a day of remembrance

March 11, 2010 at 9:42 am 16 comments

so what would you think of me now?
so lucky, so strong, so proud
i never said thank you for that
now I’ll never have a chance

–jimmy eat world

in a few days, it’ll be st. patrick’s day again. how fast time flies leaving us with nothing but memories… some bitter, some sweet.

st. patrick’s day has a special meaning to me. on this day, i arrived at the jfk airport to start my life in america. it was early evening. i found my cousin waiting for me as i exited the immigration area. i would be staying in her apartment in brooklyn until i could live on my own.

she shared the apartment with another cousin and c., her college friend from the philippines. they were having a party when we arrived. two guests playing chopsticks on the piano together shrieked when they saw me, “look, a guy!” i just barged in an all-girls party. my cousin didn’t tell anyone about me. i was supposed to be the surprise. good thing, playing male stripper wasn’t part of the deal.

the apartment was in a 3-story building on linden boulevard. it had 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. my cousins slept in one of the bedrooms and c. in the other bedroom. as for my sleeping arrangement, i slept on a bed in the dining room by the window hidden behind a bookcase.

living with three women in a big city was quite an experience for somebody who came from a small town like me. i was naive, unsophisticated, and terribly shy. but i was a quick study. before spring of that year ended, i had adjusted to my newly found life. my dad never had to call again and ask when he should buy my return ticket home. i had a job and looking forward to a bright future.

i guess it helped when you had three women who believed in you and thought you were smarter than you really are.

in no time, i started to have feelings for c. it was strange since i was seeing somebody in queens at that time. how could i be in love with two people at the same time? she was also seven years older and i didn’t have any intention of becoming involved with an older woman. so, i kept the feelings to myself.

life in new york was good but still i felt something lacking. living in a cramped apartment wasn’t the america that i had envisioned. i imagined an america of wide open spaces where the buffaloes roam at will, so to speak. to my cousins’ chagrin, i quit my job after a few months and left the big city. in a way, it also relieved my cousins of the responsibilities of “watching” over me, which they took very seriously. it seemed that i never grew up in their eyes. they still thought of me as that grade school kid they left behind.

on the morning of my departure, c. woke up early to prepare me a scrambled egg sandwich to take on the trip, then hurried back to her room. i thought she was about to cry, but i didn’t think much of it at the time. it was later when i was eating the sandwich at the bus stop in ohio that an overwhelming feeling came over me. suddenly, tears fell down my eyes and made the sandwich too salty for my taste.

my journey took me to chicago where i hung out with friends for two months, then headed to california. it was in california where i found pieces of america that i was looking for, such as the redwoods, carmel, berkeley, yosemite, the haight-asbury, the wine country, etc. most importantly, i found the freedom to be on my own, as the song goes, like a rolling stone.

i saw c. a couple more times when i went back to new york for a visit. a few years later, i received a call from my cousin saying that c. had leukemia. i almost dropped the phone. it couldn’t be. not c. kind-hearted. vivacious. so full of life.

at first, she tried to fight the disease using the same drive and will that catapulted her career. but, at the end, she learned to accept her fate. one autumn day, she died peacefully. incidentally, my cousin died of the same disease in 2008. fate or coincidence? i wonder. my other cousin, who now lives in boston, didn’t get the disease.

it was on st. patrick’s day that i first met c. that’s the reason why it will always be a day of remembrance for me.

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From Gandhi to Sharmila I Met You on St. Patrick`s Day

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. joanne  |  March 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    such a beautiful, sad song… hang in there.

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  March 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      joanne:

      i agree. it’s one of my favorite songs.

      Reply
  • 3. AC  |  March 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    awww.. this post really moved me. may they rest in peace.

    i really believe people just come in and out of our lives but some leave marks and touch our hearts, one of them might be c in yours.

    btw, who’s cousin of yours passed away? the one who picked you up from the airport?

    Reply
    • 4. plaridel  |  March 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      ac:

      yes, she was the one. she was my first cousin on the father’s side. if there’s any consolation, both didn’t suffer long.

      Reply
      • 5. AC  |  March 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm

        i only got to listen to this song last night when i got home. maganda sya. πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • 6. plaridel  |  March 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

          ac:

          it’s by an indie group, jimmy eat world. it’s included in their best selling cd called bleed american. they adopted their name from a drawing showing the bassist’s younger brother, jimmy, eating the world. funny but it clicked. πŸ™‚

          Reply
  • 7. Ruchi  |  March 12, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Wow! I think this is the best post I have read on this blog.

    There something to the emotion of ‘missing/remembrance’ that makes us more human, more defined.

    – Ruchi

    P.S.: I am glad you made it well in America πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • 8. plaridel  |  March 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

      ruchi:

      if i have one regret, it’s not being able to see her before she died. i never thought it was that serious and that she’d recover fully. big mistake on my part.

      Reply
  • 9. yan  |  March 12, 2010 at 4:33 am

    i felt sad with your story. 😦

    Reply
    • 10. plaridel  |  March 12, 2010 at 11:24 am

      yan:

      thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  • 11. kelliemacaraeg  |  March 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    hey p.

    Boy, your post forced me down memory lane.

    It was sad..

    nostalgic..

    real…

    Reply
  • 12. kelliemacaraeg  |  March 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    makes me sing.. john mayer’s St. Patrick’s day too.

    Reply
    • 13. plaridel  |  March 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      kellie:

      i’d never heard of that john mayer song. i’ll check it out.

      Reply
  • 14. Priceless Joy  |  January 4, 2015 at 11:05 am

    This is sad. 😦 I know it is an old post, but it is still very sad. πŸ˜₯ Thank you for the pingback. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • 15. plaridel  |  January 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      priceless joy:

      i know.

      Reply
  • […] Stage Right. (No, Seriously, the Exit Is To Your Right.) SERENDIPITYKINDERGARTEN – THAT FIRST DAY Musings of a Random Minda day of remembrance The Gad About TownFirsts, Lasts. Somewhere in the Middle soul n spiritFirst sunrise of Diu Island […]

    Reply

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