STORY: Lisa

I just found out Ate Lisa died. Apparently, she's been in the hospital for six months and just passed away due to brain tumor. But what do I care, right? Who is Ate Lisa anyway? She's just the street food vendor from across the street. She's just the familiar voice who would call my brother "Tangkad" and my dad "Boss" and ask me how things have been. She's just the familiar face that would nod at me, and in recent years, Jose, to get as much as we want from the fishball, squidball, kwek-kwek, isaw, etc spread and after, ask us how much our bill was and not even question it. She's just Ate Lisa. But then again, she's not. She is THE Ate Lisa and now she's gone. Just like that.


I don't know why but I can't believe, actually, accept that she's gone. For someone I have so little contact with (I don't even know her last name), I wonder why I feel extremely depressed when I heard the news. So, in the car, while waiting for my dad to come back in, I tried to analyze the situation. Why do I feel like I've lost something so much when this person's presence or absence hasn't really affected my life to begin with?

I'm very affected by the topic of death. Every time I hear of it, and it doesn't matter how close or how distant, how deep or how shallow the connection of the person is to me, I just suddenly turn into reflection mode. And every time I do, I come up with a different realization. And for this particular case, the simple explanation for my reaction/feeling is that I am SELFISH. 

You know when you have this toy, book or jacket you don't use anymore but for some reason, you just don't give away? You tell yourself that you might want to revisit it one day and that you wouldn't want it to be gone when that day comes. You let those things collect dust and rot instead of letting them live a new life in some else's care. You don't care that the toy doesn't get played with (which makes them sad as explained in Toy Story, of course), that the book doesn't get to tell its stories or that the jacket doesn't get to give anyone warmth like it's supposed to. You don't care that someone else might need those things more than you. All you care about is preventing your future self to feel anything bad about missing something from her past.. which most likely will not happen! Well, so far, I never actually used any of the notepads I saved for a special time nor did I use the pouches I said I would need eventually. I eventually just threw those items out when I remembered I had them because they were already torn and old and useless to me. I prevented those items from fulfilling their purpose for a future feeling I just made up in my head! 

So back to Ate Lisa. I am guilty of treating people like those forgotten toys, books and jackets. I want to have the people in my life there, ready for me to get back to them when I want to. I'm afraid to miss people. I'm afraid of any person not being there when I want them to be. And I'm not even talking about them being physically there to help me out or be with me or WANT to do anything with or for me, just the idea that they CAN be there. I want to know that that possibility is there. I'm afraid of not having the option to see this person even if I know I most likely will not choose the option to see them. I just like the feeling of always having the option to see someone. And I don't think of how having that option available to me will affect the other person's life. Am I making sense?

Ate Lisa was just always there. I never thought of her and what she was doing when I wasn't craving for her food. In my head, I felt comfortable knowing that when I wanted to eat her yummy squid balls with matching sauce, she'd be there like she always was. Now that she passed away, I'm not really as sad about her, her life and the things that will be gone with her... I'm sad that I lost the option to see her... even if for the past 6 months or so, I never did choose that option. 

This realization made me feel bad about myself. At first, when I felt sad about her loss, I thought I was a compassionate human being who cared for people. But when I stripped off the layers, I realized I'm no better than the other hundred people who bought from her who wouldn't even notice she was gone. I didn't really care. 

I cared about what I lost when Ate Lisa passed away and not what she gave me while she was still alive. And what's even sadder is that I am like this to so many. I have friends, classmates and family I want to be around just for the sake of them being around. I don't want to have any obligations to catch up with them or know about what's happening in their lives. I just want them to be where they are so I know I can go to them when I want to. Don't confuse it for me wanting to USE them in any way. That is not the case. I don't want them to actually do anything for me or give me anything... again, I just want the option to see them available even if I won't [most likely] ever choose that option. 

I want to go to Ate Lisa's funeral and I sincerely hope I get around to do that. And though I won't miss her in the deepest way possible, I will still miss her. She was nice and she remembered my face (I'm not even sure she knows my name). She trusted I wouldn't cheat on her and even let me get a few items free at times. I don't think I can ever look at street food without comparing it to hers. I don't know if that is how she wants me to remember her by but I'm genuinely hoping that she's happy that she's remembered. Period.

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