It's time for us to pay last respects to Mama and she will be taken to the Manila Chinese Cemetery.
I reached Loyola Memorial around 8:15 AM and they were just about to start the mass. Everyone was dressed semi-casually, with their white shirts matched with black pants. I was wearing my one-and-only white t-shirt and my black lolita skirt. I hugged Dada as if no arguments happened yesterday. I wanted to set my pride aside and focus on Mama's last day with us. We sat beside the priest and I felt really uneasy.
The priest who conducted the mass today was different and we all liked him. Not only that he's nice, his homily was also meaningful. A part of his message was three important things : gratefulness, forgiveness and love. He said that we should set aside the small arguments and learn to forgive one another so we can have a better outlook in life. That struck me really hard. Dada and his cousin, Ate Leslie, also started crying. I hugged Dada but I didn't know what to say. "She is in a better place now." is what came to my mind but that's too cliché so I just kept silent as I wiped his tears. I looked around and noticed that Kuya Ricky, Kuya Sonny, Ate Ella, Ate Lanie (also Dada's cousins) and Ate Christine (wife of Tito Jimboy) were in tears as well. Lorraine and the rest of Mama's grandchildren also started crying. I worried about Tita Star, Dada's mom, too since she's the daughter of Mama and I know she's the most vulnerable person in that room. I was also feeling uneasy but Dada held my right hand, kissed my forehead and said "Peace be with you." I hugged him really tight and I smiled. It's as if all those ill-feelings went away.
Mama's casket was opened and each of them blessed her with Holy Water. Dada began crying again but I stayed in our seat because his family was there naman to comfort him. When he got back, I wiped his tears with the hanky he gave me. It's really weird because I don't know what to do that time.
Dada asked me if I still remember what Mama told me the first time I met her. Tears just fell from my eyes and I wasn't able to control them. Mama told me before to take good care of her grandson and I should give him the same amount of love that she has given. I promised her that I will do just that. It's ironic that when Sempai James (my schoolmate and mentor) died a few years ago, I promised him that I'd take good care of Paolo (my ex-boyfriend) … but I never got to fulfill that promise. I hope Sempai forgives me … This time, I want to fulfill my promise to Mama.
After the mass, we went outside the room and ate champorado and stockfish (tuyo). We also played DJ Max 2 and I often lost but it's okay because the important thing is that I saw Dada smiling again.
Around 10AM, we left Loyola Memorial and proceeded to the Manila Chinese Cemetery. A few minutes after we got off the car, the cremation started. All the family members entered the cremation room and some became hysterical, especially Tita Star. she almost fainted so everyone attended to her and calmed her down. Kuya Sonny sat beside me and I saw him crying so I tapped his shoulder and smiled. It's so rare for me to see men crying and that really shows how much they love her.
While we're waiting for the cremation to finish, Jollibee meals were distributed by Mama's grandchildren. Jacinta, Ate Leslie's daughter, gave me one. I waited for Dada so we could eat together. I didn't want to touch my food unless the commotion is finished.
Mama's remains were finally taken to her resting place around 2:30 PM and her ashes were buried beside Lolo Papa, her husband. It's Chinese tradition to burn Joss papers to ensure that the dead will have money in the afterlife so Dada gave me a few pieces and taught me how to roll them up properly. Ate Leslie also gave me four incense sticks and Tita Star taught me how to use them. I was really nervous during the whole process! Colorful talismans also surrounded Mama's coffin but I don't know if those're used to ward off evil spirits or contain them. We were also advised not to go home directly as the bad omen may follow us so Ate Leslie offered an early-dinner in Aristocrat. The traffic was severe in Manila so Dada and I got back in the condo around 8PM already.
********** I granted Dada's wish not to have any photos of Mama shown.