• Jasmine Mendiola

Saving Private Mio

I remember this feeling. Fatigue, weak and weary. Like your knees are trembling and your eyes are dry and heavy. I’ve felt this before. I even wrote about how pain “reverberates in your ear like the call of death lurking by your side” and how “it dilutes all that is beautiful in my eyes.” Those were my naive use of words in an attempt to sound poetic on a mere heartache.

This time though, I wasn’t given the license to bask in my misery precisely because its not mine in the first place. It is my son’s. He’s the one who’s terribly ill. My son who was said to wear a smile that can instantly light up a room (Jill Aquino). He is a ball of sunshine erasing all the hatred harbored in a family. He is a curious cat that belittles the most trivial questions with quiries like, “Mom, why do you always wear earrings and bangles?” like I had to explain my style preference or the essence of my job description; “Mom, I think Ironman needs to charge (this was the part he crash landed in the dessert after escaping the cave). Why is his suit like that, I thought it was yellow and red? (to which I answered something like ‘coz its a prototype, watch so you’ll see how he’ll color it later’) “why didn’t he just use his crayons!”

Oo nga naman. If you can’t have answers for simple blunt questions like that, what right do I have to question fate or the circumstances at hand?

Breakups were hard and I can’t even say I can fully get over any of them. Popular quotes I heard or I was told to enable my survival then were:

1. Good riddance, you’re better off without him. -too many to mention

2. Its time to love yourself so you can love others again. – BS

3. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. – some popular cliche

4. Let go. – simpleng simple

5. Focus on what heals, not what hurts. – Alessa Libongco

I gotta make up new rules, you know. ‘Coz its not like I or we will be better off without this cancer. On the contrary, I think its done so much good, getting rid of it will be such an accomplishment without the bitterness at all. And again. Its not about me so #2 is off my list. #3 is morbidly threatening and #4 is like a huge duh moment, considering its not THAT easy ‘coz cancer’s only sure kryptonite is hope and prayer!

But #5 seems to fit quite well. And as much as I hate being redundant, the healing ultimately comes from one source. Its not like I can pounce on rebound or dance the night away and my worries will fly off the roof. Its not like I can just zone in on work and deny the reality of my son’s disease. Its not like I can rest and take it easy. I’m fighting cancer aggressively and I can’t take baby steps. I was told this wasn’t a sprint though so I gotta pace myself. With all these in consideration, I might as well be schitzo. Its a true testament that indeed, I cannot do everything by myself. That’s where He comes in and I got no choice. For some it feels like a dead end. The way I see it from where I’m standing, its a lift to getting to where we’re supposed to be. Its just gonna be a looooong ride.

I’m slightly glad I don’t have a boyfriend. Poor guy, he’s bound to take the brunt of the unprocessed feelings when they’re raw. I’d bet my life on it, he’d end up breaking up with me in the middle of Mio’s treatments and that would be break up deja vu on top of this. Woohoo! I used to dream of wedding bells and a baby girl. I can’t even imagine it now knowing how cancer is highly probably among siblings.

Its like Saving Private Ryan, where apparently the government sent them out on a mission to save Ryan coz all his other siblings have died in the war and they pity his mother. Hold on. I’m not relating myself to the mother.

What I’m saying is, Mio’s like Ryan. Everyone’s saving him (excluding the plot where the motivation was his siblings) and Tom Hanks asked him to “make it worth it.” Or something like that.

If you think my biggest fear was losing Mio, its not even real to me so I can’t imagine what that could possibly mean. It doesn’t make sense precisely because it is not an option (I think I said that one too many times already). My point is, my biggest fear is something else. Its that he doesn’t grow up to become a good person, (what with his DNA composition — sorry, I just had to say it). With all the people who are trying hard to save his life, right? Not even for my sake, really.

But at the end of the day, when you look at him in this cheerful disposition (the window time in between his mood swings) his wit and his energy negates the odds. The fatigue wears off instantly. And chemo doesn’t feel like a burden at all anymore. For a moment, yes. Coz right this moment, though I have to work to have money to fund the chemo to make him well —- I just have to trust that the latter will come and the rest that I enumerated just unfolds without me having to lift a finger. When I put myself in that perspective, the moment lasts me enough to keep saying it and writing it down again and again and again.



Jasmine Mendiola

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©2019 by Jasmine Mendiola