Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

The days are getting as warm as my phone as I waste precious time watching reels on Instagram. My latest guilty pleasure. Some leave me spiritually enlightened. The rest leave me in stitches without any other significant impact other than pure entertainment.

We would’ve been in Cebu around this time. Should’ve been celebrating Mommy’s 68th birthday. Could’ve been basking under the warmth of the tropical sun.

If it weren’t for COVID, obviously.

Also, if it weren’t for the fact that my passport is expired. Something I desperately want to sort out ASAP but both the Philippine Embassy in Canberra and Consulate in Melbourne keep ghosting my calls. Taking me for a ride through the entire automated audio recording, only to let the phone ring on and on and on and no one’s answering. I don’t know what’s up with that. Philippines much?

Anyhow, my younger sister and I did celebrate Mommy’s birthday via video call three days ago. She ordered crispy pata and cooked bicol express which, I reckon, is one of the best Filipino food combos ever. Simple, yet satisfying.

My older sister and her family were present online, too. My niece serenaded my mom a happy birthday with her viola. She’s getting better at it. Used my birthday last month as a dry run.

Just kidding. She’s awesome. I love her.

I’m grateful for that time we spent together in Cebu, though. Mommy’s face might not look it but deep down inside I bet my husband she was giddy as, silently beaming with enough intensity it escapes the shutter speed of my phone’s camera.

Or not. I mean, my dad just died then. I can’t blame her.

It’s weird how daddy’s death sort of became a marker in my family’s timeline. How I now unconsciously categorize events either as ‘before daddy died’ or ‘after daddy died.’ The days he spent actively dying were the days time stood still. The in-between. A sigh suspended in mid-air. It’s when you know that after this, nothing’s ever gonna be the same again. You won’t ever be the same again.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised when I read mommy’s cards one night and they were what they were. I understood the oracle’s dynamics but I didn’t have the proper language to explain them to her articulately. I was scared to probe her with personal questions. Tear down her walls. I knew my place with her and I’ve always stayed within my assumed boundary.

She’s gone through a lot. My dad was her strength and I see that now. Yes, she was strong and she appeared to be the bull between the two of them but that innate capacity for fierceness she drew from him. He was her strength. Now that he’s gone, she’s on a journey to find her own.

This was supposed to be a lighthearted post but somehow, as with everything else I write about, I easily go down the path of thoughtful melancholy. I bleed all over the pages.

But, yeah. Life goes on, hey?

*Raven at 3 years old

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