Being Left is Alright

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” – William Shakespeare

I don’t know how to begin an ending. How am I supposed to write about the ceasing of physical togetherness by people? How am I supposed to face the inevitability of going away or of being left behind? How am I supposed to comfort myself at the empty space that now lies beside my little body?

It goes like this:

Ever since I was a kid, I was constantly being left behind. By my mother, who was then a medical student. By my grandfather, who was an OFW. By my uncles, who had to leave the province and start a life in Metro Manila. By my “friends”, who didn’t mean to stay in the first place.

And every time I was left, I couldn’t help but be moved to tears, most especially if it was Mom leaving. It killed me every time—wishing the hours we had together can stretch into forever, asking for the whole universe to just please stand still.

But that never happened.

I eventually grew up, and realized I was going to leave too. Leave my birthplace, my home, my memories, my people, my own self—behind.

At first, leaving was sweet. Like revenge. I thought, “Finally, I am the one leaving,” and it made me happy, euphoric even, because leaving entailed arriving at something new, something different. I was dead eager to enter a new life.

Yet, every time I came back home to my origin, to where my (0,0) supposedly is, I found a part of myself wishing I could just stay there forever.

To stop leaving, and start living.

Indeed, we seek what we do not have. For that time, when I couldn’t bear being left behind, I wanted to leave too. And when I was finally leaving others behind, I ended up wanting to stay at where I would always belong to.

**

Earlier today, Dad left for his work. Separated by miles of geographical distance and oceans of unshed tears, he will be again.

Each time he leaves, I can hear the same old thought in my head: “I need to graduate already.” I really have to, because I want him to stop going away, even if it’s for our own sake. I want him to stay, because home is so much brighter when he is around. He’s a pocketful of comedy, a forest fire of temperament, an ass-kicking, non-biological-yet-greater-than-biological father. When he’s there, the embers of our souls burst into dancing flames of joy.

Once I graduate, I’d be able to help with the financing shenanigans that already sound so much of a pain-in-the-ass.

And it’s not just that. I can taste the bittersweet loneliness my Mom is in, whenever he leaves. I know how much she wants him to stay. We all want him to, but it is Mom that yearns for him the most. (I’ve never seen love so best portrayed than by the two of them.)

I admire how tough Mom can be, because Dad has been leaving for years now. Just like how my grandfather, her father, used to do ever since she was five or six. Yes, that must’ve toughened her up, but there would always be that slight gleam in her eyes that whispers, “Please stay.”

Then I think, “If ever I’d get married, I wouldn’t ever want my husband to go to a workplace a couple of seas/oceans away.” The loneliness, I can face, but not the reality of being left behind, once again.

Now though, as I lie here in my cold room and type these words (5:30am, and wide awake because of a cup of coffee earlier), an epiphany reveals itself to me:

Parting may be sorrowful at first, when the togetherness has ceased, but it would turn out sweet as one looks forward to being with that person again.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in his book Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close:
“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”

Because nothing is sweeter than the arrival of something one has waited for, has been waiting for, and will always be waiting for.

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