Last March, I received an unexpected call from my sister. She tearfully told me that our mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
I was numb with shock and as tears rolled down my face I felt fear grip my heart.
I can’t lose my mom. No. Not yet.
The days following the news was a blur. When I spoke to her, she was crying and apologizing for what has happened. I told her that it was not her fault, that life is really like that. We are given new challenges and obstacles to overcome so that we can become stronger and better people afterwards. This is but another boulder on the road that we have to get around so we can continue our journey.
I lied to her. Of course, I felt differently. Angry and scared, I was enraged. I hated that cancer is now back to try and take away another member of my family.
After some time, it was decided that we will try to go to her, see her and help her with her recovery. As the eldest, I was tasked to go first.
Fast forward to June of this year, I boarded the plane to finally see my mom after 3 years of separation. I have no expectations and my foremost thought and prayer was that she will be fine. She will still be there. She’s hanging on to life and that I will see her soon.
When I did saw her, my heart broke. She was so thin. She shaved her head and was looking fragile. I can only hide my heartbreak and simply show how happy I was. Happy and grateful for the chance to see her again and be with her.
My mom was not the most open person that I knew. Ever since I was young, she always seemed calm and collected. She only sheds her tears in private. It was how she was brought up. As the only girl in the family, she was sheltered and taught that she must always look a certain part. Modest, demure, meek and calm. She has never thrown a tantrum or shown how deeply she feels in public.
She makes very few friends. Selective and careful, she hates being talked about. More so with the rise of social media. She doesn’t even want people to know what was happening to her.
I am obviously not like her. Where she was reserved, I was outrageous. I dance to my own tune and hardly listen to anyone. I hold myself accountable for my choices and stand by them. If they don’t sit well with others, I don’t really give it much thought.
We are opposites in so many ways and yet, we fit. I came from her womb and her blood runs through mine. My features are meshed from her and my father. My sense of calm and strength are from her. I admire her tenacity and work ethics. She is career-oriented and a goal-achiever. Sadly, I am not like her in that way. Still, my love for life and appreciation for simple moments of laughter, joy and peace make up for that.
For the next two months, I learned more about her than I would in my 40 years. She also helped me recover my confidence and belief in myself. For quite some time, I thought that dating was out of the picture for me. She had shown me that I was still attractive and that I still have the capacity to love romantically.
My short time with her greatly improved her health. Now that my sister is there with her, I’m sure that the road to recovery from this illness will be smoother.
Today, here in my living room, writing this down, I feel good. I am hopeful. I am grateful. I have been to many places and have met a lot of new people. I realized that the world is within my reach. My love for travel has been rekindled. My sense of adventure has been stoked. I feel as if I have been given a new chance to change everything. To grab life and really enjoy living.
There is much to do still. Getting around that boulder on the road was not easy but it was done. The rest of the road looms ahead, beckoning for a future unknown.
I look forward to the next journey and adventure.