It’s not only the brain that carries memories. Your body has them—-subtle, little echoes—but it’s there. The tangles of your hair miss his long, slender fingers. The sudden arches of your weary shoulders miss the weight of his arms. The angles of your jaw miss the comforting hollow tucked between his neck and his shoulders. The curves of your waist and the palms of your pale, little hand miss the warmth of his own. Your cheeks miss his lips and the soft, careening sensation of his fingertips.
Your body has its own memory. Until your heart heals, he will be embedded under your skin; buried in the midst of your bone marrow; sewn together with the blood rush of your veins.
When I met you, I remembered blue; like the colour of your plaid top and the iota of blues sprinkled on your irises when our eyes are caught in a stare. The sky looked breathless and clear, a hodgepodge of smiles and exchanged numbers and hesitant goodbyes.
Our first kiss came with differently intensified shades—pinks and corals and turquoises and lavenders—appearing like spontaneous fireworks against the maudlin heavens. I taste milk chocolates on your lips just as your knuckles brush my cheeks, a gesture sweet and iridescent and colorful.
We made love with the lightest yellow arching down my spine, spreading between the air where our skin meet. Electricity filled the gaps when we could no longer keep each other close, and the colours danced in my eyes before I fell asleep.
I saw the strongest surge of red flash in the room when I finished work early, and you were in bed with that coworker I always loathed. Red. Anger. Pain. Humming, burning, throbbing in my chest, horrified with the emotions spilling from the tips of fingers and the way you held her while you were asleep.
Love was a kaleidoscope of colours, and sometimes, you just wished it had none.
She carried his words in the depths of her pockets, staining the hand-sewn threads hung closely on her chest. She strung the letters on wisps and pulled them taut against the pale skin of her fragile wrist, ivory white bones creaking against metaphors and ink. She emerged on the aftermath of those tales he concocted at midnight, when her body was wrapped against satin pajamas and carnation sheets. She remained awake as the grandfather clock struck twelve, his voice echoing in the stillness of the night, etched into the pages of the book where he lived.
Waves and waves of desolateness struggled to get through my veins, crashing on me, pulling me down into the translucent waters of hopelessness.
Death, no matter how much I try to deny it, scares me. I think when you’re young and impulsive, death doesn’t affect your bearings. You think, “Oh no, I’m not going to die anytime soon. I’m going to die when I’m eighty, when my once silken black hair has now turned silver, when my taut skin teemed with lines”. But death, no matter your social bearing, your age and your health status, decides when to take you. Not you, not anyone else.
They say the only thing that can let you see the equality of life is when you go to a cemetery. Different shapes and sizes. Different birth years. Yet, it was all the same. They were lying six feet under ground, without breath, without the same pulsating veins that filled their body with life. Death strikes in the most unexpected times and all we have to do is brace for it until it does what it wants to do. And I’m scared. Probably because I don’t want to die yet, but more on the fact that I’m scared of being left behind.
I’m scared of not seeing the people I got so used to being around with. I’m scared of not hearing their voices, not holding their hands, not laughing with them in some muted inside joke that no one else found funny. I’m scared of waking up only to feel empty and alone. I’m scared of the walls that would take over my heart completely, protecting, secluding, denying. I’m scared, most of all, of the recollections that will blur over time.
Moving on sounds scary when it comes to death. When you break up with someone, moving on seems inevitable. It’s okay to forget. But moving on from the death of someone you love feels like betrayal, like taking their memories for granted. I didn’t want to wake up one morning and forget what they looked like, forget the memories we shared when they lived.
Death is an abyss. A wormhole of the unknown. Death, no matter how we try to sugarcoat it, is laden with pain and tears. That’s an inescapable fact, in the same way death is an inescapable fate.
Dear future husband,
On a cold, cloudy day like this one, will you stay on bed with me? Can we make hot coco and stay warm under our comforters? Can you pull me closer? Close enough so I can hear your heart beat, so your breath lands faintly on my cheeks, so I could stare at your eyes overflowing with mirth and poignancy. It would be our sort of heaven, akin to the sight of libraries and the smell of freshly baked pastries. Just you and me, the heat of your exposed skin on mine, the familiarity of your scent, a soothing melody playing with renewed fervor, your fingers gently tracing the curves of my back, our imagination creating a stark contrast of color against the dreary sky.
We will talk about the past and the present and the future indiscriminately, time devolving in a state of unaware, two souls mingling in a conversation devoid of pretense. I hope you enjoy those kind of laid back moments. I would, for as long as they are spent with you.
See you in the future.
your future wife
“You’re nothing but a pitiful coward who can’t fight for your love!”
“I know”, I answer softly, fully aware that disagreeing was futile, that his clenched fist and dejected spirit could not be consoled by words that paralleled his rage. He paced on the floor, his footfalls deafened only by the plush, cerulean carpet under his shoes and by the thumping of my beating heart. I didn’t need words to tell me what my mind has already concluded on its own. I was in love with this man. This commanding man who strode inside a room teeming with a gregarious crowd and managed to steal the limelight. This man who grappled with his intelligence far too many times that he reconciled with conceit and lost esteem, and faced them head on. This man who fought with my demons, losing more often than winning, yet urged forward anyway. This man that I loved as deeply as the pools laid uncovered under his steel blue eyes, as passionately as the drunken ramblings of a brokenhearted soul.
But I can’t love him. Not when my parents’ angry screams and stinging remarks poisoned my ears. Not when vows cracked to pieces, and paradisaical memories burned to ashes from the fire of fierce abandon and reckless resolve. Not when I didn’t want to be part of yet another statistic.
“I’m sorry but I’d rather be a coward than hurt someone else”, I muttered with feigned determination, gathering my coat and the books stacked rather haphazardly on the coffee table.
“So you’re choosing to be miserable when you could be happy? When I could easily give everything up so we could be together?”
I nodded, looking at his nose, at his jaw, at the eyes that are blazing with unfathomable intensity, at his lips that I once succumbed to in a daze of alcohol and impulse. The sun’s warm rays peeked into the room from the open window, partly obscured by the blinds. The gold band on his ring finger glinted, and the door closed between us with a loud bang. It will remain closed, forever.
What are words really, but words alone? Words are just words, and paradoxically enough, they’re more than just letters juxtaposed to one another. Words are tools for when you’re yearning to be heard, and they are mirrors to the subconscious hollows buried in your mind’s netherworld. Words are the meaning and the emptiness, the sufficiency and the lack of it, the vital space tucked between oblivion and existence. They are powerful and powerless, encompassing the remarkable materialization of the past, and the present, and the future.
The strength of words depend on you, on me, on us. So speak to inspire and encourage and love, write to feel and move and breathe. Use words to empower others. Use words because you live.
She met a boy at age five, when she discovered that Santa was her dad in a fake beard and a red suit. He boasted a wide smile that showcased his gap teeth, and introduced her to the wonders of captured fireflies inside an empty mayonnaise jar. He smelled like lollipops and dirt, his hair casually tossed around by the wind and his knobby, little hands. A passing gale of innocence and gaiety swept through their tiny bodies, giggles of imagination and wonder ricocheting against the clock and the four leafed clover they were searching for in the faraway meadows of their youth.
She met a guy at age fifteen, when she discovered that straight hair was more auspicious than the twists and waves that were the aftermath of heavily tightened pigtails. His eyes were tunnels of hues and butterflies, a world she disappeared into whenever their eyes collided from across the room. His voice serenaded her veins, turning red blood to burning embers, to glistening diamonds, to contented sighs of awe. There was a gentle disquiet that hung around them as they walked alongside each other, suspended in a space between a girl and a boy, and a kiss they shared behind the pinball machine at a rowdy diner.
She met a guy at twenty one, when she discovered vermilion on her lips, and ocher on her eyelids, and charcoal lined eyes. He smelled of light rain and cigarettes, her nose buried on the cranny of his shoulders, tingling with sensation as she breathed in his scent. He felt like sweaters and rose petals against the ridges of her fingertips, soft and sculpted, smooth and warm. There was a rousing wave of passion on their lips, trapped between the curves of her waist, the day old beard on his face, the contrast of their bodies against the sheets.
She met her husband at twenty nine, when she walked down the aisle, a mishmash of petals and lush carpet obscuring the floor. He was the boy at age five who searched for four leafed clovers with her. He was the guy at age fifteen who was her first kiss. He was the guy at twenty one who loved her even after all these years. He was her first love and her last one, and luck had nothing to do with it. She knew serendipity when she saw it. From the moment their eyes met, they were meant to be.
Dear future husband,
Once, between dawn and the music resonating from my earphones, someone asked me what my biggest regret was. Without a moment’s hesitation, I answered,”Getting into a relationship way too early.” Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that my then boyfriend wasn’t amazing, because he was. It’s not even because my then boyfriend didn’t make me happy, because he did.
However, that relationship was something I pursued for all the wrong reasons. I was lonely. I needed security. I needed someone to tell me I was more than enough. I needed someone to prove to the world that being young doesn’t disqualify me from the facets of “love”. I wanted to be in a relationship because, as I wasn’t one to share my innermost feelings with just anyone, I thought it would satisfy my need for profound conversations. It was the perfect formula for disaster as I realized, I cannot get into a relationship thinking only of what I can gain out of it.
I’m telling you all of this in order to put my apology into context. I’m sorry for cheating on you. I’m sorry for being too impulsive, for being too wrapped up in my selfishness and for being too impatient to wait for His perfect timing. I’m sorry for giving my heart to someone else at one point of my life when you could have received it whole. I’m sorry for taking God out of the equation and focusing solely on my wants.
Right now, I’m waiting for you. I know you’re out there somewhere, probably completely unaware of my existence, waiting for me too. Until we meet, I will wear my heart in the wounded hands of our Savior. Until we meet, I will write about His love, His mercy and His grace. Until we meet, I will worship Him and praise His Holy name.
And when we finally meet, when our stars align under His fingertips, I know, I will fall in love with your love for God more than anything else.
See you in the future.
your future wife
What if we can see what others could see inside of us?
What if instead of the flawed skin, the unruly hair and all the scars, we can see the spirit that refuses to give up, the soul that rises to the challenge, the heart that dares to dream? What if instead of the crooked teeth, the bushy eyebrows and the numbers on the weighing scale, we can see the vibrant smile that enamored the world, the silent tears on a closed book, the laughter that mimicked the sound of pealing church bells? What if instead of nitpicked imperfections, we can see our strengths, the person we are aching to become, the infinite possibilities of the person we will be?
What if we look at the mirror and see ourselves for who we are?
Loved. Beautiful. Unique.
Until I see you again, I will wear my heart in the spots where your fingers last wandered — my jutting collarbones, the curves of my waist, the pertness of my nose, the cheeks embittered with too many goodbyes. Until I see you again, I will write about your smile, your laughter, your baritone voice. Until I see you again, I will be here, soothed by the memories stitched into the clement, autumn breeze.
Until then, I will be waiting for you.
You painted our dreams against the midnight sky as we lay on the grass, whispering our secrets under the butterscotch moon. We laughed and conversed over deep fried chicken, soggy fries and carefully scrawled poems. I wrote a poem about the melodies drawn on the softness of your lips. You wrote a poem about heaven and earth and how I held them together on my fingertips. You called at ten and the next four hours were spent between static and phone lines, reverberations and skewed voices. I closed my eyes and eventually fell asleep, a smile perpetually drawn on my lips.
We spent most of our mornings counting waves and collecting seashells. We waited for dusk, when the skies were aflame and the seas shone with colours. Fingers interlocked, warmth seeping from your palm to mine, walking along the path that paved our home.
We shared cuddle evenings, a night spent solely for sofas and comforters and woolly socks we purchased for ninety nine cents. We shared a cup of green tea, pretended to bicker over your choice of movies and kissed like we were sixteen again. We danced in the living room with Mayday Parade playing softly through the speakers of my phone. I would count your heartbeat and forget the seconds. It was your arms around my waist, and my arms around your neck, and it was time forgotten. We fell in love between galaxies and eras buried under words, disappearing in the pages of our favorite books, wandering in a variety of worlds without leaving each other’s side.
There were words and there were gaps of silence, but what we said and what we didn’t no longer mattered. We were there. We were everywhere.
And I woke up. It was all a dream.
When I said I miss you, what I meant to say was this.
I miss you in the somber serenades of dawn, when our conversations bordered between the realms of possible and impossible. Miles wandered aimlessly in the metaphors, discrepancies between seconds and minutes and hours of our clocks were lost in the echoes of our laughter, the fears buried underneath the songs we swore to sing together, bursting in the intrepid static of our earphones and our ‘somedays’.
I miss you in the reluctant rush of mornings, when curtains were drawn and sunshine rushed in and the striking photographs you took hung tirelessly on my wall, pigments against whites, vivacious reminders of beauty, of life and of you.
I miss you in the spellbound portraits of warm afternoons, when I’m a lone soul settled on a would-have-been empty bench, a sweating glass of chai frappe boba keeping me company, leaving dark, wet rings on varnished wood. I would read your letters then. The first or the second or was it the hundred fifty seventh time? I lost count, as surely as I lost myself in the inebriating trance brought about by your words.
I miss you in the heady colors of dusk, when skies were drunk with the receding sighs of life, and pinks embraced oranges as the coming darkness swallowed the blues. I sang at the top of my lungs as I walked home, reminded of your skeptical grin, and your predilection for the unorthodox, and how I imagined your voice would sound on our first hellos.
I miss you in the tranquil whispers of those evenings, when I’m in my favorite pajamas and the cloying aroma of sunflowers and honey clung to my skin. I wait for the sandman to whisk me to sleep as I laid there, eyes closed, surrounded by my favorite things, permeated by my favorite thoughts, invaded by imageries of you.
So when I say I miss you, I’m saying I miss you because you’re real and I’m real and the infinite space we occupy is real. I miss you because there’s no reason not to, and there are all sorts of reasons why I should. I miss you because you miss me, and you mean it. I miss you because by God, I mean it too.
Seduce me with metaphors, all while whispering sweet similes on my left ear. Never comfort me with euphemisms, but swathe me in the solace that I can only find in the antithesis of your life’s adventures. Write your poems on my skin; your fingers skimming my rib cage and collar bones, as you bury their rhythm with your ink. Whisper prose with bated breath, and drink my scent with the desire kindling in your eyes. Make love to my words with your own, the union so mesmerizing, so awe-inspiring, so universally ours.
Here’s a secret: I missed seeing you play on the tire swing our dad hung on the tree in our backyard. Happiness etched itself across your face, your hair swirling like satin draperies against the breeze, punctuated by a shout of glee and a fit of giggles. Alive. That’s the word I would use to describe you whenever your feet left the ground and you smiled at the sky, as if welcoming the day that lies ahead. That’s you. Alive.
Here’s a secret: When I woke up to Mom’s screams, and I ran to the sound of her voice only to see your cold, lifeless body disillusioning the pink frills of your bed, the first word that hit me was “Why?” But when the dust settled and when the numbing pain forced me to see the fragments of your last moments, my memories of you, clearly, ‘why’ just seemed redundant…moronic even.
You felt alone. I could see that from the way the corners of your eyes crinkled in a socially coerced smile. I could see that from the way you drowned yourself in the pages of books, and in the notes of your favorite bands, and in the hand-sewn edges of your favorite comforter. I could see that from your petulant voice whenever you answered “Fine”. I could see it clearly in my head, a nightmare on rewind. I could see it, should have seen it, could have stopped your death. They were right you know. Regrets come last.
Here’s the secret: I heard you crying that night, your sobs muffled by something---possibly your pillow, most probably Mr. Winks, that threadbare stuffed elephant you’ve had since you were three---but I shrugged and walked past your bedroom door anyway. I should have known. I should have barged in through your door and told you we loved you, that we cared, that you weren’t alone. Never alone. But it’s too late now isn’t it?
When people think they have all the time in the world, they put off things they believe they can still do tomorrow. But people don’t always get their souls back in the morning. You were unhappy enough to choose not to, and I knew it. I just didn’t do anything about it. And sis, that will always be my biggest ‘what if’.