It’s been two months

Today, before we headed out to do some errands, a big black and white butterfly flitted around and headed to the santan (West Indian Jasmine) plants out in the garden. It stayed there for a while, while I watched it, transfixed. I never actually paid much attention to butterflies until I learned from my mother-in-law how butterflies are connected to spirits of loved ones who passed away. During my father-in-law’s wake years ago, there was a white butterfly hanging out in the living room curtains. My MIL pointed at it and said matter-of-factly, “o, si Papa ninyo iyan.” (“That’s your Papa right there.”) Which floored me completely because she made it sound like it’s the sanest conclusion to make. To me, it sounded a wee bit loopy.

But I saw a brown butterfly on the day that we buried Zack. It was around for nine days after his burial. It would stand in the spot in the grass where Zack would stand. Sometimes it would just hang out in one of the tree branches, its wings barely moving. It was the same brown butterfly every single day. Which wasn’t around by the tenth day. I haven’t really seen a butterfly in the garden lately. Recently, a butterfly flew so close to me during our anniversary lunch. It was followed by a small white butterfly flitting around during our recent Ilocos jaunt. Everywhere we went, a butterfly would be near us. So today, I was pleasantly surprised to see one, which happens to be the second month since Zack passed away.

Two months. Just like that.

We still haven’t ordered his headstone. What’s holding us back? It’s the sense of finality. Once it’s ordered and delivered, what next?

For a time, I found myself randomly singing songs like “Could We Start Again, Please” from “Jesus Christ Superstar” (this one here). Or this part of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” at the oddest of times:

“We only have each other, it’s just you and me
What are we gonna do?
Do you wanna build a snowman?”

Which echoes back to that day when Zack passed away. I remember thinking, “what am I gonna do now?” I really didn’t know and couldn’t imagine what I was going to do after that day. It’s been two months since he went away, and I’m still trying to find or create a new routine for me.

I haven’t really met up with a lot of friends since we got here. Bilang na bilang. It’s really weird. When I visited the Philippines alone before, my schedule was jam-packed with meet-ups left and right. Now that we’ve been here for three months, there are still so many people I haven’t seen. Which is sad because a part of me wants to see other people just to take my mind off things, yet there’s another part that just wants to hide under my blanket. Kung ayaw, eh di huwag. Bakit ko naman ipipilit sarili ko? I’d meet up with those who want to see me.

Then again, life is funny. I already met up with a high school batch mate whom I was never close to in high school, but for some reason, Facebook made us friends. We even spent 12 hours together! That’s way longer than my usual meet-ups, but it was actually pretty fun. She messaged me yesterday that she wanted to meet with me again. She wanted to give me a birthday gift – a hand-painted bayong. I’ve seen her lugging one around in pictures, and it’s really pretty. She asked me for a design and my immediate thought was Zack. I just can’t make up my mind which picture of Zack to use. But I really want him to be the design. That way, it’s like I’m carrying him around when I go out.

So that’s how it’s been after two months. Zack left a void that can’t be filled by material possessions (have I mentioned that we’ve done so much shopping lately?), which I hope can be partially filled by people. But I guess people are afraid that my grief is still contagious at this point, and/or that I’ll just be a bummer to hang out with. Then again, maybe Somebody Up There is opening new doors to new people. Who knows?


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