I just came from a wake – my uncle died (God bless his soul) – and I had a blast. See, I love wakes. I love them because they turn out to be reunions. I especially like it when it’s a family reunion because I’m the kind of family-oriented guy who likes air-kissing with relatives who always a.) ask if I’m already married, b.) ask if I already have a kid, or c.) tell me that I was this small the last time that they saw me and oh, how I’ve already grown so big and tall.

There were a lot of relatives like that awhile ago and I enjoyed every air kiss with them. From close ones who remember to visit every special occasion to those I haven’t seen for a long time and couldn’t even instantly recognize anymore, they were all there.

I saw one particular relative who I really wanted to see after all these years. I don’t know what exactly to call her – she’s the daughter of the brother of my father (or to put it more simply, my dad’s niece). Actually, it’s her kids who I wanted to see. I remember meeting her children, JG and Jas, during my grandfather’s wake a decade or so ago, and having so much fun with them. They were around 4 or 5 years old back then and just like any kid their age, they were great balls of energy. They ran around the funeral home, jumped on me and clung like monkeys, bit some of my body parts and giggled like little devils, and loudly laughed every time they hit me. They were devils but oh, how I loved them. It was love at first bite. They had me at tagushk.

At my uncle’s wake, I finally saw my dad’s niece, who introduced to us her adorable son named Olsen, a smiling face who’s rainbow and unicorns and laughter and joy combined, and then personified. Clearly, this was neither JG nor Jas. I was brokenhearted. Confused, I just assumed that she I was talking to the wrong relative.

After several minutes, however, my dad’s niece returned – another child with her. She introduced him as Bryle, her eldest. Wanting to solve the puzzle, I asked for his age and real name. As it turned out, he is JG, the relative I’ve been wanting to be reunited with. As tall as me, sprinkled with some zits, and focused on his mobile phone, Bryle is now a 15-year old who’d rather thumb his mobile phone than bond with relatives he doesn’t recognize. I was excited to see him and naturally wanted to get to know him more. You know, be the usual older relative who likes asking questions about girlfriends (or circumcision or virginity) or saying how the last time you saw him, he was just this small and oh, how he’s already grown so big and tall. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance. I could just steal some glances.

It was bittersweet. It felt great to finally see him again after more than a decade. It was also frustrating how I couldn’t spend more time with him and get to know him more. I wanted to start a conversation – maybe try to remind him of how he and his sister used to climb on me or how he licked my face while uncontrollably giggling – but just like any good movie, I chose to end it by stopping it then and there.