“I should’ve told him I’ve loved him more than anything in this world.”
These are the words of my friend when we last talked over the phone a week ago. She was in pain, misery, and uncertainty. She stuttered with every word she said. She seemed lost and confused on how to gather herself up. She wasn’t the person I thought I knew. Hearing her cries made me saw her true self—her weaknesses. Gone is the woman I knew who was stronger and tougher than me. She was helpless.
I couldn’t help myself but to close my eyes and reflect. True enough, life is fleeting. Losing someone very dear to one’s heart can break a person into pieces. I’ve seen my friend talk about him a lot—he was her role model, confidante, guardian angel, mentor, and most of all, father. On most of our conversations, she always says:
“Alam mo, sabi ng papa ko”
“Nakwento ng papa ko”
“Bawal sa papa ko eh”
“Baka malaman ng papa ko”
Witnessing how she changed after her loss, I took a look on how life has been for me. In my eighteen years of existences, I felt like I’ve overlooked life’s blessings to me and just focused on pinpointing how life has been unfair and bad to me. As I checked on my own life, I pondered how this reality check is disappointing. I’ve probably had the nicest things and opportunities my parents could ever give to their child but after some realizations, I’ve asked myself:
“Do I ever deserve these things?”
“Have I told my parents that I’m thankful for these?”
“When was the last time I’ve told my parents that I love them?”
I was my self’s own disappointment. I was too centered unto myself that I forgot how to be grateful on the little joys life could offer. Just a week ago, my parents invited me over dinner but I declined because I was too tired from school. Remembering this and many more of my refusal to have family time broke my heart. I feel so heartless and indifferent. This isn’t me years ago who got mad at her parents for staying in the office until late in the evening. This isn’t me who broke down in front of her parents for not sparing time for their child’s family day in school. This isn’t me who promised herself that she will be caring and attentive to her parents. This isn’t me. Life’s challenges consumed me ‘till the point that I no longer know who I am and forgot where I came from. I may have taken steps forward but I forgot that I have companions with me along this journey—I forgot it was my parents who took me into this journey.
My friend’s pain helped me grasped the realities of life—life is short and unpredictable. It’s a wakeup call for me to be more in touch with the people around me especially those who are close to my hearts like my parents. Growing up with career mom and dad, I’ve resented them for leaving me at home with a kasambahay. I saw how my schoolmates were fetched by their moms and took them to restaurants as compared to me who was fetched by a kasambahay. I was envious to my classmates who got to attend family days in school and because of embarrassment that no one will go with me, I decided to skip such events. I was young and immature. I failed to realize my parents’ efforts to send me to a good school with quality education, give me a comfortable life where I live in a secured home and I can eat more than thrice a day, and endow me with opportunities so I could succeed in life. I overlooked their hard work and concentrated on what I don’t have. I’m guilty of bearing a grudge on them on my younger years just because I can’t understand the bigger picture of our situation.
Now that I grew older and perhaps wiser, I’ve learned how to value them not because they provide what I want and need but because they’re my parents. They were one call away when I need advice, there to comfort me on my failures, more attentive not only to my physical and financial needs but more on my emotional and mental needs, the ones who helped me build my character and taught me how to be my true self. In other words, they equipped me with what I need to be where I am today.
I was kind of surprised myself that I started sending “I love you” messages now to my parents. I cringed at it at first but I know it warms their hearts. But more than that, I’ve realized that in order for them to truly feel they’re loved, actions must speak louder than words. Things like simple invitation over dinner to talk about little things, watching movies, cooking together and even going to spa together are some of the things parents enjoy with their children. In my mind, it’s not that difficult at all to have bonding time with my parents. For me, I treat it as a temporary escape and leisure from the stress of doing academic works. Whenever I feel like I want to refuse my parents’ requests, my friend’s desperate cry wanting to tell her father that she loves him plays on my mind. I’m always reminded that life is short and it must be cherished well. Such realizations prompted me to remind and motivate my friends to value more the people around them than the inessential things. To you who’s reading this, please take time to read my letter for you.
I know you feel so stressed about your upcoming deadlines, long and final exams, and org works but as you read this, I want you take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. You’re doing fine. Now, I want you check on your messages or calendar. When was the last time you’ve had bonding with your parents and siblings? Or when was the last time you’ve sent a message to your parents? Did you hug or kissed them on their cheeks yesterday? Have you had any conversation with them about the things you both like?
Maybe it’s time for you to stop what you’re doing and reflect on your relationship with the people who treasured you all their lives. Prepare their favorite meal and have a meal together. Talk about life (but not about politics, for Pete’s sake. You’ll both end up being stressed). Listen to what they say and express your truest emotions. Tell them you love them.
We grow old but we tend to not realize that our parents are also growing old. I hope you also realize this and do what I’ve suggested. It doesn’t only bring happiness to them but also to you. I hope you cherish them more than anything in this world.
A Concerned Friend
PS: Please laugh whenever your dad makes a corny joke.
PPS: Please tell your mom that her dish really tastes amazing.
Disclaimer, this isn’t about consoling one’s conscience when our parents leave the earthly realm. It’s not about appeasing them so we would go to Heaven. It’s about giving back to what they’ve sacrificed for us all their lives and appreciating them for who they are and how they molded us into the better versions of ourselves. Our sincerity in whatever we do for them is what matters the most. This isn’t a mandate imposed by me or any person; it’s more of an encouragement to treasure our parents more and giving our best shot in making them happy. It is because in the end, when life gives our parents the flashbacks of their best moments in life, it will be filled with snapshots of our moments with them. After all, their lives revolved around us, their children.