3 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me That I'll Never Forget

Mothers are special. I know. I had one. As adults, we've all learned our best life lessons from them, for some even more.

As for me, my mother's life has marked my own in ways only daughters can understand.

Today, I'd like to share a few life lessons my mother has taught me that has molded my adult life into one that seeks to find meaning and purpose in everything I do, think, and feel.

So, here goes...
  1. On family and relationships: "Love is an act of your will. You will not, you love not."

    Mom took care of us, deliberately looking after our welfare everyday. She memorized our birthdays by heart. I'll never forget how she'd persistently ask me to call my brothers in every special occasion without fail just so she can talk to them. She celebrated our little victories with pride and shared our pains in failures or disappointments. Even fatigue never stopped her from making sure we all wore clean, ironed clothes to school; that we brought delicious baons or packed lunches (home-cooked meals she'd prepare in the wee hours of the morning) to school or work; that we came home to sumptuous dinners at the end of the day. I'll never forget what she told me when I asked her the secret to cooking delicious meals: "You always cook well when you love the ones you're cooking for." (Masarap ang luto mo kapag mahal mo ang mga taong ipinagluluto mo.)

    The "love" I've seen, felt, and grew up with was the kind that always forgave, was selfless, was patient and tolerant of our weaknesses, gave until it hurt, and yet was quick to correct our follies and point us back to the right direction. All because she intentionally loved us, her family. Even in her death bed, she willed herself to ensure I can personally handle life on my own, without her by my side. She didn't let go until I assured her so.

  2. On dealing with people: "Acts of kindness matter. Especially small, unnoticed ones."

    I have personally seen how she treated lowly people, especially lowly people, we've met in her lifetime. She always acted in compassion and grace. Her ministry was teemed with women who were always drawn to her because she genuinely looked after their welfare. She gave until she had nothing left to give. She secretly helped people with every chance she got.

    In her wake, women, children, and families showed up with stories of how their lives were made better because of her kindness. And it is humbling to know. Indeed, her life mattered because she never got tired showing kindness when it mattered, where it mattered.

  3. On work and ministry: "Whatever you do, put your heart on it. Else, don't do it."

    My mother, she always took pride in the works of her hands—whether it was laundry, crocheted doily, hand-sewn kitchen whatnots, her garden, her cooking—and would obssessively re-do anything that didn't quite look perfect or "best" in her own standards. She shunned mediocrity (Hindi pwede and 'pwede na yan'.).

    I got the best career advise from her: "Never do your work halfheartedly. It reflects who you are and what you're made of." I've always loved that about her. While she never got materially rich (and amazingly, she never complained about it), her personal excellence marked my life and that of the many others whose lives she has touched.

We all live cluttered lives these days. Distractions are all around us so much so that we simply forget to live intentionally, to make our "life" matter.

We need to slow down, really, and take time to notice.

“Understand and be confident that each of us can make a difference by caring and acting in small as well as big ways.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman

The Long Run

I lie unmoving, paralyzed
I stagger to my feet
oblivious to the glares of
blinding lights around me

I stand and fumble
my face stuck to the ground
I groan in pain—
a gush of warmth sweeps over me

It rushes to my veins
like venom, its choking me—
and still I rise
unrelenting, albeit weaker...

I resolve to run this race
to the last phase
I will not give up without a fight
I will not lose helpless!

I'm pushing forward,
I will be

the runner

By a rare stroke of insight, or perhaps sleeplessness, my writing mojo is back :)


On Bouts of Grief

Coping with the loss of a loved one, a close friend, or even a love relationship may be one of the darkest moments many of us are going through today. We feel helpless. And its okay.

We will all grieve, each in our own unique way. Grief exempts no one.

I've dealt with grief and that haunting sense of emptiness that comes with it for the last two years. It has been more than just a "feeling". It permeated everything I did, my thoughts, and even my sleep. It was paralyzing. I was always beside myself with sadness, I couldn't function.

Though I've known the strongest of emotions, nothing prepared me for grief and its heart-wrenching pain. I was inconsolable and refused to be comforted. Instead, I took refuge in my own tears. I moaned and wept alone through many sleepless nights. Sometimes, I was just benumbed.

Everything has been so painful and frightening. I battled bouts of grief and sadness and rage and the awful certainty that I will never see her again whenever I came home. On the outside, I managed to appear like I had it all together…but inside I was devastated and crumbling. I realized how deeply my life has been anchored to my mother's—her passing away uprooted all sense of hope within me.

The bouts of grief were so persistent. It blinded my senses. I couldn't see even a ray of hope at such a desolate time in my life. All the sympathies and kind words were but a shot of morphine through my soul—it numbed the pain for a while, but it never stopped the hurting…

Describing exactly this same ordeal in his book, A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis wrote:
“I once read the sentence 'I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache and about lying awake.' That's true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”
Grieving, I found, is very personal. One can share one's joys and triumphs with anyone. Not so with grief. It eats you from the inside. It feels so much like being swallowed into an unfathomable pit—a "darkness" one must endure alone.

Grief gnaws at your soul incessantly, especially at night, but at the same time it forces you to realize the temporariness of everything—including your own life. Especially your own life. And because everything is temporary, whatever we do with our time matters.

Looking back now, my personal experience of grief and loss has taught me to take stock of everything I have still left. I have come to see the real value of it all. Indeed, I'm blessed to be alive. We all are. Ought we not be grateful (rather than proud) and make use of our time where it matters most? Especially, when it matters most?

We will all have a time of grief. Because it's part of the deal of being human. What really matters is "not how much" we suffer the pains and misery that befall us, "but how well" we endure through it all, and come out better (and hopefully, more thankful) than we we've ever been before.

Even the darkest storms clear away in due time. So with grief.