I first saw her on the afternoon of June 10, 1999. I didn't know she was my mom yet, though. I could barely open my eyes to begin with. I didn't even know what the word "mother" meant, nor simply say it aloud. But I felt it. In her loving arms is where I felt utmost protection. I would instantly wail when taken somewhere else.

Since that day, we've been inseparable.

Except for the time when she moved here to the States to grab a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She has always been a firm believer of continuous learning and it shows when you get the chance to talk to her. She's like a walking encyclopedia that you could talk to about literally anything under the sun. More importantly, she chooses her words with exquisite care and empathy. Maybe that is also why our house is like a counseling office. Sometimes I wake up to an unfamiliar voice asking her for advice. She could easily be a life coach if she wanted to.

She is wise and patient enough to be one. She acknowledges the fact that there is always room for improvement. Hence, she sacrificed being eight thousand miles away from us to pave the way. She wanted us to explore what the world had to offer, even if that meant having to endure distance and loneliness. She brought with her the goal of building a better future for us all, which is why I'm currently here in the windy city for college.

No amount of Shakespeare nor Angelou quotes will ever articulate how grateful and proud I am of being blessed with someone like her.

I have always been an affectionate child. Loud and proud. Most likely because I'm the pack's youngest. I'm the type who would hold my mom's hand as we listen to the homily together. The type who makes sure she never runs out of her medium pulp orange juice. The type who would give her a back hug as she cooks the family favorite's pork chop with red wine.

I don't think these simple acts will ever suffice, but I hope it's enough to make her feel appreciated and loved.

Mommy, just like all of the equally kind-hearted, beautiful, and strong-willed moms out there, you deserve to be celebrated today and every single day.

Thank you for always giving me what I need, for occasionally giving me what I want, and for giving me so much more.

You're stuck with me forever.

Our story has no end.

Happy Mother's Day!