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LIFE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY MOM
Rocelle Feria: When I was young, my brother, my playmates, my classmates, teachers, they looked at me as active and tough. I know as a kid I am active and I know I am tough. Well, except for one – my mom.
See my mom is the toughest lady I know, and she’s also the quietest.
She taught me to work hard and to be patient. She also taught me to pray and to trust God completely… even when we were struggling in life. I remember at times when she would show us how much exactly did we have to last through the end of the month. She wanted us to understand that there are things that we want in this life that we cannot have because we cannot afford [it].
And I can still hear her saying, “Rocelle, this is all we have (showing me the money on her palm)” and she would say, “we have to make it last until the end of the month, okay?” And I was, what? Six? Seven years old? And I was counting the days until the end of the month. But I would say, “Okay.”
Every day is an exciting day for us. Some Saturdays, she would wake me up so early in the morning and she would say, “Rocelle! Rocelle! Wake up.” And as soon as I opened my eyes… you see, who wants to wake up on a Saturday, early morning? And she would say, as I open my eyes, she would say quickly, “I’m going to work now. There’s rice and egg for breakfast and for lunch, there’s a vegetable in the fridge. Cook it. Cut it long-ways, same size, saute it in garlic and onion, put some patis, put some water, not too much and let it boil, and then it’s cooked, and that’s your ulam (that’s your lunch), okay?” And I would say, “okay,” and I’ll go back to sleep. And that was my cooking lesson.
And sometimes we experience when we go out we would ride a jeep. And me and my brother were not used to sitting on the chair because we need to save fair. We would sit on her lap and that’s how we did it.
And you know what makes her more extraordinary? It’s because she raised me and my brother as a single mom. See, my dad passed away when I was three, and my brother was two years of age. And life wasn’t always easy for us, but my mom managed to do it. She molded us to be trusting to our Almighty God. That our Father in Heaven is our only refuge. That He sees everything that we’re going through and that He knows exactly what we need, and that He is our only hope in this world and in this life.
She instilled in us that even if we didn’t have a father growing up we always have a Father in Him, in God.
She reminds us almost every day. She told us to keep trusting, to keep believing, but you know what? I listened, but when you’re that young, you don’t realize how much your parents are preparing you for life… until something happens.
And for me, that was in the year 2020.
You see, that year, my mom – the person that I look up to, the strongest lady that I know – got sick… really sick. And I haven’t seen her so helpless like that. I had no idea that she had a rare condition. She had a liver disease. In the beginning, we thought it was just something common, like UTI or GI upset (upset stomach). Something simple. Something manageable. And no one could explain how she got it. Not even the doctors at that time [knew] how she got it – a liver disease that came as a shock.
Eventually, we had a diagnosis. Her liver was failing so fast.
She had an autoimmune disorder, and it was failing so bad that she already needed a transplant, or else.
Questions… worries just filled up my mind. And I was asking… why? She was so active. She was so upbeat. She was so healthy. A liver disease? I reached the point that I was so physically and emotionally drained. I was crying loud deep inside.
So, what do you do when you’re worried too much? I did what my mom told me, what’s best – I put my complete trust in God and I prayed.
One day in that year, 2020, there was a special gathering of the SCAN in Gaithersburg that I needed to attend. And I was on the fence of leaving my mom alone at the house for me to attend, but I still did. And my mom told me, “It’s ok, anak (child), just don’t forget to pray.”
Flashback [to] when I was like 4-5-6 years old, when I was attending the Children’s Worship Service, she would never forget to say, “don’t forget to pray, anak (child).” And that’s what I did during that service. I prayed so earnestly to our Almighty God to please ease us [from] all our worries, and to please take care of my mom at the house because she’s by herself, and to please take good care of her along the way.
And after that service, in that gathering, I saw a friend from the Philippines, and we hadn’t seen each other for a long time… for years. And she immediately asked about my mom. And I said… I didn’t hesitate to tell her [about] my mom’s condition. And without skipping a beat, she told me, “bring her to the hospital where I work, that is our specialty!” At the back of my mind, I said, “oh, that’s far.” But, you know…
Things happened so quickly from that point.
That same week, my mom was admitted to that hospital. But, you know, [the] pandemic wasn’t that easy. It made [it] more challenging for us because visitors are not allowed. So it means I can’t be with my mom to keep her company during her hospital stay.
So I did what I knew best. I kept praying.
I was relieved because the first night that my mom was admitted to that hospital, the first nurse who took care of my mom was a previous coworker and friend. And I said, “Thank you, God.” I was relieved knowing somebody was there – somebody that I know – would be there to take care of my mom.
And every step of the way, God made it easier for us. My mom never [forgot] to tell us to keep praying and to keep trusting. She needed a new liver? In His time. In His will.
And have you ever experienced how fast God works?
I could still remember the day that my mom made it on the transplant list.
It was May 8th at 4:30pm. I was at work. I received a call. She is on the list. And I said, I’m just going to count. What’s the average wait? It’s like 140 days. I can start counting.
[On] May 9th at 9pm, I received a call. We have a donor – but not yet, she needs to match; so, I have to wait for another call.
The next day, May 19th [at] 10am, I was told she was a match.
That same day at 4:30pm, she was taken to be prepared, and at 9:30pm, she was taken to the operating room.
[On] May 11th [at] 4:30am, I received a call. It was a successful surgery, she has a new liver and there’s no sign of rejection. As soon as I hung up that phone, I knelt down and I prayed and I said, “Thank You, God… thank You, thank You, thank You.”
It was so quick!
Three days. From May 8th, May 9th, May 10th. May 11th was the good news.
I was expecting 140 days and I can’t deny how full my heart was and I can’t even count how many thank you’s I said during that prayer. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.
Now, transplants aren’t always easy – she is now immunocompromised. And with her age, the risk of complications is always just around the corner. And sure enough, she got pneumonia.
And it wasn’t a good one. That she has to stay in the ICU for months, months and months.
But I never stopped praying.
I was so physically and emotionally drained, but I never stopped praying, I never stopped trusting in God, and I never stopped performing my duties. Because every time I perform my duty, I always pray to God to please ease me from my worries, so that I can perform with all my utmost ability. And you know what more? God kept answering our prayers! From the endoscopy unit, OR, ICU, when she needs to go [in] for dialysis, there is always – if not somebody I know – there [are] always brethren, a member of the Church Of Christ – who’s assigned to provide care for my mom and even prayed for her.
The worries and the guilt that I have about not being able to be with my mom were all lifted because every time I perform my duties I didn’t have to worry about my mom because I could see how God made sure that there is always somebody there with her.
And remember my friend who recommended me to that hospital? Well, she’s also a nurse down there, and she’s also a deaconess in the Church. So, you know that she’s always the one going to my mom to anoint oil and pray for her during her hospital stay.
And even with all the COVID restrictions, even if there’s a lot of chaos going on all around the world, those weren’t a hindrance for God to answer all our prayers.
And we are so blessed and we are so thankful for all the brethren, the officers and the ministers that prayed with us, for us.
Today, my mom is now home with me. She’s still recovering, but she has a new liver, and we are so very thankful that we were able to attend the worship services together again.
And even though me and my brother are far away because he’s in the Philippines, we FaceTime each other. And even if we are older right now, my mom never fails to remind us how God is so good and never fails to remind us to keep on praying, to keep on trusting because God will always make a way. We just have to pray.
Sometimes I wonder, what if I had not attended that worship service? Or what if… what if I stopped praying because I worried too much? Maybe I wouldn’t be here today sharing my story.
And I’m so blessed and so thankful that I don’t have to find that out.
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