WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: My baby at sixteen

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – Dearest Sagey at sixteen, every day that God made is a day I thank the Lord for you. You are that rare soul that fits in everyone’s heart – mine, most undeniably. You are my Little Tito, and I untiringly delight in how much you are such a chip off the old block. Ever since you were a baby, I’d watch you and Dad at sleep. You were like his nestling. These days, I watch you walking together and it makes me smile because you so obviously belong together. Both so quick on that comeback, I’ve yet to know another who could with quick dry wit nail people down where they stand, deader than dead. The things Dad does that melt my heart – well, you do those too so naturally, so unstudied, and when you do, I’m so mush.

It’s love to the nth power.

You don’t know how it delights me to see you never afraid – that even if you are, you are never afraid to admit it, never afraid to ask that we stand by you as you confront your fear and overcome it. What do you exactly do when you do that, Sagey? Do you cut down fear to bite-sized pieces until you can swallow it down?

Remember when you used to wander around the house as the lights suddenly go out? I thought the dark never scared you, but then you say you actually were afraid then. You were three years old and yet you were so calm about it, walking up to me in the gloom to hold my hand as if to reassure me. I really thought you were one strange kid!

Remember when you asked to go up on the Ferris wheel at Mary Rose? You were – what? – six? And I made you do Lamaze exercises! You picked that one up so well that the ride ended before we knew it. Did you know then that if we’d just let it ride, like anything else in this life, it’ll soon be over? I hope you’ll remember that for the rest of your life, because breathing right… keeps us breathing.

Remember when you asked to go ziplining for your 9th birthday? I thought that was one big mountain of fear and I would have understood if you got down from the harness. You didn’t. After a loooong time, you finally went zipping across the mountain, screaming with eyes shut tight. The two-minute scream trailing down the slope. But, you zipped! Just as you said you would. Never mind that you won’t ever do it again for a long time.

At nine – oh, Sagey, I remember you telling me I had to walk out our door and make things right for that little boy whose sister had died. You gave me your stuffed toys to give to him. You gave them up because you said he needed them more. There they were, all packed and good to go on a mission to stay the fears of a little boy you never met.

And remember when you were twelve and the doctor had to stitch you up? You weren’t refusing really. You just kept stalling and nailing us down with your questions about the doctor’s motivation for his profession. As if he was there for a job interview! Ah well. That long hour we spent in the emergency room taught me I had to wait for when you were ready because I think you also knew that no matter how seemingly insurmountable that fear of the needle was, you couldn’t let it stand in the way of you facing up to what would make you right and well.

Honey, your friends and not-so-friends would agree: You walk into hearts and make your home there. And what you see of hearts allow you to, if you so wanted, jerk people around. And yet you rarely do. You apologize quite so sincerely when you have to.

Tita Carol calls you my mother, do you know that? That’s because you cut me some slack when Dad is being unreasonable and you remind me when it’s time for dinner. You tell me to go and find my heart’s desire, knowing – I strongly suspect – that the long road would in the end lead me home where my heart’s desire resides. You understand that love is about sharing those we love, not about keeping them in. You’re like Elmer’s glue that keeps us all together. You even remind me when I am being unreasonable and unfair to Dad and I have no choice but to set a good example and behave. Especially over Izod and Dad’s heart’s desire.

I thank you for being Ate’s best bud. What you sisters have is rare, the way you know each other so well and protect each other’s happiness. It is the happiest moment of my life when I see your heads together, laughing together over some crazy video. Or when you both lend your voices to harmonize with the song on the car radio. How come you guys never sing as the singer does?

You and Ate. You’re so different, and yet you always find common ground for delighting in the world and what it brings.

Trite, but yes – I’d want to hold on to this moment when I still have you to cuddle at night, to sound off on the meaning of our days, to text twelve rounds on a busy day when one would do. But the world waits for you at your fullest. I strongly suspect the reason why you are here in this world is because the world needs you.

I know I do.

And I will always be here for you. Look me in the eye any time and you’ll see it’s you I see. Here for you. Every time, my baby, my darling, my love.


(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail.ilagan@gmail.com. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it “Send at the risk of a reply,” she says.)