It’s Day 40 today.. and honestly, it doesn’t feel like it. Did time really fly that quickly? Even when mom was sick and we knew that she was dying, death seemed like a vague concept. Me and the sibs were even discussing about what we dubbed as ‘the incident’ (mom’s eventual death), and how unpredictable everything is. We didn’t know how we would react, or what will happen after. I’m sure this is different for everybody, but here’s a list I came up with post-incident because nothing can ever fully prepare anyone when it comes to losing a loved one.
You basically have no time for mourning. Let me tell you how my day went the day mom died. I received a frantic call from my dad while I was at work to tell me that mom has passed. I admittedly burst into tears, but a few minutes into it I went into planning mode – called up C to ask if he can pick me up from the office (he left in the middle of his meeting), my brother, my best friend, and one of my cousins (so he can disseminate the information to all our relatives). I called my sister’s school to inform them that we will be picking her up. Upon picking up my sister (she is studying in Cavite and we work in Makati), we proceeded to the chapel and had to pull out mom’s body to transfer her to a better memorial chapel. C and I then rushed to the grocery to buy necessary supplies. People are calling both my numbers (I had a work phone and a personal one) and people are coming in and you had to entertain them at all hours. I managed everything from the chapel – flowers, food, masses, cremation schedule, creation of the tribute video, payments to all the vendors, etc. I delegated C as the runner, with either of my siblings who did not have guests at the time. I was just so busy the entire time, I didn’t even get to cry during my mom’s wake. I even had to solve emergencies while mom’s mass was ongoing.. The urge to scream at people was constantly set to high, and it took an even higher amount of effort to not do so.
With everything going on, a check list is a must! With my mom’s death, I instantly got a promotion to head of the household. It’s the most stressful role I have ever had – I swear, everything else pales in comparison.
Holidays are the worst time to die (same goes for the long weekends, etc). Aside from dying of old age, fulfilled and surrounded by loved ones, there really is no ‘right’ time to die. But there are least favorable times to do so. Mom died on a Friday – which coincided with the start of a long weekend. Do you know of any government offices that are open during weekends and holidays? Answer: None. Mom didn’t want a lengthy wake, so we wanted to hold the cremation on a Tuesday. In order to do that, you need to make sure all the necessary documents have been filed with relevant government agencies. The florist is only open on Saturday mornings. The office of Manila Memorial is closed on Sundays and holidays. You get the gist.
There are A LOT of forms. I didn’t know you need a lot of documents to prove that you’re dead. I literally had to fill out so many forms, for so many things, it’s not even funny anymore. You need to fill out the death certificate and get a coroner to sign it off. There are so many permits out there that you have to acquire just so you can bury or cremate people – as if the non-breathing body is not proof enough that they’re dead.
Life Plans are important. Do you know how much four short days in a decent memorial chapel costs? Hint: a lot. My mom didn’t have a life plan, so we had to pay the full amount for the memorial chapel. Cremations cost Php 22,000 at a minimum – you have to pay more for weekends and if it’s late in the afternoon. Yes, life plans are that important.
You meet a lot of.. strangers. Aside from all the distant relatives, we didn’t know we had, friends of my mom came as well. I knew my mom was a good person because I lived with her for 24 years. I made the announcement of her passing via Facebook so I was not expecting an influx of people I do not know to visit and pay their respects. I met so many people whose lives mom has touched – she helped parents put their children through school, she lent money without expecting anything in return, she set people up (oooh mom’s a matchmaker), and a lot more. I knew my mom could love unconditionally because that’s how she raised us, but I was not aware of the depth of her generosity.
Nothing can prepare you for losing a loved one. My mom has been in and out of the hospital since 2012. Mom and I have had so many discussions about death, heck, she even left all of us letters (even C got one). The sibs almost had nightly sessions just talking about a motherless future and what it meant for us. But losing my mom still hit me hard. I know she’s in a better place now – where she’s not in pain anymore and she can freely move around. It’s selfish to wish she didn’t have to go, but there are moments where I wonder why God couldn’t have just chosen someone else to send to heaven. There are so many things I still wish my mom could have been there for – graduations, weddings, grand children.. and this brings me to my next point.
Wakes are for the living. They may say that it’s the time to celebrate the life of the person you just lost, but it’s also a ground to collectively comfort everyone in mourning. Pretty self-explanatory.
Blood makes you relatives, loyalty makes you family. It’s true – death puts everything in perspective. I realized how much I took the people in my life for granted. Without the sibs, family, C and my friends who spent their long weekend helping me out, running errands for me, or braving the heavy traffic just to be there, I would not have survived with my sanity intact. My mom may not be around anymore, but I still have a family who earned their right to be there.
Eulogies are hard AF. I remember watching the scene where Marshall’s dad died in HIMYM and thinking that themes for eulogies are a bit weird. But when it was my turn to deliver one for my mom, I didn’t know what to say. It was so overwhelming, I ended blubbering. So yeah, it’s not something my public speaking skills can handle.
It does not really sink in until days/weeks/months after the interment – and it’s okay. The sibs and I were mostly at peace with mom passing as we were the ones with her while she was suffering from cancer. However, there were days wherein my mind instantly goes to her when I have a dilemma and I needed someone to talk to. At first, I felt guilty that I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be – but as C told me, there’s no right way to mourn. It’s different for everyone and it’s okay.
40 days have passed since you left us mom, and they say that this symbolizes a halt to our grieving and that we should move on. But I think that we will miss you every day, and we will spend the rest of our lives coping. We will never be the same, but I know you want us to be happy, so we will try to be. I will always love you, mom. I hope I make you proud.