[OPINION] The bitter pill: The mother who I thought held me back

I am the eldest of 3 siblings. I was 18 when I graduated from college, and I was also 18 when I began law school. This was in 2013, when my story began. 

I was a student of a renowned law school in Mendiola, Manila. I knew law school was sui generis (unique), in the sense that you cannot bullshit your way (for lack of a better term) through it without extreme diligence and faith.

In 2014, I failed to get admitted for my second year. It was heartbreaking, but I knew it was my fault and I took it upon myself to just tell my parents the truth, rather than lie and repeat my freshman year secretly, which meant deceiving them. 

They say the truth hurts, but what hurt more was when my mother, responding to my plea that I should just transfer schools, blurted the words, "Hindi mo nga kayang tapusin ang first year mo, tapos lilipat ka pa? Paano pa kaya sa Bar?" (You couldn't even finish your first year, and you also want to move schools? What chances could you possibly have with the Bar?)

Suffice it to say that these words went through my heart like shattered glass, piercing every vein in my body. She never apologized, and I did not have the heart to forgive her. 

I did manage to make a deal with her to take freshman year again in a new law school, this time in our home province of Cagayan Valley, on the condition that I could transfer back to Metro Manila, where I preferred, for the remainder of my law studies.

In June 2015, I found out that I did very well in my new school, which meant that my condition was more than fulfilled. It was time for my mother to make good on her promise. I was hopeful, but then she said, "Huwag ka na umalis. Dito ka na lang at tulungan mo kami sa bahay habang nag-aaral ka." (Don't leave anymore. Just stay here and help us out in the house while you're studying.)

All my hard work was for nothing. I had to retract my request for a transfer and I stayed, and as I was still bitter from last year's drama, the anger just kept piling up. My mother showed no remorse. No apologies, no nothing.

Then came July 3, 2015. I received news that my mother was shot by an unknown gunman, in her office, in broad daylight. She only lived for 33 more hours. As she withered away, I hugged her and whispered, "I am sorry, Ma. I promise to stay here until I graduate. I will soon make you proud. I will make it to the Bar and to the Roll." I was already down on my knees.

"All is well, Ma. I have forgiven you." 

I was 20 years old when she died. As the firstborn, I was tasked to take her place and stood by my siblings and my father, having to take charge of everything. In the days that followed, I felt resentment for being unable to enjoy my young adult life. But every day, I would still whisper to the wind the words, "I am sorry" and "All is well." 

The fact that she never said sorry is a bitter pill to swallow. But she was my mother, and I knew she felt apologetic when hurtful words were uttered. Still, it seems unfortunate that I had forgiven her only when she had departed from the physical world. I hope, wherever she might be, that she has forgiven me as well for carrying such anger against her. – Rappler.com

Ma. Cecille Alexandra B. Taguiam is 24 years old and a graduate of De La Salle University with a degree in legal management, and the University of Cagayan Valley with a Juris Doctor degree.