Chapter 40: Hasten the Day
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Mark and Gemma, his mom, talk for a while until they turn on the television in the room. They occasionally talk but their eyes are glued to the television.

Mark takes advantage of this opportunity and messages Justin on Messenger.

With his thumbs, Mark types the words, “Good morning, Justin. How is the game today?

It doesn’t take long when Justin replies, “Good morning, Mark. The CCI Badgers are giving us a hard time. They’re leading by ten points now, we’re only in the second quarter with two minutes remaining.”

“Really. I think the CCI Badgers are the second-best in the league with the VCF Lions being the first. But I still believe ya’ll can still win, Justin. I pray that ya’ll will win.”

“Thanks, Mark. We’re trying our hardest, especially when our best three-point shooter is out for the day.”

“Haha, the best three point shooter.”

“Haha. Well, I think you’re the best three-point shooter as far as I’ve seen. Anyways, how’s your mom? Is she okay? We prayed for her before the game started.”

“Ma’s fine now. She just needs some rest.”

“Good to hear that, Mark. I’ll continue to pray for her.”

“Thank you, Justin. We need every prayer there is and I appreciate every bit of it.”

“Gotta go, Mark. Coach wants to sub me in. I’ll update you with the game later. Bye.”

“Ok. May God favor you with a win. Bye.”

Mark feels his eyelids heavy as he dozes off, reclining on his chair. After a while, he wakes up only to hear a long monotonous beeping noise. He looks at the heart monitor and sees a flat line. He looks at his mother and notices her not breathing.

“Ma! Ma!”

He goes out of the room and, fortunately, meets two nurses walking towards him.

“Help nurse! My mom is not breathing. I don’t know what to do.”

A nurse tells the other to call a doctor while she takes care of the situation. As Mark follows the nurse towards the room, she forbids him to get in and advises him to stay outside.

So Mark slumps down and wails uncontrollably. Other nurses and a doctor go into the room as his mom is being defibrillated.

‘What’s happening, God? Where are you?’

After a long while, the long monotonous beeping did not end. Eventually, the doctor goes out to see Mark slumped to the floor. The nurses also get out and leave the two of them alone with their heads low.

“Mr. Mercado.”

Mark looks up with his hair disheveled, his snot over his face, and his tears streaming down his face.

“Yes, doc?”

The doctor stoops down to his level and says, “We tried our best to revive but to no avail. It’s sad to say that your mother died. She carried her heart illness for a long time and it’s a miracle that she could live this long even to at least see you grow.”

Mark breaks into sobs and says, “Why, ma? Why do you leave us behind? Why does this happen to us, doc? She did nothing wrong.”

“I know it’s hard, and I know your mom did nothing wrong. Sometimes life gives us troubles but we have to keep moving so that we can honor the ones who have left us behind.”

“WHY!? WHY!? WHY!?” Mark shouts with his hands over his face.

The doctor sighs and says, “We empathize with your mother’s death. We’ll tell your father to come here to inform him of the situation. You can go in to see your mother, I’m just gonna leave you here to mourn.” The doctor walks off, leaving Mark on the floor with sniffles and sobs.

After a while, Mark gazes at the door of her mother’s room and just in a trance. He sits and stares with no movement, and not anymore crying. He just stares at it blankly.

‘Why, God? She was a good woman; a good wife and a good mother. Did I do something wrong, God?’

That last thought sends a pain in his heart.

‘I did do something wrong, God. If I hadn’t been born, this wouldn’t have happened to her. If I weren’t born, she would’ve be alright. This shouldn’t have happened if I didn’t get born, God.’

A gentle voice says to him, “If you weren’t born, she wouldn’t know how to love a child dearly. If you weren’t born, her heart would be empty of not having a child in her arms. And if you weren’t born, her life wouldn’t be fulfilling because you are her treasure and joy. She loved you and still loves you forevermore.”

Mark breaks again into sobs and says, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, God. But the guilt is still there, I can’t help but think that it’s my fault.”

“It’s not your fault, and guilt is not from me. Be strengthened. Live and declare the works of the Lord in the land of the living.”

“Thank you, Lord. I will, Lord.”

Mark rises up and wipes his snot and tears off his face. He enters the room where her mother is and sits on a chair beside her. Mark holds her hands and feels a death-cold touch.

“Ma?” Mark says as tears once again begin to stream down his face. “I’m here.”

Her mother is there on the bed, motionless.

“Do you remember you want to watch my games after you’re alright and out of the hospital? And do you remember when you said that you want to watch me grow up to be a man?”

Her face is like the face of an angel, peace reigns upon her soul.

“Ma?” Mark says while looking at her angelic face. “Please, ma. Wake up.”

She’s just there, not moving. With the warmth of light going through the curtains, it doesn’t suffice the coldness of her hands.

“Ma!” Mark wails away the pain, holding her hand with his face on it. “Please watch me play basketball! I know how to play basketball now! Cesar taught me how to play, I can shoot a million three-pointers for you ma!”

She lies still, unresponsive.

“Ma! Watch me grow up, get married, and have kids! Maaaa!!!”