To the Eldest from the Youngest

27 February 2021

Michael Johnson was right: Life without you is gonna be bluer than blue.

Dearest Uncle Jeff,

My most favorite thing about the Alensonorin siblings is the equal level of warmth given to nephews and nieces. But being the youngest of the kin, I get an automatic upgrade from everyone. Hugs, kisses, and unlimited adobo.

Jeff, Ritz, Dede, Claire, and Jason. The family’s choral group. No matter how simple a get-together is, it always ends up being a karaoke madness in a feast. Unlike other families, we don’t have a traditional schedule but the stars always align and it always feels like time stands still.

Uncle Jeff, you never missed a milestone: first birthday (see pic above), ballet recitals, graduations, and every little wins in-between—including my first triple pirouette. You never failed to check in on me even on my fifth position turn out and never failed to remind me to take my time. No matter what it's about, you always make me feel like I can be anyone I want to be—like my flaws and insecurities make me perfect—like I am perfect. 

You're tough but you're just as tender. Growing up, I didn’t have the strongest immune system. I was frequent at the pedia and my cheeks weren’t as chubby as they are now. Even if medicines were almost a staple, I still couldn’t drink it by myself. Looking back, I am so grateful to have you—an uncle who was a call away to help me no matter what time of day to tingal me and have Auntie Inday cook me whatever I wanted to eat after. Uncle, thank you for Kuya Morgan, Ate Dali, and Kuya Jeffil—they take after you—so reliable—so loving.

“Akong pinaka pinalanggang kinagwapahan.” It’s what you always greeted me with and I’d always reply “Of course. Liwat sa Uncle.” And then we’d continue sharing inside jokes, jokingly make fun of other people, and of each other. A memory I will eternally hold in my heart: our friendship in our own little world.

I would always tease you, “Uncle, pa sabaka ko beh” and “Uncle, di na lagi ka mo anhi sa balay permi?” and you’d always sweetly reply “Tiguwang naman si Uncle, inday” and I’d immediately retort with “Di man gud. Ka batanon pa nimo. Lig-on pa gani kaayo ka o.” To be honest, it was the best way I knew how to shrug it off—that you were getting older—that time was ticking faster.

Only a few months into quarantine, I would already say “I miss Uncle Jeff. I wouldn’t mind getting swabbed if it was the only way to see him.” But the family was so careful of you—we didn’t want to lose you.  I had stories to tell you so it would still come up from time to time.

“Pa kiss-a ko, inday beh. Gi mingaw man ko nimo, inday.” Uncle, thank you for allowing me to walk arm in arm with you every chance I get, to playfully pinch your cheeks, to randomly hug you, and to allow me to tanday you—even if your knees were no longer the strongest. You gave the warmest hugs and flashed the brightest smiles. “Oh Baby, Baby Cae, akong pinalanggang Baby Cae" a makeshift song I will treasure for as long as I live.

You always told me I’m your favorite—I hope I made you feel you are mine too. There are still so many things I want to do for you—to do with you. Even for the last time, you didn't want to burden anyone. The pain of losing you is indescribable, no heartache could ever compare. But God loves you more and he has His ways. For sure you'll request to continue watching over us, just as you always do.

So if there’s one last promise I would make to you, it’s a promise to always tell stories of you to the future generation Alensonorins—the way you and your siblings always have with Papa and Mama. You will live on forever, Uncle. I promise you. You deserve to be celebrated. 

You always told me how much you loved being a primo danseur and how much you miss doing grand jet├ęs. My heart is at peace knowing you can finally do all of it all over again. Enjoy eternal life, Uncle. We will all continue looking out for each other just as you would want us to.

I will love you for the rest of my life, my Uncle Jeff. Irreplaceable. 


Your Baby Cae

Disclaimer: The incoherent tenses stem from the third step of moving on: bargaining.

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