A Daughter's Gravity
Photo by Christine Suson
All I saw were people dressed in black and white. From behind me, I heard the cries of friends and relatives that I’ve never met. I have always hated funerals. I resent it more than death. For one, who would want to spend several days staring at a casket containing their worst nightmare? And if it isn’t any more painful, they also have to witness it being buried six feet beneath the ground.
I wanted to run away. The idea of fleeing sounded appealing at the moment, but I felt like I’ve grown roots. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I did. After all, I have been nothing but numb these past few days. Ever since that phone call, I knew my life would never be the same again.
According to Sir Isaac Newton, the reason why planets orbit around the sun also explains why everything on earth is kept grounded. Gravity. When I received that call, I felt like gravity was cancelled out of every physics equation I know. I was dislodged from my own orbit. Everything seemed so unfamiliar, and I was left to fend for myself. I felt lost.
My thoughts were cut off by a squeeze on my shoulder. I looked up only to meet my dad’s glistening eyes. He smiled at me. Well, at least he tried. He handed me a lily before motioning me to stay by the podium. Turned out, it’s my turn to say my eulogy. I surreptitiously wiped a tear before facing everyone.
Silence filled the room. The attendees were waiting for me to begin. I could even feel their stares boring a hole through me. I wondered how many of those people actually cared, and how many were just here to feign grief. Taking a deep breath, I brushed off the thought. My dad mouthed “you can do it” before I finally started.
“Good afternoon everyone,” I would like to thank each one of you for your presence before anything else.” I paused. “Today is supposed to be a very special day. Besides, it is Mothers’ Day. Great timing, right?” I laughed bitterly. No one dared to join me. “Great timing. Great timing mom.” My eyes averted to her portrait. She was smiling like she had no idea that this was going to happen — like no car crash would take her away from us.
“I know I’m meant to talk to all of you about my mom. But if this is the last time I’m ever going to pay tribute to her, I want to address my eulogy to her. If you don’t mind, I want to tell her how great of a mother she was to me.” Tears started to cascade down my cheeks. “Mom, I hope you’re listening. I had plans you know. We would hear Mass, eat lunch in your favorite restaurant, and take a trip to the spa while dad hunts for a gift for you. I even made you a letter for today. I still want you to hear it.”
With hands shaking, I opened the letter I have always wanted to write her. Unfortunately, when I finally got myself to write it, this happened. Tear stains are evident on the sheet I once clutched in the hospital. I tried to inhale what remains of her scent and sighed.
Happy Mothers’ Day! I know it’s been a while since I last wrote you a letter, and you wouldn’t believe what made me finally make one. First of all, I obviously don’t have a gift. Don’t worry; I sprayed your favorite perfume on it for good measure. The truth is I thought of putting my writing skills into use. I’m pretty sure you would roll your eyes at me at this point. You know what they say mom; it’s the thought that counts.
But enough of that, I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for going through nine months of pain for my sake. I know that the first few months were hellish for you. Granny told me that you got sick, and being pregnant only made things worse for you. She confessed to me that you were already hinting on giving up, but you chose to fight for me. Then came the day I was born. The agony of waiting for me to come out must have been difficult. You almost had to undergo C-section because I wasn’t very cooperative.
Maybe it was a sign. A sign from heaven that that baby girl will always be attached to you in a very special way. She would chase away anyone who dares hold your hand. She wouldn’t mind sleeping next to you even when she’s already as tall as you are. Best part is she would prefer to play with your hair over dolls and computers.
Of course, like any other relationship, our mother-daughter tandem was not exactly perfect. We had our fair share of misunderstandings and arguments. Despite all these shortcomings, my love for you was never tainted. If there was one thing I’m never going to fail doing, it is loving you.
I remembered when you had your very first vertigo attack. It was like the whole world went into slow motion. No matter how fast dad was driving, nothing was faster than how my life flashed before my eyes. Something in me believes that it was nothing serious, but there was no denying the tears I cried in my room that night. Then I realized, I’m not yet ready to let you go. Not now. Not ever.
When I used to have Physics classes, I always hated talking about force at first. I only understood it when others started to forget about it — just in time for third quarter’s achievement exams. Moving on, I’ve noticed how involved gravity is in almost every equation. Acceleration due to gravity is a constant, but it varies for different planets. Earth’s is 9.81 m/s2. What intrigued me most was the fact that the sun’s gravity caused the planets to revolve on its own orbit. It keeps us from floating too.
Mom, you are my gravity. You are the force that keeps me on my orbit. You keep me grounded. It is you who makes sure that I don’t get hurt and clash with others. For what it’s worth, you are the only force that continues to act upon me even if I’m at rest. Just like gravity, only those who understand you will truly appreciate you, which is why I wrote you this letter. This is no school project, but my way of showing you how much I love you.
I love you mom. I know that I say it every day, but there is always something special about it being written. You and dad are the only ones I need to feel welcome in this world. I’m looking forward to more conversations with you, mom. More shopping sprees perhaps? More anything actually for as long as I’m with you. Once more, happy mothers’ day, and I love you. I said it once, and I’d say it over and over again.
Eyes closed, I held the letter to my chest. When I opened them, I was faced with my father’s bloodshot ones. I didn’t even notice him coming towards me. He enveloped me in his embrace, and that’s when I lost it. I heard someone scream. It took some time for me to realize that it was me.
Ever since mom died, this is actually the first time I broke down. I was always quiet. I shed a tear or two, but I was too engrossed with putting on a façade. It was my only escape, but I was wrong. No one can ever escape grief. “Shhh, everything’s going to be alright darling.” My dad whispered.
I didn’t speak. Maybe everything is going to be alright dad. I’m pretty sure not now, not soon, but it will be. Mom will make sure of that. Wherever you are mom, please watch over us just as you did when you were alive. We love you. And just like gravity, I know you will always be here.