That was what you fondly called me ever since I was a little child. I didn’t know how long you were there, but all was that from the day I was born, you were there.
I can still remember how you loved to cook breakfast for us. I can still clearly remember how stressed out you became telling Trish and me to stop arguing. I can still remember how you would tell us to wear our slippers when we come prancing around barefooted. I can still remember how you always reminded us never to run fast when going up and down the stairs. I can still remember how you happily call out the guy who sells taho every morning just because we told you we want it. I can still remember every memory I had of you because Manay, you left me, you left us with so much to remember.
Mom told me that you’ve been in the family since you were 14 yrs. old. You’ve stayed for 44 years. You gave your whole life to our family without having no want to even marry and have your own family. I have never even heard you complain about doing housechores or anything that Lola or even Dada and his sibling asked you too. You held all of our families secrets and carried it with you without telling a single soul. You were never hard to love, because you gave love more than you could receive it. You are the most selfless person I know. A person to admire. A person to look up to.
It may seem to other people that I wasn’t affected by your death but they’re wrong. I may not have cried buckets of tears when I saw you there lying on the bed without life. I may smile when I’m around at your wake. But deep inside I know how much of a loss your death was to me. I know you never want us to be sad or cry, you always want what would make us happy.
By now, I am just starting to accept the fact that there will be no lady peering down from the terrace asking “Ada na si mama mo?” every time I pass by. The fact that there will be no lady in the dark walking or sitting on the chair in the garden asking me “Katapos lang san klase mo?” the moment I came home late. There will be no lady who always loves to tease me whenever my cousins and I are around her. The fact that there will be no lady telling Big Daddy “Hala. Sige. Bukuda na an si Pia.” while bursting out in laughter the moment you see me running away in panic. The fact that there will be no more “Tsokolate ni Manay” every Christmas and New Year’s eve. The fact that there will be no Manay. Just that.
I will miss you updating me about different showbiz chikkas, from Derek Ramsay and Angelica Panganiban’s split up, up until who’s dating who. I will miss you telling me stories about the “bampira na nagakinangkinang” after you watched Twilight. I will miss the way you goof around with us. I will miss seeing you during late afternoons watering the plants in the garden. I will miss the way you sit with me and talk whenever Tita asks me to do something on her laptop. I will miss your laughter, your smile and the way you wrinkle your forehead when your eyebrows meet. I will miss your almost vanishing eyes whenever you are so happy. I will miss you frightening me whenever we see a frog. I will miss your presence. I will miss you.
Now if you were to ask me what my regrets are, it would be not hugging you just because you said “Bae na ta grabeng daplos ko.” It would be not kissing you in the cheek just because said “Maampot na ako.” It would be not having a lot of pictures with you. It would be not being there when your last breath was taken away. I’m sorry I wasn’t there, but do know that I tried my very best to get there as soon as I can.
I find it difficult to answer the people who ask me, “Sinong namatay?” I end up answering, “Yung yaya nila Dada mula pagkabata.” but that’s not what I always have in mind because Manay, you are more than that. You are family. We may not have been related by blood, but we were… by heart.
This is not goodbye, Manay. I will always miss and love you even after now that you are gone. Because no one, no one can and will ever replace who you were for me, for us.
This is not goodbye. It is only a see you later.