and there are five stages of grief – denial, anger, fear, guilt and depression – before acceptance. ~one tree hill
i would just like to warn you that this is going to be a long post. so bear with me.
i was excitedly on my way home last saturday because it was my dad’s 51st birthday. being the broke that i’ve been lately, i was thinking of the best way to present my gift to him – a bag of sunflower seeds with a pdf printout of nutritional benefits.
i was just on the right high when i got a call from my sister. she asked what time i will be home and i said i just rode the bus. she said she’ll just wait for me because dad, mom and rajah was already there so the two of us will just go there together. but where to? apparently, she thought i already knew. i do have one missed call that morning from my mom but i assumed she thought that i forgot about dad’s birthday and she’s just checking if i’ll be coming home.
so, it was already 11 a.m., making me one of the last ones to know that my nanay se (dad’s mom) passed away 6:30 that morning. on my dad’s birthday.
this reminded me of losing my other nanay (mom’s inay) in 1994, on my sister’s birthday. and while mamay felimon (mom’s tatay) was taken away from us many many years ago – i didn’t even met him – i now find myself visiting his grave during kim’s birthday.
and this also scared me a bit, thinking who might die come my birthday or on whose birthday i will go. i am keeping my fingers crossed. oh, no.
ate called me again at noon to inform me that dad, mom and rajah have just got home. she and rajah will be going to rp lipa to buy some goodies, while dad and mom will go to the farm to feed the pigs. so, by the time i got home, everyone was gone except my brother who is not one to talk to simply because he was catching some zs.
i changed to house clothes and fell asleep.
i woke up around four. ate and rajah were already home and a few minutes after, mom and dad arrived.
i didn’t know how to greet my dad, so i just used rajah for escape. hey, lolo’s here! to which he replied by handing his signature gift to dad – a cap with dad’s name embroidered at the side and number 51 at the back. and then it was my turn to hand my humble gift, which he cheerfully accepted while joking if there weren’t any cash between the papers.
so, i figured we were both sporting the tough stance.
we went to nanay se’s wake at around 4:30 p.m. after getting a few bless you’s from the lolas, i followed my sister to nanay se’s side. ate cried the very instant she touched the coffin, while i fought hard to keep my tears from falling. i traced the outline of nanay se’s face on the glass. she was a lot thinner than the last time i saw her. which to me meant that i haven’t visited her for maybe a month or two. this made me even more-sad. but i will not cry. i want to be strong for the family, for my dad, for my mamay se, and now for my crying sister. i did not hug ate, otherwise, i might breakdown. i just let her cry while i stayed beside her, admiring our lola’s pictures when she was younger. i managed not to cry that whole time, but as i turned around, i lose grip of the tears. my vision were already blurred by the time i reached the seats where my aunts and cousins were. but i said, well, it’s not too late to shield my heart from exploding, so when tita berna remarked how thin i am now, i smiled and hurriedly wiped the tears, hugged my cousin, ate michelle, blinked back a few more tears, and took one long deep breath. there you go, the tough stance once again.
the rest of the evening was all about distracting myself from being sentimental. keeping a distance from my dad and mamay se. because sentimentality can equate to vulnerability. and i am just not yet ready to be consumed by grief.
so, i mostly talked to rajah, showing him old family pictures and entertaining myself when he tries to recognize the faces.
when my cousins punky and aiza arrived, we did some catching up and relived our childhood memories together. we later played tong-its with punky’s brother kiko, and her husband tyano.
we went home around 1 a.m. i made it through day one.
and yesterday was another successful escape. save for that moment shortly before i fell asleep as i recalled the last time i was able to talk with the healthy nanay se. it was some time after i graduated from college. she was so proud of me that she was crying, hugging and kissing me all at the same time. she told me she has always wanted my dad to become a priest and she was heart broken when dad decided to get married. but then she said she was thankful because if dad did pursue his path to priesthood, she wouldn’t have a granddaughter like me. i silently cried with this memory. and i said a little sorry to nanay se, because i am not ready to accept she’s gone.
so far, i’ve been having near-crying spells every once and a while but i manage to repel them. i imagine my heart in my hand. and then i tell myself, protect it. do not cry. i will not cry. i have mastered this technique through my two-year journey to accepting limee’s death. after that day i promised her a tear-free birthday, i noticed i can say and hear her name now without consciously guarding my heart. i think she might have also been preparing me for this time on nanay se.
and maybe watching grey’s anatomy seasons 1 and 2 was plotted too. showing me the many faces of death should have desensitized me by now.
but still, here i am.
at stage one.