by Monette Quiogue.

On August 26, my mom had brain surgery.  It was a very Grey’s Anatomy moment when the doctors told us that my mom would need surgery to remove the subdural hematoma on the right side of her brain.  Initially diagnosed two weeks prior, the hematoma had shrunk to a level that her team of doctors felt would no longer require surgery and we were sent home.  But less than 36 hours later, we were back in the St. Luke’s ER and my mom, though responsive, could not open her eyes.  The hematoma had shifted and was causing swelling in her brain.  Her doctors did not waste time and immediately scheduled the surgery. And, just like that we found ourselves waiting with bated breath while a team of surgeons were working on our mom’s brain.

It has been more than two months since the surgery, my mom is home and recovering well.  But the recovery is not without its challenges.  Though we have taken major steps since those moments of disorientation in the hospital, when she couldn’t understand where she was and had no memory of what happened to her, she is still not 100% herself.  She remembers the important parts, her kids and grandkids, her siblings.  But she forgets what she had for breakfast or that she had a Physical Therapy session.  She no longer likes her favorite food—Chowking Halo-Halo and Jolly Hotdog.  And she forgets why there was a part of her head that was shaved and that the itchy part is actually where her stitches are. She has since taken major strides from once needing assistance even to just sit up in bed, she can now take a few steps by herself.  She is no longer sleeping all day but instead stays up and binge watches Pinoy soap operas on Netflix.  She is back to her “vain” self who bothers to put on her pearl earrings and pearl necklace just to sit and watch TV the whole day.  And though I look at her and she is looking like my beautiful, bejeweled, always put together mom again, I know that she still has a little ways to go before she’s completely back to her old self.

So, for Christmas, this is my wish.

I wish that my mom could remember that she had four pieces of Nathaniel’s siomai or four chicken nuggets for breakfast and that she would ask for halo-halo for merienda.  That she could remember that she’d already watched these teleseryes on Netflix and that Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo will, of course, end up together.  That she could recall what I told her just an hour before. That she could remember why she has that scar on her head.

I am perfectly fine if our Christmas tree stays empty this year.  I appreciate all the greetings and presents from loved ones, but truly, this year, I’m ok without them.  Just your positive vibes, good wishes and prayers.  Prayers that my mom would wake up and remember my not so funny stories, my latest rant about some random customer service incident and what happened last season on Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us and Dancing with the Stars. As the song goes,I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.  I wish that my mom would wake up and find that all her memories, good and bad, happy and sad, old and new are back where they belong…in her heart.

That would make it a truly Merry Christmas and a wonderful, memorable 2023.

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