The human heart was—and remains—a mystery to me. But I’m learning. I have to. —Anthony Bourdain

Dear Nanay

I haven’t written in a while, and it’s not because I miss you less. I think, the unfortunate effect of me fully understanding that we won’t have you at anything moving forward has me feeling better but also less excited about life’s milestones.

And it shouldn’t. The family is getting bigger. Dinna got a new dog, that I know you would’ve been concerned about because it’s small and might collide with you in excitement.

Chinga is getting bigger. She can run around now, and apparently can bully older kids because of her size. This cracks me up but is also unsurprising, as you know, we are Ruedas.

I’m happy she got to meet you, but honestly I’m also a little jealous that if I were to have kids in the future, they won’t. They’ll only hear stories of how amazing you were, and how we all felt a little better when you were there. Even if you weren’t the most wordy, you expressed your love differently, and I never wanted for more. I didn’t need to hear that you loved me, I just knew it.And if I only said it when you were sick, I am so sorry. I loved you so much. So often when I wanted to escape my life, I wanted to go home to Bataan and just be with the family, and it was your influence that made it what it is now.

I’m happy where I am now Nay, and the work isn’t killing me on the inside. It was worth the wait.

There’s love in my life in so many ways and sometimes I forget that when it’s difficult but I’m trying to change. Be more grateful. I actually miss the years when we were all still in the old house, and had less gifts but more time together. We actually had time to all be together in Manila or Bataan to just share meals then, but now, as we’re all mostly adults, it takes months of planning to do that. That’s the reality of life I guess, one that takes time getting used to as we all grow our personal networks, and change our individual meanings of family.

I miss you and I’m hoping that this thing is all mostly worry and not a real hurdle that the family needs to get through. Good things happen to all kinds of people I know that and something had already happened to you, but I’m still processing the possibilities for us. Watch over all of us as we take this on step by step.

I wish you were here, and I wish we had been able to cook that lengua. I still haven’t been able to get myself up to make it. I didn’t write down our conversation on your way of making it, but I can still remember most of your tips. Mom knows the rest. I want to make it and have a piece of you in my repertoire.

I know you’re in a better place, but look out for us here and there okay? For now, we’ll try to make you proud.

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