Of the stacks you used to fill and eventually vacated

I would have taken you out today, or any other day for that matter. We would go on road trips, if health would allow you to do so. We could go to Batanes. I know you love hillsides and seascapes and sea foods, and I would love to take you anywhere that could make you happy.

I have not been very vocal about you, no. Whenever people ask me about you, I tell them where you currently are, and technically I am still giving them the truth, though not the very core of it. I left to forget about your passing and try to move on, but death came in search of me, one after another.

Over time, your absence has grown robust, demanding, and assertive. It gnawed me and left me with nothing but decay. I grew up, yes, but all the years I have accumulated are unable to fill the space you used to occupy.

If any, they simply remind me of the stacks you used to fill and eventually vacated. Photographs of photographs, becoming fainter and blurred and far away. It scares me, the possibility that in time, I will not be able to remember your face. I refuse to forget how you have lived your life. If I have to cheat destiny just so I could hold unto you, I will.

I am well aware that absolutely no one can ever replace you, and with each passing day, I crave nothing but your presence. Even 20 minutes would do. Even a glimpse. Please, one more time.

Today, I sit here, in the middle of this clean white sheet of void — stranded and unable to think straight. Posting this nonsense in social media that you won’t even be able to read. I would have taken you out today, or paid you visits, but up until this point, I am still unable to face your grave. I’m so, so sorry.

Truth is, I still cannot accept the fact that you have been dead for eleven years.

Why do you have to go where I cannot follow?

Of thousand lives

Keys. I keep keys of every room I’ve inhabited. It’s actually symbolic, at least on my end. It serves as my access to territories I’ve chartered, to an existence I lived, to all years I’ve consumed, to every self-version I’ve worn and shed.

Once, after an old friend of mine vacated her place, I went back to her flat and secretly took the keys. I had it duplicated. I returned its copy to its previous spot. Then I gave my friend the original and told her the story.

Tonight, I locked the door of my room for the final time. I gave one final glimpse, inhaled the details one final time — the empty shelves, the clean wardrobe, the folded blankets, the made bed. It was in the opposite state when I was inhabiting it. It was filled with clatters and books and dreams and life.

A realization struck me: that the last two years did not kill me. If anything, it made me stronger.

I settled my remaining bill. The receptionist issued me a receipt, one last time. I left messages to people who are important in my life before I vacate the building. They asked me for the keys, and I surrendered my copy. But, as I’ve said —

I
Keep
Keys

Of thousand lives I’ve worn and inhabited and lived and loved and will live again in moments of retrospect. (August 2016)