Me, my mom, and cancer

Connie Macatula - De Leon

Posted at May 13 2017 03:38 PM | Updated as of May 13 2017 10:25 PM

My mother passed away on mother’s day. 

The 12 bright, red roses that I was supposed to give to her sagged and wilted right before me. Everything that was familiar and normal appeared hazy and confusing as if my body underwent a flash freeze. 

I was in denial. 

People moved on and returned to their typical dog-eat-dog lives. At times, I stood steady while they walked past me as I could not walk fast enough. For the first time, the beam of excitement from random kids at the park, a sight that used to bring me joy, did not seem appealing. At all. 

I sat on the corner of my meaningless room, with a blank stare at the ceiling and tons of sighs. I cried in between breaths. Why? Why do you take the people we love? 

And then I woke up, panting, screaming and yet grateful that... it was just a dream.

My mother is still alive and kicking. 

Every waking hour since Mom has been cancer-free is an hour of bonus time with her that we are privileged enough to enjoy, like a jail bond that buys time, but it does not stop the clock from ticking. 

Having cancer sucks. But living 13,000 kilometers away from the Philippines and being sick is a double whammy. But mom 'brainwashed' us to always look for the silver lining. 

She always convinced us that if she got sick back home, she would’ve been six feet under by now. Although the insurance and government assistance helped the burden, the two core truths remain. There is a giant elephant in the room named “cancer.” And there was no alternative but to attack, the best way we knew how. 

In that nightmare, the greatest regret I had was not having enough time with her and for her. Since I graduated college, I’ve worked more than I relaxed. This should not be the norm. I’ve never met any adult regretting not spending more time at work. 

In my preschool years, when every child was busy showing off tricks in front of their relatives, my parents racked their brains out, wishful that I could do one basic thing: to speak. They feared that I was mute. Finally, at age 5, the floodgates opened and I never stopped talking since. 

That was priceless for Mom. 

She made me believe that the sky is the limit, and that I can do whatever I want in life. And yet she would repeatedly get away with the I-hope-you-become-a-successful-TV-reporter-someday segue every chance she got. It somehow creeped into my system. Truthfully, mothers are effortlessly influential, whether we like it or not. 

Our journey with our moms beat any relationship one has or one could ever have. When I became a mother myself, everything started to make sense. Moms naturally give more than what they have - to provide, to spare, to nourish and to share.

It has been close to a decade since we started fighting with the elephant. It was definitely bigger than us, but I realized that we were and we are better. 

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone out there who embodies the characteristics of a mother. And as the clock continues to tick, let us not become too busy growing up that we forget that they are, also, growing old.