“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Morphine”, he said.
“Like the drug?”
“Morphine, like the drug”, he echoed.
I smiled. He smiled back and retorted “Maybe, just maybe, I could be your analgesia”.
“Did you just try to feed me more than 85 decibels?”,(because they said more than 85 decibels can damage the ear) my friend remarked after a roller coaster ride at one of the local amusement parks. Well, she didn’t actually say that.
She said “Please, huwag ka nang sumigaw”, (Please stop screaming!). I told her I’ve not screamed that loud for a long time. And she looked at me confused almost always saying “So, that’s an excuse?”. Because it seemed like I did not breathe for two minutes just to scream.
And I thought about some days when I wanted to scream real hard — out of happiness and sometimes out of frustration, sometimes, out of fear. Like last Monday, when my best friend relayed to me a good news and both my parents said “Very good”. Like I was in grade school again, wanting for acknowledgement for a job well done. Like some days when you’re pissed off about something work related. (only now, you don’t have work, so you have nothing to scream about).
It has been an exhilarating, almost liberating feeling.Maybe I should scream more often. Maybe there’s a space in there where my words could scream —-freely. Maybe there’s a void in there where you could fill me in.
I handed the piece of paper to the person of authority, with my signature - carefully affixed and the words, woven in a generic manner like those letters you’ve seen before (I’ve gone mainstream everyone). She said “Let’s talk”. It was like in one of those television episodes where the parents ask the daughter to sit down in the cozy almost covered with tension living room to discuss serious matters.
“So, why are you leaving and why in a short notice”, she asked.
I explained and she wasn’t appeased. She said my reasons were vague and tried to probe. But she signed it anyway. I smiled.
I left my cubicle empty. I imagined leaving —Like carrying a folder and some papers, like those corporate people in the movies. But I remembered I was sheltered in a paperless environment (or so i thought) for the past 10 months. It’s all in the technological advancement box I face everyday and some, I committed to memory.
Some expressed sadness and some, amazement. People hug you and say they’ll miss you like they wouldn’t see you again. It was weird, I thought.
“What happened?”, someone asked.
“What happened?”, I echoed. “Life happened” - in a Zoey Deschannel voice from 500 days of Summer. I’m not even sure if I spelled her name right.
I’m trying to overcome quarter life crisis everyone.
I remember you firing a gun one night when I was 5 years old. And then it scared me because I only see those scenes in the boob tube, it never dawned on me that I’d witness it in real life. I remember you lighting one cigarette after cigarette, I didn’t forget, it was how you acquired the disease. I remember you asking for 3 sips of water before you said Hello to Hades.I was your little nurse then. To date, that’s the best reason I could think of when they ask me why I took up Nursing. (But who am I kidding?)
I remember grandmother telling me you were a former police, then you became a leader. You had a flag laid atop your coffin.
I remember being your favorite grandchild because I was the first born of your only daughter. Although you never really said that out loud. And then there are other things that lingers in memory like how you brought and fetched me during my first day at the day care, how you laid on your deathbed, can barely speak but still telling stories.
I have few vivid reminiscences. Few years passed, I’ve grown up, I realized death was irreversible and I’ve been trying to find the way out of the labyrinth of suffering.
Today, we’re celebrating not your death but your memories.
We were once advised by the people next door that we should only bring our black bags(a.k.a garbage bags) out of the unit if the following conditions are satisfied 1) we hear the standard garbage truck honk 2) we see the garbage truck and the garbage collector in flesh. It was followed by a narration of how the stray cats (oh, feline friends, what did you do?), would wreck the contents of our black bags leaving an unpleasant sight in the street. This was presented as a problem because no one stays at home in the morning of weekdays which means we’ll need to pile up our black bags and wait for the weekends.
So there, I found myself at home on a Saturday waiting for a garbage truck. The blue truck that carries the burden and the skeletons of the world. The one that catches the hand me downs, the left overs, the worm infested, the ones we deem necessary.
We have the garbage collector of course, the ones who carry badges of courage. Like superheroes, they do not show a slight fear at the sight of the formidable bags and not to mention, the odor that these bags would exude. The ones clad with dirt and whose only protective equipments consist of gloves and some improvised face mask. As if they had the best white blood cells in the world to combat an impending infection.
I’d wait for the garbage collector every Saturdays. While he would comply, most of the time, there was this one time when he didn’t. He didn’t show up, like we’re suppose to meet but he ditched me.
Because there comes a point in your life when all you need is that one garbage collector. The ones who cleans up the clutter in your little apartment before the rodents and the invertebrated creatures called worms feast on them
It’s like waiting for someone to pick up the ugly part in us, throw them somewhere else for other people to see the better picture, the better slice, not the rotten side of the fruit. Like waiting for someone brave enough to un clutter your mind and embrace your imperfections.
And when he/she doesn’t arrive, we just have to be brave enough to pick up the garbage bag.
She came to me saying she’ll file a case against her. I need you to be more specific, I advised. “Homicide”, she replied. I waited for another response for quite some time, she finally said, “She killed my idealism”.
Someone asked me today if I am willing to wait for 3 years. And he said it like I was in a fast food chain, because I wanted it now but I can’t have it. So he explained how they usually cook the food, every detail of the process, and then he asked, willing to wait?For 3 years?
I smiled. Because I was at loss for words.Because I don’t know what else to say.
I remember calling you B1 because there were days when we have those light bulb moments and we’re like those Bananas in Pajamas in the boob tube. Because we belong to the same circle of friends, because we shared days of laughter and some secrets —some.
The other day I learned about your father’s condition. Another friend relayed it to me, in a phone call. I told you I don’t know what words to say because I know no words can comfort you.
It reminded me of College because we’re both enrolled in the same elective: Death and Dying. It probably reminded you too of your experiences in the ICU. But no matter how many events you’ve witnessed, the feeling won’t sink in until you experience it. They called that Subjectivity—the fact that experience is unobservable to everyone but the person experiencing it.
My prayers are with you A. And to your father.