You are 67 today. I wonder how you are, half-thinking how stupid that sounds when I know that you are in a place with only love, peace, and joy. Still, I wonder how you are, always, and I do not know if I ever can stop.
Lately, my dreams about you leave me puzzled and troubled. You are sad in my dreams. Perhaps this is only my own sadness, my grief, projected through you. Perhaps it is you reaching out to me, reminding me of the words you told me, when I brushed your hair, or held your hand, or kissed you. You always told me that you did not want me to be sad when you’re gone because my sadness is your sadness. “We are one heart,” you always said.
I remember you, more intensely for the last months. I am capable of crying again, perhaps that is a good thing. Last Christmas, I set a table for three. Papang was surprised, but we both knew it in our hearts, we needed you to be there. Papang and I looked at your place in the table, and we both said, “Mamang, Merry Christmas.” I cried, unashamed on the dining table, and for the first time in front of Papang.
I have a notebook that I try to fill with details of you—random things, the silliest and smallest details, our inside jokes, secrets, mannerisms, your favorite things—details I never want to forget or miss or leave to the inaccessibility, or unreliability, or betrayal of future memory.
There are still stories that are written in my heart that I cannot yet write on paper. There are memories I visit, but am always hurrying to leave. I still deny the truth in these memories. They are too painful and when visiting them, I find it difficult to recover, to bring myself back again to the here and now.
There are details that I cannot yet name. I do not care if I be called immature for not calling the reality as it is, for refusing to describe you in that word I just cannot still accept. I tell stories about you as you are and as you are still here with me.
Your love is perfect.
Growing up, I have never been someone who wished to be a princess, who wished to meet a prince charming, who dreamed of weddings, or of finding a husband. I treated romantic love as it is, but I never considered myself as one to actively participate.
I never searched for romantic love. I know why that is. It is because of you, Mamang. I have always been contented of your love. Your love has always been enough for me, so that I never found it in my heart to search for it somewhere or in somebody else.
Your love is perfect. I know I will never be loved in the same way again, as I know in my heart, I can never love anyone as much as I love you. They say we can only have one great love in this lifetime. Even then, I have always been a firm believer that love should not be limited to romantic love. It is because I have always known you are my one great love. I told you this, and you said I am yours, too.
I did not know how much love I had in me until I learned to serve, sacrifice, devote, hope, endure, let go. I did not know how much love I had in me until I learned both the joy and the pain that come with it. I did not know how much a love survives and remains alive in spite of the longing, yearning, grieving, and mourning.
So, you see, until this time, you continue to teach me, train me, correct me, equip me, lead me, mother me. Until this time, you still give yourself to me. Your love is limitless and unending. It is a love that continues to give, a love that strengthens, a love that survives. Your love is perfect, Mamang.
On your birthday, let my heart be with you. I know this birthday is special because now, you can only know of love, peace, joy, and of course, without pain. I wish you do everything you missed in those two years, like eating all the food you want, or swimming, or cooking, or organizing, or reading, or giving counsel to the people who seek your wisdom and advice. I wish you meet all the people you loved and lost. I wish you celebrate to the fullest. Be glorious like your name.
Happiest birthday, Mamang kong pinakamahal. Sending you all my love. We are one heart.