My mother passed away 15 days ago, an event that moved me to author a eulogy to celebrate her life. She was a gifted writer, who inspired me to take up pen and paper and scribble poetry and short stories at a very young age. She was my biggest fan and cheerleader. She read everything I wrote, which I offered to her on scraps of paper like love offerings: poems that rhymed, short stories, letters, birthday cards, and much later on, magazine articles and novels about falling in love. Each day that I mourn her passing, however, I find myself even more inspired to live my dreams. I recall a conversation we had in 2008, when I told her I was launching a second book in Singapore. She gushed with pride; she couldn’t fly from Manila due to her fragile state, but sent her love. “I am proud of you, anak (child),” she enthused over the phone. When I commented that her feat of bearing seven daughters paled in comparison to my second “baby”, she shushed me: “Anak, anyone can have children; not everyone can write a book.”
Another thing I will never forget is how she taught me to open my heart. In 2004, when she visited me in Singapore, she would get episodes of hardness of breath that were linked to her heart condition. Instead of showing compassion, I distanced myself during those uncomfortable times. When she confronted me one time, she asked me why I behaved so coldly. I blurted out, “Because I don’t want you to die!” And then it hit me that my numb reaction came from a place of fear. “Anak,” she said, “don’t close your heart. How will you have a family? You must open your heart.” Since then, I did my best to just love her… and to love people in my life fearlessly.