I didn’t know how I’d grieve for someone who wasn’t there. I spent my whole life missing you. I still do.
But I had my hazy memories from before you left. Your mustache and your laugh. You singing “Home on the Range.” Feeling like I was someone’s little girl. Little bits of you I’d immortalized in my heart.
Then we had that summer. After years of dreaming, you were right in front of me. A little weathered, and your mustache was gone, but you were real and I could hug you. You told us what a great man Lolo Pio was and took us to Romblon. You let me blow my nose into the handkerchief you always carried. And you laughed at my jokes and became the father I’d hoped for. My heart aches for that summer and the sound of your whistling— your never-ending song to the world. Nothing has ever sounded so pure or so sweet.
Together, these pieces made up the only you I knew.
Later I grew resentful until I detached. When I was 19, you had a stroke and I wrote to you from my dorm room, mourning the relationship we didn’t have. I wanted to tell you everything, and I was sad I couldn’t. You wrote back and told me I was your treasure.
I wish I had spent more time with you, the last time I saw you. I came with a guarded heart. I sat on the sidelines and saw you as a father for someone else. You were great.
But I’ll never forget that moment you picked me up from the airport. It was hot and crowded and I couldn’t find you. Just as I was about to give up, I looked into the sea of people and saw you there waiting for me, just like I always wanted.
I’ll never stop holding my breath for you. I love you.