Intimations of Mortality

There are lines, deep and symmetrical, etched upon her face.  I trace each and every one  with my eyes:forehead, cheeks, mouth. I see a  face so like mine, save that it is withered and worn by years of sacrifice and selfless giving.

Her eyes have turned gray and unfocused.  They see through me and beyond. Once they were dreamy and filled with hope. But not once in my foolish and carefree youth, have I looked upon them to discern what I might have meant to them, nor to see the pride they held for me. I do not remember them crying, only glinting with iron strength.

Her trembling hands, gnarled and wrinkled, with their long and tapering fingers, smooth a handkerchief carefully, delicately.  They once wielded power with a pen; they wrote me indecipherable love letters, too.  I remember the noise they created on the piano, discordant notes echoing now in my memory.

She is thin and stooped.  There is no sign of that ample bosom I once used to bury my face in to hide my fears and uncertainties.  Her legs are bowed and wouldn’t support her anymore.  Once they brought her to dank and dirty marketplaces, brought me to department stores to provide me my needs and whims,  to once hilly suburbs to negotiate and acquire ownership of properties  I now inherited and live in in relative comfort.

Her voice is faint and hesitant.  It is tired.  It once sweetly sang me lullabies; used to soothe my pain.  It once rang with authority, rose with temper, shouted in argument.  I would never hear it humming softly with the ancient sewing machine again, nor call me sweetly for some errand or to dinner.  There will be no more of those lazy afternoon conversations at the dining table while partaking her favorite tibukhay recipe.

I leave her quietly as she goes back to sleep, back to her childhood memories I have heard her narrate to me a million times.  I once listened to them in exasperation and helpless amusement as their plots got embellished year after year.  But now they have become so dear to me, as if they were mine, as if I lived them with her.

I leave her lying there with her toothless smile lingering in my memory, with the singing of the nearby birds faint in her unhearing ears.

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