My mother didn't say I love you.
Instead she said
Do your homework
and, Don't be late for dinner.
That's how we knew she cared.
Her hair was short like her temper
when our grades were bad,
her smile warm
like the pancit she cooked on our birthdays.
When we left home for college
she didn't say I'm worried.
Instead she sent mail:
care packages, they're called.
Microwaveable rice and instant noodles,
because we didn't know how to make pancit.
When she got sick she didn't say I'm scared.
Instead she made jokes
and refused to take her medicine.
She treated cancer like it was a cold.
That's how we knew she was okay.
My mother didn't say goodbye.
She didn't have to.
But we said it:
We said goodbye,
and I love you.