Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear Lola Mang | Day 25

Easter Monday.

Yesterday was a special event in our home. It was the family's yearly tradition to have our Easter Egg Hunt after coming home from our Sunday mass. Twelve eggs are to be found in our living room. Who has been keeping them all these years?

Lola Mang.

My mom texted me early in the morning.

"Good Morning! Happy Easter! Sino kaya ang magtatago ng eggs ngayon?" (Who do you think will hide the eggs today?)

She followed through with a photo she took of our altar. She placed food for Lola as our usual "atang"with an unpainted egg. She said, "Magpepaint din siya eh." (She will paint too.)

Usually, when Lola Mang paints, she always draw faces that are always Chinese looking -- two straight lines for the eyes and a long curved line for the lips. And she always boasts them as if they're the best eggs artwork in the world. I guess I'd have to oblige by now.

I drank my coffee early in the morning while I sobbed. It has always been a good time since nobody was watching.

While we were eating lunch, our Easter Egg Hunt memories came through my mind. I gave up controlling the tears. James, in his usual self, cracked up some jokes to make me smile. He made goofy moves while he sang the nursery rhyme, "Three Blind Mice."

Three Blind Mice was one of the nursery rhymes I so loved when I was growing up. Lola Mang taught me the Bicolano version of that rhyme that until now, I still can remember.

Tulum Butang Kino
An sabi san saro
An sabi san saro
Tulum butang kino

I guess when you remember by heart, you remember forever.

I cried. I smiled. I cried again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Lola Mang

27 March | Thursday
Day 1

“Why are you crying, Ninang Ola?
Is Lola Mang dead?”

Brandon was with me at the workplace when the news came. It was too tough to handle. But he made it so easy. He told me I shouldn't be sad because you've only ended your life here on earth. You have another life in heaven.

He even said, “I can't wait to die, Ninang O. Because when I do, I'll come up to Jesus and I will ask where Lola Mang is. And we will be together again.”

How do I live now, without you, Lola Mang?
(via Instagram)

28 March | Friday
Day 2

I didn't know how I was able to sleep last night. All I know is that the dark was too comforting. Memories of you kept on flashing through since yesterday. I remember them so fondly I laugh until I end up crying. I am blessed to have people surround me with overflowing love. Their comforting words and hugs help me carry through. I woke up today early, just like the rest of the days to carry on with everyday domestic duties. I can't stop the sun to rise, even all I ever wanted was to stay in the dark. I can't stop the birds to chirp outside my room window, even all I ever wanted was silence. I looked at the bathroom mirror and I saw my swollen eyes. I don't look good today. I didn't really make an effort because the insides of me don't feel good at all. My head is painful, but my heart is even more so. I slept wearing this ring you gave me a few years ago. Maybe I'll be wearing this everyday from now on. Our last phone conversation was filled with "I love yous." And til today, I remember how you said those words to me even with trembling voice. This is so tough. How do I get through life without you anymore? I love you, Lola Mang. I love you. I love you. I love you.
(via Instagram)

29 March | Saturday
Day 3

Today, the sun shone upon my face. I feel alive.
(via Twitter)

30 March | Sunday
Day 4

My luggage is only filled with black and white clothes. It was so easy to pack it this time. A few minutes and I'm done. I walk fast but it seemed like I was dragging my feet. I talk so much but it seemed like I don't make sense at all. I am excited to come home. But I am equally scared. I'm going to see you in a while, Lola Mang. But when I see you, it will be a different scenario altogether. I won't feel your warmth anymore. I won't be able to kiss your forehead anymore. I will only see you in that rectangular box, and you will be surrounded with flowers, and not your medicines, nor our pictures anymore. But I shall see you, Lola. I shall see you. I promised you that, remember?
(via Instagram)

31 March | Monday
Day 5

Lola Mang, kape? I will never forget how you always ask if I want coffee not even minding the time of the day. This morning I woke up and I went up to your casket asking, "Lola, kape, gusto mo?" I prepared your coffee and your favorite biscuits from Singapore. I kept one of my promises, Lola. Gusto mo ng imported na handa, di ba? It took me a really long while to take a look at you yesterday. It took me hours of crying before I finally went into this room. I am grateful for family who stayed beside me the whole time eventhough I know my emotions were too much to handle. I stayed with you the whole night. And whenever I feel like talking to you, I'll just come up and talk to you casually. You are so beautiful, Lola. You were smiling back at me. And though I still feel sad from time to time, my heart is filled with memories of your love.
(via Instagram)

1 April | Tuesday
Day 6

Flowers for you, Lola Mang. Yesterday, I thought of adding more flowers all around you. Some are almost withering, and I want you to look extravagant. After all, you were once a beauty queen in your province. Instead of buying arranged ones from the shop, I bought stalks of colourful chrysanthemums. I wanted your flower arrangements to be unique so I arranged them myself. Your guests were looking at me while I was arranging. They said it's beautiful. And that's how special you are, Lola. I arranged those beautiful flowers by myself. You were surrounded by so many flowers. While I was arranging, I kept on talking to you. I kept on reminiscing our memories together especially Flores De Mayo days. I always do that during summer days in Bicol. We offer flowers to Mama Mary while we sing songs. My cousin accompanied me while I re-enact those days. We laughed so hard until I went on my knees and sobbed without end. There's so much memories to remember, Lola Mang. Happy memories that makes me cry everytime. I try to be happy, Lola. But most of the time when I do, tears just fall.
(via Instagram)

2 April | Wednesday
Day 7

Without hesitation, I took the hearse which carried your body on the way to the crematorium. Because as what everybody said, ako ang “padaba” (favorite).

Sad songs were being played while the hearse slowly moves. I was trying so hard to control the tears, by cracking some quick jokes to my cousin who's also beside me at that time. I was even from time to time, looking behind, asking you, “Okay ka lang ba dyan, Lola?” But tears relentlessly fall.

From the funeral homes, we passed by our house – the house that has been a witness to so many of our memories together. Many of our neighbors were outside, and paid some respect.

The journey to the crematorium was by far the shortest I've ever imagined. I never wanted it to end. But I am too selfish to say that. I know you've been too tired, Lola. I kept on looking at the white balloon tied on the hearse's window, while I said, “Tingnan mo naman, Lola, daig mo pa ang presidente sa dami ng escort mo. Hindi humihinto ang sasakyan natin kahit pa ba red light yan.”

They opened your casket for the last time at the crematorium. And, for the last time, nagmano ako sa iyo. While the rest of our relatives did the same, I intensely looked at you, every contour, every curve, every vein from those hands who has taken care of me for the longest time. For the last time, I stroked your soft and gray hair, while I whispered, “Kaya na namin 'to, Lola. Pahinga ka na.”

They took your body and after three hours of waiting, they handed me the marble urn. I saw that they sealed your ashes inside the urn. Your name was beautifully etched in gold. I carried your urn from the crematorium to the columbarium. I even jokingly said, “Finally, Lola, it's my turn to carry you.”

While we were on the road, I thought my emotions were settled until the sudden gush of tears came. I just began to realize, that whenever I would come to Manila, I shall visit you not in our house anymore, but in another place. I won't be able to hug you, nor kiss you, nor exchange stories with you.

The Ascension Columbarium is a nice place – well-lit, well-ventilated, contemporary, class. A good place for you, Lola. We all prayed the rosary and right after, daddy placed your urn inside the small box located at 21- 12B. Quite easy to memorize – my birthdate and my favorite number.

Before we left, I touched the small box with your name on it, while I whispered, “See you again, Lola.

We all held a white balloon. I said a little prayer, talked to you for a while, told you “Basta sundan mo lang yung liwanag, Lola. Dire-diretso lang.” And I let go of the balloon. A few seconds after, the balloon was already out of my sight.

3 April | Thursday
Day 8

My view since five in the morning. Been looking at the ceiling for more than three hours. There's so many thoughts. And there's no thought. There's so many things to do. And there's nothing to do. There's so much things to say. And there's nothing to say. I need to get up in a few minutes. The morning sun is inviting. I want to walk wherever. I want to go anywhere. I want to get a tattoo. I want to eat whatever. I want to sing. I want to laugh. I have to. I have to.
(via Instagram)

4 April | Friday
Day 9

I keep coming in your room, Lola Mang. I sit there for a while. It feels cold. And yet warm. It's been a week & a day, and I miss you.
(via Twitter)

6 April | Sunday
Day 11

It's been a week and three days, Lola Mang. It all happened so fast yet so slow. I'm finally back in this little city. I brought you with me. James and I prayed for you last night. I woke up today, and I greeted you Good Morning while I looked at your photos I set up on my bedside table. The sudden gush of emotions were lessened. Only happy memories to remember remain. I guess when you live in my heart, you live forever. I love you, Lola.
(via Instagram)

7 April | Monday
Day 12

Finally back to the daily grind. I shouldn't be coming to work yet, but I got to get busy already. First time in the longest time I wore a watch. I've always liked the idea of timelessness, of doing things in my own sweet time. But Lola Mang taught me that time will not always be on our side. I have to make each moment important -- as if it is the only chance I got. Today, I wore the watch I gave Lola Mang a couple of years ago. She must have taken good care of it. It still looks brand new. Whenever I look at this, I smile. Lola Mang always remind me that NOW is always the best time for everything.
(via Instagram)

9 April | Wednesday
Day 14

It's been fourteen days since you left us, Lola Mang. How ironic that when you left, you are ever more present now. You always fill my thoughts when I wake up in the morning. My prayers are filled with you when I sleep at night. My actions now are ever more sensitive to following your life well-lived and aspirations. My lips utter more of our memories shared together.

After a couple of days without tears, I cried again last night with thoughts of you.

I love you, Lola Mang.
I miss you, everyday.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eulogy to My Most Favorite Lola

1 April 2014
Originally written on a brown paper bag; Unedited

By the window at Prudential Funeral Homes
Manila, Philippines

How does one make a eulogy to her most favorite Lola?

It took me a long while to come into this room. I am certainly not scared, but most likely because, I never really thought this day would come. Akala ko Lola, imortal ka.

You've always been so energetic and strong. Na-amaze ako 'pag nakakayanan mong magbuhat ng isang kabang bigas, o yung mga pasalubong mo sa amin galing Bicol -- alimasag, langka, mangga. Ang lahat ng mga paborito ko. O kung paano mo kami binubuhat ni Juy nang sabay mula sa kuwarto hanggang kusina sa mga araw ng eskuwela.

I am so grateful until today Lola, that we've shared so much memories together. Ako na ang suwerteng apo. Yung mga kaklase ko noong kinder, hatid-sundo ng school bus. Ako, hatid-sundo ng lola. Kumpleto ako lagi ng Simbang Gabi, kasi ako ang lagi mong sinasama. Ang sarap-sarap kumain noon kapag alimasag ang ulam. Sasabihin ko lang noon ang magic words, "Lola, pahimay." Simula pa ng naaalala ko, magkatabi na tayo sa kama hanggang sa makapag-abroad ako. Tapos bago tayo matulog noon, gabi-gabi tayong sabay nagdadasal at ang dami-dami nating pinag-uusapan. Gabi-gabi kitang sinasabihan ng, " Lola, wag ka muna mamamatay ha?" Tapos sasagot ka ng, "Oo, promise, katurog na."

Maraming-maraming beses mo akong pinagtakpan sa mga aminado akong pagkakamali ko noong bata pa ako. Ikaw ang dahan-dahang nagbubukas ng pinto sa mga gabing umuuwi ako ng lasing para hindi ako mapagalitan ni daddy.

Nung nakapagtrabaho ako sa abroad, Lola, tuwang-tuwa ako pag nags-skype tayo, tapos ipapakita ko sa iyo yung paldang tinahi ko para sa sarili ko. Alam kong proud na proud ka sa akin nun. Tuwing nagbabakasyon ako dito, hindi ko nakakalimutang pasalubungan ka. Tapos sasalubungin mo ako ng mahigpit na yakap. Pawi lahat ng lungkot at homesickness ko.

I know you've fought a hard battle, Lola Mang.
Did we win?
Of course, we did!

Kita mo naman Lola, lahat kaming nagmamahal sa iyo, nagsasama-sama, inaalala lahat ng masasayang alaalang kasama ka. Hanggang sa huli Lola, naging strong ka.

Nung nagka-echolalia ka noong October, ako at si Tita Jeanette ang nandun kasama ka sa ospital. The next few days after the ordeal, tinanong kita, "Eh ako, Lola, sino ako?" Tapos sabi mo, with soft and trembling voice, "Ikaw ang paborito kong apo." Nagkatinginan kaming lahat, at sinabi namin sa isa't isa, "Ay, okay na si Lola."

Nung isang buwan na umuwi ako, nung pinakilala ko sa iyo si James, that was by far the most emotional moment in our Manila trip. Finally, you met him. It was an intense and beautiful feeling that the person who has taken care of me since I was young has finally met the person who will hopefully take care of me for the rest of my life. 'Di ba Lola, sabi mo sa kanya with trembling voice, "Please take care of her." Akala mo Lola ibang lahi, napa-ingles ka tuloy.

Two days before kang nawala, nagkausap tayo sa telepono. Wala naman talaga tayong masyadong pinag-usapan, pero hindi ko mabilang kung ilang beses tayong nag- I love you sa isa't isa.

Alam kong gustung-gusto mong lumaban. Your spirits are high. Pero madaya ang pisikal na katawan natin. Alam kong marami ka pang gustong ma-witness na mga mahahalagang pangyayari sa buhay naming lahat. Gusto mong maging present sa lahat ng okasyon. Pero I'm sure Lola Mang, mas maganda ang view dyan. From now on, you will have a better view of us -- Mabilis kang makakakilos... Hindi mo na kailangan ng mag-aakay sa iyo... Hindi ka na hihingalin sa mahabang lakad.

I love you, Lola. Hindi ka na maghihirap. Sa mga panahong naiiyak ako kapag naalala kita, lagi kong sinasabi na nagiging selfish na naman ako. I always mention, "How do I live now, without you, Lola Mang?" imbes na ang sabihin ko, "I am grateful for all the years that I was given the opportunity to live and be taken care by you."

Patuloy at patuloy kang mabubuhay sa puso ko, my favorite Lola Mang.