There are moments that make simple good memories and good stories. But there are moments you just wish would never end.
This whole night is one of them.
As I write this post, my sister, brother-in-law, and their one-year old son, Adrian — my first immediate nephew and the first grandson in the family — are less than four hours away from going back home to the US. They have been here in Manila the past 15 days on vacation, their first time since settling abroad in 2004.
In the past two weeks, I have seen Adrian grow more. I carried him tonight, and oh boy! He is heavier than when he first arrived. He leaves Manila tomorrow with his parents, more confident of his fragile baby steps. He smiles a lot more, and utters more monosyllabic sounds. It probably won’t take time for him now to say Mama or Papa (or will it be Tito Ralph? Hehe), and certainly, it will not take time for him to start walking on his own. I’ve enjoyed and cherished every second I’ve been able to carry and bond with him.
As my sister’s family flies back to the US tomorrow, I guess I couldn’t help but feel that void again, which we in the family all came to experience when Gianina and JB had first left in 2004. I wouldn’t dare imagine the sentiments of Adrian’s grandparents, which, when I think about it, pains me even more. Since then, we’ve had to content ourselves with e-mail, Yahoo Messenger calls, YouTube videos of Adrian, and hundreds of pictures via multiply or shutterfly. But obviously, nothing replaces being there for Adrian’s first steps, and nothing replaces enjoying a home-cooked feast for the family. Try doing that on instant messaging! And on the other hand, my sister’s family has missed a lot of developments here as well. Well, they’ve missed a lot of my cooking too. Haha!
How I wish happy nights like this would never end, and how I wish that we all had more time together. We’ve all missed so much by being apart in the past four years. But as we temporarily part ways again, my heart overflows with joy and gratitude to heaven for the time spent with family, also realizing how much all our lives have been enriched a hundredhold in the past two weeks. So in the end, I feel that there is no really no room for sadness. Just joy.
The traditional Filipinos that we all are, we had a great despida at home tonight, which ended just a few minutes ago. Thankfully, as of 10:30 tonight, Adrian has not been showing any signs of calling it a day (thanks to his long afternoon nap), and my parents are not wasting any precious time doing an all-nighter with him. Every second counts.
My last cousin in my generation, grandchild number 27, was born six years ago, and with it, I realized that he was the last for my generation. But as we all branch out our wings and fly, and as we broaden our horizons — we discover that there is no end in sight. And what a great joy to realize that our clan continues through Adrian — and I hope, my own sons and daughters later on.
So tonight may and will end. And in a few hours, I will say goodbye to Adrian and his parents (Hope to see you again very soon). But one thing I know for sure, the memories, lessons — and love — brought about by these last two weeks are here to stay. And truly, Home is not where your house is, but it’s where you house your heart.