So late last night, while working on a new project, I thought of you. I thought of our talk right before I moved out of the house.
I thought about the pain in your eyes as you slowly gave me your blessing to move away from your protective arms.
I saw your fear that I might forget to eat. Or sleep. Or just plain rest.
I saw your worry that I might forget about church. Or family. Or friends. And be solely fixated on that one thing that I’ve always thought would sustain me long enough. About that one thing that I thought is all I needed.
Now that I’ve let go of that one thing, I look back at the points you’ve raised. I don’t regret the emancipation; it has made me a better person, though not in a manner you would have wanted. What I do remember are the things you didn’t say and do.
Why you never talked to him about me. About his plans. His plans for him and me. How you never found the time nor the need to give him your blessing. Maybe it was your manner of saying he’s not the one, maybe it was your way of letting me realize he can’t give me more than you can.
And that’s all every father has ever wanted for their daughter: a man who loves her more than he does that he will provide for her, listen to her, never leave her, give himself up for her, support her. A partner in the journey of life that will stand as witness how great she lived. How she was a good friend, wife, mother. A companion. A chronicler. Someone who can make her live forever in the endless love he will give her.
For a time, I really believed he was that. I really saw him in that light because for a long time, he really was that. But you knew he wouldn’t be that man for long.
Do I regret those years? Not as much as I thought, actually. He has loved me the best way he knew how and I could never have been more thankful for that. Insanity was almost present and evident. It was the kind of love people rooted for, aimed for and dreamt of.
What I do regret is not having been able to talk to you of the life I wanted for myself. It was 9 in the evening and I am cross legged alone and working still, without a single indication that someone will pick me up and make sure I’ve had dinner and that the long day was okay even though I ended up spent because I tried to make a difference.
I failed to talk to you about the man I needed and wanted and desired.
I failed to let you know that that man has you to look up to, to be his role model. That that man will have to live up to the expectations you have set in order to be the man for me.
You never did ask for much, Tatay. I’m sure you would have been content with a man willing to give me everything I wanted even before I knew I wanted it. But now, looking back, more than the love, I now understand that a man of faith can never compare to a man filled with all the love and devotion in the world offered at my feet.
It is not an easy search, Tatay. In some ways, I know you are unique in the sacrifices you have made to be with the love of your life. But thank you for making me see for myself that a man of faith is all I need to believe that a love like yours can happen more than once in a lifetime.
I miss you with an intensity I cannot explain. You will always be my open-ended conversation, my unanswered question. But the best lesson you’ve taught me comes posthumously:
I do not need a man to complete me. I need me. I need faith.
With your passing comes clarity. I am now counting on time to give me strength.
I love you forever and always.