Conversations with My Mother’s Ashes

In my dream, I heard my mom’s familiar whistle, ‘weet-woot.’ It was a sketchy dream, however, that sound was unmistakably hers.

Yes, she whistled like a “sigang babae”- far better than any man’s so I couldn’t really say like a man’s. It was her exclamation point to things, occurrences, & persons that amazed her.

I woke up & checked the clock, it was 3 AM. Even at death she remained an importunate spirit. She (or her memories) always picked 3 AM to wake me. Could it be the exact time she died? My brother Noel found her lifeless body sometime after 4 AM on March 27, two years ago.

I went to the hallway to pat the urn where her ashes resides. It rests on the foyer table beside the Buddha bust, a proud temporary shiny squatter of space. (She died a Catholic, she must be giving me the dirty finger right now. I didn’t care, she can’t push me around anymore with religion.)

I said: “Happy(?) birthday, Mama. (How can one be happy when one is dead? How can one have emotions? We living people are funny about greeting our dead that way. So I told her ashes: “I am happy to commemorate your birthday, Mama.”

(I am happy today, indeed. Today, Wiel & I came home to a lovely sunrise, chirping of birds, a glimpse of the mighty flight of the Luzon Hornbill. Our longing for home was cured by the taste of Malunggay con fruits smoothie for breakfast.)

Concepcion would have been 71 years old today.

I told my father & brothers that I would drive ‘her’ myself to Olongapo Memorial Park but that was since a month ago. I am using the time with that cold marble urn in the house to finally let her go. It has been two years- and I still get a shot in the heart whenever I think of memories we spent as mother & daughter.

“You are terribly missed, old girl.” The ashes in the urn might be a testimony to nothingness, that life on earth just ends there; and yet, my mother speaks to me everyday: in the way I live, and love, and find splendor even in the smallest gesture of kindness and beautiful feelings. (30)

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