Waiting on a miracle
My first memory of my mom leaving to work abroad was when I was around five years old. I remember wondering why I didn’t see so much of my mother anymore, but at the same time, I wasn’t aware that she had left. It was probably because I was still so young back then. I remember clutching one of her shirts, wondering why I haven’t seen her around lately. My innocence was still there. It was like I knew she was gone, but I had absolute faith that she would return and that I would see her again.
She came back home not a year after.
However, she went to work in Singapore before I even graduated elementary. I remember my graduation. I remember the terrible haircut I had because I let my dad cut my hair. I remember trying to do my own hair and make-up because my mom couldn’t do it for me. I remember the clothes she sent me, the outfit she told me to wear. I remember fumbling with the dress she gave me; it was a way to imagine her being with me as the ceremony took place. It reminded me that even though she was far away, she was thinking of me and wishing she could be with me on that day.
She came back home for her father’s funeral.
We were all shocked as we heard the news. Our grandfather, my mom’s father, had passed away just weeks before his birthday. My mom was flying out for his wake. I remember crying, happy because she was home. Then I remember crying because our Tatay was gone. I remember the tears, the silence, the heartache. I remember the wake and the funeral itself. I remember my mom telling us that she had to go back to Singapore because her employer had only allowed her to leave for a couple of weeks. I remember her saying goodbye.
She came back home for my sister’s high school graduation.
My sister’s batch was the first to graduate from senior high school under the new curriculum. I remember my mom wanting everything to be perfect on that day. I remember holding the fresh bouquet she had custom-ordered days ago for my sister. I remember watching as my mom and dad walked on the carpet up to the stage where my sister was waiting. I remember seeing her softly sob as she walked beside my sister. I remember my sister tearing up as well. Maybe the other parents or graduates didn’t know why, maybe they thought it was just the feeling of seeing your child graduate. But for those who knew our situation, I heard them say “Aww…” and give a warm smile. I remember my mom leaving again, this time to work in Hong Kong. She had to do this for us, she said.
She came back home for the holidays before the year 2020 would start.
She came back home as a surprise. I remember her walking in while we were eating at a restaurant. I remember thinking it was like a dream. I remember our family traveling to Baguio, to the Ilocos region, and to Manila as we enjoyed our time together. I remember the fireworks display from the Mall of Asia as we stood there and watched the sparks and colors fill the sky before our very eyes. I remember being happy that I got to greet the new year with my whole family. Days after, we went with her to the airport. She had to go back, for us, she said.
She wanted to come back home when she needed to have surgery.
My mom had a tumor growing inside her ovaries. She needed surgery. I remember wanting her to come home so that we could take care of her. She couldn’t. I remember my dad wanting to go to Hong Kong to be at her side. He couldn’t. The Philippines was still under the travel ban of several countries in this pandemic, and Hong Kong was one of them. I remember constantly worrying after she told us she was in the hospital. She was already waiting for her surgery because her condition had worsened. She was alone. She couldn’t come back home.
She wants to come back home.
Fortunately, her surgery was a success. A few weeks after, my mom told us she wanted to come back home for good. I remember she said she wanted to be with us and asked if it was okay. “Of course,” we said. We wanted her home. She apologized for not being there for us physically. I remember her crying. She said it was all her fault. “It’s not,” I said. It wasn’t anyone’s. She said she just needed to settle things there and, in a few months, she’d be home.
Can she come back home?
Things were just starting to look up. But now, can I still have hope? The COVID-19 Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in the Philippines and in other nations. Cases are piling up. Alert levels in different areas are being raised. Travel restrictions are once again being enforced. Things are looking bleak. I just want her to come home. We want her to come home. But her health and safety come first. The world’s safety comes first.
One day she will come home.
Some day she can come home. Like Mirabel in Disney’s “Encanto,” I’m waiting on a miracle. When the world becomes a safer place. When the pandemic finally dies down. I must believe that my mom, along with other overseas Filipino workers that want to return, can come back home. That would be my miracle.
Mariposa L., 20, is a pseudonym of a student currently taking her bachelor’s degree at the University of the Philippines Baguio.
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