Monday, May 12, 2008

How You Remind Me

No ectoplasmic version of my brother has ever appeared before me. Perhaps I am not really a ghost kind of person. I have a feeling that the alleged spirits of the dead that some people claim to see are more of the departed loved one’s essence which the bereaved refuse to let go of. And in hanging on, these essences take shape. It works the same way as psychosomatic ailments go: What should not be there becomes “present.”

It’s not that I am no longer hanging on to my brother’s available bits of memories. In fact, I am one who seems fixated. And although, these days, I can think of him and smile, my subconscious reminds me that I am still in a pseudo-battle in letting him go. I sometimes dream about him still and in those dreams, the present is like the good ol’ times.

However, it is far from passive, my efforts to move on. I say sorry to whoever deserves it every time I catch myself wishing that he weren’t dead because I know that is just plain selfish.

* * *

They communicate to us, you know? Not through some over decorated gypsy, peeking at a crystal ball or going into a trans. They tell us what we need to know in a way that only we could understand.

I remember how, a few weeks after Nichi passed away, I felt really sad, I decided to cry under a running stream of water falling down from the shower. That way, I thought, I wouldn’t know which ones were my tears. I then glanced at the direction where bottles of shampoo were kept. It was then when I got the message.

“No more tears,” it said. Nichi’s baby shampoo was staring at me right in front of my face. I was drowning in tears to have noticed it sooner. He hates it when I go dramatic.

Several instances such as this one have happened to me. Perhaps I should have written them down. Those are priceless moments which I tend to forget.

* * *

Forgetting is the worst thing we could do to our dear departed. We may forget how bad their last days went but we should not forget them, otherwise their lives, no matter how long or short they may be, will all be in vain.

Sometimes I fear that if all of us move on completely, we will forget Nichi. It may sound like a remote idea right now but it is possible. I guess this explains why, people like me, often inject “Nichi” stories in normal conversations with anyone, including those outside Nichi’s circle. If only to keep them alive, we’d tell our dead’s stories to those willing to listen.

I have a few cute Nichi stories to put on record, in case my memory wanes.

My mom, my two brothers and I were looking for someone at the EDSA Shangri-la hotel. Nichi was around four years old then. While we were walking, he couldn’t resist commenting on how grand and perfect the hotel was. He bent his knees (walking in a squat-like manner), savored the smell from down below him and said, “Ang bango ng sahig!

We call our dad, “Daddy/dad” while our dad’s dad, “tatay.” Once when dad fetched Nichi from school, a classmate asked him, “Nichole, tatay mo?”

Hindi, ah, patay na ang tatay ko!” [Note: Tatay, our lolo, was already dead at that time.]

Hindi magandang biro yan,” Nichi’s classmate said.

I can imagine Nichi smirking. He found the humor in the situation.



Nichi and dad have a special connection. Perhaps after I had outgrown being daddy’s little girl, Nichi took over. Only, he’s no little girl. But he is as sweet as can be to dad.

Nichi once promised dad that if dad grows old, Nichi will buy him a wheelchair and a car that both come with a videoke system.

Like normal kids do, Nichi played with our kid neighbors along with his kuya. They also had a moment, like most of us did, when they asked each other hypothetical questions which, since they were children, they answered honestly and purely.

Kung may pwede kang baguhin sa sarili mo, ano yon?

I couldn’t help but over hear Nichi’s answer, “
wala na akong babaguhin sa sarili ko.” I thought, “wow, my brother, despite his condition, he doesn’t think less of himself. He is content with who he is!”



Of course, Nichi wasn’t all too perfect. He has his naughty side—naughty enough to have a classmate slam an empty bilao on his head. It left a mark (he was completely bald then) but the thing is, we understood how his classmate could have lost it and have run after him to hit him with the thing. Magaling rin kasi mang-asar si Nichi. It’s one of his gifts.




It was last year when Nichi, talked me into accompanying him to the Spiderman drawing contest held at the Megamall. I had to go on a leave of absence from work for that. And the cute thing about this story is, while he was trying to explain to me the contest, he pulled out from his pocket the newspaper ad featuring the event so that it will do the talking for him. It was not a clipped ad he showed me. He had the folded broadsheet tucked in his pocket all along.




Full of surprises, that’s who he was. And so I was surprised when he told me he wanted a copy of the movie, Saving Private Ryan. He was almost raving about it.

Saan mo naman nalaman na maganda yon?” I asked.

He handed me the VCD case of Enemy at the Gates. “Nakalagay kasi dito, ‘The most triumphant war movie since Saving Private Ryan.’ Eh nagandadahan ako dito [sa Enemy at the Gates].”

I think it was dad who got him the Saving Private Ryan DVD.
Nichi never learned to ride a bike. Mom bought him a 3-wheeled bike when he was around 2-3 years old. But he never mustered the guts to let go of the ground and push the pedals with both of his feet. Oh, Nichi is such a whimp! Yeah, right!
* * *

It never ceases to feel weird every time I realize that it’s been 10 months since I last held Nichi, since I last saw him in the flesh. It is even weirder to think that I will never touch him and see him again.

One will never know that a thing like this ever happens to real life until it does.

It sucks it happened to us, at Nichi’s expense. I remain bitter at that fact.

But all is not lost. I still have memories to replay inside my head at times when I miss Nichi badly. The good and the bad—they are all part of the Nichi story which I, despite the pain, am glad I witnessed.

Above all, I consider it a miracle how life has its way of becoming better even after a major loss. Pains get healed while memories become more precious.

I’ll take that.

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