My five-year old is still grieving the loss of grandma

Today I overheard my five-year old while talking to the neighbor : “My grandmother died. She got old and got sick so she died. Now she’s not with us anymore,” he told his playmate’s mother.

It’s something I often hear him blurt out, out of the blue, which to me means that it’s something that he’s been keeping and that he wants to talk about.

He is still trying to deal with the death of his grandmother. As much as it has been so difficult for me, I now know that it was so difficult for him too.

They were so close. She was his Lulay. And he was her favorite grandchild. And because we moved back to my mother’s home my children got to spend so much time with her.

I was busy with work and it was grandma who stepped in and filled those shoes. Everyday my mother would pick my son up from school, and then they’d head to the mall, have lunch in Jollibee and walk around to find something to buy.

He’d come home with chocolates and chips bought by grandma and then they’d spend the day together at home until me and my husband get back from work.

They watched the Minions movie together, sat through so many Cartoon Network shows. They both loved eating biscuits and my son can remember clearly which variant they both liked eating, “it’s the blueberry biscuits Ma, the round ones with blueberry jelly filling, Lulay and I we used to eat those,” he’d often point out. In the afternoon they would sit in mother’s terrace and talk about dogs, my mother’s diet coke, and mumu (monsters).

When my mother started getting sick and couldn’t pick him up from school anymore, I saw how my son got depressed. He’d ask when Lulay’s coming back from the hospital, when Lulay will take him to Jollibee , when Lulay’s gonna come home.

It was so heartbreaking to see.

My mother, my feisty mother, fought through the sickness that was making her weak so she could spend more time with my kids.

Everytime she’d feel a bit better during the few times that she was at home, she’d get up, ask to be driven to the nearest Jollibee so she can buy my son’s favorite burger steak and a box of biscuits.

When my mother died I got so caught up with my own grief that I forgot how my mother’s death have affected my son who was the grandchild closest to her.

One time we headed back to check my mother’s house. My son’s face lit up, he got so excited to see his grandmother’s car in the garage, “Lulay is back mama, we have to stop, we have to get down and get inside the house, Lulay is back from heaven!” He exclaimed.

It took me a few minutes to explain to him that my mother is no longer inside the house and his grandmother won’t be coming back.

There are times when something would remind him of his grandmother and he’d blurt out “mama I miss Lulay” and then he’d share a memory “she used to buy me chocolate eggs (Kinder Bueno eggs) at the mall” or “she used to take me to the doctor”.

Eventhough most of the time he’s happy and jolly I now know that like me he’s also in pain. It’s been a year since we lost my mother and everytime my son would meet an adult he would tell him or her about Lulay who died. “My grandmother used to buy me burger steak,” he’d sometimes share.

A few days before my mama died, my son got to see his Lulay one last time. My son got up on the hospital bed beside Lulay and asked her for burger steak and biscuits! My mother who had so many tubes attached to her looked up at my boy seemingly memorizing his face. And for the last time my son got to tell his Lulay “I love you Lulay”.

Author: Loraine Balita-Centeno

I'm a Manila based journalist who's been working in the industry for 12 years. I've written pieces for newspapers and magazines based in Manila and some abroad. I'm a work-at-home-mom of two so I spend my days writing or editing with a toddler clamped around one leg and a pre-schooler asking me questions every 10 minutes.

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