Dear Ganda :
I STARTED the day deciphering chicken scratch reviewers I wrote for my millers’ certification exams months ago, which ominously I can’t even remember organizing. Then I tried running a few Sunday laps around the block, a futile project which I quickly abandoned after the depressing autumn drop in temperature, next to which the fickle sun was a puny rival. Finally I checked my inbox for urgent e-mails, none of which was from you.
Irrational, actually, since I should be the one to greet you, as it’s your birthday today.
Compared to your herky-jerky pre-teens and your whirlwind high school years, you have been nothing but a joy to me every day of our lives. You remind me to text, write and call more often than I do you, you update me about your school, love life and your dad-side relatives far more regularly than I could reciprocate, and because of your weekly updates, it’s almost like I’m home. I can never thank you enough for your solicitousness Ganda.
At the risk of reminding you of my participation in your fate, you have grown up too soon as a result of the fact that your original family is no longer intact, that you have acquired two sets of parents who fortunately cherish you as their only daughter.
Whereas your peers and colleagues have not entirely left their scrapbooks Sanrio collections and virtual pets, you have already looked forward to guiding Bunso through his freshman college season, tweaking your career prospects via counselling and summer internships, and preparing yourself towards the inevitable milestone of young adulthood.
Sometimes I wonder where the years went, couldn’t have been only a few years ago when you loved roaming around the neighborhood looking for your favorite playmates, spending half the day chasing and being chased by the dog, and laughing endlessly at slapstick cartoons on the TV.
You reached that stage when you wanted to show you were almost grown up immediately, insisting that you live in a dorm just across the street from school, that you go on outings unsupervised just a few months out of high school, and that you visit trendy night spots just when you were becoming a young lady. It was only the last that raised my eyebrows, but on the whole I knew that you knew what you were doing.
Incredibly, with everything in your life that you were juggling, and keeping a breathless pace with family, academics, friends and your OFW parents, your GPA was only 0.2 shy of getting on the Dean’s List. Only goes to show that even at half-strength, your gifts are clearly visible.
Overall, you have done quite well as a young lady forced to be more independent than many people your age, and it would be an understatement to say that your elders are proud of you. Don’t think that I appreciate you any less for the remarkable job you have done as granddaughter, sister, student, niece and cousin, just because I’ve acknowledged your initiative and independence.
Nevertheless, I know that you know that being equal to the tasks is its own reward, as it prepares you for greater challenges ahead. If there’s anything I wish for in the year ahead, it’s that you keep our lines of communication as free and candid as they have always been, and that we maintain our confidence and affection for each other.
I thank God always for a daughter for you, and ask Him that he keep you safe and healthy as He has always done.
Happy birthday Ganda, I miss you terribly. Take care always, kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos.