I wake up in the morning and have to stop myself from calling out your name as I instinctively do when you’re not still asleep beside me. And then I remember that you’re no longer here, that you’re miles away, and that we might never get to see each other for at least two years.
I walk to the other house early in the morning and when it’s lunchtime, I anticipate you knocking on the door with a bag of warm food and cold juice for me. You never really had to do that because I didn’t eat much, and even though the sun was at its most intense at noon you still walked the two blocks to me only to go back so you can have your meal with everybody else. The same thing happens at dinnertime, although I try to avoid that now by spending the night over here where we first lived.
The small house that once was my only haven of peace and happiness now brings me great pain. Sometimes I go there at night and find that all the lights are out, and remember the times when I came home to you sewing or working on your computer. When I’m there in broad daylight, I sometimes pretend that you’re just a few meters away cleaning up or washing clothes or sleeping in. When I enter my room and find the two single beds side by side it makes me not to want to sleep at all. I always stay on my side of the room, and when the lights are out and everything is pitch-dark I pretend to hear your steady breathing and swing my arms to embrace you, but all there is are pillows and a cold empty space of smooth bed linen.
I go home at night from class, and when I open the door I can see you looking up at me with that smile. Sometimes when I enter I say “Hi, Ma…” just before I remember again that the house is empty. And of course, there is no one to say hi back. When I do the laundry and stare at the blank space where the faucet and pails used to be, faint shadows of us splashing water to each other until we were soaking wet haunt me every single time. I rush inside the house and avoid staying a minute longer, or taking a seat in one of the small chairs where I sat only when you were there outside with me. Now there is no one to talk to, only myself; and there is no company but my thoughts, which contain only memories of you.
Whenever I get dressed and pick out which clothes to wear I remember the days when we’d go shopping together. I never liked to shop, but you did, and you made it a whole lot bearable for me. You were always the one to pick the best blouses and the best pair of pants, and I could never talk you out of buying anything that was too expensive so long as you were convinced I looked pretty in it. Now I cannot even bear the thought of shopping for clothes, knowing that I’ll always be thinking that you’re out searching for other designs and sizes for me, and realizing afterwards that in fact, you’re not there.
I watch your favorite TV shows and I can still see you sitting right beside me. We’d laugh and comment on cue, and hiss when it turns to commercial. But then when I laugh I’m laughing alone, and there’s no one to share witty comments with. After that I scan the house with my eyes, only becoming more convinced of my solitude.
Just tonight, when I was riding the jeepney on my way home, there was this woman beside me who had the same build as you. She smelled of faint perfume like you always did, wore her hair short, and had a neat leather bag. I faked sleep and closed my eyes for a minute, pretending that it was you there beside me, brushing your arm against mine as you reached inside your purse for our fare. But I could only take so much, so I inched myself to the other side to avoid as much physical contact from her as possible.
There are times in the day when everything is fine, when I stop and think to myself, “I can do this.” But when those moments come, those moments when I’m reminded of you, those moments that I can never get back in the same way that they came, and I am drowned in unbearable sorrow that can only be remedied by sleep.
I miss you, Ma. And I will never stop missing you until the day we see each other again.
In the mean time, I wish you the best in this new adventure. Savor each moment, enjoy the sights and the sounds. Explore the country, travel. Eat, sleep, laugh. Do not cling to sadness on my account, but do not forget that on these shores I think of you every single day. The memories we shared will keep me going, until the day we can pick up where we left off, and make new ones to cherish forever.