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There’s something different about 2011. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something cold and distant about it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a strangely good way.

Last year we spent the holidays praying that my mom would have a successful operation. December 26 and we were already at the hospital, checking in and listening to what the doctors were advising us to do after the operation. Doctor after doctor, nurse after nurse, and nun after nun visited the suite where we were checked in. It was not a laughing matter, but we found ourselves laughing with our mom as she joked around about wanting a wig beside her hospital bed the moment she was sent back to the room. As I smile at the visitors who kept coming in and wishing for my mom’s successful operation, I can’t help but think how lovely and sad at the same time it all was. I saw faces who empathized with us, and I was given three cellphones to take care of – I needed to reply to all my mom’s friends and relatives.

The day of the operation, for the first time in my entire life, I saw how vulnerable my mom is. She raised all three of us single-handedly, while my dad, who chose to live in Saudi to be a better provider, did not see us growing to who we are. My mom lay on the bed, murmuring words of prayer as the doctor slowly lowered the injection to my mom’s arms. She held my dad’s hand on the other side closer to where I sat. She smiled at each one of us, as though thanking us for being there for her. She looked at my papa last, talking to him with her eyes, as though to tell him how much she’s missed him. A year after their marriage my dad moved to Saudi, and since then they’d only see each other for a month and a half every year. The moment my dad found out that my mom had brain tumor, he set a flight to be back here to be with her. Their eyes stayed glued to each other, papa thanking mom for raising three rather difficult kids all by herself. Even as I write these lines, my emotions feel the same. I feel so ashamed for not being thankful enough.

Slowly and rather painfully I saw the medicine take effect. Mama stopped murmuring and her eyes drooped to sleep. My brother stayed inside the room, while I followed papa out to see mom as they push her bed to the operation room.

We welcomed 2010 inside the hospital, with the private nurse who took care of mommy while we watched. We weren’t able to get a bigger room so all three of us, papa, Kuya Dean and I squished ourselves into one sofa. As 2010 entered, we turned mom’s bed to the window to see the fireworks – she was always amazed at it. We all shared a takeout bucket of chicken and chips and fell asleep sitting.

[to be continued]