of dancing magical beings

"It's one of those things that people say, you can't move on until you let go of the past. Letting go is the easy part, it's the moving on that's painful. So sometimes we fight it, try and keep things the same. Things can't stay the same though. At some point, you just have to let go. Move on. Because no matter how painful it is, it's the only way we grow." Dr. Meredith Grey, Grey's Anatomy S08E20: Girl With No Name

On the last day of May, we buried my cousin and going home will never be the same again.

She died on a Thursday and after I heard the news, for a moment, I was again the gawky 5 year old that I once was-meeting her for the first time (that was my first memory of ever meeting her). In that moment and in many moments of my childhood, I wanted her to be not only my older cousin with whom I live with, I wanted her to be my older sister. And true enough for some years now, she was the older sister I never had. She was the older sister I come home to and share Christmas holidays with.

I fell in love with my cousin when I first saw her dance.

When my cousin was dancing, she was the most graceful girl in the whole world and everyone in the audience was drawn to her. She was elegant in her moves; light in her steps. Almost ethereal.

Diwata, or fairy in the English language, was an appropriate name for her because she was gaiety and in some ways,magical-or maybe all 15 year olds are magical to those under 6.

ate Diwata during happier times

And for a while, her younger sister and I would attempt to copy her dancing moves in the hopes of getting her attention, if not her approval. From that time on, I have set my mind on being a dancer-and being good at it-because of my cousin. In hindsight, perhaps my attraction and my foray to the performing arts when I was younger was influenced heavily by my cousin who was the star of the show-of many shows for that matter.

Sadly, her death came so fast we did not realize she was on her last dance. I still have our recent conversations in my phone as well as in my Facebook inbox.

So I'm glad that Providence allowed me to tell her that I was praying for her; that I got to see her last smiling, albeit weak and lying on a hospital bed; glad that I got to hold her frail hands and say that I was there, that I got her an Esprit red blouse on my recent HK trip-waiting for her to try on; that I care deeply. Glad even that I skipped on a once in a lifetime climb to Pulag and instead made the tiresome trip in April if only to attend her 46th birthday party and kiss her goodbye as sadly, it was to be her last...but more importantly, I am glad that she knows about my evangelical faith and how God has changed my worldviews over the years that I stayed with her and her children whenever home life beckons. Hoping that in her last days, she has found true reconciliation with the One who promises eternal joy and life-if not a rekindling of love with the gracious, persistent God who saves.

I have no regrets with my ate. I only have good memories: of her being a caring single mom to her 3 kids; of her singing her heart out on the videoke machines/magic sing during family gatherings; of her laughing-with the family or while she's on the phone with her only sister; of her walking around the house like she was still a 15 year old kid; of her in front of the tv or messing around with the kids and my younger brother-or her cooking and making my favorite lumpiang shanghai for new year's eve celebrations; of her being "Teacher D" to her countless, admiring/adoring students and fellow teachers who showed up in droves at her wake and at her funeral.

But mostly, I will remember my cousin when I see someone dancing.

Flashdance will always be our movie together- because I remember watching it and wanting my ate to have Alex's happy ending-although there were times too that I've watched it wishing I'll have Alex's happy ending.

I will treasure our last serious conversation and continue looking up to the God of hope and possibilities-albeit moving on with daily living-because as she told me in what was to be our last Starbucks session, "Well, you'll never know..."

Maybe it is time to consider dancing again.

It's time to look for a dance studio nearby and dance right through my life.

It's time to close my eyes and hear only the music.

It's time to stomp my feet to the rhythm-if only to quiet the beat of my noisy heart.

It's time to dance my blues away (brought by her passing, saying goodbye to friends and mostly, by the unfolding of Taylor's "Story of Us" in my own life...) because that is what my cousin would want.

That is what the God of all hope and joy would want.

So farewell ate Diwata, our family's very own magical being.

I will remember you forever and dance like you are always watching.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope- Paul (Romans 15:13)


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