Monday, August 1, 2011

one of three: like clockwork

Is it morning? I ask myself as I lay awake in bed. My eyes hurt as the room comes into view. The bed is a mess as sheets lay disheveled on the floor. Violent sleep has become my reality. Outside, a bird is singing me good morning. The sun is bright and angry and we are just ants under a magnifying glass.

I stare at the empty space beside me. In the early morning light, I dared to want to see his body and its arches. Instead, I see the imprint his body has left on the mattress. I run my hands through it like a child does to a scar, his absence even more blinding that it was when I first woke up. These valleys that once caressed his body and its arches now stare at me in disgust. Why did you let him leave? they ask. Wasn’t he good for us?

Why did I let him leave? Simple. Because he wanted to. I couldn’t make him stay, none of the things we have, none of the life we’ve made was good enough for him. I should be happy that I’m alive for another day but this feeling that’s crept up and stayed in my gut is anything but that. I resolve to make breakfast not because I want to eat but because I have to. It’s been almost a whole day since I last ate and so with all the energy I could muster, I head to the kitchen.

The wooden floor feels cold on my bare feet. My robe tickles the backs of my knees as I make my way through the stairs and into the kitchen. The fridge door feels heavy to the touch and like clockwork, my hand grabs two eggs. One egg, I remind myself. Not two. And just like that, all the strength I was faking crumbled. Winded, I sit on the kitchen floor. Why is this happening to me? From my view on the floor, I could not make him. The flowers were dead, the books and records segregated and distributed, these are just my things. None of our things are here.

Of my five senses, it was my nose that missed him most. I rush up to the bedroom and into the walk-in closet. I open his and see the shirts he left behind. I gather them up in a bunch, the hangers making rattling noises as I searched for his scent. I inhale deeply. He is here, they seem to say. All at once, fabric conditioner, hints of aftershave and cold memories fill my head. He is still here.

I take the last pair of shoes he left from the bottom drawer. I put them on and walk around the room. I walk to beat of the second hand, the clock reminding me that time has never once stood still. I listen to the sound my steps make. I wanted to hear his footsteps again, wanted to hear the shuffle his feet made on the carpet. Try as I may, I could not copy it. It was as unique as he was. Why do I feel so common?

There’s a voice in my head that has guided me all my life. Right now, it’s telling me to keep going, keep living as though none of this were real. Go on, it says and so while my whole body tells me to go back to bed, I crack the egg open into my waiting skillet. Like clockwork, I say to myself. Life should go on like clockwork. I empty the skillet onto a piece of toast and stare at the window. My mouth opens, the toast crunches as I chew, the salty egg stings my tongue. All this I observe as though I were alien to my body. I might as well be in the yard, staring from the outside.

Hunger filled and dishes cleared, I crawl back to bed like a snake. I clutch the sheets close to my heart and wonder what the day must be like for him. Wherever he is, does he know that I am here, feet stuck, wondering what to do with the hours that pass? They say time is cruel and from the tears I cry, it makes a raincoat. There really is much to do but right now, this is all I can manage. Tomorrow will be better, of that I am certain but at this moment, at this precise time, I only want to fill my head with thoughts of him.

Part 1 | 2 | 3
♫: Carla Bruni | Quelqu'un m'a dit (2003) | translation
Photo: The Persistence of Memory

IN MEMORY. One of my work friends and also, one of the first readers of this blog died recently. I’d like to take a moment to tell you about him. I’ve mentioned him a few times in this blog*, mostly around the time I was still dishing out lessons and epiphanies in every post. He always said we learn something new every day and that the day you stop learning is the day they put you in the ground. Looks like that day finally came for him.

I will remember him for our yosi sessions, our long talks over beer and how he would always find something good to say about everybody, whether it be a new haircut, a new shirt or something related to work. He would force his trainees to visit my blog and whether they actually do or not, it’s nice to have someone who believes in you that much.

To the writer of Canned Thoughts. You taught me so many things. I’m sorry if I never got to thank you. Ride in peace, D. We’ll miss you forever. 


  1. i have always questioned myself whether there is really a thin line separating asceticism from sheer anoxeria. i still question.

  2. @LOF: If it's a question of denial then I'm guessing there isn't much difference. Perhaps a fine line and a cause for intervention.

  3. kung totoo man na malungkot ka ngayon at nag-iisa... *hugs*


    my condolences sa pagkawala ng iyong kaibigan.

  4. I really, really like this. I felt the gravity, the incompleteness. This is one of your better posts.

    The translation helped a lot too. I initially thought she was just trying to be charming. And that's the francophile in me speaking.

  5. And, btw, my condolences (again). :(

  6. i agree with Manech. this is an excellent exposition on grief.

  7. @Aris: Ariiiiis!!! Alam mo bang ikaw yung pinepeg ko sa series na ito? Naaaliw kasi ako na kaya mo mag-sustain ng interest at energy sa iisang kwento. So I mapped out a story, sliced it into three and this is the first part.

    @Manech: You felt it? I was trying to make it seem disorganized too. Trying to shed the whole "I love the structure of this post" thing.

    Yeah, I thought she was just being cute but the translation opened my eyes. I stole, err borrowed a line about time making a coat out of our sorrow. I thought it was lovely.

    Did you know that she's the first lady of France? weird no. I downloaded this record. Looks promising.

    @LOF: Why thank you, LOF. :)

  8. *shields his eyes from the sparks flying*

  9. @LOF: Sparks? Where? *naive*

  10. Rest assured that il take a minute to pray for him. I know how hard it is to lose someone. May he rest in peace!


  11. what would have it been like if you insisted he'd stay...

  12. bless him. he will be immortalized in the vague grids of cyberspace, through this beautifully written post. my condolences.

  13. @JJ: Thanks, sir. I'm sure his family appreciates it.

    @Prince: Well, it wouldn't have worked anyway. It's something I aim to address in next week's post, that is if I get to finish it in time.

    @Green Breaker:Salamat, sir. :)

  14. @Spiral Prince: Thank you, sir. :)

  15. alam mo, how to sustain a story into series is also my problem. i end up writing vignettes... hay...

    but this post is love, nyl. she, the woman in my knight series, can so relate to this... :)

  16. @Geek: could be our short attention spans. di ko kasi masustain yung enthusiasm and there's also a need to give the whole ending away na. I really admire writers like sina aris for pulling it off so well.

  17. Sudden loss IS an epiphany. "Why do I feel so common?" you asked. Perhaps because we are all so common in our arrival and even our ultimate departures.

    But each departure, that loss, is never common when we must stare it down. It jolts us, turns us on our heads, and shakes the bones from our composite lives.

    It makes us Question. Our. Existence.

    Grief is universal, but never common.


  18. wish you all the best neil. i know grief isn't easy.

    and condolences.

  19. @Rick: I hear it's common among those whose loved ones just recently died to question their own value. Why him? Why not me?

    It's interesting how something can be universal but uncommon. ;p

    @Rei: Thanks Rei. I can't imagine what it must be like for his family.

  20. Sounds like most of my Sundays.

    My condolences.

  21. hi,

    i'm one of your blog's lurkers. you write so damn well! your stories never fail to make me reflect on things and somehow, somewhere alongside of it all, i always find myself saying "i get this person."


  22. @KikomaXx: Thank you.

    @James: I'm sorry to hear that. It's been a while since I was at that place but it was rather stressful to revisit it to write all of this down.

    @Isabelle: This warms my heart. I love how someone gets what I'm trying to say. In real life, I find it's easy for me to get misunderstood. Thank you for commenting. Officially, welcome to my blog. Balik ka ha! :)

    @Peter: So Google Translate is failing me. It says you either mean "If you want to come back?" or "You want him back?"

    All this Carla Bruni business has me thinking if I want to learn the language. It's so beautiful, she's so beautiful and I love all of it.

    Now, whether the character wants him back, I guess she does. That's what the song is about anyway, right? Now, is that possible? I doubt it.

    The me who experienced all of this definitely wanted all of it back. I didn't get it and I think I turned out okay. I have a large tendency to wallow, perhaps that's why I was able to revisit it so easily.

    Now, I stop babbling.

  23. You're absolutely right, my friend. But Carla Bruni's song was perfect for your post. Have enjoyed both!

  24. @Peter: Well, thank you sir. *giggles*

  25. Oh no, what happened to your friend? Accident?

    Yung kakilala ko sa office namatayan din ng kaibigan.

  26. @Andy: Perhaps they're taking all the good ones. haha he had a stroke and fell in the middle of class. so sad. :(

  27. this is beautiful, nyl. i felt everything and couldn't help crying.

    my condolences as well.

  28. @Sean: You're too kind. Thanks for reading. :)

  29. The Persistence of Memory. What a nice pick for D. Accept my late condolences Nyl.