“Love is repaid by love alone” — St. Therese of the Child Jesus
I was with my daughter, Sam last night helping her with her “schoolwork’ when I came across this passage from the life of St. Therese of Liseux . And I had to tell her how this is something she must remember if she truly loved her mom. But that’s getting ahead of the story. So let me first describe how I got here.
You see, I have been agonizing these past few days over Mariel’s fate. I felt so sorry for her and can’t help but have feelings of deep regret over her unexpected passing. She was after all the one who kept a healthier lifestyle. She was even the better person. I was the one in line to go, having racked up all the bad medical stats over the years. I was the one whose passing would have had minimal impact on our family life. I would have gladly traded places anytime. I felt so bad. But the one that really hurt the most was that I never really got to say good-bye to her like I would have wanted. Yes, we did talk for days on end during her illness and I was the only one she wanted beside her 24/7. I was at times so physically and emotionally drained. I must even admit I wanted to”escape” from hospital- duty on some days. But then, I never saw it coming. I never really considered that she may possibly lose the battle. Not even when I was told that we may have to transfer to the ICU after just a week from being “admitted”.
I was prepared to fight on and stay in the hospital for as long as it took. But never once did I consider that things may turn out the way it did. I may not even be too sure that Mariel did either. Although looking back, I sensed a certain amount of “resignation” from Mariel during those last days. In fact, she looked to me as very brave and very in-control, that’s why I was never really worried. I remember her putting back her own ventilator tube after it once got “detached’ . My response was to jump up and down like a scared chicken while calling on the nurse.
Mariel was tough and from my perspective, she was the one even taking care of me.There was this time when I had asked her if she felt all right (stupid me) with all her tubes and needles at the ICU. And she had motioned to me to get a “whiteboard”. ( By now, she was already “intubated”, hooked to a respirator and thus cannot speak. So I had improvised this board and got her to scribble notes and instructions to me) At this point, she had chosen to write instead, “please pay the car insurance, its due tomorrow”. And God, I even found out later that she had been paying our household and utility bills through phone banking from her hospital bed. She was dutiful as she was loving. And she knew she had to take care of her “big baby”.
I was “happy” though to have told her the following as a last message through our whiteboard. I had found this one later on the hospital floor after it was “all over”. I will now keep it “preserved” for as long as I live. As there is nothing else in this world that I would have wanted her to know more than this one.
But as tears flowed again last night while doing Sam’s homework and having chanced upon these words from St. Therese, I had to remind myself and Sam that the only way for us to truly show our love to ‘Mommy” was to learn to now love back. As only love can repay the love we had received.To love and honor her memory. To love all the beautiful lessons she had shared with us. To love all the people and things she had cared for in life. To love and celebrate everything she stood for– love of family and friends, dutiful love… unconditional love.
We love you Mommy, now and forever.