If there’s one thing that has served me well as I continue to deal with my recent loss, it would probably be my imagination. Long before my father Vicente passed away, it has been my duty to collate all monthly utility bills at home and pay for them at the nearest Bayad Center.
Since they own the house I’m living in, the bills are still under their names. Bills from Meralco, Globelines and Maynilad carry my father’s name, while SkyCable lists my mother as subscriber. It has been like this for decades.
While most people would probably settle these bills without giving them much thought (finding enough money to deal with them monthly is mind-boggling enough), I used to imagine how my life would be like while paying these recurring obligations when either one or both my parents leave me behind.
Would I still feel the same, or would I pine for the days when they were still very much around? Would I become more sentimental about it, or would I think nothing of it as I try my best to steel myself and forge ahead? Would the mere sight of their names on computer-generated paper reduce me to tears, or would Meralco surprisingly save the day by drawing my attention instead to the ever-growing list of exorbitant charges it manages to cook up?
Like going through a fire drill or being inoculated from a disease-causing virus, such a weird exercise, I believe, has helped me deal with what I’m going through at present. Because nothing could ever prepare you for a death in the family, it was at best for me a constant reminder of this eventuality.
Dealing with loss, especially one as close as the relation I had with my father, I’m beginning to understand, is something that can’t be readily processed, labeled and defined. I can’t even begin to describe it. There are days when I’m buoyed by his memory, his every kind word, thought and deed, and there are days when I feel so weighed down by the seeming enormity of what lies ahead.
But no matter what I say or how I try to rationalize it, there’s no running away from the fact that one of the few people who had accepted me unconditionally is now gone, and I’m a much, much lesser person because of it. Nabawasan ako ng kakampi sa buhay.
Leave it to Barbs
Barbra said it best in song: The night is so much darker/The wind is so much colder/The world I see is so much bigger now that I’m alone…The trees are so much taller/And I feel so much smaller/The moon is twice as lonely/And the stars are half as bright…
Indeed, how I feel right now depends on the day and my state of mind. Just the other day, for example, I clearly wasn’t in the mood to go “senti,” as the other person on the line, a cold-calling telemarketer, kept on blabbering over the cellphone about the latest promos, upgrades and bundled packages Globelines had to offer.
Telemarketer: “May I speak to sir Vicente Vergara? This is XXXXX of Globe Tattoo, and I’d like to tell him of our latest products and packages. We have this new, much better bundled package with increased internet speed he might be interested in. May I know who’s on the line?”
Me: “This is his son.”
Telemarketer: “Oh, is this your number, sir? Perhaps, you could relay my message to him. It would be good if he gets to know of these new products. Is there any other way I could contact sir Vicente? Another number perhaps so I could…”
Me, as matter of factly as I could muster: “No. He’s no longer around. He passed away recently.”
Telemarketer: “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Perhaps, I can call you again some other time to tell you more about our new offerings.”
I hung up and thought little of it before going back to work. It was a good day. I don’t know, though, what would have happened to me had it been a bad day. Dealing with loss, I also found out, can exact a whole range of emotions from you that compels you to do and even experience things involuntarily and at random—crying episodes, sleepless nights, long pauses, confusion, happy thoughts, sad thoughts, angry thoughts (directed more at yourself and the things you could have done), panghihinayang.
Thankfully, I’ve never had a lot of bad days since Daddy left. What I’m experiencing more often is a nagging feeling of loss, almost like piped-in white noise, that won’t go away no matter how hard I try to shake it off or tune it out. There are times when that white noise is amplified a notch higher, and there are times when it’s barely audible. As a whole, it’s neutral and harmless.
But it never leaves me. Perhaps not even in my sleep. I guess it never leaves any of us who have experienced loss. It’s something we would have to deal with and live through for the rest of our lives. Having my parents’ names on the bills changed to mine would probably amount to little.