re-published May 18, 2022 (10 years later)
originally published May 18, 2012

It is not easy to recapture the memories of the day that just passed.  The flurry of events will leave a lasting mark on my soul as a day of deep trial, deep intimacy, deep abandonment into the hands of the Lord.

After my mother entered a critical stage connected to her health problem of two years – lung cancer – within three days in the hospital, she seemed to start recovering.  We cheered her on as she was able to enunciate words again, as she showed bodily strength again, as she began to look at and recognize people again. I will never forget the steady glance of her eyes, the struggling reply to my question, the arm she wrapped around my back, the caress I felt from her fingers transporting me to my childhood under her care.

The following morning, I thought I needed a break from the stresses of two emergency room episodes in 10 days. A priest friend agreed to meet and talk, eat and probably watch a funny movie together.  As we were just being served our soft drinks, my sister sent an urgent text message.  Doctors have asked that family be present at my mother’s bedside. We paid the bill, took the food out, rushed to the hospital. In between conversation, my heartbeat was racing and I was anxious.

Soon I saw my mother’s weakest moments, unable to breathe but also unable to struggle. The vibrancy of yesterday replaced by a drift into gradual deep slumber.  Approaching her, I led the recitation of the Rosary near her ear to be sure she heard her most favorite devotion again. I believe it gave her calm. Remarkably her eyes were steady and searching again. I am sure she recognized me again. I cannot forget the long big hug she gave me when I approached her, assuring her of my love and affection. I am now so happy and grateful for that final maternal embrace of my life.

Her family arrived and she amazed us by mentioning one by one the names of her siblings, in-laws and nephew. She was in deep struggle for air but she managed to smile though in the midst of obvious pain. She was entertaining us with the deep joyfulness of her soul.  My sister was ebullient and proud of her.

Ah, and earlier in the morning, her two little treasures were stealthily brought in through the basement entrance of the hospital.  My mother’s two grandchildren, ages not allowed for visit yet, managed to surprise my mother at her bedside.  Her eyes lit up.  Her face strained a beautiful smile reserved only for grandchildren. Her hands reached out to them as they kissed her hand in reverence.  What unfeigned joy she felt when the little boy handed to her a super Mario stuffed toy he brought as his gift. Shortly after, the kids must be sent away to their father’s office before the doctors themselves kicked them out.

And then, calmness.  She seemed settled again.  Each of us tried to steal some time for a quick lunch or snacks because it was already late in the afternoon.  When we returned, she seemed to be struggling less and was very peaceful. A hospital chaplain administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which I also already gave her when she entered the hospital days before. 

Her blood pressure was a very normal 110 over 80.  We marveled at her heart’s stability and some family members began thinking of going home.  My mother seemed to be surviving another day again, thanks be to God.

As I was talking with a priest-friend outside the room, my aunt frantically called me to my mother’s bedside again. This time, she seemed to be breathing less, her eyes closed and her body not responding anymore.  She was very pale.

I held her hand and touched her head and led the family in allowing her to hear the most beautiful prayers she loved as a Catholic woman of faith – Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Jesus-Mary-Joseph, The Apostles Creed, Hail Holy Queen, Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, Invocation to St. Joseph. My priest-friend was assisting at the other side of the bed, while family members were stifling their tears.

Towards the end of the prayers, my mother was joining us from another plane, that of the glory of eternal life.  I am sure Jesus and the angels have come to give her the peace and rest she so desired after a life of sacrifice.

My father died 6 years ago along the busy road of NLEX due to massive heart attack.  I met him lifeless on the hospital morgue. 

I count it a great blessing to have anointed, prayed over, blessed my mother and see her die in peace before my eyes.

My mother’s name is Consuelo, Spanish for consolation. In life, that was what she truly was to so many of our neighbors, to her public school students, to her colleagues in the teaching profession, to the poor around her and to her family.

Goodbye Mommy.  Thank you, Mommy… for all the love, the joy, the sacrifices you endured for your family, for me. 

Into your hands, Lord Jesus Christ, I commend my mother’s spirit. Amen.

(Ma’am Consuelo peacefully joined the Triune God on Thursday, May 17, 2012. Wake will be at the Mary the Queen Memorial Park along ByPass Road, Guyong, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Funeral Mass will be on Monday, May 21, 8am at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Those going to Bulacan, take the Bocaue exit.)