Following in Mom’s Footsteps
Rocelle Sanchez: Every Monday evening, my mom would pack me and my three sisters into the car.
“Anak, make sure you watch your sisters, okay?” “Let’s get into the car now, we have to be early.” “Sit nicely and follow along with the hymn books, okay? And don’t run around because that’s God’s house!”
She would take us to the house of worship because no one could watch us at home. We would sit in the back or in the nursery and follow along with the hymn books just as she told us…and that’s how I spent my time as a kid….always at the house of worship and always following mom.
The year I turned eighteen, I was so excited about graduating high school and starting college. During those days, hanging out with my friends and doing whatever I wanted—that’s what was most important to me. I mean, I was only 18, I had so much time!
But that all changed for me in the blink of an eye and I spent my eighteenth year watching as time worked against my mother…
It happened so suddenly. The day she returned home from the doctor’s, she came home with these HUGE x-ray sheets. “Don’t worry, Anak. I just need a quick procedure, that’s it.” And I didn’t worry—because running out of time, that was the last thing on my mind. But as her surgery drew closer, I could tell that something was very wrong. She was having a hard time holding her hymn book up. But my mother was stubborn. “I can still hold my hymn book with my other hand. I can still perform.”
It turned out that the huge x-ray sheets she brought home showed multiple brain tumors—one bigger than a golf ball. What she described as a quick procedure turned into almost 24 hours. And the doctor told us mid-surgery that there was a 50/50 chance that she wouldn’t make it out of surgery. At that moment, we all knelt and prayed together as a family, asking for God to give her more time. We weren’t ready for her to go. God granted our prayers and blessed us with more time. We had one more year with her.
Time was now moving so fast and I spent a lot of it just thinking about her, being close to her and as I retraced memories of her, I really learned how faithful she was to God and how resilient she was. Like the time when Mom had to choose between her other obligations or her Church obligations, I think she knew God was testing her. Seeing my mother’s resilience and watching her always put God first, even through moments of great difficulty, had a huge impact on me growing up.
My first job in the healthcare field had me working odd hours in the ER—3PM to 3AM. In order to continue to perform in the choir, I had to go straight from the ER and perform for the 5:30 AM worship service, then go straight to school, and then back straight to my job. Sounds exhausting right? But God gave me the energy. I prayed hard for a better job with better hours and eventually, my boss told me that I had to choose between my job and attending activities within the Church Of Christ because I requested time off for a special service. I prayed and I prayed, then I quit my job. I chose God. Soon after, God blessed me with an even better job with better hours and I was even promoted to a management role. And it was through my mom’s example that I learned what was most important in life—putting God first.
I miss my mom. I miss her silent ninja footsteps, unintentionally scaring us. I miss her cooking, especially her special Filipino dish, Pinakbet. But I miss her laugh the most. She was such a quiet woman but her laugh could reverberate throughout our whole neighborhood, making time stop. Ultimately, my mom ran out of time. She finished her race as a strong and faithful member within the Church Of Christ. And I understand why she was so devoted—God is so good. He gave us one more year with Mom, and He comforted us when she passed, He still protects me and allows me to remain within His Church. He gives me the strength to perform my duties as a choir member, Children’s Worship Service teacher, and KADIWA president—I always feel His guidance in my life.
I’m 31 years old now and I’m still in choir practice every Monday night, just like my mom was…only this time, I’m not just sitting and waiting. I’m a choir member too…and I plan to spend my time being devoted to God…just like Mom.
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