I know I've not been here for a while (it feels like ages) — but so much has happened, and I've been unable to deal with more than just the basic things.
For one, my mother passed away in the Philippines at the end of September. She'd been ailing for a while, and in the hospital four months before that, for pesky pneumonia that would not go away, plus a slew of other symptoms and the increasing fragility of someone at an advanced age, like her.
When I visited in 2015 (accompanied by my youngest daughter), she was still spunky, spirited, and strong. She walked around town, around Burnham Lake, went to the shops or to church—often wearing a hat to go with her smart outfit, greeting everyone she knew and then taking leave of them with her signature I love you! She brought dragon fruit to us at our hotel, ate many meals with us at Hill Station. Before we left, she came bearing gifts of silver jewelry from the market, and 2 pairs of shoes which she insisted I take— one was a pair of bright pink flats with anemone-like pom-poms, and the other was a pair of gold high-top sneakers with ruffles (!). You can wear them when you go to the grocery store, or even gardening, she exhorted; after all, YOLO. This made me blink in amusement and surprise— I'd never heard her use such expressions. I accepted the flats, but declined the latter pair, saying I was not brave enough to pull those off.
I visited again in January 2020, just before (it seemed) the whole world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I'd been prevailed upon by an older cousin on my father's side, to come home and take care of some of the legal paperwork necessary so that she could continue to help me do everything necessary to assure the care of my mother, even if I no longer lived there. During this visit, my mother's deteriorated physical condition was more than concerning. She was sharing her home with family members, but it appeared that she had been suffering from their cruel and deliberate neglect. That is a longer and more complicated story, but suffice it to say that my cousin and I made arrangements to transfer her immediately to a care home, to a safe environment where she has stayed for the last 3 years before her death— where she was looked after by kind and devoted caregivers. In fact, three of these young women who looked after her, along with my cousin, stayed at her side until the end; and I and my family are forever grateful.
We all knew that my mother was approaching the inevitable, and so it feels like we've been incrementally grieving her passing even before she actually transitioned out of her life. While I've tried to be as present as I could be under the circumstances, now that she is gone it has been very difficult to know how to carry this grief. It's only been 2 months since her death. Sometimes I do not know at all what to do with this loss, but I also still feel deeply and in the same way about my father, though he died more than 33 years ago...
I try to keep busy, to do what I have to do in my daily life, though everything, including everything in the world these days, feels raw and sharp.