How can one single moment summarize or bring to a close a world of shared memories and experiences. I hate that feeling because there is always so much you want to say, and no matter how many times you rehearse everything in your head it never comes out right. At least it never does for me. I remember the first time I said goodbye. Scarred me for life. I must have been three years old, and I remember this vividly.
My aunt in Canada just had a second child, and my Lola (“grandmother” to my non-pinoy friends) was going to move out of our house. I was crushed when I first found out because she used to stay home with me when my parents were at work. She’d read me stories and cook me french fries whenever I wanted them. She used to fall asleep in the middle of a story and I would have to poke her face to wake her up. HA HA HA, That was so fun! The world was perfect back then. Then I found out she was leaving. I needed to do something before we got to the bus station in Windsor. I remember putting my hand in her coat pocket when we got to the station. I kept it in there for at least 20 minutes. I was determined to keep my hand in that pocket cause that way she couldn’t leave. I was brilliant. I was not taking that hand out! There was no way she was going to leave now, my hand was seriously stuck. Then we could go home and I could have some fries with a good old fashioned fairy tale. When she finally had to board her bus, I just didn’t want to let go. I kept repeating “NO, I can’t take it out! Don’t go Lola”. My parents had to literally drag me (and my stuck hand) away. This must have been quite a scene: A young Filipino couple dragging away a crying child complaining of an imaginary “stuck” hand. To this day I still think it would have worked, if at three, I was stronger then my both mom and dad combined.
I’m not sure which is harder: being the one left behind, or being the one leaving. Case and point… my first move out to California (cross country roadtrip #1). The whole reason I left Michigan was because I felt like I was stuck in a rut. My girlfriend at the time was gone and there was nothing holding me there. I could take classes at CSULB and apply to PT schools from California. I needed to take a risk, I wasn’t going anywhere in Ann Arbor… There was a better life waiting for me in California. So much was up in the air. Not yet in PT school. No job. Went totally on a whim. Took a big risk leaving my comfort zone! I remember almost seeing my dad cry when we left the house. Powerful stuff… Bringing the toughest guy I know to tears. For the first time in my life, I was both scared AND excited. From there we went to TGIF to have dinner with my friends. I chose this place because it was the happiest restaurant I could think of. No one is allowed to be sad in there. Dinner was cool. Really late. I remember a lot of pictures being taken. Smiling on the outside and scared to death on the inside. Kept it together right up until we stepped outside. Gave somebody the first hug, and then it all came out. It was like a receiving line, but both guys and girls crying. Dude, I’m a pretty emotional guy when it comes to family and friends. But that is it.
Ever since I’ve been involved in brain tumor advocacy, I’ve lost so many close friends and it hurts every time. It doesn’t get any easier. Lately, our survivor family has lost a few brain tumor warriors. It is hard to think about all the great spirits that were lost too early. This one hurt a little more because she and her family became good friends. She was another one of my brain tumor “twin sisters”. She was also into surfing and fighting physical impairments due to her treatment. We tried getting into swimming, but we both got a little sick after trying to swim in the chlorinated pool water. Scratch that… HAHAHA! She has a cute 6 month old baby girl and her husband has been a rock supporting her the entire time I’ve known them! He has been through a lot as well! Thank You Amanda for teaching me to keep my chin up and inspiring me to continue fighting! It’s going to be hard saying goodbye, so I’ll just say, “See you again.”….