I never really understood what the word ‘loss’ is in my life. I may lost a few material things, some friends, and pets, but I could move on and forget easily because I would always remind myself that there are better things I have and their is no point in getting emotional over something lost or someone that left. In short, I can be quite optimistic about it.
But now, it’s hard. Because my Lola is not replaceable. She’s the only one I’ve got. Walang kapalit, walang substitute. The love, the care, the presence is not replaceable by anyone or anybody. She’s a very big part of who I am and my foundation as a person. Kaya when she surprisingly left, I felt something inside me broke down and shattered. I wasn’t ready to be left by someone like her.
I would always go to my grandparents’ house every now and then. Not because I am wanted, but because I need to go there. I wanted to. I feel safe. I feel at home. The happiest memories of my childhood live in that house. Pag pagod ako sa acads, stressed sa buhay, lagi ako lilipad papunta dun just to talk to my lola. To the hardest academic battles and the petty things such as my bitterness dahil sa panget na boyfriend ng friend/s ko I’d tell her. And she would always support me all the way. Mas lumalakas ang loob ko and tumatapang ako whenever I leave that house kasi I’d always bring my lola’s words with me. I was never out of place in my lola’s life. My opinions, my stories were all entertained and listened to.
She would always worry about me. My lola is a very strong woman – matapang, mataray, masungit as they all say. But to me, she was never like that. One of the things I’d always remember about her is that she doesn’t want me to be alone. Ayaw na ayaw nyang naiiwan ako mag isa. When I go to Manila or kahit sa SM Calamba lang, she would always tell me na maghanap ako ng kasama. She would make my lolo call me every now and then just to check where I am. Kaya naman minsan, kahit wala akong kasama sa aking escapades, I’d tell her na lang na may kasama ako just to spare her the worry. Alam ko, kung kaya pa ng katawan nya, sasamahan nya ako. At isasama ko rin naman sya. I’d tell myself, sana she has the strength para maisama ko sya sa paggagala ko. And pag malungkot ako kasi I realize wala na naman akong kasama, I’ll just think of her and Lolo then okay na ako. Knowing that they are there, hindi ko man sila kasama lagi, gives me a certain strength to face a whole lot of things by myself.
One of the earliest memories I have with my Lola was when I was around three or four years old. My parents would stop me from feeding from my baby bottle by hiding the bottles and giving me a glass of milk. Until now, the feeling of being deprived from my baby bottle is still fresh to me. Alam ko pa yung feeling. There’s a certain ‘safety’ associated with feeding from a baby bottle and I hated that that feeling was being taken away from me. And my Lola knows that. We have our own set of baby bottles inside her closet. Sa gabi, magtatago sya ng bottle sa duster nya, we’d go to the kitchen and get some milk. Then tatago nya ulit sa duster nya tapos I’d drink the milk inside her room until makatulog na ako. It’s one of the safest feelings I had in my life, knowing that my Lola was there to let me feed on my baby bottle.
The second memory is the ‘butong pakwan’ experience. Every night, my Lola and I would watch a certain circus show on ABC (Channel 5). I remember na it’s one of the things I look forward to every night, watching that circus show. Lola was opening the butong pakwan seeds while ako, taga kain lang. haha. Then all of a sudden, I realized I put a seed inside my nose! Funny, di ko din maexplain until now how it got there. Basta all I remembered was nasa ilong ko na sya and I couldn’t get it out. I was rushed to the hospital and I was bonggang nagwawala and crying kasi I didn’t want doctors to put their instruments inside my nose. They had to bind my hands and feet using a blanket para lang marestrain ako. Luckily, they were able to pull that shitty butong pakwan seed and I didn’t have to undergo surgery. What an experience. ;)
Other memories include our family trips to Tagaytay, grocery shopping, watching Lola write her lesson plan and compute her students’ grades, weddings of my uncles, graduations and birthdays. Of all the moments I consider important in my life, more than half of it Lola was there. I remember she even gave me a black Labrador puppy on my birthday, a bracelet which has my engraved name on it, a necklace in which my zodiac sign was imprinted on, a green dress which I used in my high school graduation party, bonggang Tommy Hilfiger and Tianella bags, sets of make up, and a lot lot more. She gave me a lot of things. A lot.
Ang aking curly hair ngayon ay sponsored din nya, the look for my Phil Fashion Week experience ay galing din sa kanya, basta madami. Lahat ng kakikayan at kaartehan ko sa buhay, all that was supported by my Lola. I don’t know what to call that kind of support my Lola gave me throughout my life, di ko alam kung may tamang word pa to call or describe it. However, I am just sure of one thing, my Lola loved me and that I was never a ‘wala lang’ to her. I was important. I am a ‘someone’ to her.
Latest memories include all our kwentuhan whenever I go to carbern, lahat ng experiences nya sa buhay, she and lolo’s memories together, mga manliligaw nya, her studies, memories nya nung war days, stories about Papa and my uncle’s childhood, and a lot lot more. Marami syang kwento, masarap syang kwentuhan because I always learn new things from her. And like what I said, ang importante sa akin was how she listens to everything I say. Even though she’s my lola and I am much younger than her, I never felt that all my stories were less important to her. They all matter.
I knew she has been sick. Dapat nga she’ll be going through dialysis pa although these past month, she got better. I saw her go through her sickness and how it was hard for her. Lagi syang giniginaw, experiencing headache, nausea, hirap maglakad and all. Pero kahit her body was giving her reasons to slow down, when it comes to me and Carlo, she never changed. Kung paano sya nung malakas pa sya, she’s still the same though I know nahihirapan na sya. Pinapagluto nya pa din kami when we go there. She knows our favourite dishes and the food we don’t eat. All the things we tell her, naaalala nya to the littlest details. All the important people in my life, kilala nya. All that kinakamusta nya whenever we talk.
It’s very hard to accept that Lola is not here anymore. Alam ko, at one point she’ll leave pero not this soon. Especially that we are all thinking she’s doing better compared to last year. I never imagined that she’ll leave us this way. Biglaan and all – no drama, not in a hospital. It will be so hard. Until now, I still fool myself by believing I’m just dreaming and pag pumunta ako sa Carbern, makikita ko lang si Lola dun and magkekwentuhan ulit kami. Hindi pa ako naniniwala that these are all real. Umiiyak pa din ako. At alam kong iiyak pa din ako nang iiyak. I know she’s in a better place right now and for that I am happy for her. But as for myself, di ko alam. Di ko pa maimagine how to get through without my lola. I feel alone without her. Nahihirapan din ako to see Lolo and Tita Wena go through losing her. Di ko alam san kukuha ng strength to be there for them kasi even myself, I feel left behind.
For now, I’ll just let myself grieve. Iiyak muna ako hanggang maubos. And hopefully, one of these days, I’ll get to feel better and accept the truth. Masakit pa. Ayoko pa. I still feel all these resisting emotions na hindi ko pa malabanan.
Lola, thank you po sa lahat. Sa lahat lahat. I love you.
Til we meet again.