When you no longer have a mother


How do you celebrate Mother’s Day when your mother is already dead?

How do you fight the bitterness of seeing people having lunch or dinner with their mothers on their special day?

How do you restrain yourself from spewing sarcastic comments just because you were dying inside missing your dead mother while here are your friends a picture of pure happiness?

I hate Mother’s Day.

I lost my mother in July 2007.

And my life was never–and will never be–the same.

I did not have an inkling that I would lose her because the day before we were killing time judging people in the streets from our bedroom window. There were no premonitions whatsoever. It was just the “typical us”: talking about our neighbors, what I want for lunch, etc.

I went to work. And when you go to work, you were to come home to your mother who was waiting for you. You do not go to work and then go to the hospital because she was in coma. That is not how it was supposed to be. I was away for only two hours and suddenly someone called telling me my mother would not wake up. That was a really bad joke.

I wish it was.

I was a mother’s girl through and through. When I was a child and she would have to spend the night in Manila, I would cry my heart out because I did not know how to sleep without her. School mornings were always a total chaos every time she was away. It was just different not having her around the house.

My mother and I were very close. Not the chummy kind of close. We were just mother and daughter who liked being with each other.

But I did not realize how close we were until I lost her.

She had been sick for a while and had to be hospitalized four times. But she always bounced back. The thought that kept her going was: Paano na kaya ang anak ko kapag nawala ako? (You see, I lost my sister–we’re two sisters–21 years ago.) I did not have that fear that I would lose her any time soon, because she was my mother and I believed that she would live forever because that was what I wanted.

The doctor told me that we needed to see how bad was the aneurysm. I was at the CT Scan room looking at the monitor without understanding what was happening. I was just praying that it was not that bad; that she would wake up soon and we would go home like in previous hospitalizations.

But no. The doctor told me that blood had spread to her brain. “We can do a surgery but there is no assurance that she would be normal again. She would not be able to move on her own, blah, blah, blah, blah. Besides, she is too old for the surgery. So, I leave it up to you if you want to continue with it. Tell me your decision tomorrow morning.”

Before anything else, fuck you, doctor. You were the doctor and you should be saving lives. You do not let me decide whether to let my mother live or die. You do not leave that burden to me. Fuck you.

Of course, I wanted the surgery because to me she would have to live forever. Still, I whispered, “Ma, help me decide.”

It was the longest night of my life. I chose to stay at the hospital corridors while she was at the ICU. Sleep did not come to me that night.

And then, she decided to just let go. The next day, she went away. She waited for me before she breathed her last.

I do not think there is a word to describe that feeling when you lose your mother. There was a hallow feeling, a void, an indescribable emptiness within you. It was like something was taken away from your being. You were no longer the same person a few minutes ago.

I was lost.

People who saw me may not have understood the magnitude of my grief. I was there but not there. I put food in my body but I was not actually eating. I did things only because I had to.

We all want to believe that our mothers are the best mothers in the world. My mother was–is–the best in the world. Period.

Looking back now, I love everything about her. Everything.

She never hesitated in helping people. That is just one of the many things that I would remember about her. Her compassion for others was unbelievable. She would extend a helping hand even if she did not have much–something I did not completely approve.

It was all these things and more that made it difficult for me to let her go.

Shopping for casket was insane. I was like a fucked-up daughter who wanted to make up for a mistake and give her mother the best casket in the world because she deserved it.

It was plain shit. As her child, I should have given her the best when she was still alive. I should have been more understanding. I should have been more selfless. I should have spent more time with her. I should have bought her the best stuff a daughter could ever give. I should have been a better daughter.

In spite of all my shortcomings, as a daughter and as a person, she was extremely proud of me. I still have no idea why. I was not the best daughter in the world. Far from it. My sister was, but not me. Still, she was grateful. And that is what haunts me to this day. She deserved so much better but I failed to give it to her.

I do not have a memory of my mother inside the casket because I did not look.

If her death was painful so was her interment. I would never see her again. Gosh. Is this for real? I would not see my mother again? God. Why?

It has been 10 years but the pain is still there. I do not even consider it a scar because the wound hasn’t healed. It is just there. It will never heal. I feel the pain every time I think of her.

“We just learn to live with the pain.” This was how a friend who also lost her mother described it to me. “This is how you live when you no longer have a mother. ”

When you no longer have a mother, you banish Mother’s Day from your calendar.

When you no longer have a mother, you learn to make decisions and be prepared for the consequences.

When you no longer have a mother, you fight back the tears when you suddenly remember her during commute.

When you no longer have a mother, you just learn to live with the pain and hold on to it because that is what still connects you with her. Other people do not like the pain, but I want it to be there. That is my “lifeline” to my dead mother.

There was a psychic I just met who told me: Your mother never left you.

While it gave me joy, it is still different from having my mother around.

I love my mother so much. Every bone in my body wants to feel her love again. I want to experience the feeling of being a daughter again. My mother is the best mother in the world. I did not deserve her, but God still gave me the best.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jon Karoll says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It’s a beautiful read.


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