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On losing people, pictures, words.

My paternal grandmother passed away last Friday. She was the oldest person in the family (she was 91), but also the wisest, and quite possibly the funniest. She never had a trace of dementia or Alzheimer's disease; she was fully aware of how charming John Lloyd Cruz is, and never forgot the words to Doe a deer a female deer... even after almost fifty years. She was kind and gentle, but also honest and brutally frank. She's the first to notice how much weight we put on, but she's also one to compliment my gigantic earrings.

I left for Diliman last Tuesday without Inang to say goodbye to for the first time. It's a terrible, terrible loss and I still have not come to terms with it to be honest.

In a frantic search for comfort and some assurance, I raided my laptop last night for this particular picture of us during my high school graduation party. It is clear in my head, this photo. I am wearing my Paulinian uniform and she is in her wheelchair, and we are both smiling. I remember it perfectly because I used to say I will compile my pictures with my grandparents (after my maternal grandmother remarked that she was making an album of me and my grandfather) but I never got through to doing it. I was desperately clicking through all folders, everything that could possibly be opened, crying, sobbing, pleading, hoping that it was there somewhere - nothing. I found all the other pictures of that year, but not of that night, not of the two of us. I even found pictures of my mom, my dad, and my aunt with their own shots with Inang, but not that particular picture I was looking for. The entire album of that graduation party, I have no clue where it is, if I uploaded them or transferred it somewhere. It's not on my laptop and it's not on my hard drive. It's not in any storage device I have with me right now.

And as if dying itself wasn't the superlative of a loss, being unable to find that picture underscored the fact that indeed she is gone - now, tomorrow, for good. Suddenly I was angry, I was confused, I was sad: for losing the photo, for not being able to have more photos, for the opportunities to show her more love now lost.

Before I knew it I was crying not just for her, but for the three other grandmothers who passed away in the last seven years. They should have seen me graduate, they should have seen me go to law school. They should have been given more chances to see us kids grow into adults, to thank our parents fully, to just be the solid foundations that they were to our family. They deserved to continue being given the love we are only so willing to share. There was still so much to do, to say. Somehow it dawned on me again that all the moments I shared with them were not enough at all.

I lay awake in bed in a maddening assortment of crying and forcing myself to sleep, for what else is there to do?

I've been trying to find the words to truly express my grief but they are lost to me, just like Inang and I's picture. I wish I were strong enough to write about being fully accepting of all this, of finally being able to say goodbye without hesitation. I wish I had a better ending to this post, something to tie the pieces together for closure perhaps. But I can't and I don't, and all I have right now is a chaos of words trying to make sense of things in the absence of order, trying to deal with the loss of a photo, of a grandmother.