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Hi, Inang.

This weekend, I went home to Paranaque for the first time in a while. I rarely get to go home these days-- actually, this has been going on for some time now. Ever since law school started, Paranaque has rarely been home. I haven't been able to go home weekly like I used to in college, which is sad, because I miss going home to newly-cooked food every weekend. I miss hanging out at your house on Saturdays. I miss hearing mass and eating lunch out with the family every Sunday. Even when I was dorming in undergrad, I never really felt like Katipunan was home, because every week there's our little town to go back to.

Things are different now. Last night, Papa and Mommy brought me back to my condo. Yes, on a Sunday night, and not on a Monday morning, like I always used to. Lola, I live alone now. I have my own place, and it's not as neat and tidy as I'd hope (or as you'd want) it to be. But at least I don't have to worry about my underwear being stolen-- something you always, always reminded me about. No, lola, I don't have roommates who will nakaw my panty.

It gets lonely sometimes. Okay, a lot more often than I'd care to admit. Even if I never had a sibling and was used to being independent, I'd still feel alone. Sometimes at night. But mostly in the morning. I didn't grow up to a house full of people; just me, mommy, and papa. But I was still used to having people around to say goodbye to when I left. I'd say to goodbye to Lola M, and Lola O, and Lola B. I'd say goodbye to Tita Guads when I get to your house. And of course, I'd say goodbye to you.

I miss saying goodbye to you, Inang. I miss climbing atop your bed, and laying beside you, even though there's hardly any more space left. I miss playing with the fleshy, jiggly part of your underarm, and you not minding it. I miss stroking your hair, and playfully asking for your bejeweled headband. I miss hearing you tell me that I should never tire of doing my best in school because I'm "madunong," I miss letting you say how you've always dreamt of being a lawyer.

Sometimes, Inang, I wake up in the morning and don't know why I'm still in law school. All my life, I've always thought I was sure of wanting to be a lawyer. But now that I'm here, on most mornings, I find myself asking why. Do I want this, really? Why am I still here? It's hard to find a concrete answer when it's shaky ground I'm standing on.

Then I think of you-- the goodbyes I still want to say, and the goodbyes I still want to hear. The goodbyes you would've said as I left our house for QC, for Malcolm. And while they are goodbyes that can never be, they are goodbyes worth thinking of. Because Lola, for everything that I have questioned, and for everything that has changed, I still hear your voice and your reminders and your sweet, sweet goodbyes. I hear you wishing me well; it permeates the silence of dawn creeping in, it resonates amidst the chaos of the morning commutes. And quite frankly, it's enough to get my head out of Paranaque, to get my head out of my room.

And on most days, that's enough. Just the memory of our short little goodbye ritual before I left - me kissing your forehead, you complimenting my earrings - it's enough. It's enough to make me want to leave my room and say, "Yes, today is a day to make the people at home proud."

Thank you, Lola, for always wishing me goodbye every time I left for school. With you, goodbyes were never sad. Goodbyes meant seeing you soon, goodbyes meant going out so that I can have new stories to tell. Goodbyes meant coming home. Goodbyes meant leaving the house with a promise, and returning with a purpose.

Goodbyes meant not letting people at home down. I hope I'm not letting you down, Inang. I miss you.


* Today marks the second death anniversary of my paternal grandmother, Inang.