Bless My Heart, and Bless Yours, Too

10 December 2013
10:11 PM
Manila

M.–

I spent a few hours at my grandmother’s house this afternoon with my sister. I’ve missed it, missed feeling like a kid again. When my great grandmother was still alive, I used to go across the street and just hang out. Mostly I remember being fed. My favourite was a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between two small halves of soft bread. I thought it was the best thing on earth.

We went there to look at pictures. It was quite a trip! I looked at things that I’ve forgotten, places and faces that I can’t remember encountering until I saw them while flipping through the photo albums. I laughed, I ooohed and aaahed. I can’t believe the moments that were preserved, and briefly wondered how people choose what to take a snapshot of. What they discard in exchange for keeping this. I can’t help the onslaught of memories that followed, connected with the frozen scenes on paper–it was as if each photo was a map to other events. I thought of everything that happened to me that I didn’t write about, that I didn’t take a photo of.

It is Day Ten of the #GraceAndGratitude workshop. After I write this, I will put on my ‘praise’ playlist–songs I’ve gathered and listen to when I want to reflect and give thanks. These are the songs that have made me turn round and round barefoot in my room, hands raised above my head, palms open. I don’t know if it’s praying. Maybe?

Here is one I am considering to add to my list:

After poring over the photos, Lola asked us to stay for dinner. It was just around five in the afternoon; it was too early and yet–how can I refuse? So I sat down at her table, thinking that the last time I was here was Christmas of last year, and I haven’t visited since, even if we live across each other. Plates were arranged, glasses are filled with ice and Coke. Before us: a heaping of rice, a mountain of bacon, and sunny side up eggs.

The night is falling. We are having breakfast, and I am a little child again. We ate and we talked, and afterwards were given a choice between two flavours of ice cream: mango and cashew, or ube (purple yam) and cheese. I chose the latter, and a spoon was found to shape a tall ice cream cone. We could always eat in bowls, but where’s the fun in that? We licked and we we talked, and I am a little child again. We were shown my grandfather’s collection hoard of Cheetos, and I mentioned how it was our favourite, finally glad to contribute something to the conversation. I was promptly handed a bag, despite my surprise and protestations. Something to take home, she said, as though home was hours instead of a few steps away.

I looked at the photo of me and my sisters on the fridge. I can’t recall who that girl was anymore, M., if she still exists. If she was the child who had some ice cream dribbling a little from the corner of her mouth tonight. I looked at my sister as we walked back. Her lips were purple. I tried to fight back a laugh. We talked about giving a scooper as a gift for Christmas.

It is past one in the morning now. You’re right about the glimpses that we have of life. Because that’s what the present is, isn’t it–glimpses upon glimpses? Of course it might be misleading. What’s lovely today may not be so tomorrow, and vice versa. But what I love about you is that at first glance you are already choosing to notice the good things. You are very much open to grace that I marvel at how you can find something wonderful with what’s there. It’s something I am trying to teach myself, because I keep on looking for what’s not here. Do you know what I mean? I wasn’t saying you got it made–only that you are already practicing, consciously opening yourself up to life, and love, and the world. I am working towards that, and I am glad you are here to influence this.

I am listening to the song again. You know what my favourite part is? That struggle between not wanting to wait, and having to wait. It’s such a wail–YOU GOT TO WAIT!

I am imagining the body fighting, fighting to stay put, to trust, to allow. To hold on.

Goodnight,
T.

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