There are always these memories ; one can make you happy and one can make you cry. However, it is never impossible to have one photo that can make you smile and at the same time, can make you cry.
All alone in my room at a Sunday morning , feeling the cold breeze of December and seeing how the curtains joyfully sway together with the wind , I felt the pain. I was on top of my crease-less bed : lying my back at the wall with my feet stretched straightly while I was staring on the leaves outside the window that fell freely. It was like a slow motion ; like autumn leaves falling in despair. I, then,took our family picture from the scattered photos in the table just beside my bed.It was not even a formal family picture , it was just a random photo where we were once complete.I was smiling while tracing their faces with my index finger. I was smiling as if they were martyrs alive that I just touched once in my life. I was smiling while tracing but I stopped when my finger touched the face of my brother and my smile was slowly fading. The memories started trailing down the memory lane again. The pain that I suppressed for a long time started resurfacing. It was like I was wearing 3D shades and I was watching a certain chapter of my life. It was just like a 3D where I could feel the pain first-hand. Right there and then , my eyes speak all the pain that I’ve been keeping since the day he left us.
On July 11, 2013 ,Wednesday, I was having a great time in school. I can even still remember how I sang “Gwiyomi” joyfully during our third year T.L.E. class. I can even still remember how happy I was at home not until a friend of my older brother went knocking onto our house with the fear obvious on his face and immediately showed us a text message from Tacloban Police Station. “Day, kailangan nato maconfirm adto sa Tacloban if siya ba jud ning nalumos.” (We should go to Tacloban Police Station and confirm if it was really your brother who’s drowned). I was literally speechless. I wanted to talk so I opened my mouth but just closed it thereafter. It repeated for a lot of times until my brother and sister told me that we should go there as soon as possible. We hadn’t eaten dinner yet but that didn’t matter even a bit. We ran towards my Uncle just right next to our house and asked him to drive us to Tacloban.My brother’s friend sat at the shotgun seat while my sister and brother sat with me at the backseat. The ride to Tacloban was merely a ride of tears,fear and negotiation with God. The travel was almost two hours but it felt like it lasted for four hours.Right inside the car , I was just staring blankly on the long dark road.It was the very moment where memories with him started flashing by but I really tried stopping it in the hopes that it wasn’t him in the report.I was silently talking to God ; begging him to spare my brother from death yet. I was asking him that it shouldn’t be this time when he hadn’t experienced real happiness yet.When we arrived there , I immediately stood beside my other brother while waiting for the police to show the picture for confirmation. I seriously don’t know but during that time , I was emotionless. Never did I feel the pain that time yet. And confirmed , it was my brother. The pain he was feeling was obvious in the photo. He was plainly lying straight on the sand with his hands on his stomach. He looked like a frozen human that had undergone pain. His lips were pale as the sand while his teeth were showing as if he was shaking because of the coldness. He was drowned and was just found too late by some fishermen. He knew how to swim ; up until now , we don’t know the real reason yet as we tend to believe that he had cramps while swimming on the deep part of the sea. So we went to St.Peter just in Tacloban to see his body. I was still emotionless while my sister and brother were crying , reminiscing and regretting things. I was just staring blankly and a tear never dropped down my cheeks.My mother didn’t even know even a single thing for she was in Manila attending my Uncle’s wake. And we were afraid to tell her because she had a heart disease and my brother was his favorite.
It was almost three in the morning when we decided to eat in a bakery.I was like a living zombie : staring blankly to the path I’m walking to towards the bakery. My sister , brother , uncle and brother’s friend were all quiet while eating as if they had already accepted the truth. I sat on a table all alone while staring again at the dark road outside. That was the moment I broke. I did not cry but weep like a child’s gonna lose her candy.I created noise but they just let me.It was the moment where all regrets came in and slapped my face for the truth that I hadn’t been a good younger sister to him. Staring blankly at the road , I was silently asking my brother to show that time so I can tell him how much I love him and sorry for him. I was desperate. I kept staring coldly at the empty dark road , hoping he would appear but he did not. That was how the next morning started : with tears , regrets and hopes that he could still live.
My mother knew nothing. We told everything to our relatives hoping that the news wouldn’t reach Mom for she might jump out of the airplane while taking off. That was how paranoid we were. The next day , we went back to Cebu and went to St.Peter to comply everything. While walking outside the St.Peter , my sister’s phone was ringing so we had to stop and checked who’s calling. And our heartbeats went racing and our eyes started to well , our mother’s calling. Having no chance, my sister answered the call in a loudspeaker so we could hear everything.
“Musta naman si Raymond? Paliti lang ninyog Jollibee para makakaon pud siya.” (How’s Raymond? Just buy him Jollibee so he could eat). That was her first question to us. I tried so hard not to cry but I failed so I went far from my sister. My sister tried to answer firmly but her voice almost broke , “Okay ra man siya ma.”(He’s okay,Mom) . Immediately after that , she dropped the phone call and cried.The pain was too much to bear. It’s like thousands of needles were pinched into my heart and I couldn’t shout because the blood may flow too much. It was a feeling of being trapped in a situation where you had to decide which is which.
We went home and just asked our cousin to continue complying the needed things for my brother’s wake to be settled in St.Peter. As I stepped into our house’s door , it felt so different. The memories I always see with me running while playing with my other brother weren’t there anymore. It was all blank. The ambiance of the house was so sad. Every corner , there’s a memory. We walked slowly towards the dining area and sat there peacefully. On the next day , my mother was on her way home. The house was unusual. My uncles and aunties were on the sala waiting for my mother. One of my aunties told us to go to the kitchen and not to let our mom see us crying. Minutes later , the door opened with my mother smiling from ear to ear. Seeing her smile like that made me think , “Would you still have that smile after you’ll know the news?” . Of course I know the answer; that she wouldn’t. So she was wondering and asked graciously if what’s the event that made my relatives gather in our place ; she’s still smiling and I was afraid to see it fade later that time.My sisters, brother and I were just crying silently at the back. At that moment , my Aunty who was a pastor told Mom some thoughts from the bible about losing someone. That time,for sure , my mother was already wondering yet she still managed to smile. And that moment broke ,I could hear how mother went hysterical and crying so hard. I wanted to comfort her but I just couldn’t. I was afraid I could make her feel more pain by seeing her daughters cry. So we just stayed on the kitchen while my relatives were comforting my mother.
That was how the moment went. Weeks after that were even worse. I often saw my Mother crying at my brother’s room while holding a notebook and reading his notes or sometimes tracing faces of my brother’s photos. The notebook was wet when I came near to her so I comforted her. It was too painful seeing my Mom like that for weeks but we managed to handle it with the help of my relatives.
At the present time , leaving the flashback behind, the day went dark as I could see how the gloomy sun set on the West. The skies turned orange as if it was feeling my pain. I looked at the family picture again and realized it was wet and a bit blurry already so I decide to place it back to the table. My eyes were swollen but my heart felt a bit relieved already. I stared blankly again at my legs stretched straightly while contemplating things.
One time while I was watching my favorite series in the TV , you shouted with your eyebrows almost forming a straight line and your eyes burning while looking at me , “Hoy Panyang , hugasi ni diri!” (Hey Panyang , wash the dishes!)
Yes , I would if I could turn back the time.
One time while I was eating alone then you threw your dirty clothes at me and shouted, “Labhi akong mga sinina oh” (Wash my clothes)
Yes , I would if I could turn back the time.
One time when I was playing Tetris Battle , you approached me and said , “Tudlui ko anang computer bi” (Please teach me how to use the computer)
Yes , I would l if I could turn back the time.
One time , when I passed by you and your friends in the basketball area just approximately five meters away from our house , you shouted teasingly , “Kan-a lang ang cake ug ice cream nga naa sa ibabaw sa piano.” (Just eat the cake and the ice cream that I place on top of the piano)
Yes , I would surely nod and smile at your joke if I could turn back the time.
One time I went home at eleven in the evening because of a group project , you were in the bench at the basketball area and you told me , “Sunod ha , ayaw na ug dugay uli.” (You better not go home late next time)
Yes , I would hug and say “thank you for waiting” if I could turn back time.
But… but no , there’s no such thing as rewind for a certain chapter of life. What’s done is done.
How can life be this unfair? How can time be so fast? How can regrets follow afterwards so easily?
Photos can make you happy or sad ; nonetheless , even a single photo can make you feel both. I diverted my gaze to the window pane and I saw no leaves falling anymore. I was wondering , “Why are there no leaves anymore? Are they tired of falling onto the ground?”- just like how my tears feel right now? I sat straight for it can be enough already to look down from my window. There , I saw how the ground was filled with dried leaves. Just by seeing it , I concluded one thing : “There’s always this time that the tree will stop shedding leaves because it just has to before leaving nothing for his own beauty”.Just like in life , one has to stop shedding tear before totally leaving nothing but chaos to his life. So I slowly laid back to the wall again but at the last glimpse on the window , I saw a single leaf falling down. I closed my eyes and felt the pain of relief and a single tear dropped down my cheeks and I swore that that will be the last tear I’d shed.”I miss you , Kuya”…