What’s happening? Why is this happening? Oh God! What am I supposed to do? You’ll be ok. I think. I hope. I don’t know. Oh God, no. Please. Don’t. Please, God…..
She’s lying down helplessly on the hospital ICU bed. I’m closely standing by her left side. Her palm firmly presses against mine. I watch her in such excruciating pain. She’s struggling so hard even for the most miniscule amount of air, in the hope, hers and mine, that it’ll somehow find its way into her stiffening body.
Her eyes are glaring. She’s forcefully shaking her head. Desperately gasping for air. As her head turns to my direction, she gives me a pained stare. She stares at me but she’s not seeing me. She’s seeing beyond me. Through me. Like I’m not there. The look of fear.
Her grip is getting tighter and tighter. As though she wants to grab on to me. But her arms, her legs, her whole body tightens up, forcing itself hard against the mattress. The bed jolts from the forceful jerking of her body.
Her face is turning pallid. Pain written all over her face. Panting. Frantically grasping for the breath of life. That one last breath of life. She is fighting for life, as her heart is failing her. She’s holding on to dear life.
I watch her feeling helpless. I am helpless…seeing her feeling helpless.
Fear and powerlessness. Disappointment and frustration. Resentment and bitterness. I sense all these. I feel all these — from her, and from within me.
I want to move away. The sight is too much for me to bear. There’s nothing I can do except hold her hand and stroke her arm.
Surrender. Be in the moment. Be with her. Be there for her.
It’s all I can do.
She starts to vomit. For a moment, I panic. I hold out a trash can. It starts to get really frightening.
Is she going to make it?
My own heart beat races fast. I feel my head begin to swell. Dryness in my mouth and throat. The muscles around my neck and shoulders begin to stiffen up. My ears warm up.
How can Mom possibly make my aunt miss my nephew’s graduation? Mom, how could you? This is your fault you know. You and your scheming ways!
Mom is standing at the foot end of the bed. Simply watching. Probably in shock. Maybe even feeling guilty. I hope she is. I hope you’re feeling guilty Mom, for one of your childish and selfish decisions. You and your cunning ways!
Mom isn’t doing anything. She’s not saying anything. I dart a look at my mother but I hardly look at her after that. I avoid eye contact. I really don’t want to look at her. I’m still making sense of something so unthinkable — Mom’s way of getting back, of getting even with my eldest sister — planning a trip and taking my aunt with her, and scheduling the trip around the time of my nephew’s graduation, her very own eldest grandson, for her and my aunt to deliberately miss it, an occasion that my aunt certainly doesn’t want to miss. Something that has caused my aunt much disappointment and heartache for sure.
And now…here she is, fighting for dear life.
I am fuming mad but my thoughts are interrupted as the shaking of her body suddenly comes to a halt, with her head turned towards my direction. She’s staring at me. A frozen gaze. Her face is frozen. Dropped jaw. Mouth open. Her eyes are glaring. A piercing look. Her body stops struggling. Everything comes to a standstill. All the movements stop. The resistance, the wrestling, the panting…gone.
I step aside as the doctor pumps his hands on her chest. A device is used to jolt her heart, to normalize the heart beat.
But her heart beats no more. She aches no more.
“Tama na Nadine. Bobby, huwag na. (Enough Nadine. Bobby that’s enough.)” Her voice quivers as Mom pleads to the cardiologist.
It is best to let her go. It is time to do so. It is time. It is done. She is gone.
Silence. Deafening silence.
I approach the bed and once more, I hold her now limp hand. I plant a kiss on her forehead, and I stroke her cheek gently.
So long, Tita Lola.
# # #