Of Farewells

My maternal grandmother, Nena Malabanan Bulanhagui Tria, with Heaven

On May 30, we were at my uncle’s house, practicing our songs as the choir for the anticipated mass the following day. It went well until I received a call from my sister, Chongee. My maternal grandmother, Mama had a stroke and around 11pm, she passed away.

I was shocked and after the call, I started to cry.

We knew that it would happen since she was blessed to live 90 years with us. However, nothing really prepares you for death. I was desolate. I felt my heart became heavy with sadness and grief. I felt so much regret on not visiting Mama the last time I was there just last April because that was when I got sick on the last day of our vacation.

I grew up with Mama until I was 6 years old. My earliest memories were summers at Oriental Mindoro (her hometowns, Melgar in Naujan and at Calapan). We went to the nearby islands, did bobsledding on hills, attended Penitensya during the Holy Week that ended with the penitent taking a dip at the sea to wash off their blood, sweat and sins, visited a bakery where I saw how they made pandesal and through playing, I learned how to cook rice and adobo using oil from the gumamela (hibiscus) flower.

She was a teacher and then later on she became a principal. She was helpful and kind which made her one of the most-loved citizens in her hometown.

The next day, I offered our mass for her soul because I can’t afford to go to Manila for her internment and cremation. Her ashes will be placed inside my maternal grandfather’s tomb in Mindoro.

Due to my sorrow, it was a great comfort that the homily of the mass was about the Ascension of Jesus. It was as if God was there to soothe my worries and pangs of regret for not being able to say goodbye to Mama. The homily was about how we view life after death. The priest (I forgot his name but he’s truly awesome), talked about how the Apostles and disciples of Jesus viewed the Ascension with mixed emotions. One of fear and of awe. They were afraid because it meant that Jesus is gone and at the same time, they were excited to see Him again as He promised. They were sad yet hopeful at the same time.

Somehow, the Holy Spirit settled my feelings of turmoil over Mama’s death. She’s now in heaven. Most probably with her husband, Papa and two sons, Elmer and Omey. I am saddened that I never got to tell her farewell but I’m also happy that she’s in a better place, at peace with God.

Rest in love and peace, Mama. I love you.

photo 2
Do remember us all when you’re in heaven, Mama.
photo 3
Rumor has it that she’s half- Cuban. 🙂




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