Mother, Mom, Mommy, Nanay, Inay, Ina.

We celebrate them for all the love and sacrifice they willingly pour out for their family.

But how do you celebrate Mother’s Day without a mom?

Ilaw ng Tahanan,” that’s how we usually define the role of a mother.

That was true for us. We fondly called our mother “Nanay.”

Happy and complete, that’s how I would describe my family. Most of our relatives and friends would admire our family for being tightly knit.

I vividly remember the Saturday mornings when we would drive to the beach. We’d enjoy the warm water and the sand beneath our feet while feeling the heat of the sun on our skin. I still remember the mornings when we would go to church wearing our Sunday’s best and afterward, enjoy a home-cooked meal. I remember our regular trips to Laguna for vacations and family reunions, complete with all the games, singing, and laughter.

I wish I could say that the memories had gone on and on.

But they didn’t. They stopped.

Suddenly, everything changed.

Our Nanay was diagnosed with colon cancer. Five years later, the cancer had spread to her bones.

When our Nanay went through several surgeries and chemotherapy, the “light of our home” grew dim.

Then the light was gone. It was snuffed out.

Our home became dark—unbearably dark.

When Nanay died, we chose to stay in our own rooms and cry. I’d cry each night, wanting so badly to see my nanay once more. “Please!!!” I would beg and beg, but there was no answer.

My blanket and pillow were my only solace. We didn’t talk about it as a family. We didn’t grieve as a family. It was too hard. We didn’t know what to say or how to cope with the deep sorrow we were experiencing. All we knew was that we had to face each day without our Nanay lighting our home anymore.

It was dark and gloomy, until Jesus became my Lord and Savior.

Not only did He save me from eternal separation from Him, He also revealed Himself to me as my personal “Abba Father.” He satisfied my longings as a child who was hungry for love, security, and affirmation. He healed my memory from the trauma of seeing our Nanay struggle with cancer. He healed my broken heart from the pain of having a part of me die when our Nanay died.

Now, I’m learning to be more vulnerable and to acknowledge my emotions.

My Abba Father reminds me that during those traumatic moments, He was with me. I can look back on those memories and see Him hugging me while I could barely open my eyes due to the tears flowing uncontrollably. He was there when I was holding Nanay’s hand for the last time. He was there when I was in my room crying quietly. He was there when I was feeling alone. I can run to my heavenly Father when I’m reminded of both the good and painful memories.

Also, God brought our family back together. How we wish we could go back to what we once had as a family, but He slowly knit our hearts together once more. We have learned to communicate and express our love for another. We have learned to hug as much as we can and say “I love you” every chance we get.

He slowly brought light to our home.

I still miss my Nanay terribly. I miss her warm embrace, her gentle words, her kindness toward everyone around her, and her sweet acts of service. I look up to her as the epitome of a loving wife and a mother who is also wise, gentle, and caring.

I am confident that our Nanay is having an incomparably wonderful time in heaven with her heavenly Father. And I know that one day, we will see each other again.

The light that was once snuffed out has been rekindled, not just in our home, but most especially in my heart. This time, it is God who’s lighting it and keeping it burning for Him.

For all of us who have been longing for a mother and wishing we could celebrate Mother’s Day with our own Nanays, it’s still possible to rejoice and celebrate that occasion, may it be in laughter or tears.

Our mothers are God’s beautiful gift to us, no matter how short we have embraced them. They are gifts given by the One who loves us more than our mothers have loved us.

He loves us to the point of sacrificing His one and only Son, so that we may enjoy eternity with Him and experience life to the full, which includes healing from our past wounds and giving us hope for a beautiful future.

May the light of God shine brightly in us and through us as we continually receive His love each waking moment.

 

Photo Credits: Danielle Macinnes