Life, Personal, writing

Unconditional Love

“Hello,” greeted an unseen voice from over the phone. For a moment, my heart stopped beating as the familiar sound brought back me back to memory lane.

But the magic needed to end as I snap back to reality – the reality that the one person I was currently speaking to was a contractor, asking me details of what I sent them through email a few hours back.

My trip to memory lane was cut short as I snapped back to reality, regaining my exterior composure – calm and calculating against the frantic beating of my heart.

“Ma’am,” he greeted back, “I have my personnel on site who may double check the said concern at the unit,” to which I answered in the negative. Saying that the unit owner was unavailable at the moment.

A few more seconds over the phone and the conversation ended – leaving me still rattled and disoriented from the experience. Because for a moment back there, I thought I was actually hearing the voice of my deceased father for one last time.

That maybe, this was part of my unanswered prayer the following days and weeks of father’s death. That for one last time, we could hear him, hold him, and see him at the very least to finally bid that one bittersweet goodbye.

That maybe he was actually really on the other side of the phone and was going to ask how we were finally doing.

And it was in that few moments after the phone call that I realize how much it means to miss a man as great as he. That here we were, left with memories, with stories, pictures, a few videos, his diary from way back Saudi Arabia days, and a voice recording for one of his seminars or lectures – the one and only thing that would most probably come close to hearing his voice again.

You see, even in the midst of growing up, of having far too many responsibilities and obligations, not once will you truly forget nor stop yearning for the ones you hold dear – no matter the distance, no matter the circumstance.

Your love for them – it never really fades. It just goes stronger. Each and every single day.

Standard
Little Notes, Personal

The Charm of a Man

He opens up his arms, asking me
to come to him –
and as if I can resist him, I tried

But my feet seems to have
a mind of its own
as it brings me closer to him

Ah, he’s so warm, like he always does
– smells of fresh laundry, soap,
and something else entirely him
Face buried in his chest
as his hand wraps around my shoulders

Was he always this tall?
Or was I always really just this small?

Are you mad? he asks.

I was before you came knocking on the door,
I wanted to say

Instead I nodded and started to pull away,
– I miss his warmth
& the night suddenly felt very cold

He drops his hand at his sides
and looked at me –
a look that searches my face,
that sees through my soul,
my everything

And he walks away only to come back
An ice cream cup in one hand –
a large one, at that

A peace offering

I reached out and started to eat.
I gave him the look, still.

Inside his car, he reaches for me,
arms wrapped around my waist –
chin resting at my shoulder

Are you still mad, he whispers

I only nodded but really,
I just want the moment to last
a while longer

Then he kisses my shoulder
Arms still wrapped around my waist
Sorry, he says

But all I can think of was his stubble
against my skin as he peppers
me with sweet kisses –

Are you still mad? he reaches out,

I shook my head no –
as if I can really resist him.

He pulls me closer to him,
kisses me on the cheeks
& the forehead – lingering
more than a few seconds, that is.

I basks in the intimacy
& sweetness if it all

Ah, this one’s a precious one
a moment rare and memorable

Perhaps I can do this another time,
– stall when I’m mad and get that
one large ice cream cup,
a dozen of donuts, sweet kisses,
surprise visits, and warm hugs

– All under the night sky,
with the moon and the stars
as witness and audiences.

An hour or so of his presence,
the cold breeze of the night,
a sweet moment all together

A secret satisfaction, a delight
in my heart

And a realization that I can never
truly resist the charm of this man,

– of this man whom I’ve
been with 3 years & 7 months.

Standard
Life, Personal, writing

A Tale of One Christmas Afternoon

While other people are in the comforts of their home, families, and friends on Christmas day, a woman gets out of the car at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. With a matchbox in one hand and a pot of flowers in another.

She asks her son to bring the pot of flower for her as it was heavy and she has no more strength to spare after two days of hard work.

Her son takes it from her as they start to walk the alley leading to her destination. She makes small talks with her children – commenting every now and then to some said stories.

Then, along the way, she meets Boy – the supposed caretaker of the place. Small talks, light laughter, again – side comments about the condition of the alleys every now and then.

Finally she reaches her destination and greets her husband – Hi Pa. Merry Christmas, she would say as she puts her hand on the cold concrete and lay down the matchbox beside the candles she brought.

She sits by the concrete bench a few feet beside his grave while her son puts down the pots and her daughter arrange the remaining bouquet on his flower holder – the suso  as they are called.

Candles are lit and silent prayers are said. Suddenly she says, dalawang Christmas ka na pala, Pa. Only to be corrected by her children that it’s three and not two – 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Her eyes began to water, lips forming in a thin line. He’s always watching you ma, her daughter tells her as she gets a pat on the shoulder.

Still, the wetness in her eyes never seemed to disappear until she stood up and said, let’s go.

She puts her hand one more time on top of his grave as she whisper Merry Christmas, Pa. I love you, before turning on her heel and walked.

While she walks, their children said their own Merry Christmas’ I love yous, and the promise of coming back in the New Year.

With one last glance on this visit, the three of them walked back to the car, a bittersweet recollection of years’ past Christmas celebration and the memory of the man they always thought as their own Superman.

And just like that, their Christmas celebration felt almost complete.

Standard
Daily Post, Life, Personal

A Single Song & A Thousand Thoughts

via Discover Challenge: Song

A story of one night (2 years ago, July 2014)

We were watching a a TV show, The Voice Kids (Ph)– a singing contest aired at nights during the weekends when a particular contestant, Lyca Gairanod, stood in the middle of the ring and started singing Dance with my father in her Tagalog version

I felt body tense as I did not know how to feel about it when I had my father laying in bed beside me watch the same thing.

The song, at that moment, felt like a song for when he is gone and done fighting his battle against cancer. And somehow, it twisted something in my chest as I took a deep breath and exhaled nervously.

Nevertherless, I glanced beside me and saw him just mindlessly watching the show. Or if he is thinking of something else, I do not know. But my mother was another case. She was sobbing beside my father – silent tears streaming down her face. And her expression – God, how can such a strong woman break down silently like that. It broke my heart so much I, too, felt like crying. But I held it in and took another deep breath to steady myself.

Present.

It was a painful thing that night. Well, somehow it is still a painful thing today. But who knew that that same song, the original by Luther Vandross actually, will remain as a remembrance of the father we once have.

Who knew that that song will actually last me a lifetime of wistful thinking and prayers of another moment for my father and mother – just one moment that my mother can actually see him once again. To ease her loneliness, her sorrow, and see her smile that one smile she always has when she’s with him. God, how it still clenches my heart when I think about it.

And yet images and wistful thinking did not end with that wish and prayer for my mother as I, too, had my fair share of wistful thinking for myself and for my brother.

Nights when missing him is the only thing in my mind, I see him in the future I might have had if only he lived through his battle. Nights like tonight I imagine him watching me march as I finish off college and finally get that diploma he worked so hard to provide for, watch me get my first job, watch me finally reach my dream of going abroad, and even more so, watch as finally, my brother – his son, too gets on the stage and finish of college – that maybe, somehow, if fate had permitted, father and son had spent more time together.

My mother and father – they could have had grown old together and fulfilled their life long promises. So many dreams, so many promises.

And yet all we can have at this moment in time are those wistful thinking we had whenever that song plays.

That song, so beautiful yet still so heartbreaking simply because of all the unsaid promises and glimpses of the the future we could have had if he were still with us.

So, as we hear the song, whenever, wherever – there you’ll find us three looking up in the sky, on the road, or somewhere else with longing and distant looks in our eyes, faint smiles, and silent prayers in our head.

Standard
Life, Personal

Once Upon a Time

 

Once upon a time I was a young girl looking up the sky – waiting for the giant bird-like machine to fly by over our heads.

Once upon a time I was a young girl who realized that a waiting taxi with my father and his luggage in it means it’s time for him to go back to work and another year or so without seeing him physically.

Once upon a time I was a young girl pretending to be okay – pretending actually that I am not getting dizzy when my father rocks me to sleep simply because I wanted the moment to last a little longer.

Once upon a time I was a young girl who writes lots of letters for my father and keep all his replies in a box, a plastic bag, cabinet, and basically anywhere I can store it.

Once upon a time I was the young girl who walks up to my father’s other side (left or right) to hold his hand in mine while we stroll in the mall.

Once upon a time I was the young girl who looks forward to Sundays mainly because it means it’s movie day with the ‘whole’ family, too.

And once upon a time I was never the self-proclaimed-writer-at-heart person until it was decided that you are to come back Home – in the Heavens where you really belong.

Then suddenly, as if in a trance or a conspiracy of some sort, all of my thoughts were imprinted through words of black and white on ink and paper.

– As if you were telling me that Once Upon a Times never really ended and dissipated together with you; that our once upon a times as father and daughter never really ended that one night when you held my hand and meant not to let go; that our stories of once upon a times as a whole family have never ended and vanished into thin air the moment you breathed your last.

Because it is in the simple telltales of our once upon a times – of yesteryears, of yesterdays that you live through and through. That our stories live through and through – in memories and in hearts.

So on your 3rd all soul’s day, know that our stories of once upon a times continue to grow to be the happy memories they’re supposed to be. That finally, we’re getting a tidbit better than the last. That finally, somehow, I’m beginning to piece the bigger picture of why we have to lose you early in this life.

So for all our once a upon a time stories, thank you Pa.

Know that you’re still one of our motivators and one of the best source of inspiration.

 

Thank you. Always and Forever.

-A.

 

 

Standard
Life, Personal, writing

A Fighter Worth Everything

A loving wife, a mother of four, and a sister to six others.

She is a strong willed woman, stubborn against all oddities of cancer. She fought relentlessly and held on to her Faith – unfazed by all circumstances cancer threw her way.

She remained strong, smiled through tough times, cried, and a few times (or more) got angry and frustrated with all the pain she feels. Nevertheless, she proved that it takes more than her illness to bring her down, to lose her faith, and bring destruction upon her family.

She might not be here physically but her memories, her legacy, her stories will always stay and be remembered by people who surround her.

A tough woman in her early sixties – feisty and loud, sometimes even a nagger – not only to her husband or children, but to all of us – pamangkin, kapatid, kaibigan. Selfless, dedicated, sincere, and caring, a stage mother supportive of her children’s dream.

She fought a long time and now she’s finally in a better place. In her own paradise where no illness, hardship, or pain will come her way. A place where she can – we can finally, truly say she is Home.

You see even in this situation, she never succumbed to the harshness of her illness. Rather, she gained the Mercy of the One above and His Kingdom.

Her chapter on Earth may have ended; nevertheless, her journey was not in vain as she had laughed lots of times, loved a long time, and lived life to the fullest.

And just like how I heard one person say, I quote, “my grandfather did not die. He did not die because he is such a good man and a good man does not die. He just stopped breathing.”

Thus, in the same light, our Tita did not die. She did not die because she is a good person and a good person does not die. She just stopped breathing.

Tita Edith, tulad nga ng sinabi ng marami, Maraming maraming salamat – sa lahat ng tulong, sa lahat ng alaala at suporta, at higit sa lahat, salamat sa pagkakataon na ibinigay mo sa aming lahat na makilala ka’t maging parte ng buhay mo at mapagsilbihan ka kahit sa huling pagkakataon.

Watch over everyone Tita. We love you.

Hanggang sa muli nating pagkikita.

 

 

Standard
Personal, writing

One Fateful Night

May 2016, a day before the National Election.

I was on preparing things I had with me as I was about to head back home when my phone rang, notifying me of a call. I answered immediately to be greeted by my mom’s voice and a vague background noise.

“Where is she?” I wondered.

Then she tells me to head to the munisipyo, saying they (pertaining to my titas and cousins) are there. Agreeing to what she said, I remembered that that day was the last campaign day for all politicians running for government positions.

The night was cold, a slight breeze blowing across my clammy skin. With thoughts of what transpired within the day and what was about to happen, the trip to the munisipyo seemed to have happened in just a blink of an eye.

Upon reaching my destination, I was greeted by a throng of loud people, blaring music, orange, pink, and blue t-shirts, flags, and a re-routed traffic manned by San Juan’s blue boys (traffic enforcer a.k.a. Blue Boys). The event was in full swing, I guessed.

I do not remember much of what transpired that night. But I do remember the line of tents in white beside the stage, the huge monitor serving as a backdrop, police patrolling the area, and the four LED flood lights blinking shades of red, blue, and yellow.

And of course, I remember the reason why we were all there – to show our support to that one person who supported us all the same in one ways or another.

She is a mother of four, a sister to six other siblings, a Tita to all of us, a fighter, a survivor.

At first glance you’ll probably see a daunting woman in her early 60’s – but mind you, her looks will tell you otherwise. She maybe loud and easily agitated – like the rest of us (her relatives) but above all, she is a loving mother and wife ready to do anything and everything for her family and a sister willing to help out in possible ways she can.

Then, suddenly as if in a trance, I snapped out of my thoughts our dear Tita.

That’s when I noticed people milling around the area, claps echoing in the starless night, my mother eagerly listening to the current speaker, children laughing and running about, and mostly, flood lights and spot lights coloring up the stage.

I walked a bit further from the stage, exhausted from the many noises of the night and seated myself on the grass with my mother in tow, another Tita, and a French Bulldog.

I glanced up at the sky and nodded to myself, this indeed is one fateful night. A night I ought to remember as I see my Tita seated on the stage, doing everything in her power to protect and serve her family in all that they need.

As I look at her and her family seated just right behind the stage where she is, I sent a silent prayer to Heaven.

Wishing her to stay stronger and better, healthier even, to soar higher and stay a fierce fighter – a stubborn one against all oddity of the Big C. And let her know that no matter what, she’ll always be with her family – though thick and thin.

And that, the stars and the moon will always keep a watch over her.

Happy Birthday, Tita Edith.

 

 

All the best,

H.

 

 

Standard