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2017 – Here and There

By: Annie Salvador, BCBP Baguio

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I’m sitting in front of my laptop, trying to find the right words for what I’m experiencing. The Christmas rush – what a rush it was! – is over, as well as the New Year’s immediate newness. So the house is quiet. My children, four of who are based in Manila now, have arrived and gone. I’ve put away the extra dishes and cutlery that come out of hiding each December. All the leftovers from the cooking frenzy we created have been eaten up in various guises: omelets, soups, yang chows and pastas. I’ve washed the extra sheets and blankets and they’re all nestled back in storage. My heart rate is once more normal. My time and my thoughts are mine again.

It’s bittersweet. Part of me is grateful for the restored peace, and part is longing to have some more of all that noise and bustle. I’m happy to be able to sit, relaxed, without interruption, yet I’m sad that there is no one to disturb me. It’s during these days, right after the whirlwind of the holidays, when the empty nest blues are bluest. Oh well, c’est la vie.
So here are two poems I’ve written to say more about the push-and-pull of my current mood. One looks back to a time that was and will never be again, not quite willing to let it all go. The other looks up to the One who holds all time – and all else – in His Hands, submitting surrender.

SHADOWS

I remember bonfiresupsidedown
and tiny voices,
the children jumping all about
the orange flames,
breathing the swirling smoke.
I remember pixie shadows moving hither
and tither, growing larger and smaller
in stark chiaroscuro,
“Not too close, kiddo…” and
“I’m okay, Mommy!”
in endless back-and-forth.
The shadows are larger now,
more full, more still,
the bodies that shape them
satisfied with quiet conversation
after the roast and paella
of my spread; the clamor
for marshmallows and dogs
silent, surrendered
to the arms of forgetting,
even if I buy them still.
Do they remember, like I do?
Are they longing, like I am
for hugs
and wet kisses
and I-love-yous?

A PRAYER FOR MY ADULT CHILDREN

Lord, I present to you my children –images
Nico Lorenzo,
Nelson Eric,
Nathaniel Victor,
Inez Margarita,
Michaela Maria,
Who are your children more than they are mine.
I offer them to you again and again
From when they were little,
Till now that they are little no more.
Though they are always in my heart,
Now they are no longer in my hands.

I cannot be there before them, beside them,
Behind them, like I could before,
To give a look that cautions, a touch that comforts, or a word that clarifies;
To extend my arm or simply put my foot down to shield against danger;
To wipe a brow or point out an opportunity,
Not even just to stand by as they go about.
I cannot always be there.

But you can, Lord, you are.
You have my children in your hands,
As you have them in your heart.
You knew them from before they were created, and
You see them as they were meant to be.
You are with them and watch over them as long as they live.
Be their Protection, their Aid and Inspiration,
Every moment, always, forever.
Be the parent I can no longer be,
The parent I cannot ever be, Lord.
They are your children more than they are mine.
Amen.

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