Flirting with life (part 1)

Eleven years ago, she had a difficult delivery of her first son. Three years afterwards, she had cancer cells removed from her brain. The following year, she lost her second son two months after he was born. A year ago today, she fought for her life against aneurysm. If these events don’t make one a superwoman, I don’t know what else will.

***

It was a tormenting experience for us, especially for her husband and son. It all started in the afternoon of August 1, 2015. I was at their condo for a visit after her son’s soccer game got cancelled due to heavy rains. She was preparing for dinner, when she feebly said that her head aches.

She went to bed, barely unable to move from the extreme headache. I went home so she can get some rest.

Early the following morning, I saw a message from her sister, plus two missed calls. Time stamp: 11:58PM.

“Hello! Can I contact you? Need help. Ate is in Makati Med right now…”

My stomach turned. Something wrong had happened while I was sleeping. True enough, I was told later that she wouldn’t wake up when her husband tried to rouse her at around 9PM that same night because they were scheduled to go to a friend’s birthday party. Panicking, he asked the guards for help so they can carry her to the car and rush to the hospital.

***

“I got scared, Ninang,” her son told me on our way to the hospital that morning. “Daddy was panicking last night because Mommy didn’t want to wake up.”

My heart melted for this boy. In nine days, he would be celebrating his 11th birthday. At this tender age, he has gone through a lot. He was 3 years old when he experienced being away from his mommy who had surgery for brain tumor. At four, he lost his two-month old baby brother. He has seen his mommy collapse right before his eyes a few times. That’s just too much distress for a young boy to grow up with.

At the hospital, he bawled like I’ve never seen before. He kept crying out to his mommy. Please, mommy, please wake up. Over and over. It’s going to be my birthday soon, Mommy. Please. I know I should be strong for him, but how can I? You have to be a robot not to feel anything in that situation.

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Exhausted from crying, he fell asleep hugging his unconscious Mommy.

The doctor asked us to keep her awake. It breaks my heart to try to do that every time she would close her eyes. I do not know how she was feeling. How much pain she must be going through. When she does open her eyes, she would look confused, irritated and in extreme pain.

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Our first selfie on the hospital bed, post-surgery.

The doctor gave her a test by asking her if she recognizes me. With a slur, she said “my best friend”. The doctor pointed to her son, and with a struggle, she tried to say his name. She tried three times and never got “Malakai” right, but it was good enough for all of us. She knew his name, and that’s great. Malakai didn’t mind, either. He actually chuckled, but I knew that was him being in his matured state.

Her husband, who I never saw eye to eye with, was a rock throughout the ordeal. He was rattled at times, which is expected under the circumstances. But he pulled through until the very end.

A day after the surgery, she was already her usual witty self. She gets tired easily, but cheerful in front of visiting friends. When all the visitors have gone, she would be very cranky. To us – her family and me – that was a good sign. She was being comfortable around us, telling us to bug off when she’s tired.

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God really loves this family, for she was able to go home in time for her son’s 11th birthday. We had pizza, chocolate cake and ice cream. Just the three of them, her sister and an office colleague, and me. I knew she would have wanted to give her son more. She always has. But Malakai didn’t mind. He was only too happy to have his mommy back home for his birthday. In his words, “She’s all I want for my birthday. Best gift ever!”

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