Packing up the attic was my least favorite thing to do when it comes to moving houses. This was the only part of the house that had no windows or cool air; which wasn’t an ideal setting for a day in the summer heat.
It has been 10 years since I moved out from this family home and two years since Dad passed away. Mom had called me back for the weekend to help clear out the house before she moves in with my sister’s family. In all honesty, I’ve never once returned home for longer than a few hours. The main reason was due to the broken relationship I had with my mom – one that had never been repaired by either party or rather tried to but failed.
I picked up my high school yearbook and opened the cover. Nostalgia filled the room as I felt the edges of the yearbook. Just as I was about to flip to the next page, I heard the attic latch open and my sister’s blond hair peek out. She opened the latch fully before climbing out of it.
I closed the yearbook and looked up at her. “Hey.”
“How’s the attic treating you?” She asked, with her hands on her hips.
I looked around and shrugged. “The usual. Hot. Stuffy. Don’t want to be here.”
She sighed. “Oh come on, Rosswick. You used to love playing in the attic.”
“I did. But not packing the attic.” I replied.
She reached over to a box and started pressing down on the lid before she moved to sit on it.
“Look… I know attic duty isn’t exactly ideal but it had most of your stuff.” She said.
I shook my head. “You don’t get it Rosalyn. It’s not the attic duty. I just don’t want to be here.”
“How long do you intend to stay mad at mom?” She asked. “It’s been 10 years. Surely you’ve outgrown the anger?”
I looked at my sister with an incredulous expression. She’s kidding, right? My mother made my life the way it was. Without love, without explanation to why the girl I was engaged to left me. I tried many times to get the information out of my dad but each time I was inches away from learning the truth, my mother finds a way to stop it from happening.
“Until she explains why Leila left me; no. I will never outgrow my anger.” I said. “She knows something but she isn’t telling me.”
My sister looked at me with a stern expression. “Rosswick. You were in a coma for 2 months since that car crash. We were all busy looking after you.”
“Even so, Leila would have at least left me a note to tell me why she wasn’t around. Dad was so close to telling me what happened. But thanks to our mother, she didn’t want me to find out where Leila went.” I gritted my teeth. “No wonder dad chose to leave first.”
Rosalyn stood up in shock. “Rosswick!”
I know I sounded spiteful but I couldn’t just stand here while she thought of ways to defend our mother.
She shook her head. “You have no idea how much mom has done to help you. That was a low blow.”
“I’ll leave you to your hateful clearing.”
Not even bothering with a comeback, I looked away as my sister climbed back down the ladder. As soon as I heard her pad across the second level floor, I let out a breath. I knew the moment I said that, I was going to regret it. I let the anger control me and said the nasty remark about the reason my dad passed on. Rosalyn is definitely going to hate me for the next few months until I apologize or something. But I didn’t have to worry about it since I will only be seeing her during Thanksgiving.
I was just about to put the yearbook back into the box when a letter slipped out from between the pages. Placing the yearbook back in, I bent down to pick up the letter. In cursive handwriting, almost like Leila’s, it was addressed to me or at least the nickname Leila gave me.
I frowned a little. If this was a letter from Leila, why was it hidden here? It looked yellowish and pretty old so I can only assume it was put in the same year I got the yearbook. I flipped the envelope to the back side and just as I was about to open it, I hesitated.
Did I want to know what was written inside? Could it really be a letter from Leila or is this just my imagination?
Urgh. Screw it. It’s been 10 years, why wait now?
I opened the envelope and took out the folded piece of paper inside. Unfolding it, I felt the anticipation explode within me as Leila’s beautiful cursive writing danced off the paper.
I’m not sure when you’ll get this letter but by the time you do, you would have noticed my disappearance. The process to getting this would have been hard or easy, depending on how severe your accident was. I know this sounds crazy with my prediction but I know what you’re like. The day you and I found out I had leukemia was the day I knew I had to prepare both of us for what’s to come. You never were good with handling your emotions well and when the day I finally leave you comes, you’re not going to be able to handle it.
I know that day is near. As I write to you now, my parents are outside listening to the doctor tell them that the chemo is still taking time to work but I know it isn’t. It’s my body. Who else can give the better diagnosis?
So, when the day comes, I know you’re going to be your reckless, silly self and do something terribly stupid. If you’re reading this before it happens, great! But if you’re reading this years from now, I want you to know that what happened to me isn’t your fault. It’s nobody’s really. There was simply nothing anyone could do. At least now I can head up and ask the Big Man why he gave me such a ‘lucky’ life.
Just know this Rossy. I love you ever since I met you and I will continue to love you even after I’m gone. Don’t leave your life in the past. Carry me in your heart but move forward with your life. Find someone who loves you like me or even more than I did. Cause I can tell you, she would be a keeper. 🙂
Till we meet again, Rossy.
P.S: Don’t blame your mother for this, okay? She saw me slipping this into your yearbook and I told her not to tell you because I want nature to take its course. When it’s time for you to know, the letter will fall out.‘
Lost in her words until the end, I only felt the wet streaks on my cheeks get damper and damper. As I held the letter tight in the grip of my right hand, I felt a headache coming on. I didn’t know what it was from but the the intensity of the pain escalated and the next thing I knew, my vision turned black.
~ * ~
I woke up in the guest room on the bed with two pillows behind my head. I looked up at the ceiling as I thought back to what happened in the attic. Only now, the blank space that once became a permanent fixture of my memory filled up. I remembered hearing the news of Leila’s passing and grabbing the keys to dad’s sedan as I rushed to the garage. Driving like a maniac while sobbing at the wheel were the reasons why I drove off the road, hoping to meet Leila half-way.
I sat up, about to get out of bed when I noticed my mother sleeping in the chair she had brought up from the living room. She must have been keeping watch in that thing even when it’s the uncomfortable one she had always hated but kept since my dad loved it. I looked out the window and noticed the sky colors changing to those seen in the evening.
My mother stirred and immediately opened her eyes in time to see me with my feet on the floor; about to stand up.
“Rosswick!” She exclaimed. “Don’t you dare get out of bed! You passed out for more than 5 hours. Oh… It must have been the heat up there in the attic! I should have-”
I looked at her worried expression and couldn’t help but feel guilt for not being a better son.
I held back my tears. “M-Mom… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been mad at you for so long… What happened wasn’t your fault. I know that now.. Can you forgive me?”
I saw the tears well up in her eyes. Not saying anything yet, she got up from her chair to sit on the bed next to me.
She smiled and lightly touch the side of my face before embracing me.
“There is nothing to forgive. I was never mad at you, Rosswick.” She said. “You are my son and I will always love you, no matter what.”
From the corner of my eye, I see Rosalyn standing by the door frame and she smiled.
She cheekily mouthed, ‘Don’t cry baby bro. I forgive you.’
I merely smiled back and hugged my mother tighter; making up for lost time and letting go off everything that held me back from fixing the relationship with my beautiful and wonderful mother.