Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Nichi

Nichi’s turning 14.

We had two choices: to act as if it were any ordinary day and individually wallow in the pool of unspoken pain, or to celebrate the day the way we would if Nichi were still around and take comfort in each other’s company.

We went for the second option.

Mommy cooked fettuccini in white sauce, one of Nichi’s favorites—the bacon is key. I made beef enchilada, a variety of the menu Nichi requested during his birthday last year. Nichi’s ninang brought cake—not the Red Ribbon Ube Roll Nichi would have requested but it was swell. Jowin prepared JUICE. (The word JUICE is special to us.)

Initially mommy was thinking of preparing spaghetti. But I killed the idea by saying, “ano yon, for long life?”

Nichi’s ninang wondered if she should get a candle for the cake.

I guess option two isn’t all too easy. After all, the birthday celebrator is no longer around.

* * *

We asked some of Nichi’s friends to come over. Andrea, a classmate, was kind enough to help me contact their friends. Dad, went to get Nichi’s best friend who, luckily wasn’t doing anything very important in their house. A total of eight kids came to celebrate with us. [Note: another classmate passed by the house 12 days after Nichi’s birthday.]

It’s priceless how they made us feel as if Nichi were still around. I for one saw Nichi in them—his youth, his wit, his innocence, his life. I know Nichi was sitting with them while they were watching their old videos together.

Those kids, they didn’t hesitate sharing how they remember Nichi. It feels good to know that Nichi had the ability to touch their young lives.

We brought them, at least the six kids, with us at the ossuary. I’m guessing they said, “Hi!” to their friend.

* * *

It is constricting to feel that we’re alone at this. At losing Nichi. But every once in a while, circumstances remind us that we, Nichi’s family, are not the only ones who lost him and miss him.

In the web of relationships all connected to Nichi, it is not only us who lost a leg. Nichi’s passing away affected his peers, too. And in their young state, they had to deal with the loss of a good friend—someone their age, someone who should be exploring life the same way they are now. I’m hoping that Nichi’s demise will prompt them to live their lives the best way they can.

And then there are my parent’s friends who are parents themselves. They know how painful it must be to lose one’s child. And they can only wish that they be spared of the agony, not out of selfishness but at least out of their love of their children.

The same goes to others who knew Nichi. His death may have left a dent in their lives. Dent which is all worth the trouble if it works to make them better persons and to allow them to appreciate life even more.

And if only for that, Nichi’s death would mean something.

I already know that his life meant a lot.

* * *

I will no longer speculate how things could have been if Nichi were still around.

I will just end by saying that Nichi is missed, especially during his birthday which, for the first time, he can’t spend with us--physically . But having the witnesses to his life over the house was very much comforting.

And just as Ate Win often say, Nichi is smiling down on us, especially at moments like this.

Happy Birthday, Nichi!

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