His voice is beginning to fade. His laugh is a faint echo. His face blurs my vision. Today would’ve marked his 88th birthday. The connection we once had still stings the heart and I catch myself crying every now and then. What I would’ve yearned for to have him here with me today. To have seen me grow. To have conversed in Mandarin. To have watched me do something I love. He would have loved it. I miss him. I’m forgetting the little details. The little actions he does. His different kind of laughs. The way he walks. The things he does and says. His presence in the back of the room, you can just feel it. His blue-ish-gray eyes, it’s multi-colored looking into your eyes. The feeling I get with him signifies “home”.
I miss the joy in his demeanor. He clapped constantly, even when there was no music playing.
I miss when he rubs his hands together and covers his face inhaling as he moves his hands up and over his head to the back of his neck as he lets out a huge sigh to get comfortable and relax in his spot on the couch as he claimed it as his own.
I miss watching him sleep on the couch, in his spot, with his head tilted back and his mouth wide open.
I miss him waiting by the window in the living room watching all things drive by, walk by, waiting for someone to come visit.
I miss him announcing, “Rhea, your friend is here”, even before my friend reaches the door.
I miss watching The Price is Right with him wayyy before Drew Carey became the host.
I miss playing hide and seek as soon as I came home from school.
I miss him making me mac ‘n cheese or ramen as unhealthy as it is draining the water from the ramen for my after-school snack.
I miss making paper boats and playing Domino’s and Mancala whenever I was lonely and needed a friend.
I miss him bragging to his friends about me, calling me his “favorite angel”
I miss sitting next to him, curled up in his arms, holding me tight.
I miss looking into the scary basement to see a faint light on and walking downstairs well aware that he was down in the workshop, in his corner, with his foldable glasses on, fidgeting with some tools and making something new.
I miss going into their bedroom at night, Ama fixing up her resting area — on the floor— while he sat in his big green rocking chair watching TV before bed. He shook every now and then while he sleeps and it always woke up Ama, that’s why Ama slept on the floor for years, until they left on a trip to the Philippines and I told my parents to get a bed, so that Ama wouldn’t have to set up the floor to sleep on.
I miss our goodnight ritual. “Goodnight Ama, Goodnight Angkong! I love you! Mahal Kita… Gwa Hoon Di, haha just kidding, Gwa Tia Di”
I miss our secret knock through the walls of our bedroom before we go to sleep.
I miss him calling me L-O-K-O L-O-K-O.
I even miss his sick jokes that I had no understanding of until I was old enough to actually get it.
I miss family vacations and looking over my shoulder to see how far behind he was to tell my dad to slow down for him to catch up to us.
I miss his love for different languages and cultures.
I miss how easy it was for him to make strangers laugh within seconds. An instant best friend. The ultimate courage that lights up others around him.
I cry because I think about how much stuff he has missed.
I cry because my love will never fully understand the big heart he had.
I cry because he’s no longer holding my hand.
I cry because I know I can’t share my life with him.
I cry because Ama is alone and needs someone by her side. He was her rock. He was her memory. Without him, her mind is lost.
I cry because his great grandson won’t experience the love he gave us.
I cry because the future is unclear and I can’t run to him for a little bit of happiness. He was a light that somehow made sure everything was going to be okay.
I cry because he left this world in pain.
I cry because I’m forgetting and I don’t want to forget.
I miss our connection. I miss him. I miss everything about him. I miss summers with him, when garage sales were out and he goes off for a long walk and when I return to my room, I discover something new, nothing new, something used, but a little special keepsake to know he was thinking of me when he bought it. I’m a sucker for sentimental value. I’m a hoarder, I’ve got a lot of crap that he surprised me with, but I will never throw them away. I have his slippers stored away in my room somewhere and look at it every now and then. I miss him.
But, he would be disappointed in me. I don’t live at home anymore and Ama’s condition is worsening. I’m not there to protect her. I’m not there to keep her company. I’m not there to take care of her. I don’t want to say I abandoned her, but it sure feels like so. I am not equipped to handle Alzheimer’s. I don’t know what to do or how to help. I’m helpless. I wish he was here. He would’ve known what to do. I miss him. He always knows what to say and do to put a smile on someone’s face. I miss his energetic spirit with the kindest heart and love for making new friends wherever he goes.
I’m still grieving for a man who shared a deepest form of love. We connected like I’ve never seen before.
He taught me how to love.
He taught me how to smile and put a smile on other’s faces.
He taught me how to be brave.
He taught me how to be kind to others.
He taught me how to be optimistic.
He taught me how to have that glow, that kindhearted glow, the one people are attracted to, the one people feel safe around.
He taught me how to be the light that gives off that innocent child-like sort of glow.
He taught me strength and cherishing life’s moments.
He taught me honesty and how to live a happy life.
He taught me modesty and courage to overcome any obstacle.
He taught me how to care for others; he taught me empathy.
He taught me in a world filled with pain to always look at the light that is shining through.
He taught me how to love others & how to love myself.
I love you, forever and ever. Even though I know you are with me spiritually, I sure wish you were present in today’s life.
Your face may be blurred. Your laugh may be faint. Your voice may have faded. But I will still remember the lessons, the love, and all the memories you gave me.