by Samantha Gonzales
From what we know, Derek didn’t just know how to write; he was a writer. He wasn’t just a metalhead, he was a music lover. He wasn’t just smooth with words, he was a poet. He wasn’t just loud, he was emotional. He wasn’t just an enthusiastic nerd, he was passionate. He wasn’t just a spectator, he was an artist. But out of all the things Derek Parreñas was, the most important thing about him was that he was a Dreamer.
He dreamt of universes, of stars and worlds with heroes and fiends and fools. He dreamt of people and how they would live and how they would struggle and how they would love. He dreamt of girls and what they were supposed to be and how he would find one, how she was to change him, how he was to change her. He dreamt of places, of being somewhere else, of being in places he’s never been in before, of seeing new things, and experiencing what the world had to give him. He dreamt of moons, and suns, and how they rose, and how they set. He dreamt of what his life would be - if he was ever going to satiate his lingering wanderlust, if he was ever going to find the girl, if he ever was ever going to write about all the people he met, if he ever was going to create universes for us to understand.
What is special, however, is that this Dreamer had a penchant for sharing. He wanted to share his universes, his constructions, his kingdoms and dungeons. He wanted to find bodies to travel with, hands to hold, eyes to look into, souls to get to know, minds to share his dreams with. He wanted to share himself - sometimes in person, sometimes in spirit, and sometimes in print. He dreamt - with his eyes closed, with his eyes open, with his soul ready to translate all of it into his own creations. He wanted to translate his dreams into images. He wanted to translate his dreams into words. He wanted to translate his dreams into art. He wanted to share his dreams, and he did - articulately, generously, fearlessly. Some may call it pretentious, which may be true. Some may call it hipster, which may be true. But if we were to talk truthfully, we should call it poetic.
But what do I do with that? What do I do with the fancy words I wrote, with the grammatical parallelisms I’ve incorporated, with the information about him that’s up there? Can I utter these words out loud and hope to bring him back? Can I make fun of what I wrote with him and comment on our pretence? Can I argue with him about his hipsterdom and digress into conversations about Slayer? Can we talk about his dreams and nightmares and ideas and plans? Can we think of crazy ideas and write pretentious poems and plan to take over the world with our art? Can we talk about taking our friends out to a nice hot bowl of semi-authentic ramen?
Instead I am left here with my fancy words and grammatical parallelisms and information. I am left here with my pretence. I am left here with my music and my films and my books and my Echoes. I am left here with the echoes of his laughter and the feint images of his face. I am left here only to dream about what the world could have been if he was here. I am left here with the nightmare that he is not.
What does one do when one is left alone? What does one do when one loses something so important? What does one do with the time that is lost? To weep? To grieve? To fall into the abyss of hopelessness? To sleep and let the nightmare haunt you forever? For now, I am not sure. For now, I will be in the abyss. I will be taunted by the nightmares until the day I decide to wake up.
And when I do, the only sensible thing to do is to dream - of universes, of people, of places, of the stars and the moon, of sunrises and sunsets, of ideas - of a world that is better because of dreamers. The sensible thing to do is to keep the dream alive. Because when we dream, and especially when we dream together, even when we are left alone, and we lose important things, and we lose precious time, and we are at the bottom of the abyss, there will always be hope.
Hope - that the sun will rise again. Hope - that tomorrow we will have sweeter dreams.