In The Case of the Missing People, author Whimsy Leigh asks, “Why didn’t I write down the stories when I had the chance?”
It’s a compelling question–one that used to keep me awake at night, worrying over how swiftly time seemed to pass. I was transitioning to college from high school and later to life outside of school when all of a sudden I found myself awake past midnight reading old journals, sifting through photographs–always wondering about the persons around me and dreading the days when they would disappear.
When I was around twelve years old, I remember seeing my grandfather (as if) for the first time. He had just suffered a stroke and traveled miles to live with us. I arrived from school one day to find my mother ushering my quickly into the room he was in. “He’s been asking for you,” was all she could tell me. I swung the door open, held up a smile, gave him a hug and felt the tightness in his embrace. It was the first time I saw him cry. He bawled, barely able to utter any words. I kept smiling, kept trying not to cry with him. It felt like the beginning of the end. That day I began to notice a certain slowness in his movements–one that would eventually lead to his being still forever.
I don’t know why this memory has chosen to rear its head out of the surface, but it has. All I wanted to do, initially, was just convey to Whimsy Leigh that I was compelled by her piece to keep writing and continue remembering.
The photo above is one of my father taken the year I was born at an island town in the Visayas. I just saw this and felt immediately that I should use it.
The cautionary tale is Leigh’s own essay about not having written things down–Safety First. Remembering now and writing, perhaps I will manage to save my own life.