A year ago,
on this date,
is when my Mother lost her battle with cancer.

I remember being so upset when I heard the news.
I was on my way to the airport to fly to Canada,
and our trusted friend, Alejandra called me, crying,
and told me that my Mom was taking her last breath.

Then, she was gone.
My Mother.
Whom I have known from the very first time I drew breath.
Gone.

I just remember Tracy pulling over to the side of the road,
as I burst into tears, screaming my head off,
with my son watching me from the back seat.

I was hurt.
I was angry.
I felt so lost.

I was just hours away.
I didn’t make it.
I was very angry.
Very angry.

We get to the airport,
I checked in, and lo and behold,
my flight was 3 hours delayed.
Adding more insult to what has befallen that day.

I love how life does that to you when you needed it least.

I sat by my gate,
counting down the hours, waiting to board.

I remember talking to my sisters, Elizabeth and Evelyn via text.
I remember my niece, Malou texting me too.
I told some people of what happened.
Those whom my Mom held most dear.

But throughout that time,
all I could think about was how upset I was.
That I wasn’t there
during her last moments.

You all know I live in Florida and I have built a life here.
The distance is one of my biggest fears since we have learned of her illness.
I was afraid I may not make it in time,
when the thing I have been dreading ever comes.
And sure enough, that is what happened.

Hours passed and the plane arrives.
We all board and I found my seat.
I sat beside this nice lady, her kid in the next seat,
her husband and other kid behind us.
They just had their vacation at DisneyWorld.

We just happen to talk about stuff, about being in Orlando,
Disney and how her kids enjoyed being at the parks.
Then she asked me where I live and asked me
why I choose to go to Ottawa
in negative degree weather.
So I told her, that my Mother passed away, just hours ago.

She gasped, and touched my shoulder.
A gesture of kindness which I seem to be really needing at that moment.
I keep my tears from falling as she looks at me with sympathy.

And all of a sudden she told me that she was a nurse
from the same Hospital where my Mother was in.
She grabbed my arm this time and held it tight.
She leaned towards me and said,
“I know you feel bad for not being there with her.
But let me tell you this, and I have seen this a lot of times,
That last moment before she passed is not as important
as how your relationship with her while she was alive.
That’s what they remember.
And that’s what matters.”

For some reason, it’s what I needed to hear too.
It is what has been on my mind that whole time.
Just the agony of knowing that I didn’t make it.
I was just hours away.
Just like what happened when my Father passed away in the Philippines.
I was to see him just a month after.

This lady’s simple words helped me put things in perspective.
From a complete stranger, no less.

I am very proud that I had a great relationship with my Mother.
And I too did remember all the happy things we shared together.
It gives me comfort that she knows how much I loved her when she was alive.
When I was with her when she was well.
When it really did matter.
Not the last hour.
Not the last minute.

And from that point on,
I have learned how you can get the best help,
compassion and understanding from other people.
Much better than the ones you put your complete trust into.

I needed to learn that.
I needed to know that.

A year has passed
and I still miss my Mother very much.
Time does fly very fast.
It doesn’t make things easier.

Someday, I hope it will.
I will move on, but I will never forget.

Rest in Peace, Ma.
We remember you on this day.
We love you very much.

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