Yesterday at the commissary, there was a lola holding her grandson and who walked very slowly, pointing at different products and naming them aloud. I sighed, and the lola turned to me to apologize, to excuse her slowness. I shook my head, said, “No, no, I just miss my lola.” She said, “Ah, anak where is she now? Here? Home at the Philippines?” I said, “No, lola, she has passed on.” She gave me that sad, sad look my lola would give me, one filled with meaning, the face she used as she’d point to everyone in the store and say, “You see there? He is my friend, my good friend!” That face of longing, like she were judging the world intently.
I could see the lola hold her grandson’s hand a little tighter. She asked me where she passed and I said California. She repeated the word the same way my lola would, the right pitch, accent, and sadness. “Oh, California? Not home?”
On this NYE, I’m thinking of you, mama. I always am. The way I pick out fruits, peer at them and hold each one in my hand firmly like I were judging the world, that’s for you. The way I look at every Filipino in the grocery store and think: that person, they’re my friend. I miss you. Always.