Saturday, December 13, 2008 – Kuya meets bunso in the flesh for the very first time this afternoon. Until today, Kai has only heard stories of his kid brother lying with needles in the hospital ICU, seen only glimpses of his smaller version from three feet away, and in fact, has seen only captured images of Zak from Mommy’s camera phone. He wasn’t prepared to be given his ticket to see his brother today, but he was ecstatic just the same.
Excitedly, Kai put on the smallest breastfeeding gown available (of course the gown still reached the floor, but I knew he felt so grown up in it); slipped into the oversized rubber slippers that can be worn inside the ICU, and ran to the sink (gown in tow) to wash his hands. He knew my routine by heart. Then very slowly, he made his way (a little too awkwardly though) to where his brother lay.
I sat on the tall stool by Zak’s bed and Kai climbed his way up on my lap. Kai will see Zak for the first time today – the realization of it was so overwhelming that I did not notice I was sucking the air in and never letting it out. I closely watched Kai who was also intently watching Zak, his eyes slowly moving over his brother’s frail, little naked body. He snuggled further into my embrace as he continued to survey the condition of the sleeping baby Zak (he later admitted to me that the sight of Zak scared him because his brother was just skin and bones L ).
I urged him to say something to his brother and so he did:
Hello Zak (emphasis on the Z, please)! I am your Kuya Kai.
And then he turns to me with a look that says there’s about 20 Why?-questions coming up.
Mommy, bakit payat si Baby Zak? Hindi ba sha kumakain? (picture this: I answer one question, lets say “Kasi di pa sha marunong ngumuya.” Next question is, “E bakit?” Next answer: “May tubes pa sha sa bibig.” Again, “E bakit?”and so on…)
He turns to Zak again, of course, this is not exactly a monologue because he’d always turn to me to clarify and ask, but take my spiel out of the conversation and this is what he said:
Baby Zak, we always pray for you before we go to sleep – ako, sasa (translation: at saka) si Mommy, sasa si Daddy. We want you to come home so we can be happy. I will teach you how to ride a bike and play with many, many cars. We will ride Sam to go to Kingsville and we will go to the mall, I show you my favorite toys! We’ll watch Iron Man, sasa Incredibles, sasa Lightning McQueen…
Kai was holding Zak’s delicate hand while doing so when all of a sudden, Zak cried his silent cries, his lips quivering, his chest heaving. Kai was alarmed and he looked at me with frightened eyes. I only shrugged to see how he’d resolve the issue so he turned back to Zak and started whispering:
Shh, baby Zak, don’t cry. You shouldn’t cry. We’re boys so we have to be Iron Man strong. Only girls cry. Like Mommy is a girl and Mommy cries all the time but you cant cry and can’t make Mommy cry or I’ll get mad at you, Sige ka.
Here I intervened because I couldn’t bear letting Zak hear anything negative. I love my two boys and I want to bring them home soon so Kai’s one-sided conversation ended with him playing baby tunes from the Playskool musical doll he chose for Zak the week prior.
Hush little baby don’t say a wordIf that mocking bird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.
If that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.
If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.
If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest babe in