Not that I am wishing to kick the bucket this early, I am somehow, always interested in the ramification of death after tragically losing my mom to a natural disaster. That was four years ago. (My mom died in Quezon province, south of
, from a landslide that killed hundreds of people.) I never had the chance to mourn her. The weeks after her death, I decided to continue working, thinking it was the best that I could do. I will never be sad, I promised. I will be tough. Yes, I was able to move on but only on the surface. The pain of losing a loved one, no matter how bad your relationship is with that loved one is a pain that leaves a gap, a space, or a void that never heals. Four years and nothing changed. I could have done things differently then. I wish I did. Manila
I am the eldest and taking the Filipino’s concept of “panganay”, I would say I am a part of the decision making in the family. Unlike, the other kids, the eldest is third in line when it comes to responsibility, after the padre de pamilya and the madre de pamilya. I consider my position both an onus and a privilege. I am aware of almost every movement in our family. My siblings, though as aware, are just in the sidelines. They have a choice. They can participate or not. I don’t have that choice. I am always a participant.
I did respect my nanay but things never worked out between us. We are north and south, left and right. I don’t know why. No matter how hard we try to adjust to each other, we always end up fighting, not talking, competing, etc. On good times (which was rare), we talked and we created an illusion of perfect mom/daughter team, but after a few days, we’re back to our bad old self. I no longer try to analyze things much deeper now. It is maybe our nature. We simply don’t click. Or maybe we should have tried harder.
We should. If only. These are the words that we use when we have regrets. I do have regrets. The ifs and whys are now becoming a part of my growing list. But never as difficult to comprehend as the ifs and whys that death brings.
To paraphrase Anna Quindlen, my favorite author, one should never confuse life with work as the second is only part of the first. Not that I blame my work, but the months before my mom’s passing, I was trying so hard to prove her that I can work and make something out of myself and never focused on what really could have made a difference between her passing away without us talking and her passing away feeling loved.
It’s my pride again. Not to give up on a principle. Not to show her I cry. Not to tell her I also need a mother. Not me. Not me. I am as tough as her. She produced me. She pushed me to what I have become. But still, I am her daughter. I should have been more patient, should have been more understanding.
I left home March of 2004. She died by November. That was seven months, long enough to make amends with each other, but we never did. She busied herself away in Quezon (she left Laguna three months after I left), living with her relatives, engaging in “money–making” activities that I opposed. She was there in Quezon looking for her pot of gold when the disaster hit the province. It was between late November and early December. It took weeks before we got her body and buried her there in Quezon.
Now, what? She’s dead. My fight lost its meaning. What is there to fight for anymore? It becomes useless. It is futile. I am no longer interested in proving myself. She was a great opponent because she can make you a determined person. Now I know why despite the hating–loving relationship we had, I never wanted her out of my life, her presence is essential to my self–worth. She was my gauge.
Work. Yes, I forgot. Why connect my work with her death? Simple. Months before my mom’s death I never stopped working. I never called home. I never asked sorry. I convinced myself that I was too busy with work that I don’t have time to go home and see what she’s up to. I was too busy. Period. I intentionally closed all possible chances.
Her death changed my beliefs 360 degrees. I realized that no matter how hard we work, the accomplishments that we get from our work can never duplicate the good relationship we have with our family. I am only another employee in my company, a stranger to my boss, a temporary friend to my office mate, another face in the workplace, and another statistics in the Department of Labor. In my family, my value is a lot higher. I am daughter and a sister. If I die tomorrow, the company that I work for can replace me right away without leaving an emotional void. It will be different with my family. I will be in their memories. I will leave a gap, a space, a void that never heals. As my mother did.
How about my deathbed? I don’t think I would like to see my former bosses’ face. Hmm. Or my office mates’ face. Another hmm. All I need is my family. With them around me in my deathbed, my accomplishment will be sealed.
May I add, that in my deathbed, please, oh please, removed any signs of false accomplishments I had. I don’t need them in Heaven (wherever it maybe).