I have a wound.
I spent most of the year taking care of it. The edges are healing nicely. The bandage is clean. The stitches could come out any moment now. I know a nice, clean scar will be left and I can look at it with bittersweet affection. I know I am healing. I know I am going to be okay.
And then November suddenly hits and I find that I am not okay. The wound that I thought was healing is actually not. It’s red. Hot to touch. The edges are inflamed. Pus-filled. The stitches are infected. The bandage is dirty and no amount of cleaning or dressing changes can fix that. And in that moment I realized that after 3 years the wound never healed. I am not okay. I don’t think I am even handling this well.
It’s been 3 years post-Yolanda (Haiyan). I will never forget when the initial news came to me on November 10, 2013, at 10:42 PM from a cousin.
“Mano Joe and Mana Medjing are dead. Joniel and family are okay.”
I didn’t want to believe it. I stared at my phone screen for a long time waiting for the bad news to sink in. I tried to but I was in denial. There was still that part of me that hoped. I wanted to hear it over the phone from my brother or my sister-in-law or any one of my nieces or nephews. Reading a Facebook message wasn’t enough.
But the bottom line is, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to be without them. I don’t know if I will ever be. But whatever spark of hope that was in me died when the inevitable phone call was finally made. It had been confirmed. Their bodies have been recovered.
Gone. Just like that. I will never hear my mom’s voice. I will never see one of my papa’s rarest smiles.
Death is a part of life — this I know. But how does one deal with the loss of loved ones?
And people think uttering the words, “They were so proud of you” would instantly heal. Like saying, “They are in a better place now” would make everything all right.
And I sit here and cry because I miss them so much. But they’re gone and I’m still alive and the world isn’t stopping to let me grieve and heal properly so I have to keep pushing on. I guess I am left with taking care of this wound alone. I carefully clean with all the love and happiness they both left me. I carefully stitch it up with 35 years of memories and laughter. I carefully put a bandage made with the strength and passion they both had to raise me.
And I’m going to be okay. Not this year, probably not next year, or the year after that but it’s going to happen. I’m going to heal. I’m going to be okay.
I’m just never going to stop missing them and I will never stop remembering – not how they died but how they lived and how they loved.