There are lights snuffed and lights about to be snuffed; this week, I found myself looking at the melted candles, wondering the traces of warmth in them. The could have beens. The what ifs. But there’s no pondering now. Only a period at the end of the sentence. An end to a chapter. A new journey to unfold.
I am, my dear friend, in a beautiful position. A life that allowed me to tell stories. Yours.
1. Tito Boy Capule died. It was a hunch at first, a chill down my spine when I saw Roxanne’s profile in a black mast one early morning when I decided to take a peek at Facebook. Which, bless you, I rarely do. Comments flooded the picture. I immediately wrote mine. I wasn’t able to come until half a day and another, when it was raining, when our car drove into the tiny one-way alley and found a pay parking lot near the house. Ate Gemma immediately greeted us. Nanay Miriam was there, immediately asking, “Where have you been?” and, “I missed you,” and things that would flatter someone who has been running up and down the stairs of Atlag UMC, looking after the kids, the P&W, the boys at the soundbooth, and the worship itself. Ngarag.
My nerves were on Wake Mode. I stepped into the concrete-colored house with anticipation, holding my heart for Roxanne. Things aren’t going to be easy; her mother was taken from her when she was young, and now, her dad. Even before I came, my heart was shattered into pieces. I was broken for her.
When I saw her, I found that she was not broken.
Roxanne wore a crisp white shirt, a pair of red lips that stretched into a smile when she welcomed us into her home. A lingering hug. There was laughter. Laughter! The house was at peace and it simmered with an air of celebration. “Gumwapo si papa,” Roxanne pointed at her father’s remains in the casket. “Tumangos ang ilong.”
She had so many stories. It has been four years. “Papa has been sick for a long time. He’s been in and out of the hospital.” “When I graduated, I took my diploma alone.” “Papa has been blind after an eye operation. I wish we didn’t do it.” “He’s been bedridden for weeks.” “We’ve talked about how his funeral’s going to go.”
That’s when I felt a bit ashamed of myself. How dare I think of her as a crybaby, when she’s here, standing in front of us, receiving us like the master of the house, with the pure strength of a woman and a daughter? I have never been in awe. And in that moment, I kept praising God, because His love washed over their still-unmade house, and He’s going to stay there forever and ever. She’s never going to be alone.
Roxanne will always be surrounded by the people who loves her, and will be guided by the two who adores her the most.
To the woman you are, whole and truly loved–who would love fiercely in return and is ready to brave all the tides–a salute, a hug, and blessing.— Caris Cruz (@hellocaris) September 4, 2019
My hand and heart will always reach out to hold you when you need it.
2. Auntie Awing called early Friday morning, the time when I’m alone in the house, basking at the four, or many more, walls, because nothing is more comfortable than being in the quiet of my headspace. That headspace, it seems, was a cursed place I shouldn’t be lingering for long. “Food for thought,” she says. “Find a partner.” An advice I immediately accepted with a silent snark. Partner. Like, I’m skeptical about human love? And that I’m not going to be alone, because, technology? That I could relay my thoughts through many ways and never have to feel bound inside these cement slabs? And then, it hit me.
Her reality. A reality that all bright mornings will dim. And when that happens, even outside voices will drown out in the shadows of loneliness. There will be a hole in your stomach you’d desperately want to fill, not a baby, but company. Maybe that’s what she’s saying. Marry for company. Marry so you wouldn’t be alone.
But that’s pretty complex. Because I only feel alone when I’m surrounded by people.
There’s a string leading to the door of this great, big headspace; the one I didn’t want to be bothered even by the closest to me. The door I kept shut. I’m holding that string as a guide out the door. Maybe I don’t have to stay inside. Maybe I don’t have to be skeptical. Because the more I only see myself, the less I see other people.
3. Love constantly unwraps the the shell I bound myself it. And the thing is, I always see it too late. Right after I’ve been an an a~~****. Which, by the way, is growing by the day. In record form. I always regret it. I hate the many circumstances I’ve been a selfish, inconsiderate brat who only saw things within limited vision. Ah, the curse of staying in my headspace. And in this moment, I just take a deep breath and say, Auntie Awing has a point. The real problem is this: I’ve been looking at myself too much. Just. This. Freaking. Small. Self.
The world is too big. Too wide to be understood with a pair of covers by the corners of my eyes. To stay in a watchtower and gaze at the horizon, that’s not living. That’s being a tree. A tree that just got the most-delayed query response EVER (it could have made one full year if the agent has sent it on October, so darn it). A tree that just got her little short story rejected after a slightly-raised hope and then months of full silence, so I already knew it was a no. Querying is like applying for a job and not getting a response a good year after.
Right. Rejections. Those are my struggles. Nothing compared to being stressed out from the everyday traffic, from the rain pouring down heartlessly on you, and going home on completely flooded streets and you’re forced to walk a whole bunch of blocks because the tricycle doesn’t want to get soaked.
I had none of that. I’m safe at home, at my watchtower that is the internet, not bothered by the weather or annoying people. It’s been a long time since I worked in a company and I’m going to tell you: freelancing is a privilege.
My brother didn’t choose that. He’s persistently faced with bosses and clients and paper works he had to go overtime with. And that meant getting home late at night, then rising early in the morning with a two-hour sleep because, EDSA traffic and the curse of MRT. Not fun. But he survived. He’s got God on all sides.
But it makes me think my safety made me stagnant. And numb. And inconsiderate. How long has it been since I set out into unchartered waters? Five? Six years? Short attempts to move away from the shore that never lasted for a day? I’m disgusted.
Then again, take me away from my desk, and I’d ask: what’s my purpose other than writing?
I guess right now, I’m opening my heart. To things that would kill my pride. Circumstances that will make me see the miracles in people. Opportunities that would humble me. Situations that will allow me to serve. I’d take whatever God is going to give me so I could make my own story. Not in text. Maybe in blood.