As the year ends, I think about why I moved back to Manila and why it is so important for me to be in the middle of the action. And why, after such a move — just a little after a year from almost dying of kidney failure — I flew to Boracay to celebrate New Year’s Eve to party in a beach.
The past ten years of my life, death has been a major aspect of my being alive. In my head and in my heart, and I know this now, I feel like I shouldn’t be alive. I talk about it nonchalantly and as if it were such an ordinary thing. It’s not normal for people to talk about their own death so naturally and casually.
But I have faced death thrice. All three times, in a hospital room with IVs sticking out of my arms, and I’ve made peace with the world and everyone around me. I fought to stay here but if I didn’t win, I was okay. I would’ve been okay with that as well.
To still be here, it’s such a gift, and it seems so wasteful that I spend all this extra time not living the way I should be. So many people have fought for me and sacrificed so much to keep me here and I have tried to balance what they want and what I want.
And I want to live. I want to live to my full potential. I don’t want to squander away my time like I did in my twenties being so afraid of who I am and what I can do.
I cannot help it. Death defines me in a big way. It has no hold over me. It does not frighten me. I am more afraid of living less than I am able.
And I can do so much still.
I can live alone. I can write. I can make movies. I can write poems. I can’t teach. Fuck, I love teaching! I can still travel the world. I can still make new friends. I could still fall in love.
There’s still so many things I can do and I want to do them. And it will be hard but I have no regrets because time is no longer my enemy nor is it my friend. I don’t think of the finish line. I’m thinking just of the race. And the fact that I’m still in this race.
This is a very essential part of me. Death and dying is an essential part of who I am now. And I eat more with such ferocity and take my meds and exercise and dream and hope and persevere because I can.
This is not borrowed time, like I first thought, but extra time given to me.
And I’m going to take it and I’m going to do things that make me happy.
I fight these feelings that my choices have made me ungrateful. But living to my fullest potential is the best way I can repay all those who have helped me and sacrificed for me to stay alive.
I’ve been struggling with that since 2010, the second time I almost died. I’ve always felt like my life wasn’t mine anymore because I had so much to repay. But in that thinking, I’ve trapped myself into living my life to pleasing others and not myself.
This is the first time, in a very, very long time I feel like I’ve put myself first. And I’ve made mistakes and I’ve stumbled but I truly feel happy.
I am in Boracay right now and the year is ending and I realized I am where I want to be. I’ve finally come to terms with who I am and how I can be truly grateful. I can be happy and that would be the point as to why so many have fought for me to still be here.
I am still alive. Who knew? I am so happy to be alive. And I’m not ever going to waste a God damned day of it not being everything that I can still be.