The girls he left behind

Thirty three years ago, my husband left me. He died. Leaving a house filled of daughters, young and adorable, innocent, with the world on their side.

In the face of adversity, we were not permitted to ask, “Why me?” You can ask, but you won’t get an answer.

Through the years, I’ve learned the hard way.

Why some poems don’t rhyme, why some stories don’t even have a clear beginning, middle and end.

That life is a delicious, ambiguity about not knowing, having to change, just taking the moment, making the most of it, without knowing what is going to happen next.

Through years of hair-raising fears and loneliness, joy and pride that tumbled in every widow’s brain, I’ve tried to create a vision of life for them in my mind.

It could be four lawyers, four doctors or beauty parlors and boutiques, four writers…and God forbid, four spinsters!

You see, your children are either the center of your life or not.  The rest is commentary.

Having helped make them mine, I remember their arrival that still produced grave guilt in in one’s motherhood, because we have ached for sons, instead.

I have hatched them, till they’ve flown. Watched them grow from babies whose moves toward independence were baby steps excruciatingly slow — to little children, into young adults.

From diapers to cap and gown for that law degree, Milkah, the eldest who taught everyone kindness, modeled respect and always looked rich and clean.

Through the  scrapes, and scratches, indomitable one had a MassCom and Economics degrees, but my fondest hopes was a pool of writers that would out scoop me, abundantly an improvement on their mother.

Raisha stumbles out of the door line one of the three tenors, singing Neopolitan love songs, upbeat, positive and polite.

But somehow, ancestral calls would delegate them as assistants to the most prominent lawyers here in Southern California and the nightingale married a hot shot lawyer in Nevada, but that’s another story.

Years back, they were little women that I caught falling into the fierce tentacles of first love when 10-year-old hearts we’re breaking, sending convulsions that shook the house, weeping like Victorian heroines in immeasurable anguish and despair.

I remember walking them to the front door, instead of their father long gone, to shake the hands of their first dates, young men crippled with shyness.

Soon, I was walking them into the wedding altar, and stepped aside.

Like a gypsy reads tea leaves, I saw them merged into an unmanageable ceaseless demands. Always bouncing on my bed when I was inside. Bouncing on my bed, when I was sleeping.

There was Natasha, the Christmas baby, her fathers legacy — pleasant, thoughtful and generous.

Veruschka, the source my joy and numerous excesses, always interrupting when I phoned in my stories.  The holy terror, in whose shoes, my life shined and set.

They could occupy themselves with times end with friends, computers, malls, plays and concerts, husbands and work.  And just when I’m feeling  grateful for some peace, that indeed there’s some mysterious depths in my fatherless daughters that I need not fathom, someone erupts with “Mother!

Their memories of their father, is perched on his laps and a kiss that cures broken legs and bruised egos.  He had the uncanny way saying just the right word and to whom.  His expectations, hope and commitment to us we were high.

Mr. de Leon gave us love, taught us reason and intelligence,  made us feel certain we will succeed in any endeavor.

Today it is the girls turn to give memories, not to take them away: their father’s 33rd death anniversary was a day of appreciation and respect. I can’t think of no other daughters who deserve it more.

They are the instruments who were left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time they had with it.

I’ve watched all my daughters grow up, now they are watching me grow old.

So, why am I crying?


E-mail Mylah at [email protected]

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