I Feel Your Absence Everywhere


1:10 am, I could not sleep.

It is usually around this time that I am either on top of the world or under it. Tonight though, I feel the latter, and lately I have been feeling only that. Grief pierces through my heart every time I think of you, the life I had prior your death, and all the what ifs and could have beens.

At this very moment, I am writing this in the middle of the vast ocean, feeling the waves beneath me, surrounded by strangers, nostalgia seeping in through my veins, my heart slowly breaking – for the millionth time in the span of five years. We are down on our last five hours inside this ship heading back home. This is definitely a new ship, different from that of a decade ago.

This one looks fancier, a little bit too colorful. The cafeteria is bigger and they have a beauty parlor and a fancy restaurant inside this ship, can you imagine! But with all these changes, there are still some things that remained the same. They still had that entertainment ‘hour’ at nine a while ago, with all the singing and dancing. The bed bunks still look the same. And the ship lobby looks exactly how I remembered it from way back.

It makes long for you more than I already was.

It is you my heart associates with the most while I was up in the ship deck this afternoon, looking down at the deep dark ocean waters, strong wind caressing my face, waiting for the sun to set. I waited for dolphins to appear, just like what I did the last time I have been here – with you.

I was in second grade when you brought me to Manila for the first time. That was also the first time I rode a ship. I remember insisting you to give me the upper bunk bed but you wouldn’t let me despite my persistence. Today though, I was assigned to an upper bunk bed and that memory was the first one that I remembered. It made me both happy and sad. Papa, I’d be willing to trade anything and everything just to be my grade two self again having a petty argument with her father.

Roland and I took a stroll after a long nap a while ago. We went upstairs to breathe some fresh air. He told me to smile as he pointed his camera to me. My hair was all over the place and it was a very awkward picture, yet it invoked a memory. I remember that you used to walk me around the ship, pointing me this and pointing me that, explaining everything about how a ship works and it did not make sense that time.

I remember being slightly annoyed because you made me pose at every corner and took pictures of me wearing my pajamas, denim jack and awkward smile.

You held the digital camera carefully as you took my pictures, constantly smiling as if you were the one being taken a picture of. “We’ll have to take pictures of every first times we have,” you said. Then, you took my hand as we continued to walk around, afraid I’d get lost in the crowded ship. It was one of my earliest memories of you I wanted to seal in my heart.

Just you, me, the ocean.

Papa, things have drastically changed after you left. Our lives seem to continually twist, turn and twist again. Bad things have happened, but good things also. Wherever you are, I wish your soul peace and happiness as vast as this ocean surrounding me right now.