“Babang luksa”. What do these words mean to me? Well, a lot. Translated into English, these words mean “first death anniversary” or “end of mourning”. Yes, it’s Renato’s first death anniversary, I agree with that, but end of mourning, I am not comfortable with that. Mourning never ends. The pain is lessened, and one is comforted by good memories that were shared, but still, the pain persists somehow, well at least in my case.
Memories of that Sunday morning remain fresh in my mind. Recalling the exact moment when the doctor told me that he’s dead still haunts me, with pain reaching far deep into my heart. The realization that my husband, my best friend, and my strongest ally had left me, made me think how life can be so unfair. I remember myself crying my heart out while hugging his lifeless body, his promise to grow old with me now gone. I was so alone. In spite of my son and my brother being there beside me, I felt so alone. How can I lose my beloved soon after losing my dear father? The succeeding days were just like a dream. I was alive and breathing, but I wasn’t living. Comfort from family, relatives and friends helped me through the ordeal.
Oftentimes I ask myself when one does actually get over the loss of a loved one. Not a single day goes by when I don’t think of him, the many happy times we had together, and of course, even the sad times. Every nook and corner of our home reminds me of him, the furniture arrangement, the reminders he posted on the corkboard, the important events he encircled in our calendar, even the cooking instructions I dictated to him on the phone are all still here. Even the plants he so lovingly cared for are still there; only difference is they too seem to realize that their master is no longer around. I have since put away Renato’s things, carefully stored in a cabinet in our home. The bike he was riding in is still parked in our home; no one can ever use that bike again. It will remain with me for as long as I live. His water bottle is still attached to the bike, half-empty. Two other things that remain with me are his rosary, which was found in his pocket when he died, and his sweatshirt, the one he wore to sleep on his last night at home. The sweatshirt is lovingly kept near my own pillow and surprisingly I can still smell that manly scent which I was so fond of.
I still have moments when I cry just thinking of the “if’s and could have been’s”. Worst times are early mornings when everyone’s still asleep and I’m awake, thinking of the day ahead. It was usually our “alone time”, oftentimes spent in animated banter about mundane things, and sometimes, just silence and appreciation of the love and companionship we shared.
For the past year, my sons and I have been trying our best to cope. Among us three, I admit I am the one having much difficulty in moving on. My sons chose to cope with the loss in their own way, mostly retelling stories about their Daddy. My loss is theirs too, but my grief is uniquely my own. Yes, I am again living, encouraged by love that I get from family and friends, but there’s a space in my heart that will remain empty until the day God embraces and welcome me to His home where I will see Renato, my father and other loved ones who have gone beyond. Meanwhile, I will try my best to appreciate life more, spend more quality time with my sons, share everyday stories with my dear mother, look forward to more bonding time with my siblings and their families, and set aside time to enjoy the company of my friends too. I know Renato only wish happiness for me. Though he is no longer around to share it with me, in my heart, he will always be there for me, no matter what. I love you, Mahal.