I called my mom earlier today to greet her a happy birthday, and after some pleasantries, she told me that most of Bacolod is currently flooded because of a heavy thunderstorm that met an unusually high tide. Half of the city is without power, and some coastal communities have to be evacuated. I imagined my hometown to be gray and gloomy today, which is no fitting way to celebrate one’s birthday. It reminded me of the letter that my mom wrote me on my birthday 2 years ago. It went:
“25 years ago today, I gave birth to you at the height of a very powerful storm. In the physical realm, it would have been a major catastrophe but thank heavens that in the spiritual, it marked the birth of one who is to weather every storm in Life…”
She gave birth to me during Typhoon Mike, which destroyed thousands of homes and sunk more than 200 ships in the Philippines. It left most of Visayas utterly devastated. I vaguely remember her telling me that she sent Papa out in the middle of a downpour to get her a Chocolate Milkshake from Bob’s, one thing that she was craving badly right before she went into labor (which explains why I’m also lusciously chocolatey).
She’s right, it was a catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions that left families homeless and cold. She’s also right. That day, she birthed an obstinate and headstrong boy who would later on give her her fair share of heartache and disappointment. She always tells me I have mettle and strength, but where else would I get that from if not from a strong woman who has weathered every storm in her own life.
Anyway, earlier this year, we had a bit of falling out due to some misunderstanding or another, and I went on for months just giving her the silent treatment and the cold shoulder. You know how it’s good sometimes to wallow in anger or disappointment or resentment? There’s something about that range of emotions that makes it so satisfying to carry around. It’s easy when it’s inconsequential people in your life, but if it’s your mother, who was cut open during a thunderstorm because it was too dangerous for her to go into spontaneous delivery, it’s damn hard. Like all unnecessary baggage, grudges weigh you down. At some point, I’ve even forgotten why I was harboring some negative feelings and ego took over. I wasn’t speaking to her out of pure pride. I wasn’t even angry anymore. I didn’t deserve to be. But I was proud and spiteful because it felt right to feel that I was wronged at the time.
But there’s nothing better than a brutally honest conversation, is there? We tearfully went over our issues and settled our differences, and the rest, as they say, is history. I was lugging around some pretty heavy baggage which changed the way I looked at my life. Everything was under dark Typhoon Mike-level rain clouds until I opened up to her about my pain, and she reassured me that everything is going to be okay. After I jettisoned all those heavy weights, I felt as buoyant and renewed, like a big storm just passed and sunbeams finally pierced the firmament after days of incessant rain.
Hence, 2017 became the year when not a day goes by without a message from my mom that ends in a reassuring “I love you, Son”. I don’t need that daily reminder, but it’s good to have that, just in case there are storm clouds brewing in the horizon and I need to rely on a silver lining in those heavy clouds just to keep me from spiraling out of control.
Today, I am allowing myself a huge slice of chocolate cake and a tall glass of chocolate milkshake for good measure, to celebrate the love of a mother, a kindred spirit, a friend, and a confidante come sunny or rainy weather. Today is my Superwoman’s birthday, and this blog post goes out to her, for just being an excellent source of inspiration and typhoon metaphors.