[dropcap]T[/dropcap]omorrow, April 26 being  the 2nd death anniversary of my mother, Maria, allow me, my dear readers, to post here the exchange of email between me and my friends, days after I informed them of her worsening condition in the hospital up to the days when she finally met her Maker. I hope they could provide comfort for those experiencing the loss of a loved one right now, as they did to me.

Mommy at the Hospital
“Maria Ortega-Manansala, 1926-2007”

It was just a few months away from her 82nd birthday on October 17th, 2007 where we were planning something memorable for her.  But with her health gradually fading away, it was just  too much for me, her eldest son to bear.

Maria Ortega Manansala
MARIA ORTEGA MANANSALA

Here then, is the email I wrote  to my friends, sharing with them my innermost fears, doubts and uncertainties.

My Email to my friends..

April 13, 2007

Dear Friends,


Thank you for your concern and prayers.

Cirrhosis of the liver is something like cancer.  It’s been wasting away mommy’s body and mind but not her mother’s instincts.  All these times with a lot of needles and tubes stuck into her at her hospital bed, she still worries about us, our jobs, her granddaughters’ welfare, the open gasul, the food for our dog and cat, the unlocked doors and windows and even says sorry for being “samuk” (nuisance).

Visibly, it is her who is suffering but deep inside, it is me as her eldest son who is suffering the most.  Ever since daddy died in 2004, I have held off any plan of working outside of Gensan inspite of the lucrative offers and vowed instead to be as close to her as possible.

God is good for giving me a job which gives me flexible working hours.  That way, I could tend to her needs and spend more time with her as my schedule permits.  It was a continuous bonding session with her, to say the least.

Thus, this ordeal she’s going through is something I couldn’t fathom or understand initially.  I kept blaming myself for anything amiss, for something I might have done or not do which could have caused this disease to gradually take her away from me, from us.  I keep on wishing that the tears I am shedding for her each time I witness her feeble attempts at communication could at least wash away any pain, any discomfort that she must be feeling right now.

I couldn’t even lift her up to God fearing that He might take her away from us.  I just wanted her not to suffer this way for in her suffering we are also suffering…. for in her pains, we are also in pain… and in her every moan, we are crying.

Until I opened my email today and read a Daily Devotional message about sanctification…

“Suffering is another tool God uses for our good. A suffering believer runs directly to the heavenly Father for comfort and aid. God freely offers us comfort and help. But He also uses our painful circumstances to shape us even more.

When we submit to His work, we exit our suffering by looking more Christlike than ever
God’s transforming work goes on all the time. If we wish to glorify our Lord by faithfully reflecting Him, we must yield to His sanctification tools.”

This somehow opened my eyes to what our family is undergoing now.  It still won’t be easy, my dear friends.  She might lapse into coma any time and that is one thing I dread the most… not being able to hear her voice again, not being able to look into her eyes  and see their glow at my presence and not being able to clasp her hand and feel her clasping back.

Through all these, my younger bro Orman has been holding us together, veering us away from depression and hopelessness and making us laugh at the right times.   He is one treasure of a brother.

I also want to be strong for mommy and for my siblings, dear friends.   If this is a form of sanctification, so be it.  God knows what’s best for us and I am submitting myself to His holy will.

There’s just one last thing I am asking from you.  Please pray for me too.

Avel

Email from Erickson, Davao:

April 13, 2007

To my dear friend Avel,

I know it has been a long time since the last time we saw each other and it’s been a long time since i have been reading your emails. some of which really amaze me but required me not to reply but to just digest the information you give to me and to your friends.

this time, i was truly moved by the thoughts you have on this email. please allow me to share with you the feelings i had the time i read your email.

Our mother is also sickly but thank God, she has been keeping herself together. keeping strong despite of the normal ordeals our poor family face in our daily lives. our father died a long time ago, but she never re-married. up until this day, i can very well remember what she told us about not getting married again, to quote “i don’t want you, my sons, to adjust to somebody you cannot understand you and who m you cannot understand as well. i can raise you well by my own efforts and i want you all to be safe always, under my care.”

very simply said, but as i have aged, i have come to realize what our mother meant when she uttered those words. she so deeply cares about us that she is willing to give us her lifetime just to see us grow with the discipline and the grace of a Christian individual.

Vel, what you are going through now is one thing I most fear for our own mother. she is sickly and it really isn’t easy everytime i receive news about her having health concerns. i salute you for being brave enough to stand by your mother’s side.

very few people would sacrifice wealth and career progress just to care for their mothers. our mothers will always be our mothers, we are their own blood and it is our duties, being their children, to take care of them. to show gratitude of what they have done for us. had they been careless during our younger days, we would never be who we are now.

Reality is, we will all pass away for we all came from our Great God, and it is in Him we all belong. What i have always been telling myself is to exert extra efforts in giving my mother a better life than what she is having right now. to give back what she had sacrificed for us and to show her how much i truly love her. we are not that expressive of our feelings, but i know my mom knows how much i truly care for her.

be strong my friend, everything happens for a reason. and yes, it is only God who knows what is best for us. all the trials you/we are having now are to test the faith we have for Him. just believe in Him. draw strength from Him. and you will see, everything will be just fine.

You have my prayers for your mother, my  friend. i am always here for you. be strong and be proud.

sincerely,

erixon

Email from Nuel, Metro Manila…

Dear Friend,

First, thank you for entrusting to me the prayers for your Mom. I am deeply touched with the devotional message you shared.
True enough, suffering is painful for people who dont really understand it. But for Christ believer, suffering is a tool for them to draw closer to Him. To pray and ask for strength. When we understand the meaning of suffering, it is easy for us to understand God’s way regardless of the questions in our mind.

Continue going God’s way and I’ll assure you that His light be upon you. Rest assured that I will always include you and your whole family in my prayers.

Be strong.. God knows best and God has a purpose for everything.
God Bless..

Nuel

Letter from Boyet, Cavite…

April 13, 2007

Hi Avel,

You made me cry Avel.

Three years ago, we were in the same situation. We almost lost our father.

My brothers and sisters have succumbed to the idea that we will lose him any day.

When I went home and saw my father, I can’t help but kneel in front of him and cry. I never expected to see my 5?11, large-framed father to turn into a shrunken person, my arms being bigger that his legs.

It was painful, I also felt the same way and I know that it’s hard.

As I said, yes we offered him back to our Lord but deep inside, we really want him to get out of that bed and walk.

Tender loving care, prayers can do a lot. a miracle that is. If you wish it, it will happen.

I’m very touched by your letter my friend. I salute you.

You’re a great son.

For now, I will offer you my prayers, first for you so you will have the strenght to handle things and for Mommy to be well.

Regards,

Boyet

Bariles and Mommy

Email from Kimberly, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…

My dearest Avel,

I’ve been doing this letter for you for quite sometime…I just couldn’t seem to start it right, lest of all wouldn’t know how to end it…

Looking at your fotos with Mommy is breaking my heart…. I can see the sadness in your eyes… the bravery of putting up a smile despite the pain that’s hurting you deep inside your heart. I can feel for you Vel! My heart hurts for you as well right now… if only there’s anything i can do to change the circumstances. How I wished that I’m there with you at this moment… I just want to put my arms around you and tell you that “everything will be alright.”

So, when I think of you… I do the best thing I can – I pray for you and for Mommy.

Vel, it’s not easy and we don’t like to say “goodbye” to those whom we love especially to a beloved mother. Sometimes words are just too deep or heavy to get out… or to say; Sometimes things are just too hard for us to talk about.


We sometimes want to touch a soul or soothe a wounded heart, but we don’t  even know the words or where we ought to start. This is a wordless sometimes… and I really don’t know what to do- so I just  pray for you.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why God allows us to go through certain painful situations… but please do remember that, no matter what, God is there with  you through it all  and that others (batchmates & friends) who truly care are keeping you and your family in their prayers.

“When you face hard times,  there is no burden beyond His strength… no boundary to His Love… no limit to His mercies…no problem outside His solution… no need beyond His care!”

You are not alone Avel… we are all here for you… sharing your sadness and praying for your comfort… praying that the Lord will see you through this difficult times. God loves you and we all love you! Take care of yourself always and God bless!

Love always,

Kimberly

Email from Jerome, Zamboanga City...

Avel,

you know i couldn’t help myself but cry reading your letter.  but truly your attitude towards all these things humbled me so much.  how you face your predicament is worthy of emulation.

i know GOD is working into your lives because we are big in HIS eyes.  i will always pray for you and your family.

GOD bless

jerome

Email from Ito, Manila…

Dear Avel,

I am sorry to hear about your mom and, yes, I shall include both of you in
my daily prayers!

It is truly difficult to fathom the Plan of God. Only He knows what is best
for all of us. Whatever your mom is going through right now, elevate it to God
that He may give you comfort.

IF ever your mom is suffering now, I believe, that this is already Purgatory (on earth) so that when the Creator calls upon her, she shall go straight to heaven. All her suffering now is not for nothing.

Be strong. God wants you to be optimistic and hopeful despite the trials He hurls on you.

Warmest regards,

Ito

Email from Gigi, US of  A…

Dear Avel,

I am so sorry to read about your Mom.

You wrote an insightful letter which endeared you more to us.

I have empathy with what you and your family is going through.  My mom was in a coma for ten days until we decided to pull the plug.

To date, i regret not having loved her more, not having served her more, not having held her more.  You, on the other hand, have unselfishly given yourself to her.  She is blessed.

Strength comes from the support of family and friends.  Most of all, it comes from God.  This and peace i pray for you as well as for your mom.  In suffering, we become more blessed.

This may be difficult to understand; just pray and your faith will answer you.  Let go… let God, Avel.  I continue to pray for your mom, your family and you.  May God enlighten you all and bless you in His Abundance.

Thanks for sharing and I wish i had a son just like you! :))

Love,
Gigi

Email from Momots,  Cagayan de Oro

Hi avel,

i’m so touched and feel so helpless at the thought that i couldn’t be there with you to at least make you smile lang naman.

sometimes bad things happen to good people … and we cannot find the reasons why..

we can only pray  that the pain will be brief or far in between…

my words, i know, may not be enough to mend your broken spirit or heal mom’s physical pain… but i can pray, my friend… for you…for mom…for us…

hold on…

love you,

momots

Email from Belle, Iloilo City

Dear Avel,

I can deeply empathize with what you’re going through right now regarding your Mom. I also went through that many years ago.

But do not hold on too tight.  Let God’s will be done.  He knows better and He knows what to do, and when to do it.  Just pray, pray, pray hard.  We will also pray for her…. take faith my friend.

Love,

Belle

Email from Lelen, Canada

Dearest vel,

You and your family, esp your mommy is with us, in our thoughts and in our prayers.

Like belle said, mahirap kase pinagdaanan niya na rin yon. Much as we would like to help you lighten your paghihirap dahil nakikita mo ata nararamdam mo ang paghihirap niya, we can only extend our love and support (spiritually and/or financially) kase malayo kami physically.

Thank you for sharing with us your personal experience reading God’s word through the daily devotion. It may not mean as much to other people, but I am glad that it has blessed you at your point of need. Truly, God’s word is our comfort. And whatever process God may use, whatever plans are in His will, we have no right to question because He is the author and finisher of life, being Alpha and Omega.

Kim said stop na daw sa pag ngawa mo… she was just trying to comfort you. Smile naman.

Thanks also to jes, belle and tale for writing.

May God be gracious to us always.

Peace and blessings,

lelen

Email from Kenneth, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dear Avel,

I have been apprised of the situation these past days by Kim and want to tell you that you and your family
are in my thoughts and prayers.

I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through and won’t even volunteer to offer any of the usual platitudes because my own life’s journey has not brought me to face what you are facing at the moment.

But I can say to you, my dear friend, that the depths of depression and sorrow that you are going through is never going to be permanent. In this fact we can all be steadfast in the knowledge that there is always going to be something to live for, even if we don’t know yet what it is.

My Christian inclinations tell me that there is an afterlife. I do believe in this deeply. Life as we know it is a transition. Your mother’s journey and the pain she is going through is a necessary part of that transition and HER life’s experience. It may seem odd, but we can rejoice in the fact that God has given her this opportunity to go through what she is now going  through. So my friend, don’t beat yourself up over what she is going through, because when you realise that its all due to His will, how could it ever be due to something you had done or omitted to do?

The very fact that you are there now tending to her, seeing her in pain, may be as much meant for you as it is for her…

Be strong my dear Avel.

Love,

Ken

Mommy passed away a few days after we took her home from the hospital, which was her last wish before she lapsed into coma.  She died inside my room while my sister Mara was trying to feed her.  The day was April 26, 2007.  The time was 2:20pm.

To this day, I still feel grateful for these outpouring of messages of comfort and love from friends near and far.  The ones posted here are just a fraction of what I received and they have kept me stronger all throughout our ordeal.

Reading them again now made me realize more of the need to share them with the world hoping that they could also comfort a grieving soul out there who happen who drop by this blog.

And as for you Mommy,  we love you more than ever but you can rest easy now.  Tell Daddy we are ok.  The kids are fine.  The Lord has continued to bless us with His love through our memories of you.

And that is all that really matters now.

Mommy's Flag

FORMER PRINCIPAL HONORED. Retired DedEd Superintendent of Schools Leonora Peñalosa hands over to Avel Manansala, of the City Mayor’s Office a Philippine flag at the necrological rites during the funeral of his mother, Maria Ortega-Manansala at the Forest Lake San Carlos Memorial Park..  Mrs. Manansala, who was 80 at the time of her demise, was principal for 10 years of the Datu Acad Dalid Elementary School in Buayan and was instrumental in the establishment of Buayan National High School in the early 80’s during the term of then Congressman Adelbert Antonino.  A native of Guiuan, Samar who migrated to Dadiangas in the late 40s, she was married to the late Avelino Manansala (of Pampanga) and devoted over 40 years of her life as an educator.  She is also survived by her two other children, Orman and Maravel and five nieces.  Together with Mrs. Peñalosa in the foto are other officers of the Retirees Association of Gensan, Mrs. Josefina Datago and Ms. Priscilla Mari.

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