It wasn’t part of my plans for today, but I met with Nin again today at school, one day after she returned to Manila and twelve days after what happened, and I have to say, she looked better than I had expected. By better, I mean calmer and more grounded. I honestly expected her to still be somewhat fragile because it’s only been days, less than two weeks, but she looked like she was keeping it together quite nicely. Of course, this is only what goes on externally. What happened to her wasn’t easy, and she didn’t have to tell me, but if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the wound is still fresh and one wrong word from my mouth could either break her again or cause her to summon so much strength that it forms in her as a fist and hits me with it.
So what did I do? I gambled.
Well, it’s not exactly something I thought of, I guess it just came out when she arrived. I greeted her like she just came from a vacation somewhere far-off and talked about things that were funny and had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to her, thinking that distracting her and making her laugh would be healthy for her after all of the tears I imagined her pouring these past few days. At first I felt like a jackass because I figured she might think that I’m an asshole for not being more sympathetic, which I wouldn’t blame her for if she did. And that’s the thing, because two of my best friends over the past five years already experienced the same thing she went through and I had absolutely no idea what to do or say, and today I still played the jackass as if I had learned nothing from the past two experiences. I was ready for her to punch me in the face if she wanted to.
The old Nin would probably do that. But the new Nin was the one who was with me, and you know what she did? She laughed along, she talked to me about the things we would normally talk about if what happened didn’t happen, and she finally opened up about it all by herself once the thought came to her. And while she was talking, while I was listening to her, I could still feel the sadness. I could still feel how her stories were hurting her, but she was never hesitant to talk about it. She never cried. Misty eyed maybe, but she never cried. I was never good at reading people’s faces, but it was obvious that losing a significant part of her inflicted a wound that was still fresh. But for someone like her, she was handling everything pretty well. I have never seen so much strength. For someone I still expected to keep cheering up even after she returned from home, she was doing a pretty good job doing that all by herself. To tell you the truth, the three of us all believed in her and expected her to be stronger than ever after the incident, but a part of me wondered what kind of strength it’ll turn out to be because I didn’t want it to be the bad kind. And I am thankful to all of the gods out there that it gave her so much strength and maturity that it made her tower over me. The Nin I spent this day with was stronger than I could ever hope to be, and I’m so proud of her. She was different, but a good kind of different. No words could describe how much I missed seeing her smile and laugh and crack her corny jokes, especially after the last time I saw her. It was refreshing. Pretty soon she’ll no longer be the fragile little girl I’ve always taken her for, to be replaced by a strong, independent woman who learned from every slap in the face life has given her, but she’ll always be my little sister.
She may still be on the road to recovery, but if she keeps going up this way, I guarantee she’ll be stronger than any of us can ever imagine her to be, and wherever she goes, we’ll always be right behind her, supporting her when the need arises. Why? Because that’s what friends do.
Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s watching over you and he’s proud of you for being so strong.