If I remember correctly, Mila was one of my first account executives (AE) in Basic Advertising. She was pretty, with small facial features and a striking posture, thanks to years of ballet training and dancing. She gave that up and went into the mad world of ads.
There she caught Wawel Mercado’s eye. He was one of the COOs of Basic. As Child Of Owner, he could have been brazen with courting her. But they tried their best to keep it low-key.
They got married, Mila got pregnant. A few minutes after giving birth to a health baby girl, Mila went into a coma. She eventually came out of it, but the damage was severe—it’s as if her mind was disengaged from her body. She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t speak. She would sometimes grunt, make noises. I even saw her shed tears. We had no idea if she could comprehend the sensory inputs we were throwing at her. She had no way of giving us feedback.
Meanwhile Wawel became the poster boy of The Husband Whose Love And Commitment Went Beyond Expectations. Their story was featured in a magazine and also on TV. Their daughter Therese grew up knowing a mother who could not play with her, could not feed her, could not embrace her; it was she who did those to her mother.
Last year we got the shock of our lives when we heard that Wawel passed away suddenly. At his wake, we saw Mila in her wheelchair. I’ve seen her several times in different events before, but this was the first time I thought she looked stricken. Or maybe I just wanted or needed to think that. The doctors had thought she wouldn’t last a few years after pulling out of the coma. Now she outlived her husband.
Come Saturday morning, we heard that Mila quietly passed away in her sleep.
Her family requested those who knew her to speak at her wake, to let Therese know the kind of person her mother was. This is what I plan to say to her.
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Yesterday I heard the saddest news. Mila quietly slipped away sometime Friday evening.
I first knew her as Mila Ferrer. She was not yet a Mercado, but even then everyone could see she was quite marketable. Beauty, brains, and balletic grace, rolled into one. She had softness and steel underneath her svelte figure. I was never attracted to girls, but she was that rare female that can wow me with her inner and outer grace. Yes, that’s it. Grace. She may have stopped dancing, but she always had that in spades. Even ‘til the very end.
Therese, you may not have experienced Mila the Mom, but we, her agency children in Basic, were the ones blessed to have been taken under her wing. And so Therese, the next few nights you will hear what it was like to be a son or daughter of Mila.
Mila never raised her voice. Even her shouts sounded gentle. But she could throw a shoe. Yes, she had tossed one at her creative director, no less! And she knew when to put her foot down. When a dancer puts down her foot, you know it’s deliberate, you know she’s prepared for it, you know she’s given it much thought.
I remember most our quick conversations about ballet. She said she misses it, yet I never saw in her any anger or regret with her life decisions.
Grace. She bore it well as an AE, as a wife, and yes I believe so, even as a mother. Even the way she said goodbye to us was graceful. This wasn’t just any exit; it was a grand jeté off the stage of life.
Bravo, Mila! Truly, you are a class act.