I AM an only child, but I was raised by my grandparents in Bicol. As far as I can remember, I was never close to my mom. Although she is the only parent I have, since my dad never showed up again after getting my mom pregnant, that fact didn’t provide me better chances to be close to her. Being a single parent, she had to provide for me all by herself and so she decided to work abroad. She left me under the care of my grandparents.
My life as a child was lonely. Unlike other children, I wasn’t allowed to go outside so I never had friends among our neighbors. And since I also didn’t have any siblings, I had to play all by myself inside the house. My grandparents tried their best to be my playmates, but it didn’t work very well. I was stuck in a small house with two senior citizens, my toys and my books.
That was my life even when I went to elementary school. After classes were done for the day, I went home right away without playing with my classmates. For someone who has been cooped up in the same old house since forever, rejecting other children’s invitation to play ball or go to the mall became more and more painful. I became lonelier than before. Although my grandparents gave me more attention than I needed, I felt something missing in my life. I thought then that it was because I had no friends.
After graduating from elementary, I was admitted to the Philippine Science High School-Bicol Region Campus. I had to live in the dormitory since it’s a three-hour commute from my grandparents’ house to the school. There, I made lots of friends. I experienced things that I could only dream of doing back in grade school. I got to hang out with friends, interact with them, go to places with them, and even fall in love with someone. Finally I felt alive. But even though I had friends and I was able to do the things I wanted to do, I still felt empty inside.
I never thought that the last piece of the puzzle was my mom. During those years of childhood and growing up, she was never with me. Yes, I got phone calls, pictures and packages full of stuff from her, but those things weren’t what I needed badly. Yes, she came home during Christmas and other special occasions, but those times were never enough.
Some time during my grade-school years, my mom had returned from the United States. But she was based in Manila, so I was still miles and miles away from her. When we learned that I had been accepted to the Philippine Science High School, my mom was overjoyed. She thought that we would finally be together in Manila.
It was not to be. It turned out that I had been accepted to the regional campus of Pisay so I had to remain in Bicol.
For four years, I worked hard so that I could get a scholarship in any university in Metro Manila. My efforts paid off when the Ateneo de Manila University granted me a scholarship. Mom and I were very happy that finally we would be able to live together. Now that I am here, I thought to myself, nothing will ever separate us anymore.
But fate again played tricks with us. My mom needed to go back to Bicol and to take care of my grandparents. I finally made it to the big city, but now she has to stay in Bicol.
That has been my life. All the time I have wanted my mom to be with me, to kiss me before I go to school, to ask me to eat when I get home, to hug me when I feel blue, to take care of me when I am sick, to tuck me in at night before I go to sleep, to go to Family Day with me, to attend my Recognition Day, to hang medals around my neck that I worked so hard to earn. I want her to see that I am doing my part to have a brighter future and she doesn’t need to work somewhere far away from me anymore.
All this time that she has been working hard for my future she doesn’t realize that my present is crumbling. She doesn’t see that without the present, there won’t be any future. A child like me cares about the present because that’s what matters most and that’s what will determine my future. I don’t care about rising to the top of the corporate world or being somebody. What I want is to feel that right this very moment I am not alone, I am loved, and I have a mom. Even though I know that I am not alone, I am loved, and I have a mom, I want to see it with my own eyes and not just trust what my heart is telling me. Sometimes, it is hard to listen to your heart if your eyes tell you otherwise.
All this time, I have tried to understand that all of these sacrifices we were making were for my sake. I have tried to keep in mind that no matter what, she will always be there for me. I have tried to believe that someday all of our sufferings will be over and we will finally be together as a family.
I have tried to understand that in time everything will be all right, but it is not easy. Why do people not realize that understanding all those things won’t take away the pain that I am feeling right now and that my future, no matter how great that might be, won’t be able to erase this hurt and emptiness that I feel and that it will forever be with me. This loneliness has scarred me for life and not even a great future will ever make up for that.
In time, people will say the same things over and over again, but they will just prove me right in thinking that they never truly understand what it feels to be me and to have this kind of relationship with my mom. I never became close with my mom. I wanted to, but we just didn’t have the chance.
Jayson Aleksie R. Barce, 17, is BS Chemistry freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University.
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