Susunod na Kabanata*

*The Following Chapter

Barely 20 days after my father’s death, my mother suffered a stroke that has rendered her completely bedridden and brought her closer to Death’s doorstep. There is a superstition in the Philippines called “sumunod” or to follow, and describes consecutive deaths, usually of spouses who refuse to be apart.

The stroke came as shock, as Mommy was adjusting beautifully to her new life as a widow, eager to spread her wings and go on adventures with me. She is a mere shadow of the strong woman everyone knew her to be, suffering the entrapment of her body and limited communication. I have barely left her side since, and she holds my hand even though she does not always recognise me anymore. She has spurts of lucidity, for which I am grateful for, and I have shed my tears in sorrow and farewell.

For Suffering


May you be blessed in the holy names of those

Who, without you knowing it,

Help to carry and lighten your pain.  

May you know serenity

When you are called

To enter the house of suffering. 

May a window of light always surprise you.

May you be granted the wisdom

To avoid false resistance;

When suffering knocks on the door of your life,

May you glimpse its eventual gifts. 

May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.

May memory bless and protect you

With the hard-earned light of past travail;

To remind you that you have survived before

And though the darkness now is deep,

You will soon see approaching light.

May the grace of time heal your wounds. 

May you know that though the storm might rage,

Not a hair of our head will be harmed.  

        John O’Donohue (For Suffering, from “Benedictus”)  

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