A Eulogy for Auntie Marissa Gaite Limbo-Villanueva
Feb. 27, 1958 – December 27, 2016
My cousin who flew from Canada to Mission Viejo, California asked me to write a eulogy for our beloved Auntie Marissa who passed away on December 27, 2016 in California She was diagnosed with cancer last July and after five months battling with it, lost her fight when her heart gave out on her. Although her untimely death is difficult for us to grasp, it is comforting to know that she passed away peacefully and painlessly.
I thought it was a piece of cake writing a eulogy for her. After all, I have all the good things to say about her; however, I underestimated my emotions, and the sobs in between writing got in the way so it took a while before I finished writing it.
I had the privilege of being with Auntie for a couple of years when I was in college before she left for Saudi Arabia to work as a medical technologist in ARAMCO from 1990 up to 1999. I was 16 years old when I entered college and Auntie was my constant companion, my movie buddy, my confidante and my best friend though I was living in a boarding house back then. It was difficult being apart from Auntie when she left, but eventually I learned to live on my own and dealt with my homesickness and my loneliness away from my family and from Auntie.
Auntie and I remained very close, although when she got married and moved to the states to live with her husband, Uncle Rene, we seldom see each other. The last time I saw her was in May 2007 when my father died, her older brother. Even if we didn’t see each other that much we still continue to keep in touch.
Auntie Marissa was the kind of person who didn’t want anyone to worry about her, so it was a shock to me, to us, when she emailed me that she has cancer that already spread to her lungs. We all thought that the pain she was complaining in her ankle was just arthritis and the bleeding she had was just due to her myoma.
Things happened so fast since the announcement of her disease though she still managed to undergo 10 radiotherapy sessions which stopped her bleeding due to the ovarian cancer and went on to undergo chemotherapy a week or so after. I was still able to talk to her via video call last October before she hardly replied to my messages. We thought that things were looking up when she responded to the radiation therapy.
She was discharged home and only went to the hospital for chemotherapy which didn’t sit too well with her. In November, she was rushed to the hospital for difficulty breathing, and after she was declared stable, she was discharged home and was then put on comfort measures. She was heavily sedated since then. Unfortunately, the cancer was too far gone that even the best medical personnel and most advanced medical technology couldn’t save her.
Until now, the thought of her gone is too hard to grasp, but then we need to accept that she is gone. Writing the eulogy for her was difficult because of the pain of loss that I am feeling. The thought of her brings me joy and sadness at the same time, but despite the pain, I choose to rejoice in the Lord for giving her to us, for allowing her to be in our lives, and for taking her pain away.
Marissa Gaite Limbo-Villanueva. She was Auntie Marissa to all her nieces and nephews, Lolay to her grandchildren, Grandma to Dani, and Mama to Remelyn, her stepdaughter. She was like a sister and best friend to all her former colleagues (Ms. Joy, Mam Shirley, Ms. Nena, Ms Judith, and Ms. Merlyn), in Metro Cebu Community Hospital where she worked as a medical technologist. According to Ms. Joy, Auntie was the kindest and the most generous person she has ever known and they were all thinking of her.
I may not be present in her wake to read the eulogy for her, but surely Manang Liling will be able to convey our heartfelt gratitude and give honor to Auntie.
Here’s the eulogy that I wrote in behalf of the Limbo family that my cousin Lily June Limbo Lebumfacil-Antigua will read during the viewing on Jan. 3, 2017 at Mission Viejo, California:
We are all here today to pay our respects to an amazingly beautiful person, whose time here with us was cut far too short. She was just 58, gone too soon.
My Auntie Marissa was one of the most wonderful people that I will ever know.
She was a small woman with a big heart. She was kind, generous and full of compassion. I couldn’t remember a time that she turned her back on us when we needed help. She encouraged us all, her nieces and nephews, to finish school and get a job so that one day we can become self-sufficient and help our own family. Auntie sent most of us to school and continued to provide for us when we were job hunting. She always went out of her way to help and do something, big or small, to make our lives a little bit easier…and while she lived halfway across the globe from us, she never made the distance a hindrance for her kindness and generosity to reach us.
She was the Auntie that one can ever ask for. Ever since I can remember, we always have Christmas presents from her. She was Santa Claus personified during Christmastime. The kid in us have always been kept alive because of Auntie. She always made us feel we were loved and thought of, not only during the most wonderful time of the year, but always, even if we were all grownups. Her kindness and generosity is truly exemplary. It doesn’t matter if we were naughty or nice, she was kind and generous to us no matter how we behave, although she would never condone any bad behavior. Being kind was just her nature.
Her generosity and kindness was not only limited to her immediate family, but encompassed her extended families and everyone that she treated as family. I remember one time when she learned about Lolo Mesing, her father’s brother, who got sick just a few years ago. Without hesitation and without even his family asking her, she sent money to them so that Lolo Mesing would get the necessary medical attention. She really cared. That’s our Auntie Marissa. Thoughtful, selfless and always ready to help.
Auntie’s passion was her family – her husband, daughter, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and her siblings.
When Auntie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, it was a very difficult time for the entire family. We couldn’t help but question why her? But we decided to trust God’s wisdom and entrust Auntie to Him knowing that He knows what He is doing. We wanted to be there to help take care of her and help her recover, but due to the distance, some of the members of the family cannot even visit her, and all they could do was pray for her.
I had the privilege of being able to be with her for a few days while she was desperately fighting cancer. I felt helpless not being able to ease her pain while I was attending to her, but despite my helplessness in the situation, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be with her in the most difficult and probably most painful time of her life…when she was fighting for her life. I spent my time looking after her as her disease got worse. I was happy to do whatever I could, because no matter how much I helped her, I felt like it was nothing compared to everything she did for me, for us, over the years.
As I contemplated on her life, I could say that indeed, actions speak louder than words, and Auntie’s actions while she was still alive speak volumes to us. She showed us how to be kind even when others are not, to be generous even when others are not deserving, and to never turn our backs to family however they misbehave. She showed strength, courage and selflessness while she was fighting for her life, and while she was in her sick bed, she still thought of us and reminded us to take care and love one another.
She may have not left us much in the way of material possessions, but what she did for us over the years was more than enough.
She was an incredible person. We lost a woman of excellent character, a woman of worth. Most of all, we lost our beloved Auntie Marissa whom we will sorely miss, but will always be in our hearts. There is no one like her. Her life blessed so many, especially us, her family, and with all certainty I could say she lived a life of meaning and purpose by making a difference in our lives. A life she shared selflessly not only with her husband, but to all of us here whose lives were touched by her kindness, compassion, and generosity.
She will be missed by a lot of people here. I wish her peace and will always love her.
Despite the pain of losing her, we praise and thank God for giving us Auntie Marissa. We thank God for taking away Auntie’s pain.
In behalf of the Limbo Family, we thank you Uncle Rene, Remelyn and Daniela for taking care and loving our Auntie Marissa. To all her friends who supported her especially during her illness, thank you. Thank you all for loving our Auntie Marissa.
Auntie Marissa, we love you and thank you for everything you did for us. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Rest in peace.