Yesterday I saw you in white, in a polo, in black pants. It reminded me of last year, of how we met before your thesis defense, so that I could see you dressed up. I remembered wanting to fold your sleeves and button your polo. I wanted to pull your collar and dust your shoulders. I felt that then and yesterday.
I thought of doing that for you in the morning, the way my mother had to my father, before he went off to work. I imagined what it would be like to help you with your tie, and to tuck a hanky into your pocket. Now, I’m thinking of helping you match socks, and bickering about colors, and laughing about styles. I’m thinking of the two of us fussing over your hair. I’m thinking of walking you out the door and you kissing me goodbye. I’m thinking of waving at you while you look over your shoulder, and the two of us reminding each other of groceries and bills to pay.
I wonder what it would be like to come home to you after I finish with my field work. I wonder what it would be like to wash dishes side by side – please tell me there’ll be stories and bubble fights. I wonder what it would be like to call my home your home. I wonder what it would be like to get angry about the news together. I wonder what it would be like to have you cook for me. I wonder what it would be like for the two of us to be tired, and then agree to just “leave the chores for the morning.”
I wonder what our newspaper and magazine subscriptions would be. I wonder what colors we’d paint our living room. I wonder what we’d sit like: would I be on the floor, by the couch, by your feet? Would I be laying on the couch with my feet propped up, with your head just within reach for me to stroke?
I remember that you like balconies. I love balconies too. Let’s have milk and tea and shawls and stars there.
Whenever I’m somewhere beautiful, I think of you, and I wonder, “What would he say if he were here?” I want you to breathe in this air. Partake of this fruit. Collapse into this chair. Glaze your eyes over this view. Dip your feet in this stream. Surround yourself with the sound of these birds. I want to feel you relax. I want to feel you let go and take all this beauty in.
When I go, I want to be buried in a place like this. I want an old Filipino house by the foot of a hill, and a mango tree, or some other fruit-bearing tree that I’ll let you liken to me, to be planted by my gravestone. And then over the years, I want flowers planted around my grave. Visit me, and surround me with sunflowers and berries and dandelions and butterflies. Robe me in gold, blue, purple, red, pink and majestic green. Let the children take the flowers and the fruit, and let them plant their own seeds and water their own shoots.
When I go, the funeral doesn’t have to be extravagant. Let me stay in Manila for two days, and then bring me to the province I’ve adopted, whatever that might be in the future. Let my family and my scholars bury me. Throw sunflowers (or their petals, since I know they’re expensive) in my grave. If they want to give white flowers, make them lilies or baby’s breath, not roses. Invite everyone, even those who you think might have hated me. Be kind to them and treat them like family if they arrive. I want to go with all efforts of peace.
When I go, don’t be too sad. Cry, but remember me in laughter. Grieve, but love one another. If there is pain, let it make you raw again. Death is a powerful thing, with lots of powerful emotions. I suppose it’s because it’s the grand culmination of a life full of passions and stories. Don’t be afraid to feel all of that all over again – at the time of my death, and even after.