i woke this morning to the sound of a reminderís alarm going off: today is my brotherís birthday.
iím a complicated boy. (pedroso, w. 2007)
i remember distinctly a conversation auntie and i once had at home, around the middle of this year.
me: auntie, anong grade na nga ba si wy?
auntie: grade five.
me: hala grade five na pala si wy?? akala ko grade 3 pa lang.
it seems i had subconsciously stopped keeping track of his educational progress the year i stepped out of college. palibhasa, magkaiba na kami ng takbo ng taon - i no longer have semestral breaks for one, no christmas breaks, no class suspensions in times of terrible rain, no summer vacations, no june opening giddyness and what-not. the natural consequence of being born twelve years apart, i guess.
i remember distinctly 1996, the year he came. i was a sixth grader. i was in the library, and i recall having told one of my friends that my mother was in the hospital, trying to get my brother out of her. haha. in true cap fashion, yes, my mother had my brother induced.
a boy, my mother had said, her belly growing. we were going to have a boy in the house. i was twelve, i was excited. maybe a brother would be better than my sister, with whom iíd viciously fought with during our early years. (well di na ngayon, heheh krista parang namimiss na kita ah hahaha)
can you still remember how it is with a baby in the house? itís never quiet at night, and somehow, the room almost always smells like powder and diapers. i remember most fondly how we had discreetly decimated his supply of cerelac. hahaha.
when our mother died, he was barely a year old. i am not sure how much he remembers of her - maybe how she smelled like, or how it felt to be so close to her just before falling asleep, his tiny hand wrapped around her finger.
i donít know, and frankly, i donít think weíre ready to talk about her that way yet. maybe soon, maybe when weíre older, maybe over wine, all of us around the table, krista and i telling him about how sheíd been without getting all blocked up and nervous, just that distinct feeling of nostalgia for something that cannot be returned, but without the bitterness of loss.
but of course, he knows where we all came from. thereís a picture of mom hanging by the altar in our living room, across enlarged graduation pictures of us, my sisterís medals, my diploma, among others. this was the house where i used to live, where my brother still lives, by the way. he knows when we visit her grave that itís her underneath. he knows. and at 11 years old, i think thatís enough.
happy birthday, kid. see you at home this weekend