Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The White Dress

My aunt held up a small white dress that she took from the stand. “What about this one?” she asked my mom.

My mom looked at it for two seconds and shook her head. “No, I don’t think that will fit. Mommy’s small but that’s a bit too short for her,” she said before she continued looking through the dresses hung on display. She stopped at the fifth dress, pulled it out and held it up. She inspected it for a few seconds, holding it out at arm’s length and turning it around a few times, but she shook her head again and put it back in the stand.

“Let’s look over there,” she said as she started walking towards the area across the aisle. My aunt and my cousin followed her.

I let out a sigh. We had been walking around the department store for well over an hour already, trying to find a dress for Mommy, my grandmother. I didn’t even have to come along with them.  It was the first day of my Christmas break and my mom told me I can stay home if I wanted to, but I tagged along anyway because I figured it was the polite thing to do. I had no idea it would take them this long, and I was already starting to regret my decision.

I looked over to where my mom went. She was already looking for me but I didn’t want to go to that area. There was nowhere for me to sit. I was considering hiding behind the mannequin when my mom saw me and motioned me to come. I let out another sigh, stood up and dragged myself towards them.

“What exactly are we looking for again?” I asked when I got there.

“A white dress. For Mommy,” my mom answered while she was busily rummaging through the dresses.

“Yeah, but what for?” I asked. I felt a yawn coming and turned around.

“This one is good but it has too many pleats,” my mom said, completely ignoring my question. She handed a dress to my aunt. I looked at it; it was indeed a bit too over the top for Mommy. An 80-year woman old would not exactly look fabulous in ruffles and pleats.

“No, she can’t wear this. This looks too princess-ish,” my aunt chuckled.

“Well, you are looking in the children’s section, you know,” my cousin commented. He was playing with his phone but he was obviously as bored as I was.

“That’s because mommy’s small,” my aunt snapped. “She’s even smaller now than when you last saw her because she’s lost a lot of weight. She’s always sick. You’d know that if you cared to come with me when I visit her in the province.”

My cousin sighed, “Here we go again.” Then he went back to playing with his phone.

“Ma, what’s the dress for? You still haven’t answered me,” I asked my mom again. But she was still too absorbed in rummaging and she still didn’t hear me. I was about to ask again when my aunt answered, “For church.”

“Ah, I see. I was wondering why you were only looking at the white dresses,” I said. “So she’s coming with us to church on Christmas? But I thought you said she was too weak to even leave the house?”

“The dresses here are even worse than the ones on the other stands,” my mom interrupted.

“Okay then, let’s go to the next one,” my aunt said as she started to look around for other stands that we might have missed.

“No, I think that’s enough. I think we’ve already seen the best ones,” my mom said. She looked at me and my cousin. “Besides, the boys are already tired.”

“Okay, so which one will we take?” my aunt asked. “I like the one with the rounded shoulders. I think that was in the second stand we went to.”

“Yes, that one was nice. Here, take this,” my mom said. She took out her wallet and gave some money to my aunt.

“Okay. We’ll go get it. Wait for us here,” my aunt said to us.

“That wasn’t a dress for the mass,” my mom said to me quietly when my cousin and my aunt were already out of earshot. “Like you said, Mommy can’t leave the house anymore. She’s too weak.”

She was still looking through the dresses on the stand.

“When we go there this Christmas,” she went on, “that might be the last time we see her. The last time we see her alive. And you know that your uncles don’t make much money so... So your aunt and I just want to make sure that everything will be ready before we leave. You know, if anything happens.”

She had stopped fiddling through the dresses. Her hands were clutching at a dress hung on the stands. She was still avoiding my eyes. After a few seconds, she took out her handkerchief and brought it to her eyes.

I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I slowly moved to her and hugged her. She leaned her head on my shoulder and sobbed. I looked at the dress she had been clutching and saw the crumpled cloth where her hand had been.

“Ma, Tita is coming,” I whispered after a few minutes. My mom moved away from me and hurriedly wiped her tears off.

“Ate, here’s the change,” my aunt said as she handed some coins to my mom.  I caught a brief glimpse of her eyes and saw that there were also tears in them.

My mom took the money and put it in her purse. Then she took the bag with the dress. “Do you think Mommy will like it?”

My aunt smiled. “Of course she will.”

My mom handed the bag back to my aunt. “Come, let’s eat. I’m sure the boys are already hungry from all that walking,” she said. She took her sister's hand and they started walking away.

My cousin and I looked at each other. His eyes had the same sadness that I felt in my heart. He smiled weakly then ran to catch up with them. I followed. He took his mom’s hand and I put my arm around my mom’s shoulders as we walked out of the store.


  1. Sosyal pala kayo Nish...Englisera na pala si Aunty. Hahaha. Naalala ko pa 100% itsura ng nanay mo, pati nanay din ni Hoys. Hahahaha. Its been almost 4 years na since my lola I think I get this. Bakit, close ka ba sa lola mo Nish?

  2. naiyak ako, in fairnes.

    my mom has breast cancer and i have accepted the fact that life is not permanent. it is a gift and we should spend it wisely.

    pero baka mamatay na lang ako kapag ako ang kailangang bumili ng damit ni mama. sana wag naman soon. sana mga 20, 30, 40 years pa...

  3. Naiiyak ako dito. Entries like this reminds me that time is running fast yet my mom is not with me since time immemorial. =(

    And if ever, hindi ko yata kayang mag prepare ng damit for my mom once she dies.

  4. first time ko dito mapatambay. at mukang babalik pa ako. save kita blog roll ko. :)

  5. Knowing fully well that death will soon claim the life of a beloved, your aunt and mom can only do so much in so little time. They're brave.

  6. the love we have for our mothers :)

  7. I was given a glimpse of what you do to your readers by the title of your blog and the tagline. And yes, it was hammered when I read this post. You're cool, Nishiboy. If I am correct to assume that you write tearjerker blog posts, then you are the very first blogger who does that. :D Congrats and I am your fan this early. :D

  8. It's only when time is running out that we appreciate the little time that we have... Life must be celebrated each day...

  9. very touching. sorry pero natawa naman ako sa comment ni Hi,Me emote na sana ako

  10. Waaaah. Lungkot.... uy.. ang ganda mo magsulat pramis... la lang... parang pinaka-mahirap aminin yung near death ng love one.. :(

    hindi ko alam kung ang ironic naman ng dahilan ng pag padpad ko dito.. pero may napanalunan kang award sa blog ko sa pagsali mo sa kunya-kunyarian contest ko.. sana ma-apreciate mo kahit konti :)


  11. @orally. Nah, Nish knows me too well not to misinterpret. Hihi. Pangpa-lighten lang ng mood.

  12. my mamma has already picked out what to wear... a scent she would like and her flowers (or the lack thereof)... sabi niya, death should come as a surprise but that doesn't mean we should not anticipate it... C: