It's been eight months since my dad got on that plane to Sri Lanka, and left me, and the rest of my family here in the Philippines. For some Filipinos out there, it's hard to comprehend what it feels like to lose a parent to a job overseas.
Still others like me understand that it hurts. They know that even though it may not be as bad as actually losing a parent, it doesn't mean that it hurts any less to know that the person you love won't be there with you on those days you need them most.
When I was younger, my dad was always there for me. He taught me how to ride a bike. He taught me how to catch spiders in our backyard. He bought me ice cream on those days I felt bad. And he told me off on those days I needed to be taught a lesson. He was my mentor and my friend. And I know that he's just a phone call or text away, but for me, it's a lot different eating dinner with him now that the person sitting next to me isn't actually my dad, but a cellphone.
It's a lot different now that he's away in some far off land. I don't see or talk to him as often, and when I do it's through a screen. It's hard having to greet him on his birthday through text or a phone call. And I know that it's hard for him too. I know that he spends most nights in his apartment alone. I know that he feels bad every time he hears news about any of my, or my siblings' accomplishments a week late. And I know that he regrets that he couldn't spend any time with my mom on their anniversary. But I also know that not once in his decision to become an overseas Filipino worker, was he ever not thinking of his family, and the consequences that leaving the country would have on us.
Now that he is in Sri Lanka though, he earns a lot more. I can finally buy that phone that I've always wanted. My sisters can finally get those shoes, or those clothes that they've always pined after. My brother can finally get a car.
And my mom can finally get that house that she's always dreamed of. In terms of our material life, my family is doing pretty well because of my dad's decision to leave the country. In terms of the things that are more important however, we're trying to get by as best as we can.
My dad's decision to move to Sri Lanka so that he could support his family better was a noble one. But sometimes, when I see children with their parent's or a complete family spending the holidays together, I wonder if it was the right one.
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