There was I. I was walking with your crowd, chasing your hearse unhurriedly, walking slowly. Slowly. I was chasing both your hearse and the time, hoping powerlessly that I could do something to catch up—with all those time I hadn’t seen you, hugged you, kissed you. Sadly, it was not in my power to rewind everything or to travel back in time. Much sadder was the fact that I could’ve at least visited you despite the very busy schedule I had. I could always choose to leave my tons of work for they wouldn’t die anyway. They wouldn’t. You did. And a part of me did too. Saddest thing was that part of me wasn’t even able to thank you for the childhood memories. I could hardly remember how we lived together when I was just a kid (maybe because I was so little back then) but one thing was for sure, you loved me.
There was the rain. It poured hard. It sympathized. It blessed. It wetted everyone. It drenched us and our hearts. And I meant completely. But walking under the rain made not one of us cold. Walking under the rain made us recognize all the more that you had been warming the people around you. You had been a shelter. You had been a refuge. And because of that you were loved—beyond words, beyond a blog like this.
There was Kuya. He was someone who perfectly showed how much you were loved. There he was, staring at you with love in his eyes that couldn’t be compared with how he had looked at his girls. He was watching you not move. He was watching “yunglalakeng” ‘yon (that had been his father for more than a decade since our parents’ separation) as he slept at his casket.I could barely imagine the grief he felt. And I admitted it. The pain I felt was just a tenth of his. I could never have the same sorrow he had for you were with him all those days. You took care of him and bought him pandesal. You woke up for him and gave him baon every single day. You were the greatest father he never had. And so the pain of losing you was in his every tear. Watching Kuya cry broke my heart. More than for my own sadness, I cried for him and his misery. Perhaps the only thing I could boast about being pained was that he was luckier for he had been with you longer than I had. Was it far much painful to cry over something you couldn’t even remember well?
There were the songs. They played as if they wouldn’t end. They did not entertain us as how songs would do. They reminded us of you, how you lived, and how wonderfully you touched people. They were playing the messages of our hearts to you and perhaps yours to us.
There was Maymay. As the songs played, I felt so helpless before her when she began to cry. As she wailed, all I did was hold her hand. I wanted to make her feel better for I knew you didn’t want her sad but I couldn’t do anything else to ease her pain. I knew I needed not to though. If wailing would be the only way that she could tell you how much she loved you, I would let her do it. I wouldn’t shut her up. I perfectly understood how wailing helped. I did. Often inside. I reminisced how May told me how she used to kiss your forehead before going and now that you’re gone, she couldn’t do so anymore. I envied her. I gladly did.
There was Ate. She was behind me when we were walking you to your burial. She offered me a bottle of water along the way for she knew how tired we were becoming. As she handled me the bottle, I barely looked into her eyes yet I was able to see she was crying a lot too. But I hadn’t heard her wail even once. It was maybe because, as the eldest, she was trying to be strong for us her siblings. Well, I guess no one had to try to be strong. I guess too that we were all vulnerable before a death of a loved one.
There was Bebe Boy. Inside the church, all he did was cry (since minute one!).I did not know this boy before your funeral. One could say we were total strangers. But when I saw him cry so hard and wail, I felt the immediate need to comfort him. He, after all, was my brother. It did not matter who his father was; all that’s important was I was her Ate. I embraced him. Tight. I wanted to make him feel okay and say everything’s gonna be alright. Well, I didn’t say that. But I knew he understood me. He sure did.
There was Mama. She was thanking you for paving the way for a reunion, a reunion of a broken family. She was thanking you for giving us the opportunity to be together again even if it lasted for just a short while during your funeral. You were so unfair! You allowed me and Ate to hug Mama again but you did not allow us to hug you. You were mean. But kidding aside, we owed you bigtime!
There was the shirt. Designed especially for you, it said “We ❤ Papang”.
There were your children. SilaTita and sila Tito.There were their children, mgapinsannamin. There were your siblings, their children, and their children’s children. There was everyone. Damp under the rain, they were all mourning. Yet they, we, all celebrated your existence and its beautiful end.
There was Mamang. Her hug so tight and her kiss so sincere tickled my soul. I always knew my eyes were hers. As I stared at her staring at you, all the memories came rushing back to me. My two or three year old self (if my memory serves me right) was eating, sleeping, and playing with you and Mamang, my beautiful lolo and lola. I was sorry if I could not do anything to stop her crying but to hug her and hold her hand. But I was proud of myself that I had promised her I would visit more often. This time, I would set aside those immortal loads of work. I would not want to regret again for things I had not done. Not anymore.
Then there was you. Sleeping. Resting I should say. You were at peace. I knew you were also pained seeing all of us grieve. We were sorry for this was all we knew to express how we needed you, how we treasured you. But Papang, each of us meant what’s on the shirt we were wearing. We did. We have. We do and we always will.
Magpahinga nang mabuti, Papang, ha? Goodnight.