3 days

In 3 days, we mark the first month since mama’s passing.

Her cremains lie in their gray marble jar, next to her photo (that time us girls went to Korea), the cross, her rosary, a mass card, a candle always lit.

Every night, at 9 p.m., we say the death novena for her, the Decenario. I’ve done it angry, done it tired, done it cussing, done it fried from work-from-home. Mom died two days before the lockdown took effect.

So my sister and brother and I, would pray.

9 p.m. because that was ma’s last NGT feeding for the night. Aquarium showing on TV because that was her turn-down screensaver. 5 years of habit.

The Decenario is the strangest series of prayers, tbh. It goes through the entire passion of Christ.

“O my Jesus, through the merits of…
…the copious blood which you shed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
…the slap which you received on your face at mock trial.
…the whiplashes which you suffered.
…the crown of thorns placed on your sacred head.
…your last journey with a heavy cross on your shoulders.
…the blood on your face and the veil with which Veronica wiped it.
…the garments soaked in blood and stripped from you.
…your sacred body that was nailed on the cross.
…your hands and feet that were bloodied by nails unto your agony.
…your side that was pierced with a lance until it gave out blood and water.”

That’s 10 for each bead on the rosary, under each mystery.

And we say every time in reply to the O-Mys, “Be merciful and grant pardon to the souls of our mother Rosemarie, and Lola Nita.

Lola Nita was the sister of my Lolo Tonio, mama’s dad, and she died the same day ma did, March 13.

Mom died in the morning. Lola Nita died in the afternoon.

Jesus Christ went through his passion, death, and resurrection to bring us the comfort that a God empathizes with us and will bring us to everlasting life. So I’ve been taught.

The novena prayer for the dead also goes:

“Lord, help us see death for what it really is…
…the end of poverty and the beginning of riches…
…the end of frustration and the beginning of fulfillment…
…the end of fear and the beginning of tranquility…
…the end of pain and the beginning of joy…
…the end of weakness and the beginning of strength.”

“…Now that you have freed them from all the evils of this Earth, bring our mother Rosemarie and Lola Nita into Paradise, where there is no more grief, or mourning, or sadness, but peace and joy with your son Jesus and the Holy Spirit forever.”

It’s a nice sentiment, anyway.

The bed’s empty but for her personal effects.

The last time I did the grocery I skipped the sections for the items that had become staples: diapers, underpads, wet wipes, alcohol, disinfectant spray, mother’s cream dory, mother’s Ensure, and so on.

I don’t need to wake up early in the morning to let the caregiver in; Sugar isn’t around, an indispensable helper in the household. I’m home, because of the lockdown, but when that’s lifted, I don’t need to go home early, to relieve the caregiver.

The Decenario prompts us:

“We pray for the healing of all unhappy feelings the death of our mother Rosemarie and Lola Nita now leave in our hearts. Be with us Lord, during our moments of sorrow and loneliness. You are our rock, our fortress and our strength. We trust in your glorious resurrection and lift up to you our grief and sorrow, confident that you will change our mourning to rejoicing, knowing that our beloved mother Rosemarie and our Lola Nita now rest in your peace and that you will allow us one day to be reunited with them.”

(The things we tell ourselves.)

Whenever we get to the part where it says, “Let not grief overwhelm us nor a sense of loss embitter us,” it reminds my sister of Galadriel’s speech: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now and rest for you are weary with sorrow and much toil. Tonight you will sleep in peace.”

We’re trying not to talk like Cate Blanchett.

(The things we have to do and not do. I’m joking, ma.)

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