that one day i wanted back

i just finished reading mitch albom’s for one more day last night. the novel was about a man who lost his mother and had her back for one day. somewhere within the prologue, it read:

have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time you thought they would be here forever? if so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back. what if you had it back?

how true. so true that i was already teary-eyed after reading just this paragraph. and the book has not even really started.

it made me think about my late grandmothers: how i miss them, how i didn’t spend enough time with them, how i am still not over the fact that they are gone, how i am still wishing the world has made a mistake taking them, and how much i want them back. even just to hug and tell them that i love them. i don’t remember ever saying those words to them. sadly. :'(

you already know how i lost nanay se. so, i want to talk about my other nanay this time.

june 11, 1994. my mom needed to have her eyes checked that day, and i tagged along when my dad decided to drive my mom to her opthalmologist in tanauan. when we got back from the clinic, mom said she would be preparing pancit. it was my sister’s 15th birthday.

mom told me to go to grandma’s house and ask for a sachet of ajinomoto. i passed by nanay at the laundry area. she was *un*dressing chickens. i think it was for tita sonia. i don’t remember now. but i do recall nanay was in a blue duster, looking at me behind her pair of eyeglasses. but i don’t remember really looking at her. i already know where to find the ajinomoto my mom needed. so, i literally just passed by her.
anong handa ng ate mo? she asked me on my way out of the house.

pancit lang po ata. i said, without even turning to her. not knowing that was to be our last conversation.
later that afternoon, nanay was hit by an owner-type jeep while she was crossing the street. she died not long after she was brought to the hospital.

i cried my first great cry of my entire lifetime for nanay.

i remember swearing never to wear the clothes i had on then: brown sleeveless blouse from my nanay and yellow shorts with green stripes on the pockets. i changed right away, and still crying, i waited for nanay to come home. the next days that followed, i became swallowed by my first great sorrow of learning how it is to lose a loved one.

after her funeral, there were some days when i would forget she’s gone, and i would walk into the old house calling out her name. one time, my uncle heard me and told me, little, ano ka ba, patay na ang nanay mo…
there was also this one time i dreamt of her cleaning the old house. in my dream, i asked her why she was home when she was supposed to be dead. and she told me, she had a vacation from heaven because the house needed cleaning.

i miss nanay. sometimes, i still picture her that one afternoon she was holding a box of dunkin donuts, offering me to have some because i’ve been a good granddaughter – i agreed to look after my cousins polly and kyle, then aged three and one, while she went to the farm that day. this may be the reason why even with mister donut, go nuts and krispy kreme around, my heart still belongs to dunkin donuts.

i wish i can have one more day with nanay. to really look into her eyes and thank her for the doughnut. and the sachet of ajinomoto.


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