Growing up, I learned a lot from my Mom. But little did I know that the greatest lesson she ought for me to learn came after when she was gone.
I’ve always looked up to my mom because of an unfailing quality that has been ever so present in her. That is her strength, physically and emotionally. This scares people away because it gives off a certain effect not easily understood by them. She didn’t care and continued living her life – and her life, was us.
Our family was her life, apart from us; her past life was put on hold because she had us to worry about. With so many problems, she remained unmoved and was so strong. I thought her strength was built-in, a given and already a part of a product when you buy the whole package.
It’s extraordinary how you witness someone so strong, how you rarely see a tear fall down from their eyes. How you see sadness in their eyes but see a smile in their lips. She’s amazing. She was and will always be, for a daughter like me.
I grew up differently. I’m weak physically and emotionally. I have had a severe case of asthma in my childhood years that hospitals were like a regular thing. I was super thin, pale and pampered. Perks of being a sheltered kid is that they spoil you with all the toys and goodies but association with other kids will always be hard. Mama didn’t want us hurt so she’s the one who talks to the kids when they make us cry.
Soon thereafter things started to change when I grew up. I’ve had a taste of what life is when I transferred to Mactan Island. Kids were different here, they’re not afraid of teasing me and my other classmates in school never failed bullying me too. Some episodes my mother knew, some I kept hidden for I don’t want to make it bigger than it already is.
Mama taught me a lot of stuff like drawing beautiful girls with beautiful eyes. She encouraged me to sing and even enrolled me to singing lessons even though I was feeling lazy about the idea. She taught me spelling, which is kind of my forte now. And she taught me to understand, not only with the lessons in school but also the lessons in life.
Understanding has become one of my plus. I understood my world far beyond my years. Maybe because I was the only kid in a house full of adults; my siblings were 9 & 15 years my senior. But even then, understanding did not help me have a strong heart. Occasionally, even with the slightest offense, I cry. Even only when my dad calls me because he wants to talk, I cry. Because I knew that every time I cry Mama will always be there.
But then again I grew up a little, I understood things even more and then it wasn’t me who was crying anymore. It was Mama. The twist of fate is just so twisted that even the strongest people I know get the worst kind of condition there is. Mama had cancer, I was the first to know, she was searching my eyes…I wanted to cry but I didn’t, Not anymore. Not in front of Mama.
Right then and there, I decided not to cry. Not that I equate strength with crying. But sometimes, it’s the easiest way to let your emotions flow. But no, not right now. Not when it’s my mom who needed to cry; and needed me to cry on. All my life she helped me grow strong but not nearly strong enough.
It was the worst time for her to pass but she did. We were both prepared and unprepared. I mean, how can one prepare death right? But the challenge did not end there, it hasn’t even started yet. It started only when the fact finally dawns that there is no Mama to comfort me anymore, when I am faced with horrors that confronts my mom everyday – her past, her present and what could have been her future.
The most difficult time was learning to be strong when you’re in your weakest state. Learning to be strong even though your knees are failing, your hands are shaking and your tears are starting to fall. Learning to be strong because there is no other choice but be strong. Learning to be strong because I know that’s what would’ve my Mama wanted for me and for my family.
That’s what my mama wanted me to learn but she didn’t live long enough to see because I learned only after when she was gone.