PLAYING THE FAST FORWARD
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Originally written on: September 9, 2009, 8:23 am
I longed for your demise on humid afternoons after suffering heavy beatings for forced naps when I was a kid while hearing my friends giggling and having fun playing kick ball just outside the house enjoying the sun and dirt. After long years, He granted my wish and took you away for good, now that I changed my mind, now that I am too dependent on you, now that I did not want it to happen anymore. Life is totally different when you left but not the old house, we always kept it clean, at par with your standards of cleanliness, standards that for me is hoarder leaning, cluttered and of no artistic value. I never liked your flea market bargain collections, imagine buying stuff that other people consider trash, along with the vast amount of wedding souvenirs from years of attendance. Looking at them now made me realize how many friends you acquired with every piece. It is just enormous! You should have seen them all during your wake until we all bid you farewell. They all talked about you and how they became extensions of our family, the stories they told were all amazing and heart warming, we all shared a fair amount of smiles and tears. Furniture arrangements are the same especially your favorite rocking chair, your throne, same spot where you had your final breath. I can still imagine you sitting on the same spot with my siblings filling you with bear hugs, pinches and wet kisses giving you fits and joy at the same time because your grown up babies were back to get a dose of you. A bit changed in the house though, I don’t smell your dishes around the house anymore and the scent of your sweat from hard work preparing our meals. Kare-kare, kaldereta and adobo just do not taste as good anymore, I really miss your cooking ‘Nay. On my low days I visit your house. I spend nap times that I rarely have these days on your bed. I hug your pillow with some strands of your hair left on it just so I can feel good afterwards. My best sleeps were beside you ‘Nay, memories of childhood when all my worries were nonexistent because of your comforting warmth. The house is silent now, I don’t hear your usual nagging voice, screaming and cursing from watching thrilling movies and annoying reminders of undone chores, even cries of disappointment every time I answer back to you which I always do. I miss everything aside from the latter ‘Nay and I am so sorry.
The family is doing fair; we have our own lives now but we are never apart. We are trying to live by the stories you told us about the hardships of being alone, being the head of the family to your parents and dealing with the changes amongst your siblings when they all left to have their own lives. You told us everything over and over like a broken record. It is now that we understand the value of such tales, so whenever we talk, we talk as brothers and we speak our minds with no one to influence our thoughts, no one will rip this bond you established among us. We spend most of the weekends and free time together. We eat a lot, we tell stories, we argue, we laugh until we cry remembering your once existence, Mommas boys we all are. Kuya is the head now, whenever he talks, we listen. I admire how he handles major decisions for the family, composed and in neutral ground with disagreements, totally opposite of my temper, a smart man you made out of him ‘Nay. You’re right again with Arnel, giving him second? Third? Fourth? Whatever chance when I thought he was hopeless, he has changed since and got his bearing in life, doing well for himself and his family, now with sensitivity and without selfishness. I was wrong judging him when all I needed to do was see him through your eyes, it also opened mine to my imperfections, that I myself am guilty and since had brought you the same amount of heartaches.
Wife? I have, not as perfect as I see you and I think no one will fill the spot but she is good enough. She has her own weird ways of doing and approaching things and situations, she is so not you in many ways, with the way she thinks and talks, she cooks differently, she does not act and move the same way but she takes care of me and the kids with the same endurance as you. As we go on with the relationship, I’m starting to see you in her with the same concern and unconditional love, with that, I know I made the right choice. Good wife, mother and perfect friend.
Your grandchildren, they miss you a lot, I told them too many stories about you. Thank you ‘Nay for giving me a chance to experience a good life, sacrificing yourself and Tatay’s personal happiness in the process so I can be somebody, man enough to provide for my own family. I remember how you and Tatay were so guilty and sorry about not being able to send me to medical school because you cannot sustain sending 3 boys to college anymore, also because more than 20 years of being away from the love of your life finally took its toll on you, both mentally and physically. It was alright ‘Nay, the gift of education and the principle you taught me of striving hard to reach new heights was enough, that alone now allows my children to have a fighting chance to a better life, the options are open to them without worries, thanks to you. Your oldest granddaughter reminds me of you, she’s growing a lot more like you. She is very sensitive and reasons the same way, I hate it sometimes whenever she tries to argue with me but at the back of my mind I was happy to see you ‘Nay.
About Tatay? He was never the same when you left, I guess you are wrong when you said it is going to be harder for you if he leaves this world ahead of you. I think it is as hard or more for the old man. It is like taking a daemon (soul animal) away from its human, like in the book I read, you are his soul. His Alzheimer’s is progressing so fast, I thought it is good so he’ll forget about you, it makes me upset sometimes whenever he forgets my name but my heart shatters to pieces every time I bring him to his bed at night and cries himself to sleep uttering your name, Luz….mahal….Luz…..mahal over and over and I can’t do anything about it. Tears flow whenever we cover the grounds that you used to jog along with him every day. I was afraid whenever he escapes our sight and goes to the market because as gentleman as he was, he was so used to looking out for you inside the maze of a market every morning to carry the stuff you bought. He cries in church every time he realizes that you’re not there to hold his hand to sing the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. His appetite calls for the dishes you used to cook for him so he refuses to eat more and more these days compromising his health. He stares at nothingness then burst into tears and I know it was the thought of you and you alone in his mind at that moment. He misses you a lot ‘Nay. It’s very selfish to pray for his curtains to shut so he could be with you but I am not ready yet, please not right now because I’m still working on accepting life without you in it. If ever that will happen, I’ll try my best to accept that it is never going be the same anymore and move on. Thank you for the love and life Nanay.
I cannot believe that it has been 10 years since I wrote this piece, a fictitious letter from the future without my mom, leaning towards myself in the process of denial. I guess it’s to let her know that our lives, at least mine is not going to be the same without her. Though she claims far too often these days that her age related limitations are causing her to feel incompetent in taking care of all of us, she still is a force, a fuel of some sort responsible for making our lives worthwhile and hopeful. A lot has changed since then, older and hopefully wiser in my case. My folks considering their age are in the best health and overall disposition right now, thank heavens. I am well aware that this letter is a sad view of the uncertain future. For me, it is a personal reminder of our mortality so as to appreciate the present and cherish every moment of our existence. To Nanay, a very happy mother’s day to you, no words can describe how fortunate I am to be your son.