It has been a sail unworthy to be called smooth. My canoe had sunk too many times amidst the constant trying; I might have drowned a little, too. This voyage made my muscles sore. I heard my bones crack from the waves urging me to head back to shore. My mind was my sole enemy, for who else would I be fighting in this journey alone? I would really love not to mention how my heart has lost its very beat from the every day battles I had to endure. But alas, it has to be spoken of.
This is my attempt to record the sinking, drowning, rowing, and the rummage for air, while I still can remember. As I go back and read this one day, I will know I existed, in this moment in time. Survived. It will then be definite and irrefutable: I had not let the waters whelm my travel, more so my very will.
I welcomed 2017 with a heart unwell and broken.
January was my birth month. I was turning eighteen then. I was left with no time to plan my dream debut for I was too occupied with moping and being sad. Imagine opening your arms to adulthood, wishing there had been someone to hold your hand while you do it. It went on for a few months. I would catch myself thinking about a love that lasted for years, wondering how it would cause two people to hurt each other with the same passion. It was one of the hardest calamities I have ever come to live through. I never understood a love so brutal, tough, and unkind. For a whole year, I tried making sense of it, but I am nowhere near to having the case rested. I believe now, that there are some questions I am to figure some day, or not at all. To this day, I am still hurting. Not because we chose differently nor because I was left with broken promises, but since I believe my heart still questions. It still asks, but it no longer yearns. It mourns when it remembers. It forgets. It forgives. I loved fully, and I am sure she did, too. I am certain. Our brief love story had a fate that was never meant to last, and I find utmost and sincere bliss for I had seen she was content letting me go, even more because I was able to become closer to the woman I aspired and needed to be. As I constantly put it, it was a must that I lose so I must become.
This moment of acceptance is the moment I glide through the stormy heavens smashing hard on ice cold water. It was a choice I had to make to stay alive.
I had the worst semesters of my life.
From January to December 2017 I was studying non stop. It was hard coping with my time schedule, considering I came from the humanities (from barely having laboratory classes for six hours in the heat required by dreading experiments) to the sciences. Also, I took mid year classes, leaving me with barely three weeks to rest the whole year, plus my December break. I know: I should be thankful for the case is worse for other students. I would not like to invalidate my adjustments, nevertheless, for what I went through isn’t that as easy. This year, I experienced the extreme. I studied a lot, made reviewers, beat myself up settling for mediocrity, whispered to myself, “you’ll never be good enough” out of disappointment and frustration; I memorised, analyzed, computed all day long, skipped family gatherings, neglected rest, broke down, got sick. Still, after everything, I would barely pass. It was as if I was just lucky to make it through the passing mark. I was never equipped to fail and settle for failure, nor was I prepared for it. I was taught to succeed. Every time. This year I had managed to take few sips of this long, academic journey and realize this is only the beginning.
It was also high time for me to oversee what my plans for the future are. I loved teaching at an early age, but I could never give up my love for medicine. I am still trying to surmise if getting a PhD and a degree in medicine would be feasible.
I carried on, all the same.
I lost friends.
They say maturity has always involved choosing to keep your circles small. Growing older would require ending friendships for whatever reason. But I lost mine for a reason I’d like to keep private. When losing them hurt so much, I knew- for the very short time we’ve known each other- I had already loved all of them. If they ever come to read this (I doubt circumstances would), I want them to realize that they were those friends I lost along the way. I sure had my own share of wrong doing. That is why I still remember them up to now; everything I do for my betterment had become a part of my offering my apologies. I grew even more fonder of them at the time I spent without having them around.
Then again, there are certain types of friends you know were nothing but a mere full blown season. They were there for some part of the trip, but they had to alight sooner than expected. They may have caused conflict that simply cannot be reconciled. Or simply because you know deep down, the connection can last no longer. You may see yourself checking them from time to time, and they may also check up on you. But it will be nothing more than that. Common courtesy, and the art of being civil.
My insecurities grew larger.
I gained a lot of weight. You know how family members are with comments; most of them would tell me I’ve gained so much in a very offensive manner. While it’s true, I get hurt sometimes. I couldn’t handle academic stress wisely, hence the eating. Moreover, I was always very religious with my skin care routine but this year, it just didn’t work. I would spend so much and yet the results are not as sharp as its cost. I was really frustrated with myself. I hated myself for all of it.
I knew I was the captain of my ship, anyway. I had to do something.
I lost my grandmother days before Christmas.
I’m putting this last because this is the hardest to talk about.
I have no words for the woman she has been.
My father and his family have always been traditional and Christ- centered, following the philosophy of the Catholic Church. While I already see flaws in my religion, I remain as one because I was raised to be, and because I was taught, from the beginning, to love my God. I am firm this is not hypocrisy- for I still believe in the Holy Spirit- that the people may change- not in their faith, but in the way they practice their religion. Going back, I had to mention this for the woman who influenced me most about knowing the Lord is my grandmother. She would always make me recite the Holy Rosary, along with other prayers. More than Graduation rites, what would make her elated is my receiving the holy sacraments. She would get all giddy when I talk about attending mass and being a reader from time to time in our First Friday mass at school. She would never impose, but she would teach.
I will always remember her smiling. I never saw her cry, nor in pain. I never got to see her when she was struggling the last few days of her life- and maybe this was a blessing for me; maybe God spared me from seeing her in pain, so I could always remember her happy. It saddened me, without a doubt, when I didn’t get to visit her in the ICU. I was studying too far from home, I didn’t have the chance to bade her good bye.
The night I had learned she died, I kept quiet. I talked with my Mom over text messages to receive updates with everything going on in my grandparents’ home. I was in shock, I guess. I never saw it coming. She was strong. She wasn’t going to let go. We were all used to her coming home after trips to the hospital. We were used to her coming home.
I had to be strong for Dad. I had to endure sleepless nights at Lola’s wake, so I could handle everything else Dad might worry about. I volunteered to stay and sleep with Lola during her wake. I had to be busy so I could avoid the pain of her gone. I didn’t feel the regret, the loss, the agony, until my last look at her. That was the moment I felt the urgency and the weight of letting go.
We all knew Dad was her favorite. Dad was everything Lola was. Extraordinary. With her gone, I knew a part of him died, too. During the week of her wake, I would always see Lolo peek at Lola’s casket and talk to her from day one to her increment. He would cry. Break down. For 53 years, they had been waking up in each others’ arms. It was new to him to wake up alone with no one to talk to. Ultimately, loss was a new feeling to Dad’s family and ours. We all miss her dearly, to this day. We will, for our whole lives.
Thank you for the woman you have curated yourself to be. You will always be family- our source of strength, kindness, patience, reverence and faith. You deserved more. But knowing the life you had lived of simplicity, we are assured His love and grace is already enough for you in your lifetime.
Pray for us always.
Rest; worry not for we will be fine.
Your ease is ours, too.
We love you Nanay.
I offer you grace, 2017. I am thankful for the time you had lent me to build up strength and wisdom. You are an inch of history I am about to conclude. Be my platform to rise.