Last night while I was busy reading The Associate by John Grisham, I suddenly remembered a cousin of mine. She suddenly struck my mind because for some unknown reason I remembered that June is her birth month. I smiled, but quickly frowned, because I know, I can't talk to her anymore. she's already gone...
Melissa De Guzman, or Isang as we normally call her, is not just a cousin for me. She's was my 1st friend, my protector, my partner. While I was busy being the crybaby, she was busy being the shield for me. She was always the braver one, the louder one, the confident one which is opposite of me, the shyer, the less-confident, the pusong-mamon one. All my pictures when I was little would either be I am a baby or I had a picture with her. Since we were of the same age (we are both born on 1988 she was in June and I'm a month after), we are sort of twins, we had matching jackets. Matching smiles. We even have a picture where we are abays in a wedding. We were partners there too!
We used to play at the De Guzman compound. sometimes we play at their house or ours. She was always a playmate for games like piko, ten twenty, part one, part 2, jump rope, paper dolls, pog, text, etc. We even devised our own game that we called Ten-Twenty 2. She was the one who taught me, although not properly, do a cartwheel. This because it was part of the game chinese garter.
During the puberty stage, I became even shyer and didn't go out even to play. I normally come out when I was doing an errand or simply going to school (the effect of having cable TV!). That's the time where we went our separate ways. Our communication officially severed when we entered high school. I entered UST Pay High, her... I don't know. When I was kicked out from UST Pay High, I heard she got pregnant. That's the De Guzman Hormones for you! After that, I just see her during occasions like Xmas, Lolo's Birthday, or New Year's celebration where she usually hold a patpat with a katol at one end for lighting 5 stars. And Oh! I'm a god parent of her "son".
One distinct trait that I remember of Isang is her love for dogs. I remember one time when we are both asked to be godparents to one of Ate Chat's son (i think its onse), the jeep that we were riding ran over a dog. She almost cried when she heard the hurtful cries of the dog. I wanted to show of by stating the names of her dog but I'm sorry I'm not good with names. But I think there was this dog named Fritz?
I found out that she's gone when my mother walk in my room and called my Ate Grace to tell her the news. I was up all night with a friend during that time. I was of course shocked. Hello? we are the same age! how can someone our age die? But when her body arrived, I had no choice but to believe it. I heard Ate Lemon did her make up and gave her her gown.I refused to see her and go to her wake. I was afraid I will cry. But when I finally had the courage to walk up to her coffin, Tita Marie went with me. I looked at her lengthwise, then smile and said, "Nagmumura naman yung bulaklak ni Isang! Minumura ako eh! Pink ako!" and we laughed. It gave somehow a small smile in a mother's grieving heart.
I still didn't cry. I didn't even cry when she was cremated, maybe I was still oblivious of the fact that she moved on already. Despite all the negative chikas I heard about her,I still think that she is that sweet little girl I used to play with. It's just that, she just chose too soon, and the effect of alcohol in her blood is too much. If there would be a chance that I would be able to talk to her, I will tell her how much I care for her and don't she worry, I'll love her "son" as much as she would want to.