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Dying and Fighting to Live On

Photo courtesy of PEXELS
"Your Mother might have cancer or tuberculosis of the stomach"

The doctor was unemotional as he said that the operation to be done on Mommy would be the way to know if she has cancer or tuberculosis of the stomach.

"How come Mommy would have tuberculosis, she has no lung problems?" Margie and I both questioned the doctor. "The different organs of our body can be subjected to tuberculosis not only our lungs", but the doctor also tried to explain. "But Mommy has a good appetite and as you can see Doc, she's on the heavy side", I persisted.

"Tuberculosis of the stomach is caused by stress not only in missing meals, but you also have to understand that".

"How long Mommy will rest after the operation, how long before she can go back to work? Mommy would want to continue to work, to keep herself busy because our Daddy just died." I managed to ask.

"Your Mother might have to rest for a long time if she has tuberculosis of the stomach, but if it is cancer, I will discuss it with you further. In the meantime, let's do first the operation".

Margie and I never asked about the possibility of Mommy having cancer. As we fired our questions to the doctor, we dodged the topic of cancer.

The night before Mommy's operation, Margie stayed with her, while I went home because my youngest son DJ had just turned a year old. Before sleeping, I lit a candle by my window and started to pray. I could barely say anything, my thoughts were racing, I couldn't focus on a proper prayer. I asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me, for I cannot form my prayers even in my mind.

Day of the operation

I spent a sleepless night and woke up very early.

I took 2 steps at a time, lengthening my strides, then I came tumbling down, I couldn't hold on, I barrelled down the streets. I was in a hurry!

While waiting for the lift that will bring me to Mommy's floor, I felt a heavy thud in my heart. I ignored it, but without success. The thumping in my heart continued as I rode the lift.

As I reach Mommy's floor, I saw her being wheeled outside the operating room, with Margie in tow. She was deathly white, while my sister was hurrying behind Mommy, I slowed my steps and was left behind. I cried. Tears streaming down on my face and I cried unabashedly.


"We closed up your mother, immediately, so the cancer cells will not spread fast". Said the doctor."

"It is stage 2".

"How did that happen, Doctor, Mommy was very well, she was taking care of our father and at the same time working full time?".

Margie couldn't say anything, I was stupefied to further question the doctor. All along we are in denial, we cannot accept Mommy has cancer. We are not prepared for this! Mommy cannot die! "Why Lord, why? Were my prayers not long and hard as you wanted it to be? Were my sins not forgiven, that I am not worthy to ask for this big favor from you? Why Lord, why?" I lamented and was inconsolable.

Mommy was brought home.

I stayed with her every weekend because I have to work and because of my young children. My family lives an hour and a half away from Mommy's.

Emotionally and physically, I was drained. There has been fear in my heart. I am not prepared for Mommy to leave us. My Daddy and Mommy were the pillars of my strength, the source of my stability and the constants in my life. From the time, I was small, my parents were there to take care of me. It hurts me so much when Daddy died, but I tried to console myself, that "Mommy is still here", and she will take care of us and we will take care of her. I cannot fathom, how life will be if Mommy is gone.

Fighting to live on...

My Mommy was a very small woman, she stood barely 5 feet tall. She spent almost all her living years taking care of us, her children, full time. My concept of a mother was one who stays at home to take care of her husband and children. My memories of my Mommy as a child, was, of her crocheting her doilies in different sizes and designs, wearing a smart long house dress. Even at home, she wears makeup and she's the typical "old moms" who wear curlers to bed at night so her hair will always be dressed up even early in the morning. She sees us to school in the mornings and would always be there when we arrived from school. She bought my first VMV lipstick in the shade of pink. When I started working, she would see to it the dress I would wear for the day was already laid out and ready to wear. When I was 21 years old, my Mommy started to have a career, so at the age of 52, my Mom was exposed to corporate life. It was life-changing for us, her family because we were used to Mommy being a stay at home mom. It was the start of a new life for Mommy, she was the best being a Mommy and she became best also in being a career woman. Mommy best exemplified how a woman can reinvent herself in midlife. Way to go Mommy!

Mommy was bedridden when she got sick. I would offer to help her care for her personal needs, but she prefers that Margie, do it for her. She became like a child because even her simplest need needs to be done for her. She feels a bit embarrassed about that and I would tell her, "it's okay Mommy, anak mo ako" (I'm your child).

When I come to visit her, I would lay down beside her in her bed and I would fall into a slumber. I felt safe with Mommy, I felt a shield was protecting me from my worries in the outside world as I lay down beside her.

We would pray the rosary together, I would tell her, Mommy just hold your rosary and touch the beads and I would do the recitation of the prayers.

One time, I told Mommy, "Mommy, whatever happens, don't be afraid", and she said, "I am not afraid".

 "You're not afraid Mommy?"

"I'm not." She answered in a calm voice.

I went to her, curled beside her, embraced her and said in a small voice, "But I am Mommy".

I cried quietly beside her and she comforted me & said these words "Carmel, pray always to the Lord".

One night, I had a dream. In one frame, I saw Mommy together with my Daddy lying side by side. Daddy said they were tired of all their medications. In the next frame. I saw Mommy is lying alone with the blanket up to her chin. The last frame, I saw Mommy, back to her glamorous self, before she got sick, with her hair and face all made up and her skin glowing bright and shiny.

When I woke up from my dream, I felt so melancholic, I knew it was time.

Mommy passed away gently in her sleep.

Pray always to the Lord. Mommy's gentle reminder to me.

That's how I lived on after her death. My life is a life filled with prayers. I prayed about everything and that's how I moved on with my life, it's how I survived whether I received apples or lemons in my life.

Each of us has our own dying and fighting to live on story. Care to share yours and be an inspiration to others too?

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Middle life is Beautiful.

Till next time. God bless.



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