As I write this I am in Ormoc, where I will be for the next few days, because my little brother Jules just got married. How did life stretch him to become the man that he now is? And I ask, as I seem wont to do of late, where did the time go? How did his “growing up” creep in, even when I was looking?
I remember the live chickens he kept as pets, the day his finger got caught in the car door, the first time I saw him drunk as a teenager. I see in my mind his He-Man and G.I. Joe toys, the Zippo lighters he collects, his little trucks, the favorite shirt that was already too small for him that he never could let go of. I also remember him graduating with honors in college, and blooming into someone who efficiently manages the farm Daddy has worked so hard for.
Now this boy-man is all set to get married. The house in Carlota Hills is abuzz with activities, from morning till night, and family and friends from places near and far flow in and out in a steady stream. There are never enough hours to sleep but no one is complaining. Life is beautiful, things are wonderful the way they are. Never perfect, but wonderful just the same. And as we all come together for meals, there are stories to share, the past to remember, new memories to make. We talk and laugh, and talk and laugh all over again. The hours stretch by the way they endlessly do in the province, and the heat is terrible — mercilessly humid — but it does nothing to spoil what is a joyous affair through and through.
Today, this very moment, life feels very much like a joy within, something that cannot be contained. It comes out in the eyes, with every hug shared and enjoyed, with words exuberantly or gently exchanged. It is during moments like these that you realize how family is such a gift. Their mere presence adds weight and texture, making even more tender and unforgettable what already is. And knowing you are part of that circle, that very same one that continues to expand with time, with every wedding and new baby born, affirms all that is good and blessed about our time here in this world.
I find that as I grow older, and with a family of my own to nurture, we are all very much bound to the ties we keep and cherish. You become immensely thankful for all the things you took for granted when you were 10 years old and every reunion felt like something only the adults truly enjoyed. Now all of a sudden everything does feel like a constant gift — the funny titas, the crazy cousins, the introverted uncle, the more talkative ones, the boisterous friends. Everything else seems to be glossed over with how real all these people in your life are and how wonderful it all is, that being so. I see how strong and handsome my dad is at 72, how beautiful and funny Mommy is at 58 and I also acknowledge how old my sister and I suddenly feel because the brother we used to help bathe and cook fried rice for is now all grown up as he walks down the aisle to marry a lady who, days later, would almost single-handedly turn his very blue room that smells like cigarettes into a warm, faintly-scented bedroom, with pink flowers on a vase by the bedside no less. How lovely is that? And so as he makes space for her in his room, the family does get bigger, and it continues to expand, still. I have one more brother still single and a bit available, depending on the day and when you ask. Yes, there are many more things to look forward to.
All of these moments and all of the people that make these moments — they are threads that weave the fabric of our lives. We are all so different, yet so strangely the same, too, if that makes sense at all — a lot of patterns that just come together to work beautifully somehow. Yes, I am grateful for this day, when life feels very much like sunlight filtering in through the curtains of a window, reaching every corner of my heart.
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