My Lolo died when I was three. If anyone ever asked me if it were possible to love someone without really knowing them, I would nod my head fervently because this is how I felt about him. The only memories I have with my Lolo are just from the old home videos I’ve seen of him feeding me a bowl of rice and nilaga, and the stories I’d hear family members tell me of the way he loved and took care of me when I was a baby. I was the first and only grandchild he would have before he passed away.
When I think about the magnitude of loving someone and how that love can still move us even when those people are no longer here on this Earth, it makes me believe that anything is possible. How can I really explain that almost every big, momentous occasion that’s happened in my life, it’s my Lolo that always crosses my mind, and I look up to the open sky and I talk to him like he was here celebrating with me. Some nights, when I can’t fall asleep and I feel that reeling of uncertainty in my chest, I’ll talk to him then, too. I’ll say, “Lolo, if you were here, what would you tell me to make me feel better?” Yesterday, I thought about him a lot because it was his death anniversary. I thought about what my life would’ve been like to have a grandpa, and not just any grandpa, him as my grandpa. With his quick wit and ability to light up the room with deep belly laughs; his generosity; the hard work he endured for his 5 kids. I was told that no one could compare to the timing in his humor. My mom told me that he didn’t say much, but when he did talk, everyone would listen. I love hearing every story about you even if I’ve heard it a hundred times because it makes me feel closer to you. There are such few times in our lives that we ever get to feel that unconditional kind of love — the kind that’s pure and makes us feel like we are enough just as we are. I feel it in God’s grace every time I pray to him. I feel it in my parents’ stern voices when they’re reminding me Who I Am when I’ve strayed too far away. I feel it in my husband’s warm embrace when I’m feeling so low that I’ve forgotten the Sun. I feel that love now, more than ever, in my son’s eyes when he looks at me happily in the morning and when he cuddles close to me before falling asleep.
What I’m trying to say is that when we feel love from another, that love is so strong, so potent, and so deeply embedded within us that we can feel it even when that person isn’t here anymore. The time I had with my Lolo was short, but it was strong enough to last me my lifetime even if I can’t pinpoint or recall any physical memories of my own. It’s just the feeling; it’s the sincerity in the stories my family would tell me of how much he loved me. It’s knowing that he’s always with me, crossing my mind and my heart and my gut in the moments I need my Lolo the most. And as much as I miss him and imagine my life playing out differently if he were still here, I am still lucky to have been loved by him.
If you are softer than before they came,– Nayyirah Waheed
you have been loved.