November 1 is All Soul’s Day in the Philippines. This past November 1, I told my kids that it was a holiday there and that people usually flock to the cemeteries to visit the graves of their loved ones who had departed this world.
Ryan asked me, “Then why aren’t you there? Your dad is dead.”
I told him jokingly, “You really want me to go there today and then come back tomorrow?”
He knew that I couldn’t do that, considering that we are oceans away from the Philippines and I would have to purchase a plane ticket for that trip.
I looked at Ryan and reminded him, “My father died on June 20. Three years to the day before you were born.”
“I know that, Mommy,” he said.
Then Ryland said, “Mommy, your dad is dead. That’s sad.” Then he hugged me.
I hugged him back and said, “I know, but it’s okay.”
Once in a while, Ryland would realize that my father is already gone and then he would do what he just did. He’d hug me and say, “That’s sad.” And I would say, “I know, but it’s okay.”
Two days earlier we were talking about how I saw his friend Dragan and his Mom and Dad and brother Victor at the grocery store. They said hi to me and the two kids waved goodbye when they saw me again before they left the store. I told Ryland that I like his friend and his family. They seem to be really nice people.
I told my kids about my cousin Victor. He was a sailor and he went missing in the Bermuda Triangle while aboard a ship in the 1970s. We never found out what happened to him. Ryan said that he could be alive somewhere and raising a family of his own. That’s also what a fortune-teller told his mother (my aunt) many years ago. But it's most likely that he had died and had been buried down there under the sea. When I finished telling this story, Ryland said, “That’s sad.” And I said, “I know, but it’s okay. It happened a long time ago.”
Ryland is very sweet and compassionate. And it’s really sad that we lost these two loved ones too soon. Telling stories about them, especially to my kids, who never knew them, is my way of honouring and remembering them.