..since my grandmother passed away. It’s been pretty dramatic. Allow me to share. I’m not forcing you to continue reading though. I know you may not be interested, but I really need to get this out.
Last May, my grandmother from my mother’s side, my only grandparent left, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yep. Brain cancer. It shocked everyone, since my grandmother was at a “young” age of 74 and was perfectly healthy. She spent the next 2 months in 2 different hospitals, and perhaps 2 weeks in their ICUs. She even underwent brain surgery in Makati Med to remove the tumor but I guess it didn’t help.
July 14, Saturday. This was the last time I saw her alive. Standing outside the ICU in St Lukes, I cried as I watched the machine next to her breathe air into her, as she slept deeply (she was in a coma). Her chest and cheeks sank in, her hair was thinning. She looked very helpless and that’s what made me cry. As much as I hoped that she would wake up and recover, it’s like an angel whispered in my ear that she wouldn’t make it.
I was to leave for Baguio the following night for a national competition. I actually felt guilty that I was leaving. Everyone felt that my mama was about to leave. I wanted to be there to say goodbye at least.
In the bus station, before I boarded, I asked my mom to tell mama to wait for me until I get back. It’s only three days anyway. I hope she can at least hold on.
July 18, Wednesday - the last day of the APPSAM. I woke up at 6:30am to Benna’s voice. Instinctively, I checked my phone. I read a message from my father sent at 12:30am saying “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” and my sister, sent about an hour earlier saying, “Lizette, mama is gone. :(“
I jumped out of the bed and out of the room to the hallway, where Chloe (my best friend) and her mother were getting ready. They were the only ones who knew about the whole sitch. Staring at them blankly, I said “Mama died already.” Then they stood up and hugged me. That’s when the tears started to fall.
I thought I asked Mama to wait. Why didn’t she?
Good thing not many people were up at the time. I sobbed loudly and I bet it was heard throughout the hall. My best friend and my tita tried to console me, until I managed to stop sobbing. Then I returned to the room. What an idiot. I left the door open. My other friends, Cyne and Frances, asked if I was fine but gave me a hug anyway and extended their condolences. Ogad. I didn’t know that they heard me.
After breakfast, I talked to my tita again, who texted my mom, extending her condolence and saying that she’ll keep watching over me. My mom replied, “I didn’t want to tell her, but news spread fast. I wanted her to enjoy the rest of her time there for now. Thank you for your concern.”
The rest of the day, I momentarily forgot what happened. I enjoyed chatting, playing and taking pictures with my friends and schoolmates. That aftie, we went to Baguio Cathedral. Hay, then it came again.
I prayed and thanked the Lord for everything - for being allowed to Baguio, for the new friends I’ve made, for the awards we’ve won..then suddenly I remembered mama. I didn’t say goodbye for all these things. Then I don’t know what happened. I forced them not to but they did. Tears started streaming down my face again and this time, my sobs were louder.
Eileen was the one sitting next to me then. She heard me and listened to me and tried to cheer me up, but my sobs got only louder. My other schoolmates started to look at me. I must’ve looked stupid to them, and such a crybaby.
I told Eileen, “It’s just weird kase. The next time I’ll be seeing mama is in a coffin already.”
My sobs were echoing throughout the church already. It was embarrassing. And the way that I must’ve looked, eyes all puffy, nose all runny, tears all over..damn. I’m one messed up chick.
Well yeah. As wasted and “jet-lagged” as I was, we arrived in Manila in the morning of July 19. I slept until the afternoon. When I woke up, my dad brought me to my mama’s wake.
I talked to Mama for a while. I said everything I had to share. The only painful part was that she didn’t smile back at me anymore and say anything. Cold as a rock. It didn’t sink in yet that she’s dead. Quite stupid of me, huh?
The next day, I went to school. We just got back from the Physics lab. I was the first one to enter the room. Then I smelled something..it was flowers. And not just any flowers. It smelled like those at the wake. What’s weird is, there weren’t any flowers inside the room. I asked Chloe, “Can you smell that? Are there flowers here?” She threw me a weird look and said no.
Oh right. Something happened the night before too. I was missing my lab gown and looked in every corner of the house for it. When I gave up, I asked my mom to look for it instead. Yep, she found it all right, and next to it, she found an apricot shawl I wore during the Velada last January. It’s a sign, she claimed. The next day, she cut the shawl to fit and put it around mama’s remains. Her fleshy colored clothes didn’t match at first but now, with the shawl, she looked even better.
Well yea. I guess I felt conflicted, but mostly happy to give away my shawl to mama. I had sentimental value on it but it’s better off with mama.
Let’s fast forward to the burial. After they sealed some cement around the casket and laid some dirt on it, we let this white balloons fly up to the sky. (to symbolize her spirit rising to heaven) I was wandering around, until I found one of our balloons tangled up in a nearby tree.
Yep. I reached for the balloon. I looked weird. But I can’t leave the balloon there. I jumped up and down several times, poking the balloon with my umbrella until it broke loose. After several tries, the balloon was untangled and it flew away. Just as it did, a black butterfly came flying near me, and fluttered around my hand. It landed for a split second and flew away.
If you ask me, I think that was the spirit of my mama, saying a “hello and thank you for untangling the balloon for me.” I may be overreacting or something, but I believe this is what it meant.
Mama, I’ll miss you so much. Thank you for always caring for your family, for us. Thank you for always entertaining us and for your thoughtfulness on all our birthdays and such. I hope you find Papa and my brother up there. I love you Mama! Rest in peace.
IN PICTURE: My mother and Mama (before she was hospitalized)
IN PICTURE: Yanna, Me and Char during the Velada. That shawl is now underground. :)