…forever and ever.
After more than a year of battle, my Tita is now more peaceful wherever she is.
I knew that she will leave us sooner or later; I was mentally and emotionally ready for it. I don’t know if that is a bad thing or not, to expect a family to die, but the way I saw it during the times she was still alive but sick, it was what was expected due to her health condition.
A lot of her other relatives told me that perhaps it was not cancer because her hair grew back, she was walking and eating better after many months on vegetable, but I was in doubt it wasn’t. No matter how I wanted to believe them, I was the person with Tita the most during the past year who observed the changes in her and the one who reviewed her medical conditions the most. It was no doubt a very bad disease, cancer or not. What I never doubt was that Tita never resigned herself to the disease. She perhaps resigned her faith to God, but I know that she helped herself get better. From the stories I heard about her last minutes alive, I think she knew it was time. She was the strongest she had ever been from the time the lung complications hit her. She danced, she ate heartily, she spoke clearly, she talked happily and said goodbye peacefully. What I am very thankful for is she didn’t experience pain; she was at home and she felt safe.
I am very thankful to the people who took care of her in place of us, her family. Of course I feel that her mother and siblings should take care of her as an obligation, but I would have preferred she stayed close to us, but we knew, to be honest, that we’re not good enough to make her feel better. During the time I took care of her, I was stressed because there was so much to do, so much to be concerned with, and I can only take care of her half-heartedly. I questioned the cosmos why it was happening to us, to me, and I was very, very tired. I wanted the burden to end. That burden could have been her, or the situation, I’m not sure. I was so stressed I was starting to feel very edgy and selfish. Of course, I didn’t give up on her.
Tita never gave up on me. She was my protector. Whenever Dad doubts my decisions and my preferences, she was always there to defend my reasons. She trusted me that much. She thought I was smart! When I wanted to go to Japan, instead interrogating me and telling me that it would be a big waste of money, she pushed me to go through it! She even shared her story of working in Nagoya when she was younger. She always told me that I have to pursue working abroad while I’m still young. My destiny could be in another country. We went out more than I could think of. Because we are girls, we had more bonding time. I’d always remember those fondly. Although I acted so much like a kid, letter her treat me and depending on her so much, I’d like to think she liked dotting on me. I was her favorite. 🙂
I remember defining the word integrity to her as she was to explain it for my brother’s school event involving parents, and now I can’t help but think that the word suited her very well. She always lived with integrity.
During her internment yesterday, perhaps I saw the saddest, yet most beautiful picture of a husband and wife. Although not legally married, my dad and Tita were best together. My Tita loved her dad wholeheartedly. To be honest, we even questioned that many, many times since my dad could be such a jerk. Yet, yesterday before Tita’s casket was buried, my dad asked the casket to be opened. He stroked her head, touched her cold face and hand, then he leaned down to whisper things to her. In that moment, we didn’t exist; only him and Tita. He whispered to her closely, not minding her lifeless body or the odor. He said so many, many things to her I think and it was the most intimate thing I’ve seen between them. Those things were only to be known between them; between heaven and earth. After that, he kissed her cold lips for a while before finally saying goodbye.
Now, I know that I loved Tita like a mother, but would I be this calm when my own mom dies? I don’t even want to think about it. I don’t want any of my family members to go soon. Despite having a feeling that I might leave on my 33rd birthday, I wish I have fulfilled much of what I need to do for my family before then.
February 8, 1964 – December 1, 2014
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
Rest in Peace, Tita.
You will always be my friend, my special Tita, and my mother.
We will always miss and love you.