Ma, pahiram muna ng phone mo, pa-miscol ko lang phone ko.” There goes my short-term memory loss striking again. I couldn’t find the phone I was just using two minutes ago (If only keys had ringing tones, I would’ve saved a lot of time and energy in searching).
I was trying to unlock her phone but my stupidity diverted me straight to the messages. “Happy 36th Anniversary, jo.” It was my mom texting papa (sa kanila ko una narinig yung endearment na “jo”).
My curiosity led me to open the thread of their conversation. This was one of those rare moments when I get to see some sweet chats from them. When we were much younger, we would often read my dad’s love letters to Ma –old, and their ink were nearly fading, but just the same I was still amazed by the fact that they were kept for such a very long time now.
Ma has managed to save all those love letters for 36 years. Those letters have gone through a lot of storms and earthquakes, those letters have travelled to places, they have been inundated but they were kept intact. And after so many years, I get to read again their exchange of thoughts.
“Happy anniversary, 14 years namu golden tana,” my father responded, but what Ma had to say next suddenly created a lump on my throat: “Pota eku na dasan ita.” Suddenly I was teary-eyed but I had to hold them back. Just recently she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
I remember the night after the successful removal of her ovaries, she was groggy. For two consecutive nights, I did not get enough sleep but it was alright; I could stay up more just to watch over her. I would often wake up when I hear her bed creaking, I knew she was itching again- side effects of anaesthesia. All I could do was to put powder on her skin and gently scratch her body so she’d be relieved even for awhile but even when she was in pain she was so careful not to wake me.
She would constantly twitch her fingers too, and I wondered why, so I asked what she was doing. “Yung mga sinampay kunin ko,” she answered. I thought she was sleeptalking, but she continued twitching her fingers so I asked again, and every time she would respond “yung mga patatas, babalatan ko, magsasaing ako, ‘yung lamesa pupunasan ko.”
She was still delirious, confused and disoriented – tears wouldn’t stop running down my face while telling her “Ma, magpahinga ka na… ako na.” She was still so very drowsy yet she tried hard to open her eyes just to tell me “Don’t cry, baby…” and then she closed them again and I thought that was the most intense yet moving moment I had with Ma that I can never forget.
A few more hours she was suddenly anxious, she sat on her bed and she was agitated as if she wanted to convey something so I ran to her. There was so much fear in her watery eyess – I could feel she was shaking. I held her hand “Napano ka, Ma?” I asked.
“Kinakabahan yata ako sa operation,” she uttered. I couldn’t hold back the tears again.
“Ma, tapos na… successful,” and I kissed her on her forehead.
Her eyes widened and her mouth opened and her tears tore loose finally. There was relief and all she could say was, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
After several days, the biopsy was found to be cancerous. How we dealt with the result was another agony we all had to go through. We were in denial and there were so many questions. Of all people, why does it have to be her? She was the kindest woman I’ve known.
Fear dominated our mixed emotions. But when you see a strong woman fighting, believing she will be alright, wanting to live longer – all those fears disappear.
I scrolled down the bar, now I’m down to the last text.
“Dasan ta payta, agnan kata, goodnight,” my father responded and they slept.
At this point I had to walk away because Ma was beside me. Tears still run down my face whenever I remember this.
I knew it was pointless to argue with God’s plan so in my prayers I only ask one thing: “Don’t make it painful for her.” And I tell you, My God has been faithful to me.
We are on the last chemotherapy of Ma this month, and not even once did she ever feel sick.
While her co-patients were all nauseous and throwing up during the chemo, she was so fine. We’ve never seen her sluggish. She never grieved over her hair loss nor have we seen her upset. I am dead scared, but if she has refused to allow cancer to destroy her, who are we to be upset?
I’ve never seen a woman so spirited and brave like Ma, and you can’t afford to be disheartened with a woman like that.
This too, shall pass.
Do not be afraid of tomorrow; for God is already there. ~Author Unknown•
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