to be hands on with all of us.They made sure to make up for some of their misses, like time. We used to have maids and when we were old enough, Our grandparents used to be the one to take care of us till they get home.That explains why we’re so close to our Lolo and Lola. I for one thing totally understand the set up since they are working hard for us. Their children. We do not have an extravagant life, but what we have is enough for us to feel the comfort. We consider ourselves lucky , still for not having to stop for school because we do not have the money to continue,We consider ourselves lucky , still for not having to work at an early age just to support for ourselves. Our parents did everything that they can to give us the life that we have lived growing up.
Especially Mama. She used to be the Head Teacher in English and later moved on becoming the Assistant Principal in a secondary school in Quezon City. She’d leave the house before 5 in the morning and end her shift before 4 pm. After this she will report as a Literature Professor in Arellano University here in Pasig (hers, my brother and sister’s Alma Mater) where I also studied in college. Talk about being hard working, huh? Ate used to be her student and we would laugh with her story of purposely asking my sister to recite and how she would freak out and be awkward about it. Ha-Ha! Most of my batch mates and some of my friends used to be under her class and imagine all their heart felt messages through Facebook after learning about her passing is one clear proof that she is nothing short of an amazing professor.
She is the most understanding and supportive Mother that there is.
When I was 14 she’d give me money + extra cash when I attended my first underground concert and not only that, but to most of the concert’s that I have attended to including Pulp Summerslam and Rakista. She’d help me dye my hair in green, purple, red even in college because at one point in my life I wish I was Kelly Osbourne and Lalay Lim of Urbandub. She would ask her former student who used to be Willie Revillame’s drummer to teach me how to play the drums. I finished 5 sessions and was able to use all the learning when I started a band. We used to cover for bands like Sandwich, Slapshock, Chicosci and got invited to play during fiestas. All this is because of her. And how can I be more grateful for having a supportive mother like her? She got me a pair of drumsticks out of nowhere. Geez, I’m crying now.
She would get into arguments with Papa when I’m coming home late because of band practice after school. It breaks my heart when I remember that day because it’s entirely my fault. She is my companion with all the tv shows, movies and music videos that I am watching. She would answer all my comparing questions like who is better Britney or Chrsitina? – Britney, because she can dance better and her body is much better
This was during the skinny Xtina phase Jennifer Lopez or Beyonce? – Jennifer Lopez Beyonce has too much movin going on – same answer Ma! Tyra Banks or Naomi Campbell? – Naomi Her walk is more queenly that Tyra – I’m Team Tyra all the way Ma. We watched Lizzie McGuire, That’s so Raven, America’s Next Top Model and she would somehow react with the cartoon Lizzie. She thinks that it should just be removed Ha-Ha! and how we are both rooting for Nicole to win Season 5 of ANTM and she did. She somehow liked Melrose over Carrie Dee for season 7.
When it comes to Hollywood and showbiz? She is my go to. She is a loyal Marian Rivera fan and would buy all magazine covers of her. This used to annoy the inner Antoinette fan in me Ha-Ha! We also share the same fondness in collecting magazines. She would go hard from US Weekly to YES Magazine! Hahaha!
She is our very own human dictionary. She puts justice, on being a (normal) nerd. My mom used to be a Valedictorian from grade school up until middle school. She finished Salutatorian on her college years. My Lola used to tell us how my Mom gets into college all because of her scholarship and later on helping and giving back to her family when she started earning big. Whenever I’m reading or watching American shows and will later bump with unfamiliar words in English. She can answer it right away. Till this day I’m still learning to use my dictionary app on my phone for such cases.Sadly and admittedly no one from us 3 inherited her big and punctual brain. This trait of her is what my brother also missed the most about her. She is hands off, amazing. She is an amazing daughter, sister, aunt, friend, leader and the best part is she is an amazing mother. Our mother.
I used to think that everything will stay the same as it is. Every morning, she’d go to work, I’ll meet her up in one of the rooms where she will be staying in her afternoon class, have a little talk with how our day went
and if she have any sweets or food for her youngest Haha! She loves Tropical Hut’s chicken sandwich then part ways for the next 4 hours once both our classes starts. She would then go to me and my friends’ hang out place after her class, go home together, eat dinner with the rest, watch tv, do our own thing for a few hours then sleep.
But little did I know that one of my greatest fear is just waiting to happen in no time.
Mama was diagnosed with rectal cancer Stage 3.
From what I can remember she started to feel severe pain in her bottom for quite some time before we had her checked at the nearest hospital. The worst is during my nephew’s 1st birthday party held at Jolibee. She was not able to finish the party because of severe pain and she later told us that she already made a mess and needs to rush back at our home. All of us thought that this is just a case of not being able of holding it together because of what she is feeling and just disregard the whole thing , But it seems like what we are trying to ignore is the real problem.
Days after, We were all at home when she said goodbye to her grandchildren since she’ll be going to school. She did and we resumed for whatever it is that we were doing. We got surprised when she went back, furious. She messed herself again. This time she had no idea that she did it. We got scared by what is happening.
It even came to a point where she can’t sit straight because according to her it is very painful. All of us were thinking that maybe this is a serious case of hemorrhoids. We were already planning on having her checked, but she initially refuses. She said that it’s just a waste of money and this is normal for people in her age.Did we buy her reason? Of course not.As her children, we know her the most. Even if she can’t admit right on our faces, we can definitely feel that she is scared. Scared of finding out what her real condition is. Every time we talk about her condition she would get mad and will ask us to zip it. Me and my siblings finally decided to take her to the hospital. Now when I say we take her, What I meant was we surprisingly took her to the hospital. After our lunch date to her favorite restaurant
the one with Kare Kare Ha-Ha! We made a turn and she got surprised when we arrived. This is the first time I saw her being a nervous wreck.
It was the same doctor who did my brother’s operation before who checked my mom and later became a big part of this whole process, Dr. Paz. He has a good reputation and he was the head surgeon so we are somewhat confident that his word is 80-90% accurate. When we were talking to Dr. Paz, we literally give out all the information that he needed to know. Mama was trying her hardest to filter everything and tried to cover up the serious symptoms that she had but we had to do the right thing. He then asked my mom in the internal room. My mom was this close of leaving us, but our doctor finally convinced her to stay. After he did an internal exam of her rectum he later asked the eldest inside his office for a “closed door talk” This time Mama can’t hide her emotions and ask – Why Doc? Am I seriously sick? With a tear ready to fall from her eyes. This is the most heart breaking scenes in my life.
He answered – No Mommy, Don’t worry we just needed to run some exam like biopsy and we’ll wait for the results. The least thing I can do during that time is to be strong at least in front of her. I said, it’s going to be okay. But it’s not okay.
After work, Me and my sister accompanied her to Makati Hospital for her biopsy test. We tried to divert our attention to many random topics whenever we would talk. We just don’t want to feel the pressure of whatever we are doing. So many things are running in my head like “what if this is something bad, something serious? What if they find something there. What’s going to happen?” but I decided to just continue with my daily thing but it’s something that you can’t run away from. It always catches us. I tried to live still with work, friends and family but at the back of my head, I am afraid and heart broken. She is the nicest person I’ve ever met, she doesn’t deserve to be sick.
After a few days, Me and my team had our first team building in Laguna.
Even back then Laguna is truly the “team building” destination Ha-Ha! I’ve decided to leave everything behind at least for 1 day and not be the official kill joy during this bonding moment with me and my team and go with the flow alongside my hyper team mates. It was fun.
Little did I know that something is waiting for me.
I was climbing the stairs when I already notice the weird and sudden silence in our house. If you live in a house with 5 handful kids you don’t really expect this kind of scene especially in our living room. My right foot half passed in the door steps when I saw my mom, brother and sister in law sitting. The next thing I heard was my brother saying this exact words – “May cancer si Mama. Rectal Cancer Stage 3”
This is how I took the news.
All that I can do is cry. I never mind the box of pies lying on the floor or my shoulder bag filled with clothes I used earlier during the swimming. I just cry. I cry like nobody’s business in our staircase and later transferred in our room. It took me hours to stop from crying and this is when my mom came in and explain that we just have to be strong as a family.But it’s so hard to be positive and all when you know that it is your mother who is at stake. I stop when I saw her holding her tears while staring at me then I thought I know I have to put my shit together because it’s twice as hurting for her. I stopped and back hug my mom.This is a time in my life when something that feels so good and comforting can hurt from the inside.
After that day everything went fast. I remember when all of us gathered without the kids and discuss the situation. We talked about the diagnosis to the medical recommendation coming from her doctor.
This is a time in my life when I thought I wish of paying attention to all of my classes. But I felt that I can’t offer anything, mostly to the part of discussing where she could have gotten this illness. I can only offer my care and assistance since I used to be active whenever we were assigned in the medical ward. I may give an ounce of shit when studying, but I wanted to be the best nurse for Mama.
I sat down with my friends and tell them about her condition and our usual hang out place was then occupied by a long moment of silence. I got all sorts of sympathy from them. They feel bad because they know much of an asshole I can be and my mother never fails to understand and love me. They saw it. Everyday. They feel it with all my stories and how my mom would always ask for me and how much fun are we getting in school and studying
As IF She maybe in denial but she’s still cool about it. I’d feel sorry for me too. They can only ask why of all the people that it’s her who gets to suck this misfortune. But no one can answer.
I was working as a call center agent while studying and I have to say that it feels weird to go and interact with different people, put on a mask and be O.K about yourself and the same person will go home in such a sad and heavy situation. It only gets weirder as day passes by but that’s life. We still live and so is for my mother who fought to still live.
Me and my siblings tried to further understand her condition and as much as we hate to try and understand we have to. It turns out that Rectal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the rectum. Age and family history can affect the risk of rectal cancer. Signs of rectal cancer include a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool.
We all went back to discuss an immediate plan with the treatment and then we were told that she needs to have a major operation to remove the tumor in her rectum. But the tumor size is not ideal for the operation.It is too big and may give complications if they will push through so she undergo a Radiation Therapy. Dr. Paz referred us to UST Hospital. She finished a total of 5 sessions. I used to come with her for 1 – 2 sessions right after work and we’ll be finished 2 hours prior to my work shift. I remember being tired, especially because of the stress of traffic and as much as I want to rest, I’d half bathe and report to work. My body wants to rest but my mind says that I have to earn to add up to my mother’s operation and treatment. For some days, I have to go straight to class after. The only weapon I have is my desire to help and my love for this wonderful woman who is in need.
When we started to take action and do the necessary procedures as advised by our Doctor, My mom finally decided to retire after 50 years of dedicating her life and passion in teaching. She knew that this is something that will not go on for just a week or two. She also mentioned that maybe this is her time to rest and focus on herself. The other thing that she was thinking is the overall procedure and treatment costs a lot.
In all honesty, everyone in the family made sure that money will and never be an issue. We tried to let her feel that everything is going to be ok, everything will happen smoothly and she should not worry a thing. At least that is what we wanted her to belive in. But being the smart and realistic woman that she is make believe is not always realistic. So she pursue her retirement and use the money.
I remember this day when she got so upset knowing that all the money she worked for “money that she is saving for our family” is slowly getthing thiner inside the hospital. This is when we would response in en equally upset tone that “screw the money, we need you alive still, we can earn. It’s you that we are keeping.
There are a lot of instances that my mom would say sorry to us for having this kind of situation. We just respond and tried to understand that this is a phase for her self pity. There are a lot of instances as well when we would not stop asking why her? Why our mother?
But we can’t find the answer. In a one of a million chance of getting lucky and not have this kind of condition my mother fail to be victorious.
It’s a waste of time to look for the answer, So we continue our battle. After all we are all in this together.
After her radiation therapy. She was later scheduled for her major operation but she needs to be confine first and will be administered medicines to make sure that both her small and large intestine are 100% clean.
It turns out that during her radiation therapy her bottom was overburned because of the affected areas and as what the specialist doctors have been planning to save our mother – Since a long part of her intestine that is connected to her path of fecalisis , They will cut it then close her bottom and will connect to her lower left stomach in the form of colostomy.
When we were discussing the procedure with the doctor. I focused more on the survival rate after the operation. A quarter of what we are feeling with everything that is happening were instantly life like a soothing breeze. We take their word that my mother is going to be okay. But what I used to hear and belive is YES, the nightmare will soon be over!
After I’ve requested for LOA in our company . I was one of her constant companion in our room. I still remember our room name its Saint Fatima. We cover the entire room with food, laptop, flowers so it’s sort if taking the heavy and scary atmospher of a hospital room.
It may not be the most ideal place but I will never trade this experience of having to look after my mother, talk, watch movies together (including Jackass)and bond with her 24/7. One clear benefit of being the single one in the fam. My sister soon joined me and our eldest always visit from time to time.
If there is one thing that she misses it is definitely her grandchildren. We have a total of 6 kids (2 girls, 4 boys) and get to grew up in our house with my mom and dad. Lucky for these angels they have the nicest, most generous and loving Lola. Unfortunately kids of their age are not allowed inside but they are always talking over the phone. Always asking when she will come home. My mom will just simply answer. If you all behave, I will come home soon.
We’ve all seen how great she is to them.
The operation lasted for 3-5 hours. We were all waiting and praying non stop that it is going to be a success.
Before she entered the O.R I gave her a kiss on the forehead and tell her good luck and i love you.
Hours passed and one of the most relieving / best news I’ve heard for ages knocked in our room.
The operation was successfull and my mom lying on her bed was taken inside the room. We are all happy.
She slept for a little 3 hours. Me and my sister is having our lunch when she woke up. We can both tell that she is still “loopy” from the anesthesia and all but after a few minutes she shook off everything and act and talk normal again. She is such a strong trooper and we are very proud of her.
Same day when our relatives paid a visit.