A decade without my Mama

Ten years today, that’s how long since I’ve last held my mama.

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Every Second of July each year, I mourn all over again. It’s that one day in the year when my mind is elsewhere and my tears are abound.

How did I even manage to go through life without her? And for ten years? I don’t know.

Our mother-daughter relationship was not perfect, that’s not what I am trying to tell you, nor was I the model daugher. Our relationship was normal. We had our fights and our make-ups. We had our moods, bad days and good days, but one thing remained true, she loved me and I loved her back. 

I had a different blog during the time when I lost her and I wrote what had happened on our last day together. I knew that time that one day I’ll forget how she sounded like, so I had to immortalised that day through a blog post. I never want to forget. No matter how painful it was.

And here I am again, sharing it to the world.

Story time.

I was by her side when she passed away, something that I am always grateful for. My mum gave me my holiday travel dates to Manila and she was adamant I must book exactly the dates she’d given. It seemed that she knew she’ll be leaving and she wanted to make sure I am home.

1 JULY 2006

800 am – My dad’s cry for help woke me up. I was sleeping at the next room.  He’s been awake all night with her. She was in agony and so scared all night. Her fight didn’t start that day, it just hit its point of no return.

Panic has set in. She didn’t want to be brought to hospital. She’s scared from our previous ambulance accident the day before.

But against her will, I picked up the phone and rang the hospital. 

I rushed everyone to get ready but my mama. I told her to be calm and that help is on its way.

815 am – Ambulance arrived. A doctor and 2 nurses came in. They didn’t say much, but I knew she’s not doing very good.

The doctor said she is in critical condition, something about only taking 60% of oxygen.

We got into the hospital safely. No accident this time.

830 am Doctors and nurses gathered around her. It was an out of body experience. I was there but I felt I was watching what was happening.

I started to panic. I can’t see my mum with all of them around her. They pulled different machines, tubes, drips. There are about 10 people around her and some are on top of her. Frantic and trying to attach something or finding something.. and then they stopped.

Three nurses walked away and finally, I had a glimpse of her, a very quick glimpse. My legs felt like jelly but my whole body wanted to bust those double doors and just get her out of that table.

There was a tube in her mouth and drips on her arms and thighs. All these things attached to her. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t move. I saw her eyes. I saw how scared she was. She was trying to find us but she couldn’t turn her head.

Doctors came up to me and my dad, they started asking us questions. how long did she have cancer? what is she eating? what medicines she taking? how many chemo sessions did she had? when was the last chemo? do you have her medical records? where are her xray films?

I zoned out. I let my dad answer everything. I just stared at my mum.

I can still remember the smell of that emergency room. Hospital grade alcohol and something burning.

Events started to look like in slow motion.  Sounds became incoherent to my ears, more like mumbles and groans.  I was there but I wasn’t there. This is not happening.

The main doctor came and saw me, dressed in pink skirt, high-heeled slip on shoes and a very expensive looking bag. No white coat on, no scrubs, nothing. She didn’t look like a doctor but they said she was the best.

She asked us to leave the room for a moment and just like that, the emergency doctors and nurses gathered round her.

I can’t hear anything nor can I read their lips. Some nurses were writing notes, doctors nodding. Some shook their heads and took a deep breath. The others just looked so sad like they knew what’s coming.

Then suddenly *bleep*!! lights were off! The hospital is now in total darkness. Power outage, one guy said. I burst in, through that double doors and yelled at someone, “someone look after my mum! She can’t breathe”. 

“Is she breathing?”

I saw her eyes, she was even more scared. She was moving her feet, telling us that she’s scared.

A nurse started to take the tube off the machine and attached to the “manual” balloon like device. I can hear them counting in unison… 1, 2, 3, 4 pump, 1, 2, 3, 4 pump 

My dad then said something, something that made me smile..

dad: “This reminds me of you when you were born. All of us were outside the delivery room. Your Tatay Caloy was fighting with the power company begging not to turn the power off because your mum was about to have the c-section. You were about to be born”

I smiled because he remembered.

The power is back on! Feeling relieved was an understatement. The nurses put her back in the machine and I saw her calming down. Her body is relaxed. Alive but relaxed.

Ten minutes later, the power was off again, and it seemed that someone has pressed replay. The nurses gathered around my mum and attached her back to the blue balloon and the counting started again.

The power went on, then off, then back on and then off again. 

I wanted to scream at someone.

And by some form of divine intervention, the power stayed on. I went inside the room, held her hand. She squeezed it. I kept on telling her that we are here and to not give up. She nodded, promising. She squeezed my hand again and again.

I told her to be strong, to not give up, to keep on fighting. She replied with tears. She was yes to me but she knew she can’t keep the promise.

The main doctor came back. Her face was serious, so serious that my gaze didn’t leave my mum’s face. I knew she’s going to be taken away. I kept on looking at the breathing machine, the heartbeat monitor, the oxygen rate, her feet, her hands, her face. My dad had to pull me back, away from my thoughts and begged me to listen. The doctor spoke for 20 and I only gathered:

– your mum is in critical condition

– she is not stablelising

– the medicines are not working as much as we expected

– her blood pressure is dropping

“there is a 50-50 chance of survival. very slim. If she survives overnight, I will be surprised”   

So much for compassion. I found myself getting worked up and shouting at the good doctor. I wasn’t my character, but can you blame be if someone says to you they’d be surprised if your mum survives the night?

I apologised to her. She understood. I don’t think I am the first person ever screamed at her.

“we will do everything we can”, she promised.

I believed her. We believed her. I trusted her. 

Relatives started calling and like us they were hopeful. they wanted updates, progress, anything. I didn’t disclose the possibility of a surprised doctor come morning next day. I only told them she’s breathing and she’s being looked after.

1600 pm – 2230 pm

There was no progress, except for a good 2 hours, my mum was stable. I was relieved to know and started hoping that some doctor is indeed going to be surprised.

Head doctor heard the news. She came back and checked on mum.

She was very pleased, but despite the good news, she didn’t let the doctors leave. Somehow, that  made me nervous.

The following hours were all about holding her hands, fixing her hair, talking to her, telling her stories, reminding her to fight.

And all she did was respond to me.

Then she managed to speak, she’s very thirsty and hungry she said. 

Granting her wishes was next to impossible. All I allowed to do was wet her lips with water. I was heartbreaking. She was the best cook and fed us with delicious foods, and here I am just wetting her lips with water.

We were then transferred to her own room.  She was stable and giving good signs. I was hopeful.

Just as we were about to move her, a strong sound started beeping like crazy. 

The head doctor’s name is now being paged throughout the hospital

I started crying.

After 40 minutes of trying to make the sound stop, the main doctor said, “your mum’s vitals are dropping”

they added new medicine tubes, they injected new medicines.

And then we were transferred.

Some doctors and nurses came with us.

We marched like an army. I walked with my mum. I was still holding her hands, even inside the lift I was still holding her hands. 

2230 pm– 0045 pm

We got into her own room. They tried to put things back in order, machines up, medicine lines up, suction up, heartbeat machine up.

We had 5 doctors and 6 nurses in the room. 

I was still holding her hands.

I started asking her questions.
“are you tired now?”
“are you sleepy now?”

her answer?! — continuous nodding.
her eyes were still half open, she was sedated but she refused to sleep.

So I talked to her more. I told her to sleep for a while and that we will be here, we wont leave her side. I told her that she got the best doctors and nurses, I told her that I won’t let go of her hand.

she nodded, kept on nodding

I started crying. She started crying.

I continued to wet her lips with water. I continued my stories.

0045 – 100

I started feeling tired and my mum had fallen asleep.  I told her I am just going outside the room. 

I sat outside the room, in the hallway.

I started eating my very late dinner, when Flor, a family friend, hurried outside to get me. She was crying and in panic, she said “come in quick, your mum is awake”

I came in as quick as I can. I saw from where I was standing that my mum’s eyes were fully open like in shocked. I looked at all the monitors, heartbeat on, oxygen on. She’s was OK.

I woke my dad and my brother and told them that she’s awake.

Her eyes were searching, so we stood up next to her, close enough to see us all. The moment she saw us, she lifted her head and her eyes were saying, “hey, there you are, I am going now, I am sorry”. She also looked like she saw someone familiar, someone she hasn’t seen before and then tears fell down her cheeks. She gazed up the ceiling, her eyes still wide open.

I knew, from that second, that we lost her.

Her vitals soon went down so fast the doctors and nurses couldn’t keep up.

2 July 2016

100 am – 130 am

Her vitals kept on dropping.

She’s not responding to anything I say, to anything we say.

Her body reflected someone who has surrendered. Peacefully.

Her heart was still beating. 

Her breaths were still evident.

The whole room became so cold, so cold I started shivering.

I couldn’t stop crying.
I pulled her hand begging her to squeeze mine.


The doctors told us, “there’s nothing we can do to save her, we can do CPR if she reaches flat line”. 

There was no brain activity.

I looked at her frail body then I looked at my dad.
We agreed to let her go. 

A priest came to bless her.

And then she flat lined. *beeep*

I felt numb, I knelt down and cried hysterically.

Then suddenly her heartbeat went up again.

I stopped crying, looked at her.
She’s not moving. She’s not responding.

150 am

She flat lined again. *beeeeeep*

This time, it was permanent.

She’s gone..

I held her, hugged her, kissed her. I was shaking her so much I wanted her to wake up.

I couldn’t stop shaking. 

She was gone.

—-

 

Thank you for reading all the way through.

Reading this entry again made me feel sad but at the same time glad that I wrote it. I never want to forget.

I know she’s happy now and pain free.

She was our light. She was our strength.

She is forever and deeply missed.

Thank you again for reading xx

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