Kate’s Blog: How I Met Your Mother

HIMYM2

By Kate Alvarez
KateWasHere.com
Jan. 3, 2013

Anton’s mother, Cherry, remarried and moved to the U.S. in 2010 a few months before I met Anton.

The last time Anton saw his mother Cherry was in the summer of 2010 in Michigan.

“What’s your mom like?” I asked Anton, months into our blossoming relationship. “Do you think we’ll get along?”

“She’s like you,” he said. “You’re both writers and she also did theater before.”

When Tita Cherry added me as a Facebook friend, I was anxious. Although I’ve seen her photos and posts online, I’ve always believed that a person’s social networking account only scratches the surface of his/her true character.

“Your mom added me on Facebook. I’m scared, hehe!” I texted Anton sometime in 2010.

I can still remember his exact reply: “Be nice to her! She’s the sweetest person in the world!” Since then, Tita Cherry and I communicated regularly via Facebook. We “liked” each other’s posts and tagged each other’s photos.

By 2012, two years into our relationship, Anton and I were preparing for his mother’s visit to the Philippines. His older brother Mon was going to get married to Jella in November. Tita Cherry, her new husband Tom, and his daughter Becky were scheduled to arrive a few days before the wedding. Ever the girlscout, Tita Cherry planned everyone’s agenda early. We had beach trips, family dinners, and Manila tours set months ahead.

Then I told Anton, “You know that our parents eventually have to meet, right?” Anton’s dad, Mike Osmeña, passed away in 2007, and I regret not being able to meet him. But I was looking forward to meeting Anton’s mother and stepfather. And since Tita Cherry can visit the Philippines only once every two years, I realized our parents had to meet before Tita Cherry flies back to Michigan.

“What?! Dear God!” Anton gasped jokingly. We both knew that our family members have very different personalities, so imagining them all interacting in a secluded room made us a bit nervous. But we made plans anyway—a casual dinner at the mall after Mon’s wedding.

But October 5, 2012 changed our lives forever. Anton tragically succumbed to depression, and his mother booked the earliest flight she could back to Manila, which was two days after Anton’s death.

Although the week of Anton’s funeral is hazy to me (I was in shock and moved around like a zombie, according to my friends), I clearly remember the night Tita Cherry arrived.

Welcoming 2013 with Anton’s mom, Cherry. Here we are doing the “AO” sign, our now traditional tribute to Anton Osmeña.

I was sitting at the wake (viewing) with Anton’s relatives, who had just received word that the driver and Tita Cherry have just arrived at the parking lot of the funeral home.

The room was quiet; people were walking on eggshells as they were told to give Tita Cherry her space when she arrives that night.

The door creaked as a beautiful petite woman entered. I recognized her from the photos. It was Anton’s mom. Although she was dressed down in jeans, sneakers, and a plain long-sleeved shirt, she looked as regal as I imagined her to be.

“Jella, I don’t know how to approach her,” I told Mon’s then-fiancée.

“Wait, you mean you’ve never met her before?” Jella asked me.

“Nope,” I said. “I’m scared.”

“Don’t worry; she’s nice,” Jella assured me. “I’ll come with you. I’ll introduce you.”

I couldn’t tell Jella the real reason I was scared. I was terrified because I couldn’t face the mother of Anton. I was afraid that she, along with the rest of Anton’s family and relatives, would hate me for not being able to save him.

I have gone through hundreds of questions in my head since Anton’s passing—mostly whys and what-ifs. In my heart, I felt responsible for Anton’s death. I was the only one who knew the extent of his depression, anxiety, and insomnia (Anton made me promise not to tell anyone about his problems), and although I finally reached out to a number of people to help Anton a few days before Oct. 5, it didn’t stop him from making a bad decision.

L-R: My mother, Nani, my father, Nonet, me (Kate), Anton’s stepfather, Tom, and his mother, Cherry on New Year’s Day 2013. Our parents got along well, Anton. Wish you were there.

At the funeral, I watched Tita Cherry reunite with her son again after two years. It broke my heart to watch her whisper, “My son…” in front of his urn surrounded by flowers, cards, and photos.

Then Jella introduced me to Tita Cherry. I was scared to look into her eyes. I was so ashamed of my failure to save her beloved son.

But when she approached me, I looked at her face and saw where Anton got his beautiful white skin, his lips, the shape of his forehead, and his raven black hair.

I couldn’t help but cup her face in my hands and tell her the first thing that came into my mind when I met her: “You look like my Anton.”

Then we hugged and cried and cried and cried.

We cried for our Anton.

That is how I met Anton’s mother.

 

 

 

*Tiny trivia: “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) is one of Anton’s favorite sitcoms. He always quotes Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris.
*The topmost photo was taken at Mon’s wedding to Jella on November 30, 2012. L-R: Me (Kate), Anton’s brother Mon, mom Cherry, stepdad Tom, and stepsister Becky.

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