when people ask me when was the last time i went to the philippines i say three years ago. december 1998. it was our family reunion, the first time we’d all been there at the same time since we left in 1976. i leave it at that, and it doesn’t even occur to me that it is a lie.
the last time i was in the philippines was a year ago. to see my grandfather before he died.
a couple weeks ago, my grandmother was in the hospital. high blood. heart problems. the usual. she was always the more sickly one of the two. she had worn herself out trying to clean. i imagined her trudging up the wooden steps in her empty house to the dusty upstairs, heaving deep breaths, resting at the landing to kiss the feet of jesus. i imagined her in the hospital, covered in wires and bathed in low light.
here, hospitals are bright and cold. over there, they are dark and hot–you can barely see or breathe.
i’m worried. i keep thinking about how they say that when one dies the other follows. there is no reason to live, but there is a reason to die: to be with the one you love.
i’m worried about my grandma, and i wonder what she would say to me right now. she would probably tell me what i used to tell her when i was a little girl: “don’t worry, everything will be okay.” she would probably tell me that God’s will be done.
and i would say: “i know.”
but there would be a sliver of me that wants to defy all that, that wonders if there really is a reason for everything, that wants everyone to live forever and ever instead, amen.