I received two Picture CDs of photos I had taken during my last visit to Manila over the Christmas and New Year holidays December 2009-January 2010. The morning of the day before my departure, I had grabbed my camera and just clicked away at jeeps coming and going from our corner of N. Domingo Street. For some reason, I seem to have lost a big chunk of these photographs and I had asked that whatever I had saved on my sister’s hard drive be sent back to me. Alas, they are not in the CDs either. I scoured the folder and went back twice, but nothing. Sadness is creeping upon me as I think about how those photos might be lost forever.
Of course they might still be on a thumb drive I just haven’t loaded yet. I hope. What is it about capturing the moment when we click away that makes losing them so painful? But I remain optimistic that they are just here somewhere. Unfortunately, an attempt to recover deleted files from the memory card of my camera proved useless. They weren’t there. Period.
So I’m caught reminiscing about Manila yet again. It’s a little tough considering I’m struggling with the thought once more of Dad’s approaching birthday. It gets tougher with each year knowing he’s getting older, more so with his present condition where he is with a colostomy bag and practically bedridden. Not an easy thought to dwell on so let me move on.
I feel fortunate to have had the chance to spend the holidays in Manila again after 9 years.. this year marks the 10th year I’ve been calling New York my home. So to me, it was all new experiencing the holidays with the family again. It felt warmer and more meaningful, because I had everyone who mattered to me around me… There are many small things that can really make a big difference — no matter how inconsequential it may seem.. I think about the fresh buko, the kakanin, the street carollers, and just plain old Manila heat.
I always feel special when I’m home in the house I grew up in with my siblings. It’s a connection that has a magical effect on me whenever I go back — no matter ho w recent or how long ago it had been since I was last there. It feels different now but it feels just as familiar and as real to me as it had been when I was a decade or two younger.
I wish I could find my way home to Manila this July. On July 19, my father turns another year older. A year ago this time around, I was praying for his deliverance from an illness that almost took his life. Then six months later, when I returned for a scheduled vacation, he got sicker still. I don’t know for certain if he will still be alive the next time I go home. I am not even trying to find a way — there is a sense of resignation to not being able to see him again.
As children, we always want to believe that our parents will be around forever. I have been blessed to have gotten to this age with both of them still around, even if they now live separate lives. I wish they would both have longer lives, but just today I realized, their quality of life is just as important and relevant. So do I really want Dad to be around another year or two to make it to the next time I can go home and visit? That would not be fair to him, and that would be cruel. Besides, it’s not for me to decide. As they often say, we all live on borrowed time.
I know that there is still a chance I’ll get to see Dad again before the end comes. But I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment by keeping my expectations realistic. *SIGH*