Eighth birthday blues

4:37:00 AM

Of all my birthdays, the one I remember most is my eighth birthday. My mother woke me up at 8am with a kiss on my forehead and a very sweet “Happy Birthday!,” to which I responded, “Thank you! I love you Mommy!” She told me to get ready because we were going out to buy my birthday cake. A luscious chocolate cake with lots of icing and candied flowers, and eight little candles on top.

We set out and took a jeepney to the heart of Makati, where there was a Red Ribbon Bakeshop. She bought me a round chocolate cake with the flowers, and she had the girl behind the counter write the words “Happy Birthday, Isay” on it with white icing. She requested for eight little candles, which the attendant taped on top of the box. I was happy. So happy, that I didn’t seem to notice my mother wasn’t quite herself.

My father and my brother were waiting for us at home, and when we got there, my brother and I immediately set the candles on top of the cake. I borrowed my mother’s lighter, and one by one, I lit up all the eight candles. Food was already on the table - a feast of hotdogs on sticks and spaghetti accentuated by the perfect chocolate cake. I was already wishing in my head, and my wishes were (1) that my father, who worked overseas, would never have to leave again, (2) that my family would be with me forever, and (3) that I would get a Nintendo Family Computer.

I was so busy with my birthday that I didn’t notice my mother had been in the bathroom for far too long. It was only when the candles were burnt halfway that I wondered where she was. My father got up from his seat and knocked on the bathroom door. He asked her to come out because the candles were burning fast. But she didn’t come out.

And that’s when it all happened. My father kicked open the door, and we found my mother half-conscious with a bottle of poison in her left hand. She had committed suicide. With all his strength, my father tried to pump the poison out of her stomach as he yelled to my brother to call a cab. My brother acted promptly, and within minutes, a cab was parked right outside our house, ready to bring my mother to the nearest hospital.

I was left at home with the help. My brother followed my parents to the hospital to bring clothes and other necessities. The candles burned out, and I never got to blow them. At the time, I didn’t understand anything. It was only after ten years that I got the explanation I needed - my mother found out that my father was having an affair. He was going to leave us for good, and that was why she tried to kill herself. Thankfully, she survived.

But on my eighth birthday, all I wanted to do was cry. I sat on the couch and looked out the window, and just as I was about to shed a tear, it started to rain. It was the first time it rained on my birthday. I was born in December, months after the rainy season in the Philippines, but for some reason, the rain fell that day.

The sky is crying, so I won't.
(photo from the internet)
And that’s when I felt some comfort. I knew I wasn’t alone. Because on that day, the sky cried for me.


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