My mom, eldest brother, and best friend are out of the country. That’s why I make the most out of the time they’re here.
Whenever they’re about to leave, I’m melancholic and restless. I can’t look at the clock because I’d only count the remaining hours. It’s the exact opposite of counting down the hours until they arrive.
The sound I hate the most is a siren. It’s a childhood trauma. I also hate gunshots and a child crying. But another sound I hate is the sound of packing. Zippers opening and closing. Stuff being put inside. I hate it because I’m afraid of it. I especially hate it when it’s my mom, eldest brother, or best friend packing.
Last night, I heard the sound of packing again. My best friend was in the girls’ room. Her older sister, her nephew, and I were in the master bedroom. He and I tried to distract each other from the reality that her aunt was leaving by playing Lego. We tried to drown the sound of her zipping her luggage and putting stuff in by throwing Lego pieces at our rocket ships. We didn’t succeed.
The boy didn’t want to sleep but we all needed our rest. After a scary story from his aunt and my best friend, it was lights out. I told him to make a Tin Sandwich. She was lying in between us so we hugged her tight.
Then I hugged her.
We only had three hours of sleep. Her alarm went off. I could feel her getting ready. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t. It’s the same with my mom and eldest brother. You hold on to the scents. Lotion. Perfume. Because you have no idea when you would smell these again.
Our last breakfast together.
Before stepping out of the house, her older sister suggested a group hug. “He’s surrounded by boobies,” my best friend joked. She meant her nephew. It was also her attempt to make us smile. She succeeded.
No one pulled a camera out. Departures aren’t usually documented.
While we wait for the car to pull out, she hugged me. I could feel a lump in my throat. I was fighting back tears. Couldn’t let these out yet. Have to be strong for the boy.
”Don’t go,” her nephew said those words so many times. I remember I said those words to my brother, too. But of course, their answer is the same. “I have to.” Their lives are there.
The difference between driving my mom or eldest brother to the airport and driving my best friend is that the latter is faster. She lives in BF Homes which is closer to the airport. And there are no stop-overs. A part of me wanted to suggest to do one, to at least make time stand still, like what we usually do when dropping my mom or eldest brother off. We’d pass by Manila Memorial Park and visit our dad. But when it’s her, there are no stop-overs. It’s from the house and straight to the airport.
Then the moment came. It was time to say goodbye. We hugged her one by one. Told her I loved her. Then it was another group hug.
My mom, eldest brother, and best friend share another thing in common. They hug and kiss us goodbye, then a wave from afar, walk into the airport, and they don’t look back. Because it’s always harder for the one who has to go compared to the one who’s left behind.
The ride home, I was looking at the boy. He didn’t have to say it but I could feel his pain. I could have gone home right after dropping his aunt off but I promised the boy I’d hang out with him. It was like when we were younger and we’d drop our mom off. We wouldn’t head home right after. We’d go to a mall or a zoo or just do anything - to distract us.
Our distraction was sleeping - side by side again - on the bed - minus one person.
Felt my best friend’s older sister get up. She was getting ready for work. The boy was up, too. Told him three scary stories. Thank you, Edgar Allan Poe. After our story telling session, he asked, “Do you miss my aunt already?”
Things were back to normal.
Rode with my best friend’s older sister. On my way home, that was when I could feel the tears falling. Again I held them back. I couldn’t let these out. Not just yet.
Let it out just a minute ago - as I write this. I will always have separation anxieties - but it’s better now than before. If there’s one thing I learned from all these coming and going, it would be to appreciate your loved ones. Show them that you care. Tell them you love them and mean it.