December 22, 2021.
My fortieth Christmas is creeping up and I feel like I’m headed for an inevitable midlife crisis. Fortunately, a guy in my position, consumed day and night by his job, doesn’t have the time to go screw up his personal life by buying a Ferrari or by cheating on his wife with unrelenting physical pleasure from new-age virtual technology to incapacitate the user for a week after kind-of-coitus, or KOC.
I look at my wife and I can see the circles around her eyes from all the preparations building up to Christmas day – from carefully planning the Noche Buena menu to the last-minute panic shopping and decorations. Both my kids cannot be contained from the anticipation of opening their gifts – they bug you every second if they can just take a peek. As I sat there watching them with saddened eyes, I reminisced when this all started.
It was eighteen years ago, a week before Christmas to be exact. I just passed training for my very first job. I couldn’t remember anymore who made the call. My father just passed away. It was more of a shock than anything else. I cannot remember if I even cried. Maybe it’s just that it hasn’t sunk in yet. I just stared at blank space. At that time, my mother is battling cancer and undergoing chemo (she died 6 months later). So I was like, “What’s happening?” You know what I mean? How could I celebrate when all these tragedies were all of a sudden have decided to just converge on one occasion; this one occasion that I have always been looking forward to; this one occasion when I can see my family as a whole?
So from then on, Christmas was not for me to celebrate. I am that jaded. I leave the celebrating to those that are truly happy; to those who have someone to celebrate it with; to those who can still spend the holidays with their loved ones - opening gifts, singing carols, laughing and having meals on Christmas Eve. Someday I wish I can find my own. Someday I hope and pray to God to lift this veil of suffering from me. Someday…And until then this will be my silent protest.
My little daughter was tugging at my shirt sleeve and looking at me with her doe eyes. Her brother is watching her mom make the shopping list while he sits on her lap. I snapped out of my reverie and ruffled my daughter’s hair to which she responded with an exasperated look.
From then on, I decided I no longer need to wait for another Christmas. I am already there. This is my happy ending.
“Your posts always make me cry. Maybe because it touches what I feel, too. Or just maybe, we haven't really talked about this after pop and mom died. We both have caged ourselves. Afraid to disclose any emotions. We have always expressed ourselves in the safe zone -- our prose.”
The above prose was written by my brother. Posted in his site. I have always admired how he arranges his words to a meaningful, sentimental whole. The more I admire him now for being so strong. What he has written is not fiction. My father died of heart attack – slept and never woke up – in December 12, 2003, barely few days before Christmas and a few days after our mother underwent her fourth chemotherapy session. And yes, six months before she succumb to cancer. More painful to say, our mother died in June 12, 2004, a day before my brother’s birthday. Two major occasions where he has to celebrate – we have to celebrate, yet, two major deaths – that of our parents’ precede the events.
“Hats off, dear brother! I admire your strength.”
My brother now lives with a few flatmates in Makati. No family yet. No love-life I guess. I just pray to God that soon… indeed he would find that wife he is referring to in his prose and will have kids to bring him back to that feeling of looking forward to celebrating Christmas and his birthday. “I love you bro! Merry Christmas!”