"In a way grief is sticky like that, and when you have opened the can it’s as if you have to keep going until you reach the bottom, until there is nothing left and your teaspoon hits metal and the sound lets you know there isn’t any more."- Luisa A. Igloria, "By Ear," http://www.vianegativa.us/, Jan. 12, 2014
Twenty-two years have gone since Dad died on Jan. 12. "Expired" was the word the orderly used at the Philippine Heart Center when I reached the Intensive Care Unit to find him gone. He visits me in dreams now and then, but I am aware that it is not him. It's more of what he represented to me. When I look at his picture or just leaf through the diary he had left my eldest child Kimi, the hot tears fill my eyes rapidly. I recover just as fast and remind myself to hold on to the good the way he did with all his imperfections.
It's the same with friends who had leaped out of their bodies too soon, too soon for us who hold them dear. But no use hanging on because it would delay their upward journey.
On Dad's anniversary of rebirth to eternal life, my siblings, nephews, nieces, etc., spent some hours at Loyola Memorial Park Marikina that cool Sunday. I observed, in my own way, Dad's anniversary and Jerry Araos's babang luksa (the latter's departure date was Dec. 23, 2012).
Melen, Jerry's widow, invited me to take a walk on a traffic-free avenue with her grandkids, she holding on to the hand of Amarra, I bringing along my small camera to record some moments.
The rest of the day was unplanned and relaxed, as every Sunday ought to be observed and celebrated. The next day I shared a photo of Jerry and Melen taken at their former home at the UP Diliman campus. She said it was their last picture together.
I thanked her in writing, and she wrote back to say she loved how we closed Ama's (Jerry's) anniversary through a leisurely walk, enjoying his favorite lechon lugaw and pancit molo, and "Ravel'ling," a reference to a YouTube video featuring the great Maya Plisetskaya, then 50 years old, dancing to Ravel's "Bolero." Jerry had his own choreography of "Bolero" that a graceful daughter used to dance for visitors in the 1980s.
Someone once told the bereft not to impede a soul's journey by clinging on to the deceased. But thinking and speaking of them fondly help their pilgrim souls' progress.
Photos by Melen Araos and Babeth Lolarga