Today, I woke up knowing I needed to write this letter. It is the only way I could tell you that it has been a year. Have I dreamt about you? I don’t recall. I remember Ate waited for you to visit her in her dreams. I don’t wait for you in mine because I usually do not dream when I sleep (the few times I did, they mostly verge on nightmares). I do remember you all the time in my waking hours. Every time I enter your room, I whiff a faint mixture of your perfume, your skin, your Dr. Kaufman soap and the smell of newly-sewn clothes.
When I drink water late at night, I expect that you would appear outside the window or make a noise that would startle me. You never did. Maybe because you knew I’m a coward and that I dislike having to walk in the dark. But you always walked beside me. That is how you would visit me, when I walk alone or when I am left alone in the office or when I am reading in the library. You would appear in the form of the characters I wrote and read. You are sweet that way, lola.
When I cook, that is where my memory of you is strongest. When I touch a knife, especially when I dice the garlic I would hear you. Garlic must be crushed and I never crush them. Always, I would feel guilty of violating your kitchen rules. When I cook adobong pusit and paksiw na isda, the two dishes I like cooking the most because they’re easy and fast, I knew you would disagree. You don’t like easy and fast. You are always meticulous and you never cook in a hurry. How you dislike your grandchildren’s habit of watching the television to wait for their dishes to boil or for their chicken to turn brown. I remember running to your room often and asking how things must be done, must I dice the potatoes or cut them in half? Sometimes, I would run to your room, a small pot in hand, to ask if the water is alright or if the meat looks okay. Always, I would bring a spoon full of sauce or soup that I want you to taste. I regret not listening well when I was younger and you were more eager to teach us how to cook. I only remember frowning and planning how to escape without you noticing, never paying attention to the details that make your cooking distinct.
Judy said that is has been a year and it pains her to know that we are moving on with our lives. I guess she is right. We move on because life must be lived. We move forward but that can mean with your help or with you beside us. I cook but always with you beside me when I taste my dishes or hearing you click your tongue when I do things in a hurry. We live and keep your memory alive in our own ways. I often go home and see Mama’s eyes are swollen from crying. And I know your children remember you all the time. They too keep their memories of you strong.
The roles we play remind us of you. I play the role of a mother and there again is a bond we would share for the rest of my life. And we would create new memories together, lola. When I try the things that you practice and love, like sewing or answering crossword puzzles daily, I know I’ll have fond memories of you when I finally have time for that. For now, stay alive in the books that I read and the 25 years-worth of memories that we lived together. I have lived my entire life with you, and always will.