Thursday, April 28, 2016

Loss and Love

CAKE” (2014, Jennifer Aniston film) is an emotionally-charged little indie movie that deals with pain—from physical wound and most especially, pain from the loss of a loved one. Loss of a son. It could also be loss of wife, husband, mother, father, very close friend. This kind of pain, although I may not have experienced the deepest of it, I believe—is a pain that is the worst. It's like you are alive but “dead” inside. I lost my mom in 2005 and still, I am grieving her—yet I couldn't imagine losing a child forever. Especially to a mother from whose body and blood the child came out from.

          When my son was maybe 5 years old, I “lost” him in a frenzy in the open market back home. I used to bring my kids to the market when they were little so we could choose together what's up for dinner and then rent some videos for the weekend. Suddenly, Duane was gone—as we entered a video store. I was in panic, I was hysterical inside. The next 20 or 30 minutes—I scoured the market, frantically asked vendors, ran to the police station—it was like I was suspended on midair, all oxygen in me was gone but I was moving in all directions. I froze yet my body was on a rush like I was driving 100s on a highway. My heart, my mind were all about Duane. I just didn't know what to feel, what to think—I just wanted him back.
           Then, a jeepney driver told me that Duane rode another jeepney to our house! Amazingly, my son knew what to do, where to go, and which jeepney to ride on to get home. He was already home when I got there. I held my son and just calmly said, “Never get lost again. Never.”
          And on my 47th birthday in 2007, while here in Asheville, Duane contracted a deadly virus from most likely, eating street food following flooding/typhoon in Manila. The virus was eating him up fast and rendered half of his body paralyzed in few hours. He needed shots or 5 or 7 vials of antibiotics badly, if not, he'd die. In those hours of waiting, on the other side of the (telephone) line across continents, I felt I died. I didn't want another year in my life, no more—just give those years to my son. I can give my life to my son anytime. He was 21 at that time.
           In 1995, I messed up my lungs so badly from overworking, not sleeping rightly, forgetting to eat, exhaustion. I collapsed, brought to ER and ICU. “Dead” for few minutes. In the haze, I cried out loud in that life-death stupor, “If there's a God and you are witnessing this—pull me out of this shit right now. I cannot leave my kids. Let me live for my kids, please!” The nurses and doctors later told me that it was close to a miracle that I survived. There was even a parish priest on my hospital bed.
          This is drama, I know... But hearing and listening stories of friends who lost their loved ones is no drama. That is life. That is love. That is humanity. That loss will stay in their heart and mind as they live. All my kids, now in their 20s, are healthy and intelligent, and so young and motivated. Any dreams that I built when I was young are dwarfed by the dreams that my kids pursue for themselves. Their joy and success bring more life to me. They are my heartbeat and my spirit. My life.
          “Cake,” the movie, fortunately ended in a good promising note. The grieving mother only had to accept that she was a good mother, she was—and she deserves life after the loss of her son. That life is a gift, not a bitter pill. Life is love. We will only embrace life after loss (of a loved one)—by accepting that good memories stay after they left. Only good memories. And those memories are the inspiration that makes us see light again.

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