I’ve been afraid—afraid to sit down and face this blank space; afraid to write about the past three months; afraid of my incapability to talk about what’s wedged deep within my heart.
Each time I’m on this page of Diwa Daily, I divert to a written page on my journal, a tab on my browser, a notification on my phone, an email about 30% off for Black Friday—anything to make me forget about words.
Perhaps I’m afraid of the weakness of my words, the possible phrases that would ensue from the quiet.
It’s my inner struggle, yet I feel her voice is calling me back. I feel she’s been touching my shoulder and pulling me back to my desk this past week, maybe longer. Every time I do sit, I keep turning words like a Rubik’s cube over and over in my head, hoping there’d be a sentence or paragraph she’d find pretty and acceptable—
For she was beautiful, firm in demeanor, gentle in soul. She cared for all, and in return was loved by all. She dreamt of and wanted many things, yet she was content with the routines she had laid down for decades.
My grandmother, who we fondly call “Ama,” passed away on September 13th, the week after COVID-19 shook the ground of our home back in Bacolod city.
I was constantly on the phone with my sisters during this time. We talked about Ama, my father and brother’s condition, the events and mistakes that led to us losing her. On the phone, our ears perked at the doorbell ringing in the background, my sister discussing swab tests with the local government, the doctor as he consulted my father regarding pneumonia and COVID-19 over Facebook Messenger.
We coped, shared stories, and vented in our own ways.
We held our own sisters’ memorial for Ama on Animal Crossing: New Horizon to get around the COVID-19 restrictions. We invited our significant others to be with us over Discord. We each shared our fondest and most meaningful memories of Ama, all of which were crystal clear no matter how much dust had gathered around those memories.
I would look up at the sky and ask Ama if she could see me, our house a few steps away, and if she’s now tending to her garden while my grandfather sat beside her. It’s such a fitting image, especially when my youngest sister shared a photo of Ama posing beside a tangle of yellow bells on our gate. “She’s the OG plantita,” she said, and we all laughed and agreed.
I imagine the white orchids, pink and violet bougainvillea, and yellow bell flowers she would hold in her hand, her crooked fingers relishing their soft texture. I would think of the beautiful yellow petals and how I wished I could’ve save them before they fell onto the concrete of Tapulanga street.
When I dream about her and Kong-kong together as these flowers bobbed to a gentle breeze, it eases my pain. She had waited to be with him for many years. She remembered how he’d visit her home back in Ilo-ilo to converse and share jokes with her. She’d recall how they worked together to build the family business, and how determined she was to have her seat at the table.
I want to believe that we, too, have made her happy.
- She stood beside me as I graduated from uni.
- She was there when I brought home my daughter, and her first great-grandchild.
- I wrote her a letter using the letter-writing stationery I bought when we went on our holiday to Japan. She sponsored the trip, yet chose not to go with us.
- We took her with us to Thailand, a country she says she’s always dreamed of visiting.
- We went with her to Mambukal Mountain Resort, so she could dip her toes in the hot springs while the kids splashed in the pool.
- We listened to her worries and heartaches.
- We made sure she knew we loved her before we left the house to fly back to Cagayan de Oro city.
There are probably many others I can’t recall as of this writing.
I want to believe she knew we love her and appreciate her for everything, that she didn’t die thinking she was alone.
Since Ama’s death, I’ve replaced the silence with new distractions, new obligations. I used social media to showcase these new things, thinking it was a way to cope with the loss.
I admitted to J a month ago that I was stupid to think that would work.
I struggled with the heaviness in my heart that it was difficult to make myself wake up—that’s coming from someone who absolutely loved waking up before sunrise.
- I stopped writing and reading.
- I stopped watching films and playing with the kids.
- I kept wanting to sleep, wishing to never have to get out of bed.
- I cried in the bathroom (I didn’t want to get out of the shower).
- I broke down when I mistakenly put the chicken breast fillet back in the freezer when I should be cooking it for dinner.
- I was always angry when things didn’t go according to plan.
I struggled so much that I’d pray to Ama:
Ama, how did you do it? How did you cope with such stress? Please give me wisdom. Channel your magic powers to me, please. I need it so badly.
Things have become much better now. Perhaps she’s reminding me to start reading the books on my book shelf again, to start writing again, to start being myself again.
Nothing fancy, nothing crafty, nothing that doesn’t expose the rawness of my mind and soul.
So here I am.
If you’ve reached this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️
As this year comes to a final end, and many of us look forward to both a new start and a chance for recovery, I look forward to my own restart in my literary life. After another long hiatus, after another long period of silence and avoidance, I aim to have early mornings spent writing here on Diwa Daily again.
I’m sure that’s what Ama would’ve wanted as well.