"it's been a long time since i saw her so happy"
Until now, I’m still wondering how my sister did it. Everyone is.
Danica is known for having an unexplainable connection with Lola. Perhaps it’s because they’ve identified her to be our Lola’s younger version. Whenever they’re in the same room, they seem to be each other’s halves. And so when we came over to Lola’s house, they began conversing as if they were alone.
I imagine her saying how happy she was to see Lola and how beautiful she looked in her dress. We were so close to her but we couldn't decipher her words. They all came out of her mouth like gentle, hushed whispers. We all looked at each other while she smiled at her, and Danica gazed upon our grandmother with such tenderness.
Then Lola laughed, a sound we never thought could still come out of her.
“What is she saying?” Daddy leaned a little closer to Danica’s body. Uncle crossed his arms in disbelief.
“Can you understand what she’s saying?”
“No, I don't.” Uncle laughed. “Sila lang nagkakaintindihan.”
From afar, I can see Lola’s chest moving faintly each time she laughed and my sister was just there, pulling off her sweet smile. I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly made Danica that way but I couldn’t question the moment. Maybe Lola saw something in her. Our relatives believed that she had her nose, eyes, and smile. She was fragments of her.
Danica sat next to Lola’s weakened legs. Daddy only sank to his seat further. He was slightly worried, constantly checking whether my sister leaned too much on Lola’s frail limbs. But Danica was also a fragile child who was scared to break any fragile thing. And so she moved with such care, tucking a strand of Lola’s hair behind her ear.
Mommy instantly took her phone out to record the moment. Daddy covered his mouth to cover the shock he was feeling. I’m not quite sure, but it seemed like his mouth was quivering. We wanted to understand but it was as if they shared a secret language. Lola’s chest moved faintly whenever she let a sound escape her lips. Her eyes were hidden by the crinkles she formed when she smiled.
It felt like it was her first time to laugh, a noise so foreign that it had to be documented. Danica occasionally shook her head and flashed her a wide smile. This made Lola laugh more. The yellowish teeth my 87-year-old Lola was once ashamed of were visible. The way she looked at her made her expose every corner of her mouth. Mommy took more pictures.
Daddy always recalled how Danica just sat there, on the edge of her bed, speaking. Lola laid down on the cushion that was as old as her, withering, nearly collapsing. We were all gathered around her bed but she dared to sit beside her. I remember how Uncle almost stopped her from standing up. But as soon as Danica lifted herself up from her seat, Lola turned to look at—eyes filled with longing.
Lola and I only shared a few moments, and most of them were my attempts to converse with her. We were often alone in her room and before I would come in I would catch her staring at the window beside her.
The sunlight would only shine over her torso and the lines on her skin often appeared like thin stripes. I vaguely remember how her pale eyes would gaze at me every time I rested beside her. On the far end of the bed, I’ve made my memories with her through her noiseless movements. I’ve always been content that she would look deeply into my eyes, and sometimes I believed that it was a sign of gratitude. I am hopeful that we remember each other this way.