heaven is your new garden, lola elena...

i just came back from a family friend's house. her mother, lola elena, who has been battling with cancer, succumbed to lung complications today at 12:07pm in the ICU. she was 75.

i didn't know that this day was going to be a day of mourning when i got up from bed. i hurriedly ate lunch as we were getting ready to visit lola elena in the hospital. my mom got to see her last night in the ICU and despite the tube obstructing her mouth, lola elena gave a thumbs-up sign when she was encouraged to keep on fighting. indeed, she was a fighter to the very end--struggling to breathe as the vent pumped air to her lungs. she had wanted to fly home to the philippines where she can be with relatives and numerous grandchildren. she wanted to be surrounded with loved ones during her final moments. but her body was weaker than her spirit.

we were about to leave the house when the phone rang--my mom received the awful news of her passing. lola elena was gone.

at that moment, my own grandmother had just entered the door, also wanting to visit lola elena in the hospital. but we were too late, and all we could do was shed tears of sorrow.

we still drove to the hospital to pay our respects. my aunt and i quietly entered the ICU room, and there she lay on her bed with her eyes closed, mouth half-open, as if she were only sleeping. i started sobbing then, and touched her limp yet cold hand--the same hands that lovingly tended her daughter's garden and made beautiful flowers grow. she was known for her green thumb. her enthusiasm and positive outlook in life showed in the healthy plants that she took care of.

in between my tears, i apologized out loud to her for not having visited her lately, lamented how she didn't make it to mother's day, and also thanked her for everything. my favorite memory of her would be when she happily uprooted some strands of her crawling purple flowers so i can plant some in our house. those flowers are blooming now. gardening was her passion...but her illness robbed her of that happiness. instead of watering cans and tulip bulbs, she had numerous medications to remember taking and chemotherapy to endure.

i accompanied her daughter, still (understandably) stressed from the tragedy, to look for an outfit for lola elena for her wake. she would burst into tears every now and then as we went through her closet, and i didn't know the right words to say to console her. all i could do was offer a genuinely sympathetic shoulder to cry on. lola elena's room was filled with religious articles, as she was also a prayerful woman. a statue of her home province's (antique) patron saint--san blas (saint blaise) stood on one of her drawer cabinets.

i then volunteered to go through their photo albums to assemble a mini photo display for the wake. i picked the ones where she smiled warmest, where she was with family in the philippines, and where she was in interesting travel destinations. i was told that her fervent travel wish was to go to europe and visit rome. she was able to do that a few years ago with her daughter's family.

i drew flowers around the pictures to commemorate her favorite hobby on earth. underneath her name, i wrote: "your memory is a precious flower that will forever bloom in our hearts."

may you rest in peace in your heavenly garden, lola elena. we will miss you very much.

4 vandalized my wall:

SHIELA said...

nakakalungkot naman. i imagine what it's like. esp. that i always encounter this at work. send my condolences to lola elena's family.

Anonymous said...

This is sad. My condolences.

shiera (bisdakbabbles) said...

Losing a loved one is what I fear most... My condolences.

Anonymous said...

Condolence po. I'm sure Lola Elena's happy where she is right now.

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