Stamped Leather Strap, a Les Paul and tight hugs.

“And what does a beautiful lady like you doing sitting there sewing that torn guitar strap? And if I recall correctly, you don’t know how to play the guitar.” the voice from the door spoke.

Looking up, I saw a familiar face. Dressed in a floral dress, the old woman paced towards me. She took a chair and sat next to me.

“I went into the back of the store room to take this out and when I opened it…I saw that strap was torn. So I began sewing it back because this leather strap goes really well with this Les Paul”, I laughed nervously.

She adjusted her position in the chair. She hands reached out to mine and she took away the needle, thread and the leather strap that had a name stamped on it. Her eyes then met mine.

“So tell me, what’s my son’s best friend doing here with his guitar and wearing his hoodie?” I kept quiet to her question. She continued “I have a daughter too so I can tell when something is not right.”

“I miss him, aunty. I miss him the most. It’s not that I’m grieving but it’s just that miss him. And usually I’m really good at handling situations like this but last night I had a minor melt down where I was so frustrated because I now have no one to run to anymore. He used to be the first to know everything. He never told me what to do. He just simply sat there and listened to me. I get it that my friends are looking out for me because they don’t want me to get hurt but sometimes I just need one person to not give me advice. And I miss that. I miss having that one person that would just hug me tightly without saying anything. Everyone wants to give me advice. I mean what happened to just letting someone to be happy?” my voice was shaking.

She grip my right hand tightly. “I’m not going to lie to you and say that aunty has moved on but it’s pretty difficult because no one knows what a mother had to through when you lose your child. But I’m going to ask you something really important. Put aside religion, race and culture. What do you want? He always asked me how he could help you not be sad anymore. I always told him that not everyone needs to hear the usual ‘I warned you’ or ‘I’ve already advice you. You just didn’t take it’. I told him that sometime you just need a tight long hug. That’s what he did. He always gave you tight hugs.”

She stood up and opened her arms and gave me a hug. She squeezed me a little

People are going to disapprove. No one likes seeing you hurt. And they’re always advicing you ; telling you what to do. But you know what they forget? How happy you are. You’re happy and that matters more than what people want,” she said to me. She pulled away and her gaze was fixed on me.

“Once a young lady told my late son that as long you’re not hurting anyone and you’re happy, why should you care about what people say and think?” she lifted a gentle smile at me. “There will always people judging, hating, commenting and advising you. Always. You can never run away from that. Like you once told my son, as long as you’re hurting anyone and you’re happy, you continue being happy. You don’t need to please anyone. You’re a magnificent human, dear. I’m so glad my son had the privilege to be friends with you. You inspired him into becoming a pediatric surgeon. I too wish that I could have him back so he could hold you at times like this. I know it’s not the same and I miss him too. Please never forget that, alright? You never have to live for anyone. Not even your parents. If people are going to be bitter that you’re happy, leave them. If people are going to tell you that what you’re doing is against religion and culture, tell them that you’re not hurting anyone. I honestly do not see any wrong into being happy. I watched my own son committing suicide and having you to bring him to the hospital. I’ve watched my son suffered through depression and kids at that age shouldn’t be that sad. So if you asked aunty, you’re not hurting anyone and you’re doing it for yourself. Take risks, fall in love and be happy. You’re too young to be bound by people’s judgement. You’re too young to be unhappy.” she continued.

I smiled back at her.

“Dear? Promise me one thing? Promise me that you’ll continue to do things for yourself and no one else. You’re responsible for your own happiness and if people are going to weigh you down, get up and walk away. Because as far as I remembered, a girl with braces who was my late son’s best friend said, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, you have every right to be happy.”

And with those last words, she gave me another tight hug. For that moment, I felt as if my late guy best friend sent his mother to remind me of what I once told him.

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