The "Johnny Cash" Perfect Moment
This is the backstory of how this letter came together:
I recently saw this Greta Gerwig-penned-and-directed masterpiece called 'Lady Bird' and I had an out-of-body experience with how the film resembled with my relationship with my parents—yes I did see both facets of my relationships my mother and father as opposed to the mother-and-daughter dynamic alone. I saw myself weeping on some scenes and it made me think about turning things around; I know I should say sorry for being a selfish, spoon-fed brat when I was growing up but this [movie experience] gifted me this realization that I should stop looking back at things and just start making each moment count. It's nice to be retrospective, but would it change anything? Not really.
It was the second week of December; I had my mom mostly with me ticking off our Christmas to-do list. I've already bought presents for my godsons, goddaughters and a few family members (I'm not Santa Claus yet and my budget was a lot more tighter than last year's) but I haven't gotten one for her yet. And I've been stressing myself out thinking what to give her. Despite this little dilemma, there was one thing I was sure of: I wanted it to be different. I needed a grand gesture that's subtle (if that makes sense) to thank her for being my rock last 2017. That year was one tough nut. Then this happened.
I am putting it out here (I've already given this very same letter to my mom on paper with an elaborate set of lies just to hide it, only to be busted by her) for the love of sharing. And to let you know that love letters are the coolest. And for you give to your moms a hug—tons of them, in fact. You see, that's the beautiful thing about hugs: you don't need to profess your love by saying it out loud (if that's not your thing) because this one simple act is enough to let them know that you do.
Here's the letter:
We’re too busy looking for the perfect moment in our lives, we often forget that it could be those everyday things we do, the little things we tend to overlook and say, “Nah, it’s no big deal” when it kind of really is. Especially when you start to look at them in retrospect. For me, I think I just had my Johnny Cash perfect moment. It’s as simple as his, the one he had with June: in the morning having coffee with her. How did I know that I had it too? Because I felt something I’ve never felt in quite a while—peace.
It was a rainy Monday afternoon; my mom was lying in the bed we share all these years. She’s not feeling well because she just caught the flu. I was glued to my laptop in the living room but decided to stop and go to our room. I went in, laid beside my mom and hugged her. She said not to do so because I might catch the flu, too, but I said not to worry about it and I continued to hug her. She [finally] hugged me back. We went quiet for a bit then she asked me, “What is it?” and I said it’s nothing. She then replied, “I know when you hug me like this. You’re depressed.” I was taken aback by what she said. I know I’m not in the best place mentally and emotionally right now, I’ve been dealing with some of the toughest times I’ve ever had—but I didn’t hug her because of that. I hugged her because I missed her. But what she said broke me and a tear rolled down my cheek. I think she didn’t notice. Or she did and she just decided not to point it out. I said to her, “No it’s not that. I just miss you being here with me. Even though you snore too loud, it’s enough to keep me up all night.” We both laughed. Tears kept rolling down my face as I listened to her breathing. But I really do miss her. Because we’re not sleeping in the same bed lately. Because despite the both us being in the house all day, we barely even talk.
Her partner currently lives with us and she spends most of her time with him, making sure he’s okay and he’s feeling at home with the rest of the family while I waste my days in front of a laptop, working or watching as many films as I could. I should be jealous because I was so used to her taking care of me—I’m 24 and she still calls me 'baby'. I know at one point she’ll have to stop and I’d have to do it myself but I’m a selfish daughter who’s willing to take anything she could give because I love her. I’m ashamed I don’t tell her that more often. She knows I’m not really vocal about my feelings and I do that effectively in writing instead, hence the career I’m in. But I’m not jealous. How could I? She’s happy with him. When my father broke her heart, I was afraid she’d never find one that’s worth for her to try again. She keeps finding it, she was brave to put out her heart again and again and I’m in awe of her for that— but none of them really stayed long enough for me to meet them. Then this one did. It still might be early for me to say this but I’m hoping I’m not wrong with this one. It’s not always easy but that’s the thing with love and commitment, right? You have to choose love and fight for it every single day. And it does break me a little more whenever I see her sad but there’s nothing much I could do for her, except, be there for her. And I am, regardless if I don’t approve of her choices sometimes. But it’s the least I could do. She had me at a young age and she’d lost her twenties by taking care of me. The least I could do is let her live the life she missed and make her own mistakes. She’s done the same to me.
A few days back, we talked a bit of her and she said that sometimes she felt guilty because she wasn’t able to look after me like she used to because of her commitment to her partner. I had the urge to burst out into tears and tell her that it does sting a bit but I tried to mask those thoughts because I was never that person. I can never be too selfish to ask her to choose between me and love. Instead, I said I understood. I really do. And I don't think much of it. I learn to be more mature and understanding day by day, and I'm proud of myself for that. Although I didn't have the chance to tell her that she shouldn't feel guilty for choosing to be happy because it's what I wanted for her because the cracks in my voice would then betray me. But the fact that she saw through me with a hug will tell you that she knows me better than I know myself. And I've never been more thankful for that because we might get distant from each other on some days, weeks and months? Or if ever the time comes when none of us could ever muster words anymore? That simple gesture is enough to pull us back closer than we've ever been. She's my constant.
Now, as we continued to lie still in bed, with nothing but the sound of the rain and our uneven breathing, I'm at peace. And I could only wish the same, that if I hug her three times, she'll know that I love her beyond words. And that it's enough to bring her peace just like how hers gave me.
— written while Cath laid beside her mom right after "the moment". 121817.