It’s Too Damn Late
It was 18 years ago when I last saw you. Chubby, vibrant and so full of life. You’re sociable you’ve made a lot of friends, old and young alike. That’s why you were envied by most, too.
I remember the sound of your laugh, especially when you’re teasing your friends. Makulit ka rin kasi na tulad ko. I remember the day you fought with our neighbor, that woman who used to own a sari-sari store. You fought with her because she scolded me when I bought the wrong laundry soap. I remember the night you waited for me at the school’s main gate. That was the night of my prom and you asked me to come home before 10 P.M. I remember your voice when you’re angry, and we’re all scared. Whenever you called me by my full name, I knew you were already mad and I had to run towards you as fast as I could. I remember every hit of Tatay’s belt on my skin. That was your favorite tool and the marks would usually stay until the next day.
I remember the time when the strongest earthquake hit our country in July 1990. You helped bring some of your colleagues to the hospital because they collapsed due to shock. A few weeks after, you got sick. I remember how stupid I was for ignoring all the signs; how ungrateful I was for leaving your side when you had fever. I remember how you would softly call me “anak“, because you wanted me to comb your hair so I would see your falling hair. I remember the day you showed me your bruises all over your body. All black and blue. I asked you why and you just said you need to be hospitalized. I was 15 and naive, I didn’t ask further. I remember the day you asked me to be at your side when you see the doctor. You wanted me to hear every word he’d say. I thought you’re just overreacting so I didn’t listen. If only I knew, I’d stay and held your hand tightly. You were a picture of a strong person despite your illness kaya hindi ako natakot o nangamba. I remember the day you were brought to the hospital, you were crying to tatay and you said you couldn’t see anymore. You were fighting for your life for four long days. My siblings and I were not allowed in the hospital. All we could do is to listen to our relatives’ conversations. Until one day, one of our neighbors picked us up at home. She was crying while we’re heading to the hospital. And when we were stopped by the hospital’s security guard, I heard her murmured “Malubha na lagay ng nanay nito. Kailangan na silang makita“. I got scared, not realizing that my hands were all shaky. I began to cry and when we reached your room, all your friends and our relatives were there, weeping. Your nanay was there, too, and she was was wailing hard. Yeah, your best friend was also there, not leaving your side. She was crying too and she was holding your hand. At the time, I wished I was her. She asked me to come near you and talk to you, whisper anything in your ear. Hindi ka na daw kasi makapagsalita. You wouldn’t open your eyes. Sabi niya pa, you’ve been asking for me since you got to the hospital. You were telling stories about me and my stubborness; how much you loved me and my siblings. Inilaglag mo ako ng bonggang-bongga. Gusto ko sanang mainis sa’yo pero hindi ko nagawa. So I sat beside you and whispered, “Nanay, eto na ako. Si Enjoy.” I saw how you were trying to open your eyes, and when you saw me, tears fell down from your eyes. Exactly one month after the earthquake, you gave up fighting. I couldn’t forget the people who cried because they lost a very special friend. I couldn’t forget tatay’s face because she lost not only a wife but also a friend. I couldn’t forget how hurt my siblings were because we lost a mother. I couldn’t forget the number of people who attended your burial. You were like a celebrity! That day I realized how much you were loved. Most especially, I couldn’t forget your smile when you heard my voice despite the agony that you’re experiencing.
I miss you Nanay… so much. Kung kaya ko lang ibalik ang oras and be a good daughter to you, I would. But it’s too late. It’s too damn late.