Losing Lola (Grandmother)

It is said that in this world we do only 2 things completely alone: (1) we are born, naked out of our mother’s womb, crying; and (2) we die, alone. But I don’t think that we truly do anything alone, there are always people out there, ready to welcome us, to send us off, to wish us luck, to give us love, to pray for us, to intercede for us. We are never truly alone. We may feel alone, we may feel abandoned, forsaken, and, even, forgotten, but that is not true. It has been a hard few months for me and my family. We lost the matriarch of our family, our grandmother (or lola, as we call it in Filipino).

I was asleep worrying about trivial things like the meeting I was to have at work later that day, and how I’m gonna motivate myself to go to the gym, I was worried about things that really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I went to sleep thinking that when I wake up, I’ll eat breakfast, go to the gym, and then go to the meeting at work. But what woke me up was the sound, this distinct sound, I’ve never heard my mom make, I was woken up by her cries. It wasn’t a boohoo-I’m-sad-kind-of-cry, it was a devastated cry, I’ve never heard her make that sound before. And then, she went into my room, and said, “Lola had a heart attack!”

My first instinct was to ask which Lola had a heart attack. Was it my Lola or one her sisters? Or maybe a distant relative? But judging from the cries my mom was making, I knew deep inside that it was Lola, my Lola. And it was.

Most of our family, mom’s side, moved here in Australia, two out of the three children my Lola had lives here, and so did her grandchildren, we all lived here in Australia. When we found out she died, Tuesday morning at around 9 a.m., we flew home Wednesday afternoon. It was a long, rough flight home. It was unsettling, we were all anxious, we were all devastated. It wasn’t easy. And for me to say that our flight wasn’t easy is a big deal. I’ve always loved airports, I loved the people that were in the airport about to fly to their destination, I loved how each came from somewhere different, and how each and everyone in an airport has a story to tell. I loved how busy and alive it made me feel, but that day when we stepped into the airport to travel back home, all I was feeling was dread. I don’t wanna see what I know I’ll see when we get home to the Philippines, I don’t wanna imagine my Lola laying in a coffin (no matter how elegant it looked). I was always close with here. When were living in the Philippines, our house was right next to hers and Lolo’s. We would go there everyday to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. We would have conversations, and jokes, and stories. I loved her, I loved my grandmother. I’ve always loved her, and I will always love her so when we were on the plane, all I could think of was that I’ll never get to physically talk to her again, I won’t get to hug her, or facetime with her, or have long conversations like we used to. I won’t get to spoil her again with gifts, I won’t get to buy her stuff, I won’t be able to have that relationship we had because she’s no longer here. And to think about that, it was heartbreaking. We gave her a beautiful wake, and a beautiful service. Her coffin was, no doubt, elegant. And her life, the life she led was, no doubt, one of the most faithful, and God-fearing. She was a wonderful wife, a loving mother, and an amazing grandmother. But most of all, she was a woman after God’s own heart.

They say that when you lose someone you love, it’s like losing a limb. You never really get over it, you just learn to live with the loss. There are good days, and then there are bad days. There are days when you think you’ve accepted it, and then there are days when you feel as if they’re still here, like their just in another room, or back home, waiting for our call. There are days that you question why this happened, and there are days when you are reminded of the memories you had with them. And it’s okay, it’s okay not to be okay because you have to take it one day at a time.


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