Being so far away was the hardest. So very, very hard. When my brother (together with my dad) finally called me and my sister (from Halifax), that was it. I don't think I've ever cried out so hard and so painfully before. I don't ever wish for anyone to feel this pain, this emptiness. And for the first time, I didn't know what to do. The void left was just too much. I just cried and cried and cried. And sometimes, I'd forget to breathe. Good thing my husband kept a good eye on me and my water bottle, always filled. Thank you, Carl.
Mom messaged me before when I had surgery earlier this year, "Please say thank you to Carlo for taking good care of you." He is, Mom. Don't worry. You then said, "Hirap talaga (It's so hard) when your kids are far away from you. Sometimes you just want to grab them, keep them in your house, and want to take care of them. But we realize later that they already have their own lives and are already grown ups."
I keep thinking, if I'm feeling this much pain and I'm only just her child, what more for my Dad? My mom was such a good wife, such a strong pillar and always by his side for 45 years. My mom was first a daughter to my Papacito and Mamacita for 69 years and a sister to my uncle and aunts before ever being my mom. And to think I'm the 4th of the lot. I just had 35 years to experience her love. Way too short, Mom. But know that every bit of the past 35 years with you, every bit was worth it. Every bit just as colourful as your wardrobe and your Post-It collection. As red and vibrant as your lipstick. As glamorous as your gold nail polish. And how I wish I could've done more for you. How I wish I could've made you travel more, cooked and baked with you more, and gotten into trouble with you more. I remember 10 years ago when I was still living in Manila and we would always go on trips to the mall, the grocery, or just anywhere together. With you always holding my hand when we walked together. How I wish I could still drive you around in my mini red car. I remember how you told me not to leave you alone - because I wanted to get my own place and live independently (so you wouldn't have to worry about my added living expenses in the house). But of course, with your relentless negotiation, I stayed. And I even slept on the floor of your room just so you wouldn't have to go up the stairs to my room in the morning - because I knew you had a hard time going up the steps.
These are the times when technology brings us as close to home as possible. With the Covid pandemic, we couldn't just fly back to Manila. I couldn't be there by her side. I would've jumped on a plane in a heartbeat. With all the restrictions, I would've been quarantined for the next 14 days and not reach her in time. And so, I thank the smarts of this world for advancing technology for me to be able to see my Mom and family, even just virtually. Thank you for making us "be there" through Zoom, FaceTime, Instagram, Facebook, all the photos sent via all the messaging apps, and all other mediums. And also, for the ease of setting-up a GoFundMe page to help with my mom's hospital and funeral costs. It was overwhelming how much love and support our family received. I also thank my friends for keeping me in check, always reminding me of their support and telling me, "You don't have to do anything now. Tell us what you need us to do. Just take care of yourself and be there for your family. And, don't forget to eat."
My mom has touched so many lives. And it was amazing hearing all the stories we never knew. Stories that flourished into beautiful realities because of the kindness of our parents' hearts. We'd be selfish, as children, to not ever share my mom's love and also the grief of losing her, if we kept it all to ourselves. We all have this process to walk through everyday now.
I never thought I'd have to make a eulogy so soon. That whole process was just heart-wrenching. The amount of energy I had to sum up to make one, and then record it. How do you sum up what your mom means to you in just a few minutes? I could've gone on and on but I had to be mindful of other people's time. They too wanted to honour my mom. Since the video file was too large to upload, I've pasted my eulogy here for you to read below.
Mommy, I will always love you. I miss you like hell. How did you do it? Your love and kindness were beyond measure. Your strength, commendable. Your stubbornness, distinct. I miss you, Mommy. Don't worry, every time I travel now, I'll have you with me. Every meal, you're beside me. Every treat or dish I bake or cook, you're guiding my hands. Every success, you're cheering me on. Every hardship, you're a prayer away.
I love you, Mommy.
Forever, Your Luzee-pot
PS. To everyone that's read this entry this far, love your moms like crazy that she'll be annoyed at you. To the brink that she'll hate seeing your name pop-up on her phone screen. That's what I did. And I'd do it all over again (and a whole lot more), if I could.
Mom's memorial mass was on November 26th (Thanksgiving). This was my eulogy for Mommy:
I’m Luzee, the fourth child, and I’ve always been Mom’s partner in crime. I remember when I was little, I was the “kaladkarin child”. Mom would wake me up early, practically dragging me and we’d go have breakfast in Annabel’s where she’d always order me ham and eggs. After that, we’d go straight to Makati to her parlour at Regine’s where 3-4 people would be doing her 80s bangs, curling her hair, someone doing her gold nails, her make-up, and massage all at the same time. And then, we’d go to Makati Supermarket, do the grocery and later on eat the spaghetti and hamburger steak for lunch. These breakfast dates would later on progress to Pancake House or hotel breakfast buffets.
My mom’s love for food, gathering with friends and family, and always being the organized guru that she was, that natural hostess resonated so deeply with me. So much so that because I grew up watching her make her cakes, literally growing up around food, I chose to take culinary for college. And I hope I made you proud, Mom.
Mommy never got mad. She would show she was pissed but she never raised her voice. I don’t think I ever heard her raise her voice. The only version of angry mom would really show would be through her legendary Post-It notes. If you got a red-inked note stuck on your door, or on the mirror in the landing of the stairs, you knew you were in trouble so duck and hide. And so I did just that.
Mom really was and will forever be the perfect fan. Whatever we wanted to do, however absurd it was, she supported us all the way. Sometimes even cheering us on even though she never knew what she was cheering about. She never knew how to say “No” to any of us. The very idea of saying "No" to her kids was just too painful for her. And all she really wanted was to see all her kids happy. And full! All the time.
Just yesterday, I found a card mom had written to me when I left for Canada. She told me to enjoy, and to “Don’t think about me. I’ll be okay here.”
Mommy, I miss your laugh. I miss your guilty face when I’d catch you hiding sweets or sneaking a bite of “taba”. I miss knowing I can call you and just bug you and laugh at your irritated face because I know I bugged you. I miss the way you over-feed us. I miss the way you say, “Don’t tell your daddy ah”. I miss how your belly moves up and down when you snicker. I miss the way we always hold hands when we walk together. I miss your voice, Mom. And I’m so very sorry I wasn’t by your side this time. How I wish I could’ve heard you one last time. How I wish I could’ve told you I love you even via video call. Being so far away from you was so very hard. But now I realize, you’ve never been so close to me as you are right now. Always and continuing to watch over all of us. Now I can talk to you anytime. Now I know you're my angel, our angel. I hope you're at peace, Mom.
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my Baby you’ll be.” I love you mom. Forever, your Luzee-pot.