I woke up to the sound of a busy home, hearing footsteps like giant leaps trailing around the wooden floor. I opened up my eyes in peace, then I was greeted with Bas’ booming voice which nearly shook my consciousness.
“Hey! Sleepy Taffyta,” said Bas. “Just because dad said that sleeping is good, it doesn’t mean you have to be asleep all the time.” My seven-year-old brother held my gaze for about two seconds then jumps at me and started to imitate pro wrestlers.
“Go back to bed, Bas.” I groaned.
“Mom, I woke her up!” He said. “Can I have two bananas on my lunchbox today as a reward, please?” He flies out the room, looking for approval.
What is up?
Wait a second . . .
It isn’t the day, is it?
Ah, I get it.
Today must be Friday.
My mom was standing in the corner of the room wearing traditional Filipino clothes. She adjusts and readjusts the garter of her saya on her waist and the hems that touch her shin. The light of the room made her lips look paler. Nevertheless, it was still identical to the same ones that she used to kiss me good night with, even though that was almost two decades ago. She’s still as beautiful, like my dad always said.
“Here, honey,” She hands me her wig. Her serene voice cannot be slashed out as one of her quirks. “Would you mind helping mama with this?”
Mama didn’t have to ask. I already had the wig grip headband in my hand. I traced her hairline gently; or what’s left of it, at least. I placed the grip band directly above her upper forehead and circled it around the head until it reached the nape. Once secured, I smoothed out her wig. I positioned it on her head like the way I’ve done it a million times before: laying it down the scalp and pulling the rest of the wig over her head. She stood up straight looking at the mirror, looking very pleased.
“I thought the doctor kinda forbid you to teach again, ma’am.” A woman’s voice said. I spin around and found my older sister standing in the doorway, her arms were crossed.
“Need some help?” She asked while grinning.
“It’s the last day of class, after all.” My mom replied.
We were like mom’s stylists, my sister and I. Pen took charge of the accessories while I was left with mom’s shoes. A couple of minutes passed and I still haven’t decided. Should she wear sandals? Flip flops? Slip-ons? Flats? Bakya? I was getting frustrated. And hungry.
The tension seemed to be building up . . .
. . . and that’s when she laughed.
“Look at you two,” she said. “You should’ve seen your faces!”
She lit up the whole room.
Tears were falling down her red cheeks. She was laughing so hard that whenever she comes up for air, she gives out a loud gasping noise. My mom’s eyes were twinkling in a slow ecstatic motion, like the first droplets of rain to hit the land. Never have I ever seen my mother this happy, ever. In my entire life.
I wish she was this happy all the time. I wish the stairs weren’t mountains for her. I wish she doesn’t know that it isn’t just only her last day to teach, but her last day as well. I wish she doesn’t know, even though she does. I wish she didn’t have to make that choice. I wish she had more time.
Suddenly, Pen started laughing with her, too.
And so did my papa and Bas, who just arrived.
And in that moment, I just wanted to freeze everything. I want to remember my mama this way. Someday, I will look back in this with a flash and recollect every single emotion that has resonated through me.
If I could just capture this fleeting moment with my family, I would be forever grateful.
For half a second, I was struck. I was afraid that I’m never going to be this happy again. This happiness might be the peak and nothing can surpass it.
And so, time flew.
I guess you could say that I was right.
I never was.
(image found on WeHeartIt from user @ElyceBerlinn)