One of the things that I have to be most thankful for is the speed technology has evolved in the last decade. If it weren’t for tablets and the Internet, the husband and I would have had such a struggle maintaining our relationship pre-marriage. If it weren’t for those nifty gadgets, I would not have had the chance to get to know my nieces and nephews abroad.
Juliana is one of my nieces, and I think she’s the first that has grown accustomed to seeing my face on a tablet. I don’t know how to properly describe it, but it looked to be that it was so normal for her to just see me through her iPad.
She’s visited us in the tropics before but I think the most memorable one was in 2013. We had just buried Tatay mere weeks then. I remember that out of body feeling, that everything wasn’t real yet. But they were coming home. That, for sure, I was happy about. I remember asking my boss if I can take half of the day off, since their flight comes in at noon. My brother Ted already skipped the day to pick them up, and our youngest brother Daniel was right on time to swing by my office.
I was a bit nervous coming home; I didn’t know how she’d react upon seeing me. Even now that I am an adult, I fear rejection so much, especially when it comes from kids. Something about being disliked by children makes you feel extra crappy than being disliked by adults. It’s like their senses tell them they cannot trust you. I was just so nervous.
That anxiety, combined with my grief desperately (but well) hidden, made that day too emotion-ridden. But you can’t pause days.
It was a hot day, and my mother has laid out a feast of shrimp, beef broth, barbecued pork belly and fresh mangoes for our balikbayans. Daniel honked the horn as we approached our house, so I knew she’d be aware that someone was coming. Half sweaty, half sticky, I walked into our house and saw Juliana, then 3 years old, with a huge grin on her face.
“You’re not in an iPad anymore,” she exclaimed. I walked up to her and she didn’t even hesitate throwing her arms around me. I swooped her up in my arms and said, “Hi.”
I don’t know about you, but that to me is a perfect meet-cute.