Do You Remember?
You were about three years old then; I was five. It was scorching hot that afternoon, but I don't remember which part of the year it was. Was it summer? All I know was that the leatherette seat covers on the backseat of our Toyota Corolla were burning my thighs from the heat. Daddy was driving and Mama was on the passenger seat. I was alone at the back -- and I couldn't wait to see you. My parents told me you were in the hospital and that we were going to visit you. I didn't get any details, but they said you were very sick. I hoped you were okay. I wanted to show you the new Rainbow Brite doll I got as a reward for getting a gold eagle award in school. Mama helped me pray for you at night so that Baby Jesus would make you all better.
We rode the elevator up the hospital. I don't remember which one it was, but I can still smell the stench of the Lysol that was generously sprayed on every corner. Mama knocked four times against your door and your Papa answered. I took his hand and touched it to my forehead, and I asked for you. Your Mommy said you just woke up and that I should take it easy with you. She looked like she had not slept in years. She said you just went through your operation and that you were tired. And to be gentle with you.
My height barely reached your hospital bed, but I managed to see you. You looked so small laying in the middle of those white pillows. Your eyes were closed. I poked my fingers through the bed railing trying to wake you up. Your eyelids fluttered -- and you smiled widely when you saw me. I grinned and waved. I missed you! You were sporting the coolest hot pink bracelet on your left hand. I pointed to it and you showed it to me. It had your name on it, as well as your doctor's name. At least that's what I thought it said. I couldn't read that well yet at that time. I wanted one so badly, but I knew it was one of those things I could never have.
Mama came over to see how you were. She was whispering rapidly with your Mommy. They were talking about your doctor, I think. Then she placed her hands over your head and started praying over you. You were staring at her as if not knowing what to do. You looked at me; I smirked and then you smiled. Heehee, Mama looked funny when she talked with her eyes closed.
I wish we could have stayed longer but my parents whisked me away and said you had to rest. Already? It was barely half an hour! They promised me that you'd be home soon and that I could come over to your house to play when you're better. And that in the meantime, we were going to SM Department Store to buy you a toy. I told Mama that you would like a Rainbow Brite doll too -- Shy Violet was your favorite. I turned around to say bye to you and you waved a limp hand. Hmm. You did look tired.
Back in the car, I asked Mama why you were sick. She told me that your intestines knotted up with each other and that the doctor had to open you up to unknot it. I didn't know what intestines were, but somehow I envisioned a friendship bracelet of sorts inside you. She said you had to watch out what you ate from then on -- no bananas, no suman, nothing sticky. And she told me that I should look after you just in case you ate something that's not good for you. I put on my most serious face and nodded sagely. No bananas, no suman and nothing sticky, I said to myself.
As promised, you were sent home a few days after. I brought you some gummy bears when I came to visit you, and you ran to your Papa to ask if you can eat some. He allowed you two, but you had to give the rest to Yaya Mercy so she can keep it for you. We were all very cautious of what you ate -- we didn't want you to end up in the hospital again. You turned to me and said "Mommy bought me Red Butler for being a good girl when I was sick, do you want to see it?" Of course I did.
I swear, if your parents could have placed you inside a vaccuum to protect you from everything that is harmful, they would have. I would have. They would have given you a million Red Butlers just to make sure you would always be safe. You scared them half to death with that incident -- you scared all of us. You were so young, so small. So helpless. You didn't deserve to go through that. We could have lost you. But praises to the heavens that you were okay. It was a big gamble.
Do you remember it?
God only knows how I would've turned out if you weren't there with me growing up. You grounded me and you gave me balance. You were the baby sister I never had -- and yet there were times when you seemed a lot older than me. Oh, the endless anecdotes we have with each other! Truly precious. I would have given anything to ensure your safety, good health and happiness. And I still will.
Now that you're about to embark on a whole new journey in your life, I do want you to know that nothing has to change between us. I promise you that. Despite everything we've gone through, we're still as solid as the two of us can be. Everything else that we are meant to weather will just add more colors to our story.
In two weeks' time, you will be someone else's -- and I know that there's nothing else in this world that makes you happier than that. Trust me when I say that you deserve nothing less. And I am more than honored to be there with you and for you on your special day. Because after everything you and I lived through, I won't have it any other way.
I love you.