It’s your first birthday we’ll be spending without you. I’ve been telling myself that it shouldn’t make any difference because I have missed a lot of birthdays, holidays and family occasions since I often opted to spend them some place else or travelling. I always thought that my absence was inconsequential since Mom, my siblings and (eventually) your apos are there anyway.
Last year, I was hoping we all could have lunch in Bacolod to celebrate your 75th year because the day fell on a work and school day. And perhaps we could buy the shoes you wanted before you head back home. But you said you’d rather celebrate it in Isabela.
I got you a watch as a belated birthday/Christmas gift, which I supposed you didn’t like since you gave it away. Four months after, when you learned I was going to Manila, you asked me to buy you a watch and a pair of shoes. By then, you were mostly confined to a wheelchair after you had a stroke on Valentine’s day. Maybe you knew I was irked with happened after Christmas. I told you we’d look for new shoes when you were walking again.
Got you some cheap plastic watch during my trip. You were allergic to metal and why would need one since you don’t get out of the house anymore except for your check-ups. I guess, that’s how I justified not getting you a decent piece.
You never got the watch tho. We were supposed to send it together with your medicines and supplies Wednesday morning but you passed away even before the sun rose that day. We got the call 3 or 4am. I can’t remember anymore. There were so many things going theough my mind and a lot of things that needed to be done. I should have been grieving but there was this long imaginary checklist messing up my sensory processing. Plus I have to drive all the way home for the first time… and the farthest I have have gone was 35km from Bacolod. I had no time to be melodramatic and breakdown like they do it in movies.
I’m writing all these down so the words don’t keep haunting me. Remember, I used to write to you all the time when I was younger. I left notes and letters in your closet. You never answered them or said anything about it, but you kept the letters. They were still there the last time I rummaged your closet.
Since day break of the 27th of April, I haven’t given myself a chance to grieve. A father will always be their little girl’s hero. But guess what, little girls grow up even if we don’t want to. The world happens. Reality happens. And we begin to see our fathers with far less romantic eyes. I can’t remember when and why we stopped talking. All that didn’t matter anymore when you got sick except all those times I lost because I was upset with you. I should have told you. I should have told you a lot of things.
My brother and sister took care of you the last month or weeks before you left us. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy and grateful that they spent time with you. I was home for one lousy day last April and I didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye.
It’s crazy how our mind plays tricks. There are just times when everything seems to remind me of you. So now, I am somewhere between trying not to remember and trying not to forget. But it’s your birthday… and the Holidays are coming up, I’ll just have to brace myself for sensory overload.
To the only man who broke my heart, I miss you, Dad.