07 August 2017

The 38th night

(I'm the kid being carried by my Nanay at the left)

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. We’re past the halfway mark of 2017 and time seems to just whiz by. But it does not seem to be moving as fast as I need it to be, for someone said that time heals all wounds, and at this point in time I am still very much in grieving.

When I am in the company of friends, or even at work, I am able to function normally. I haven’t heard any complaints from work (quite the opposite, actually), and my church group keeps a bulk of my spare time ticking along nicely. But it’s when I’m alone that it hits me – I miss my Nanay so much.

I’ve been wanting to post this story for the longest time, and I think this is also good for my healing, so here goes. It’s about the 40 days after her death, which carries much significance in honouring the dead. I was not able to attend her funeral but instead I sent money to allow her a decent funeral. I still count myself lucky to have been able to have a holiday in the Philippines last year so we were able to be with her, even for a short while.

But I feel something was inadequate by not being able to attend her funeral, inspite of my older sister advising me that Nanay said it was ok that I could not come because we saw her last year anyway. So in not being able to be with her during her last moments in this world, I wondered if she would let me know how she is during her 40 days. We have this belief that within the 40 days after death, the soul wanders the earth, then pass on to the afterlife when that time is up. In the many days and nights after he death, and especially after her burial, I prayed that she will find a way to get to me and let me know how she felt and how she was. A lot of things would enter my mind, especially at night when the rest of my family is asleep. I would stare at the ceiling and wonder. I would even have the silliest of thoughts, but to me they felt important and serious. Would she be able to find me? She’s never been to this part of the world.

On the 38th night, she was able to find her way to me in a dream. We were outside the steps of a single level house in mid-afternoon, whose roof extended a bit further. Which was good, because it was raining. We were in good spirits, as I heard the sound of merriment from within the house. It looked like we were leaving the party earlier than the rest of the guests. I looked at my Nanay – she looked the way I always wanted to remember her, when she was so full of energy in the early 90s. Her eyes twinkled and she had that infectious smile. Her hair was jet black and curly. I would have been fresh out of university at that time so I was about as tall as her (she was actually petite, and I think we inherited our height from her). She pushed the button by the umbrella handle and it swung open while we continued to chat merrily and walk under the rain.

I wasn’t sure what we were talking about, but we had not gone far from the house, when I suddenly stopped, and she stopped as well. I suddenly realised that she had passed away. Tears suddenly flowed from my eyes. I feared that she might disappear before I have any chance to talk to her, so I suddenly blurted out I will miss her so much. She looked at me in her mischievous way and acted like she was going to put up a tantrum. “You did not go to my funeral,” she said.

“You did not go to my graduation, so we’re quits!”, I countered.

(No matter how much I asked her to go to my graduation, she did not want to, because she also did not go to my siblings’ graduation ceremonies and she did not want any of us to think she had favourites among us, even if everyone said it was ok for her to attend my graduation)

After a brief pause, she smiled, then holding the umbrella with her left hand, she shielded us from the rain, placed her free arm on my shoulder and squeezed me tight while we resumed walking together.

I woke up shortly after this and stayed awake for a long time before sleep visited me again. A feeling of calm washed over me after that dream but it only lasted for a few days before the hollow feeling returned. I hope that there will come a time when I can talk about her and remember her with fondness instead of this gnawing pain of grief.

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