The truth is I didn’t think people would want to find out what’s going on, but I miss writing so much that I just can’t hold it any longer.
One time, I came across a vietnamese phrase called “Ba chim bay noi”, and if what I’ve read is correct, it literally translated to three sinks seven floats. It represented the wave of life, its thunderous splashes and soft ocean caresses. Life is like this, is it not? Mesmerizingly beautiful but deceitfuly murderous.
The devil, they said, will not come knocking at your door dressed as your biggest nightmare. Instead, the devil will stand there, looking sleek and charming, like every darn thing you will ever desire.
That is life for a while now, it’s been that way to me. So hypnotically cruel, championing itself against my defenses.
Takane No Hana
The day I found out A died wasn’t a very significant day. There was nothing about that day that would have made me find out he was already gone. No sign and no heavenly signal.
I just saw someone post from his facebook the location of his interment. It was my lunch break and I was glad to be sitting down when I found out.
We were in college when we “met”. It was only over facebook. He was a student leader from a nearby university and I went to one of the more prestigious ones. We were acquianted by the same cause, campaigning online for a presidential candidate. We were both young, foolish, and idealistic. We thought we could convince the rest of the nation to listen to what we had to say through passionate remarks and sleepless nights of online debating. It was all so very silly. He saw my comment once so he messaged me, vented to me, admitted he had a crush on me and then we became friends.
I wasn’t taking anything seriously. It felt like it was just another one of the kiddie things people my age back then would do. We were all smitten with something whether it be a passionate cause or a cute girl.
I enjoyed talking to him though because he was funny and he was smart. He was always the one trying to connect to me. How are you? How have you been? Did you know..? One time… I’ve been…
So I learned about him. He loved watching documentaries, and he wanted to be a world renowned journalist, he likes cartoons, he loves food. He wanted to go back to school to take up Law.
I’d get into arguments with him. I’d call him childish. He was always the first to say he’s sorry even when I was wrong.
A year after we met, he set up an entire website full of poetry and an animated video drawn, edited, voiced by him alone for my birthday. It must have taken him hours to do that.
The year after that, he drew a portrait of me in a large canvass filled with tiny doodles of motivational characters to keep me going. I was having a hard time and he knew about it. “I wanted to give this to you someday,” he said after sending me a picture of it. “Hang it on a wall near you, so when you wake up, you close your eyes, point somewhere and read something that would make you smile.”
The year after that, he shyly sent me a picture of his journal where he drew doodles on the date of my birth, saying one day he’ll want to take me out for coffee, travel with me, take photographs with me.
I asked him why not? And he told me, again and again, that he did not deserve me yet.
AAA loved life. He was the happiest kid on the block. It didn’t matter what happened, he was always happy. His hello was the kind that would vibrate his smile from the phone and would instantly make me smile too, from the other end of the line.
He made jokes, he made stories, and he writes beautiful essays too. If I were the the master of tragedy, he was the blissful counterpart.
He went around Manila doodling tiny little colorful monsters on brickwalls. He said it would make people smile. It was tasteful, almost New York-style quirky, and it was really pretty. He was that kind of guy.
His laugh always sounded like a mischievous laughter held on too long from trying not to laugh from a hilarious joke. I could never forget it– His happiness.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was 5 and he lost his father when he was around 8. Before that, he had to witness his mother get cheated on by his dad, by the time his father died, he had to change schools. His mother could no longer afford to send him to the expensive private university he was enrolled in but he never hated his father. He confessed that he only misses him. There was no trace of anger even when he watched his mother cry over his adultery.
After countless of 2 am emergency phone calls where we discussed about life and politics in our youthful bliss, he finally had the courage to tell me he loves me.
It was too late, by then, because I was already with someone else.
By that time, we already have stopped talking to each other too much. There were rare times where we did, but it was short and often immediately left cold. He made it clear that he still felt the same, but he knew the situation, and he knew his place.
More than a year after that, he called me on the phone. “I saw you today! In front of Kenny Roger’s. You lost so much weight, you grew your hair. I ran away as fast as I could after. Inasar ako ng barkada ko, they all know about you. By that way, was that guy your boyfriend? He looked more like your bodyguard. I’m sorry I didn’t have the guts to say hi.”
I wish you said hi.
I cried to him one time when I was stressed at work. He always had a variety of techniques armed for every time I needed to cheer up. This time he told me to close my eyes and imagine, if I were a color what would I be? This color, he said, should be happy, this color should swarm the world with my warmth, that this color is surrounding me, like my aura, and every step I take, every person I touch, will have a piece of my color and it’s only me who could flood the world with that color and beauty.
“I’m blue today,” he told me. “Yesterday, I was green but I’ve decided I’m more of a blue than green… So, please, think about yours.”
Takane No Hana is a japanese phrase literally translated to “flower on high peak”. It means “unattainable object” or something or someone you desire but can not have.
I have always teased him, coaxed him, and talked to him. “If you really wanted me, why don’t you just take me out? You live so near my university.”
He would laugh the same way he always did. Care-free and honest, “Because I am not yet at that level where we could walk together and people won’t wonder why you were with me.”
I always wondered what he saw in me or why I was so high up in his pedestal. I didn’t think I deserved that. I never have. He said he had to prove so many things first– to himself. I thought he was worrying too much and I told him I don’t mind, but the more I didn’t, the more he did.
“Friends go out too.”, I told him.
“But I don’t want to be just friends.”
He told me he’s dating someone now and that he was completely taken by her. “She’s beautiful and lovely. She’s perfect.” I congratulated him ofcourse and we joked around about how he’s finally proven to his worrying mother that he isn’t actually gay. He started to contact me more, but whenever he hints of his feelings being more than platonic, I’d get uncomfortable. Eventually, after writing him a letter, I told him we can’t keep in contact anymore. It’s unfair for the people we were with, especially to his girl.
He would still message from time to time, telling me how he misses me and how something reminded me of him and I would ignore him or politely reply a thank you.
His last message was March this year. A music reminded him of me and he sent it to me. “I was thinking of you the entire time.” On instagram, he messaged too. “Tell me why the f* did we stop talking again?”
I didn’t know that the entire year of 2016 he was already battling cancer again. It recurred from all the stress he was going through. He took in 3 jobs at the same time, desperate to succeed.
By May, his body stopped producing his own blood. A little later on, his kidney shut down on him and water filled his lungs.
I did not know a single thing.
Before May was over, he was gone.
I immediately messaged his girlfriend, careful to introduce myself, and asked her.
“Is it true?”
“I only wanted to know one thing,” I told her. “Did he suffer?”
She didn’t reply for a long time, causing me so much pain. And when she did she said, “Yes, until his last breath.”
Upon the news of his death, there was an outpouring of emotions. He lived so shortly but the amount of people touched was immense. He was that kind of guy.
A group was formed to raise funds for his mother’s expenses, and he had a viral hashtag movement asking for everyone’s awareness. An official media news group made a post dedicated to his death. Every one expressed their grief.
No matter what I did, I coulnd’t understand how someone so alive could just die.
He flew in Tacloban, covering the aftermath. He was every where. He was directing his own documentary. He was starting to shoot his own TVCs. He had voice acting engagements.
Death should not touch someone who was so happy to be alive.
And yet he did.
Why him? Why not me? I was knee-deep in my misery and misfortune that I asked for it. I was sad, and angry, and it took a lot of effort to keep me laughing. I was rejecting the world, I’ve stopped enjoying the sunshine while he continued to make poems out of it. Why not me instead?
When I asked that we stop talking, I told him I’m sure one day we’ll see each other on the top, both being courageous and ambitious, there must be one day where we’ll run the world.
I didn’t know it wouldn’t happen anymore, because he was gone too soon.
My world crumbled. I wish I could have said goodbye. I wish I didn’t cruelly reject all his messages of reaching out to me. I wish I had more time. I wish we had some coffee. I wish he wasn’t so afraid.
No language spoken can ever aptly understand or relay into something concrete the vast abstract cut of emotions I felt. He was gone. Heaven, I pray, needs to be real. He needs to hear some more things I didn’t say.
I’m still the color of yellow-orange but on the day I found out you were gone, I was almost suffocated by your blue.
Every day now, it’s still here. Your blue in a world I try to fill with my orange.
The music he sent me on March 2016.