a love story
When the clock ticks 12:00 tonight, it is going to be 13 days before Christmas, 312 hours, 18720 minutes before the celebration of Jesus' birth and if the doctors are to believed, it will only take three days or 72 hours before Anette's mom, Tita Loida joins the Lord in heaven. Needless to say, it is going to be the first Christmas dinner for her family without her.
For probably the fifth time in just two years, Tita Loida has been sent to the hospital for different reasons, all stemming down to her heart problem. When Anette told me over the phone, the situation did not seem very critical to me. I didn't find it different from the previous incidents until she told me that half her mother's body was already paralyzed.
Arriving at the hospital with Donna and Joy, we found Anette alone with her cousin Nikki at the room reserved for well-wishers and relatives. We could only see Tita Loida from a diminutive glass window to her room. The rest of their family including Ian, Anette's brother who stayed with their father in Batangas after their parents separated, were not yet aware of her mother's condition.
Having the opportunity, Anette asked me to come with her inside the ICU unit 7 of the Manila Doctors Hospital to see her mom. I was never uncomfortable in hospitals in my life because I almost grew up in PGH where my own Mama works. She would take me and my sister there when we were young everytime we didn't have someone to babysit for us while she and my father go to work.
At that very moment, I was having doubts about my own beliefs. I felt anxious because I seemed to be the only person there to whom Anette can draw her strength from in the absence of her own family. The doctor told me about Tita Loida's condition and even noted that she can no longer identify any of the two of us because the part of her brain where her memory is - had already been damaged. And of all the things she told me about her state, that is the only one I found hard to accept. I have always believed that the heart can never forget what even the mind sometimes fail to remember.
While Anette and I stood on the opposite sides of Tita Loida's bed, I tried to look around. There was the respirator, the pulse-monitoring device with all the graphs - the ones I used to see in movies. I was avoiding any emotional talk because I knew Anette had already been crying too much. We were talking when I noticed Tita's left arm and leg which were tied to her bed, moving at the same time almost frailly. Anette told me her mom was trying to pull the tubes inserted through her nose so it was tied. Then I figured maybe she was moving because she was hearing us so I suggested that she talk to her. And at that moment, I have seen the most poignant expression of love I have ever seen. She asked her mom to hold her hand. And with all the energy she have left against the disease slowly consuming her body, Tita Loida raised her hand and held Anette's in a snug. Then I knew she was fighting her battle.