The day she came was much anticipated by everyone. We made sure Mom never got tired or laid a hand on anything that she herself got frustrated with being stuck in bed or on a chair not having to do anything. It has only been a few months yet we couldn’t seem to agree upon a name for her. Each name we came up with, no matter how long it took for us to think of it, just never seemed good enough. This would be the name our youngest sister will be carrying and living with for the rest of her life, so it had to be beautiful, it had to say much and enough about her. Whenever we had a moment to pause and take a breath off work, we would approach Mom and gently rest our ear against her tummy and talk to the being inside which was soon to be born. We would talk to her, assuming that she heard any of it. We would shop for her soon-to-be clothes, carefully choosing for one she would love and be very comfortable in.
Finally, the day we’ve been waiting for had arrived. It was the 13th of December, 2001. It was the first time Mom was going to give birth that my sister and I were fully aware. There she was, lying on a bed, Dad’s hand in hers. The nurse arrived to take her to the room where she will be giving birth to our sister. We couldn’t help but be worried. All the excitement for the arrival of our sister were momentarily replaced by the anxiety of how Mom would be. We watched as her bed was pushed along the corridor to the room where it would all happen. I can’t even remember how long it took, but it was definitely more than an hour or even two. In my vaguest memory of it, it almost seemed like one whole day. My sister and I fidgeted in our seats every now and then, eagerly waiting for any sign that it was over.
However long it took, it had finally ended. The nurse exchanged a few words with Dad, and we were finally allowed to join Mom in the room. It was something we’ve waited impatiently for, but when it was there, I just wanted to savor every second of it. I walked as slowly as I could. The nurse had to smile and stretch out his hand to tell me that it was okay. I took his hand and slowly walked in. The first I saw was Mom in bed, holding this reddish figure gently wrapped. All my fears had gone and I skipped all the way to Mom’s side which wasn’t occupied by my sister and Dad. I looked down at that little thing which was our youngest sister. I asked Mom what name she decided to give her, and she said “Abigaile”in a voice that, without even looking at Mom, I knew was full of joy. That’s a beautiful name, I thought to myself. Why Abigaile? “Because it means ‘a father’s joy’, and that’s what she will become”, my mom explained. Wow. In that moment, there weren’t much words exchanged. As for me, I was content just looking at my new sister,already imagining the fun we’ll all be having together.
Years passed. Eleven, to be exact. Abigaile has grown to be a lovely and intelligent little girl. I’ve had so many dreams of the kind of girl she would become, but let’s just say it was too early to see all of them come to pass.
A lot of things happened in between. Elementary happened, wherein I was so focused on school and on friends. High school followed, where I was even more occupied. Finally, college, where I stayed in a dorm for at least 4 days in a week, and sometimes was not able to come home in a month. I was full of stress from my classes and club activities. Instead of having to come home to relieve myself of stress, I would just hang out with friends. Whenever I got home, I don’t even remember stopping to ask how Abby was doing. I would just go straight to bed. When Mom or Dad would ask me a question, I’d answer in a word or two. Fine, a sentence, at the most.
Even as I write, I still don’t have a box to fit Abby in. I have no idea of who she really is inside. I would catch a glimpse of her now and then, listening to music or writing stuff. She’s much closer to Nikki, the second eldest. I’ve been making attempts lately to reach out to her, but no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to build that transparency I have with Nikki, with her. She loves writing. Nikki loves writing. I even taught her how to make a blog so she could publish her works online. However, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to bridge the gap formed by over 10 years. Lately when I’d come home from an errand, I’d overhear Mom and Dad discussing how she’s being bullied in school or how she never seems to develop that self-confidence. With these thoughts in my mind as I go to bed, I couldn’t help but curse myself for not being there for her like I said I would. Things could’ve been different, I keep telling myself. If only I had been there for her at the start, we may have prevented any of this from happening. If I was there to appreciate her, teach her, help her believe in herself, listen to her, give her pieces of advice, she may have seen things differently. She may be much happier than she is right now.
I tutor her now in Math, Science and English. I follow-up on her activities in school and help her with homework. Nikki works on her projects, since she is gifted with more creativity than I could ever have. From time to time my patience would wear off, but then I make it up to her by taking her out on lunch dates or buying her some desserts when I come home. Recently, I’m the one who goes easy on her when everybody else is playing bad cop. Things are getting better, I can say.
When I come to bed and am haunted by that “what if”, I would shake it off. Things could’ve been different, yes, but things can still be changed. What we call yesterday may never be brought back, but we can still change today, so that it won’t end up being another regret that’ll haunt us tomorrow.