“Are you okay, Nan?” Mama repeatedly asked me the other day.
What is it about that question that makes it so hard to answer? It is a yes or no question after all. In my misery I uttered a feeble “yes” when I actually feel like screaming “No!” She already went through a lot that day, and I didn’t want to drag her down with my woes.
2013 from the very beginning is a mix of extreme ups and downs that I sometimes just wait for the next drastic and life-changing event to blow my way. In no way do I feel completely prepared and well equipped for it, but I must say I’ve gotten used to it. This is not to say that I’ve become a pessimist — I just learned to manage my expectations, and to accept that at some point life will consist of a series of sufferings in order to transcend and grow as a person. For some reason, it just had to come at a time when I start my years of being a twentysomething. I cannot help but feel like my life is a coming-of-age novel sometimes.
I distinctly remember that rainy night in January when I got a call about my dad being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, just when I was about to hop on a plane to Cebu for the famed Sinulog festival to party away with my bestfriend. About six months, eight pounds, and several trips after, from Baguio to Boracay and Hong Kong, I find out that my mom, the very woman we were all relying on for her sheer courage and determination in facing adversities, got diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer herself.
What are the odds of having both your parents get diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer within a few months of each other? While I turned to Google to give me statistics and a sense of order, I realized that these kinds of questions are pointless. It just happens. Life happens. Endlessly asking why will merely lead to the road of insanity. As my sister Val has told me, I just have to accept it, and do the best I can to deal with the situation.
The questions that matter though, are the ones that comes from the heart. Snapping out of my reverie from last Thursday’s event, where I thought I almost lost my mom when I accompanied her for her first chemo treatment that resulted in a severe drug reaction, I’ve come to realize there is much that I have to be thankful for. First, there is a merciful God I can pray to who has been constantly blessing my parents with His grace. Second, I have a loving and supportive family. Lastly, there is a strong support system that consists of friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers.
So if my mom asks me again if I’m okay, I suppose I can sincerely say that I am, given all these blessings. Nothing more, nothing less. Just okay.
Tomorrow, I will be at my mom’s side again for her second shot at chemotherapy, with a new set of drugs that will hopefully sit well with her this time. Please continue praying for her and my dad’s recovery.