A 10~20 year old Sherico once asked, “What do you fear most?” Probably several years later, that fear was sub-divided into different categories – fear of losing, fear of pain, fear of not knowing, and so much more. Until then, I had no clear answer to that question.
3 days ago, I was caught off-guard. Fear confronted me face-to-face, mano-a-mano. It showed me its total darkness wrapped around a layer of full unexpectedness. It kicked me in the groin, shoved me around, and sucked every life of this body until I was left there bleeding and lying on the ground, grasping for air. But – that wasn’t the worst part. It brought its friends along with it – distress, agony, helplessness… each inflicting a major wound on me.
To cut the bullshit, January 7, 2014 ~7:00 PM: my mom, who has been at the ICU for 24 days already, was surprisingly wide awake and still being taken care of by her sisters. She was diagnosed with severe acute pneumonia just after 1 and a half session of chemotherapy of her recently discovered lung cancer. For all but 5 days during her stay there, she had a ventilator run down from her mouth to esophagus, to her lungs to help her breathe as it was REALLY difficult for her to do it on her own. She showed good vital signs that night though and we’re still very hopeful that this would continue en route to her recovery.
A couple of hours later and a lifetime in between, the doctors were already resuscitating her after her blood pressure continued to drastically go down all of a sudden. Then, at around 9:20 PM, my mother breathed her last. And I didn’t know about this until about 10:30 in the evening when my aunt called me. When I saw her name flashing on the screen of my phone, that was the very definition of fear.
What happened (is still happening and will continue to happen) afterwards is beyond what words could describe. Every tear that fell from my eye and I held back had a certain emotion – a feeling – that I wanted to shout out loud. But I couldn’t. I realized then that I was much stronger now than before. I didn’t know where I found the strength to accept and take in everything but hey, I just did.
But the one person that I should really be crediting is my mother. If there’s only one person I know of that had a weak body and a fragile resolve – that would be her. During the whole course of her battle, of our battle, this weakness and fragility didn’t even show up. Not even a tiny speck. She endured every physical pain (which was very horrendous and tormenting to watch for us as relatives) and demonstrated great determination to go back home and live a ‘normal’ life.
In the end, the suffering was too much for her body to handle and too much for our eyes to see. She was well and ok about 5 months ago and to tell you that everything happened in a flash would be a terrible cliche, but very true. It was a well-deserved rest to a place where pain is just a myth and joy and fulfillment are of abundance.
Looking back, if there were only 2 words to describe the life my mom has lived, that would be simple and selfless. Ever since she gave birth to the three of us, her life is nothing but fulfilling our desires and going beyond what a mother could possibly do to her child. That was basically a longer description of what love is.
So – to all the people who made my mom who she was until her last moments, thank you. To her friends who colored her life, thank you. To my friends and my family’s friends who were one with us in our loss – I will forever be grateful to you. May God bless and your families always!
In this new year, I wish you all nothing but health. Everything else is easy.