They were all silent. Maybe tears were already dried up, or maybe since the sickness was lingering they were already expecting she would be gone soon. The priest had made his final blessing as the body was laid to rest in the prepared tomb.
Belle was reflective as she thought to herself, technically you are an orphan. Congratulations, you are now the ultimate survival challenge winner on you side of the family. Some trophy…
She was the last, she probably wont live long too. She had already promised herself that her death wish would be at 65, so she better get going and make the most of the remaining years.
Now there would only be the children and herself. Sunday masses, Christmas dinners and birthday celebrations. In addition to the regular holidays, she would only need to be worked up for four birthdays.
As the days have passed, slowly the children would tell anecdotes of how grandma used to be. She was quite a character. she took care of Belle’s children when they were still young and while she was still starting at her own career.
Although their mother and daughter relationship was never an easy one, grandma would often remind her own children that they should always appreciate their mother, she would always tell them of how proud she was on how Belle turned out to be and knew her daughter was a strong woman. She never admitted any of this to Belle, she only would tell this to the children.
They moved the last boxes inside the dimly lit house. It was only halfway done. The electrical wirings was still popping out of the walls, the wall switches were not yet installed and the floor was only finished cement. The two women made a makeshift bed out of the remaining plyboard from the still unfinished house.
Bare and without paint, the house was clearly not yet done but Belle no longer have the money to see its finishing stages through. She needed what remained of her funds to finance her move-in, the transfer of her children’s school and her other immediate needs when you’re moving from one place to another.
There was no light switches yet but if you connect the live wires manually, you can get a decent light. The floor was still full of sand and needs a good broom. The finishing was obviously not carried out, the house was newly built and as long as it had solid walls, decent doors and windows, the water was running, it was good enough a start for her. She can start from here. She was so very glad her mother was there to help her.
It was already past 7 pm and the children were hungry. Fortunately, the 3 month old was already suckled and fast asleep. They dined on sardines, they were all tired from the moving, so after dinner, her 4 and 6 yr old son and daughter, moved to the corner where they’ve set up the makeshift bed and sooner the kids were fast asleep.
“As long as you have a job and can feed your family, that’s all that matters now” the older woman said it as matter of fact. “You will need to be strong for your children, that will be enough to sustain you through this”
Her mother took the pieces of thick cardboard to lie on, she made her place near the door. She didn’t trust the knob to be enough as a lock for the door. Belle took a haphazardly cut plyboard and placed it near the children’s feet.
Her place was good, she could see the moon from where she was lying, the clear sky was dotted with beautiful stars that night and somehow, in spite of sleeping on the floor with dust mites, it was peaceful. She didn’t know if her mother actually chose that day to move in to the mostly unfinished house.
They say in Chinese tradition, it was best to move in to a new place on a new moon. It would bring luck they say. This was a start of another life, beginning from the ground up, literally. She needed all the luck the universe may bring, and more than that, she was grateful, on this fateful night, her mother was with her.
Belle typed the last entries to her diary. You have your rest now Mom, I’ll see you soon.