AND, suddenly, there she was, walking past my sprawled self, like she had never left us! Forty-eight days after she died, eight days after we gave her a fairly decent send-off to heaven on her body’s fortieth day on earth. Suddenly, there she was!
Previous to her walking pass and back into my life, it was like she made a soundless announcement of her coming, like trumpets and cymbals and bells all clamoring but all agreeing to be tremulously quiet, muted even. Like Yehey! She’s coming; but shhhhh!
I raised myself on both elbows to see if the baby was awake and if it was the one creating such quiet delicious havoc in my mind; it was and it was not. From the baby, my eyes traveled down every space and corner of the wide white room to the open adjoining toilet and bath just as wide and white, then to white sliding doors pushed wide to the sides (just to eliminate any lingering shade of black or gray or of any color even slightly reminiscent of dark shadows). The hallway lights (there were 3) added their tipid white glare to the brightness of the 3 o’clock sun pouring through the wide open windows of the hallway running through two bedrooms, an office and home library, ending at the laundry room and servant’s quarters and to the steps leading to another bedroom at the mezzanine. Really, for space so wide, it was just too white and bright!
And, suddenly, walking past the sliding doors flung wide, she was there! Walking with that queenly poise that she had during her heydays! Like she had never gotten sick and suffered through the life-saving reprieves the doctors and nurses forced down her nose and throat and orifices. Forty eight days after she died, eight days after we gave her a fairly decent send-off to heaven on her body’s fortieth day on earth.
Pardon me for repeating myself like a dumb retard, but I had just buried my dearest mother and will only just bury a parent that once and never again (the other parent is a “disappeared” of the Marcos era). I had just buried her 48 days ago. And just belatedly and with so much denial of the truth, I had just begun to accept the fact that she is now buried so securely and so deeply many feet inside mother earth there is no going home anywhere near to Mama when the boyfriend is a liar and a dumber retard than I was. Unless I wish to dig myself to an early grave parallel to hers through booze, boys and cards. Except that I don’t drink, have no time or inclination for boylets (except for the little one-year-five-months milk-guzzler who often occupied most of my bed), and have no propensity for gambling except with my life.
Anto la so agawa ey! Anto la, anto la, anto la?! My psychologist friend insanely prodded, pushed and shook me harshly and not too kindly for the resolution of the story.
She walked or rather floated through the first half of the sliding doors, looking forward. Halfway through, she turned her head and looked full into my face, and that of the baby. She continued to move forward until she disappeared past the sliding doors.
She was wearing her TOP (Third Order of Preachers of the Dominicans) uniform, a short-sleeved white satin blouse which usually went with blank skirts or pants. I was not able to see which, as I was lying halfway prone and awkward on the bed. Her straight hair, white with streaks of black, was combed free from her forehead and cheeks and was sleek down to the back of her neck, and the sleekness ended with a flick of a wave. She looked loved and cared for, like a queen, a dear lady out on a walk.
I jumped off the bed fast, looked to see if the baby will not follow after me; it will not, it was halfway to sleep. Reaching the door barefoot, I rushed to where she headed. No Mama there. The office/library was empty, so was the laundry room. The mezzanine door was locked. I went the other way. The living room door was locked, but the neighbors’ children were watching Barney on TV. I asked if a white lady just entered. Wide-eyed, they shook their head. The maid and her daughter were preparing to go to the supermarket for our dinner. They were too-dark-haired to be mistaken for “my visitor of the bright white lights”.
She walked back into my life for the shortest while. But that walk erased all my lifetime doubts on life after death. Yes, everything begins with life. Yes, death is as sure as there is life. And yes, there is life after death. A life as good as you were good on earth.
Mama, you were the goodest to us on earth. The best even.