The finality of farewells

Home again in the same year. I’m not sure why, really. I tell everyone it’s to be with family. First time spending Christmas without Mom. Truth is I just want to be close to where she used to be. This time the trip is not for her or for family. It’s for me.

I just need to feel her presence somehow. Not that she doesn’t pervade my thoughts everyday. I miss her so much. I wish I had recorded her as my mother. Not her as Miss Tapia, the television character. Although she had embraced that role, when she let the bun down, she was just my mother. Mythic in her own way, but also quite vulnerable and given to fits of fierce frustrations.

Maybe I came home to feel her absence, too. I came home to not be with her. To not sleep beside her, listening to her every breathe. To not watch her put on make up before going to work. To not hear her distinctive voice calling my name (after two or so incorrect references, usually my other siblings’ names), a voice that had grown sweeter over the years. To not feel her hug, her kiss, her caress that had turned more generous, an effluence of affection, which she withheld before like coveted holiday confection. To not watch her give orders about how she wanted things done, especially the Christmas tree and the lights and the watering of the garden in the late afternoon to keep the moisture in the ground through the night.

To not be with her, period.

It was easy to pretend she’s only waiting for me to come back home like she always did and always sweetly urged me to do, arms open, smiling… but she won’t be.

Not this time.

#losingmom #anaknitapia

About filinthegap

Lani T. Montreal is an educator, writer, performer, and community activist. Her writings have been published and produced in Canada, the U.S., the Philippines and in cyberspace. Among her plays are: Nanay, Panther in the Sky, Gift of Tongue, Looking for Darna, Alien Citizen, Grandmother and I, and her most-toured comedy drama about gender and immigration, titled Sister OutLaw. She is the recipient of the 2016 3Arts Djerassi Residency Fellowship for Playwriting, 2009 3Arts Ragdale Residency Fellowship, the 2001 Samuel Ostrowsky Award for her memoir “Summer Rain,” and was finalist for the 1995 JVO Philippine Award for Excellence in Journalism for her environmental expose “Poison in the River.” Lani holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She teaches writing at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago and writes a blog called “Fil-in-the-gap”. ( She lives (and loves) in Albany Park, Chicago with her multi-species, multi-cultural family.
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1 Response to The finality of farewells

  1. francistagasa says:

    I felt the same way too a lot has changed since Dad’s passing. Coming home knowing that he won’t be there reminds me how eager is he to see me. Our small talks would start about my work and if I was able to visit your Mom and so on. I guess its easier for me to move-on since I had been away from home for so long that I had been content for a few days of hi and hello. I have no regrets I know Dad understands. I focus with Nanay now promised to go home whenever I came. Calls her twice everyday to make the distance shorter.

    Love reaading your post. I wish I can also write that well. Welcome home. I love you!


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