family reunion

On the last week of February, I went to Bacolod, along with all my siblings, to spend a few days with my parents. For the first time in twenty years, my whole family was complete. Well, there are exceptions — Michelle’s husband and kids weren’t there, and Bing’s son wasn’t there — but everyone I grew up with were there and it meant the whole world to me.

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without Jubal (who was taking the photo)

We haven’t been together, under the same roof, for a very long time now. We all live such busy lives and it has taken us into different cities all over the world. The ten year difference between myself, the youngest, and my eldest brother meant that we were always going to be in different stages of our lives.

And with all the straight siblings married and with children, it makes it so much harder for them to move around.

Bing and Ate Moira and Ciaran work in the Department of Foreign Affairs so they are never in the country for very long. Michelle, Ned, Vigo, and Sophie live in California. Datu, Kristi, Eve, and Liam are in Manila with me. Jubal is in Bacolod with Mom and Dad. We’ve always lived in separate cities growing up. Getting us together has always been a challenge.

Twenty years. We are not the people we used to be. I think we like it that way. But as family, we know each other the best, I guess, because we understand the context of what we’ve all been through. Maybe we don’t know each other now that we live separately and have our own lives but the lines of communication are always open and we know where we came from and who we were.

We told no one (or as little as possible) about the trip because we really wanted to just be together with no distractions. It was tough enough having to share the conversation with everyone throwing out ideas and stories and jokes left and right that to add anybody else would have been absolute chaos.

And we wanted to soak it all in.

We haven’t been together in twenty years. I can’t stop saying that because that’s a whole lifetime. That was during Bing’s wedding. How crazy is that?

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My parent’s children, complete, attacking a roast pig

As the youngest, I’ve always felt like I had the most challenging emotions with regards to my family. I’ve always felt I had to get out of all their shadows and no matter how hard I tried, I always felt consumed by their own reputation and identities. It’s hard to feel like a grown-up with them and for some strange reason, it’s all I ever wanted to be.

I love them to bits and I know they love me. Growing up, I’ve always felt smothered and claustrophobic with that love and it made me feel ungrateful. So many conflicting emotions. I felt happier living on my own now and seeing Datu once a week.

But being under the same roof with them for three days was just pure and utter joy. I wish we could do it more often. My whole life was turned upside down by this trip, with work all suddenly coming in on the day I was to leave for Bacolod and I didn’t care. I was going to do it all just to be there with everyone.

It ruined me but I’m still here and will still be here when we get to do this again.

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