Remembering

53 years ago, he came into this world, and then he left just as quickly as he did. I never met him, and yet in my heart of hearts, I know him. From time to time, he would visit me in my dreams in some form or other, and I would know it was him even if I knew he was in heaven already .. He would just say hello, and sometimes he would hug me.. and in that dream, the tears would come because I missed him so dearly. I knew I always had a Kuya who was always watching over me. So I know that though he is an angel in heaven, he is always with me, forever holding my hand. Life would have been so different with you around.. Happy birthday, Kuya Silvano.

Looking to the heavens

Lovely Saturday in Times Square: everyone takes pictures from a horizontal view.. Try looking up some time -- straight up!  #lookingup #timessquare #ny #mynewyork #mynyc #skyscrapers #vertical #frontcam #anotherview #beautifulday #sunnyspringdayinnewyorkI was saying goodbye to BFF Fe last night after our regular chat when a message from Facebook jolted me with the news of an old friend’s passing.  There was a request not to use social media to comment or publicize it, so out of respect for the family, I cannot dwell or mention who it was or who she was to me.  But I was deeply touched because I was one of half her list of friends who got the invite to her wake and her funeral in Manila.  There will be a time to write about that when the family allows me to.

For now, I bow my head down in prayer knowing she’s at peace and no longer in pain.

I wanted to post this status update publicly on my own FB page, but I was afraid that I would get too many queries and bring attention to someone’s passing.  So instead I sent this to my dearest friends in private, and I’m sharing it here.

“Today is a day for me to reflect on the friendships and the people who have come into and gone out of my life as I learn of others moving on and others coming back and bouncing back. All I can say is thank you to those who have blessed my life with their friendship through the years. To those back home, I miss you all and wish you were but a phone call away and we could meet up in Makati or The Fort or some such place. I thank God for bringing each and every one of you into my life — no matter how brief, or how long, or far back. Please stay in touch… I will try to do the same.”

And to my friend from waaaaay back — no matter how brief our elementary years were, and how we were brought back together in recent years because you stumbled into my little space here, you will always be remembered and tucked away in a special place in my heart.  I will always remember how I visited you in yours as you chronicled your battle and separately, as you wrote about your family adventures.  More importantly, I will never forget your infectious laughter and unbroken spirit even in the face of all that you bravely fought.  Rest in peace, my friend.

 

 

When a young heart grieves

My 10-year-old is grappling with a very personal loss. A house fire had claimed the lives of two young children, one aged 11 and another aged 5, and the older one had been a very close friend of his. They had known each other since kindergarten and had been classmates throughout except for 2nd and 5th grade. Last year, they proclaimed each other as best friends. My son has a very wide circle of friends, but his friend John was sometimes made fun of for being bigger and a year older than most of the kids.

I liked John. He was always nice and was courteous. I knew his mother, too, having seen her in many of the school events when both Angelo and John were in the same class.  In the coterie of wannabe friends of my little boy, he was one I didn’t mind having around him.

I came home to a letter from the school giving instructions on discussing the topic with the children, assuring me that they, too, were dealing with it in crisis mode. Angelo looked fine for the most part. He told me had cried when they broke the news to the class – and that he had refused to make something for John’s mom, as that was probably too emotional for him. The Dad finally arrived from a business trip and had started to ask him about it but he turned to me and started to tear up, shaking his head, telling us he didn’t want to talk about it. I quietly signalled the Dad that Angelo was not up to talking just yet. 

How does a 10-year-old deal with such a loss?

He woke up this morning looking okay. There was still something about the fire in the news, but he nonchalantly just mentioned to me that it had been mentioned in passing. I look at him and I wonder what’s going on in his mind and his heart.

I have been fortunate to have raised a sensitive and compassionate boy. Easy to laugh and carefree, very sociable and at times shy. He has my heart, I think. (And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. =) I never lost a bestfriend who was in my life at the time of her passing. Once, Lilay went to heaven, but at that time, we had long been out of touch because she started a family and I was in college. Still, I felt that loss very deeply and it brought tears to my eyes. (And I don’t cry very easily.)

I’m trying to see if we can go to John’s wake so that they can say a proper goodbye. I just think that would be important for Angelo given the loss of such a close friend.

The thought of losing my child is heart-wrenching even in the hypothetical sense. Imagine losing the two most precious boys in yours. I pray that their mother finds strength to overcome and deal with the grief of losing her babies. How do you deal with such a loss? I am at a loss for words.

Grieving, they say, never really ends. You just learn to cope with it better.  I still grieve for my Dad who passed many years ago.  When I “talk” to him, I find myself lost in an emotional pool that usually ends up with me crying.

It’s still too early to tell how good my son is coping with his grief.  I just know it’s best to let him be and let him process his emotions.  If he needs help, he’ll call me and then we will talk.

Last night as we lay in bed, I told him to say a prayer for John — he is now with Jesus, I told him.

Between sighs

We finally got a reprieve from the heat today. I actually noticed a cooler breeze last night which was a refreshing change from the otherwise oppressive heat of the previous weeks. It was even chilly this morning. Nature has its way of balancing things as always.

My rain boots proved to be unnecessary but I hate walking home in the rain with the extra aggravation of literally walking with cold feet.

My mood seems to be in synch with the gloomy weather these days. I don’t know if it’s my late father’s birthday coming upon us or his death anniversary around the corner, or the finality of saying goodbye to Donna again who leaves our side of the world tonight to go back down under. July is not an upbeat month. So I try harder to make it upbeat — I think of my favorite niece, Julia’s birthday… And summer which, despite its punishing heat, is my favorite season because it’s the closest New York will ever come to mimicking the hot days back in Manila. I think of July as being past midway through the year which means December cannot be far behind.

They said that if you think happy thoughts and try to make a list of blessings in your life, you will actually be able to fight the sadness.

And there’s just avoiding wallowing in the negative. I thought about writing about Papa but thinking of his birthday and passing in one linear thought is just too much for my heart to bear. Even just glossing it over now is hard. The grieving never really stops or ends. We just learn to cope better.

 

And the New Year is here

2011.. for once, I cannot claim that 2010 just slipped by considering all the life-changing events that took place in my life in 2010.  The most jarring of all being my Dad’s passing.

(pause)

There are many, many other positive things that happened, too, but somehow the most painful is what makes the biggest mark.  So can I end there for now?

I miss Dad.  It’s my first Christmas without him.  It’s my first New Year without him.  For some strange reason, I can remember snippets of last year but I cannot remember how I spent it with him.  Selective amnesia?  Perhaps.

But I have found that it is easier to move on if you are willing to take the step forward.  I am still officially mourning.  My reds and hot pinks (my favorite fuschia pink included) are still in the not-to-be-worn zone.  I didn’t think I’d last this long but last I did.  It may seem immaterial to some but to me, it’s a personal effort at going through my own grieving process.

Yesterday I had to put away some knick knacks and stuff lying around my dresser in the bedroom, and I grabbed a memory box in my closet that was still mostly empty.  Well, except for Dad’s old letters to me.  I didn’t quite have the heart to go through them just yet except to tear the stamps off the envelope and then soak them in warm water later for my “collection”.   (I am an ambivalent philatelist.)  One day soon.

Dad wrote with a beautiful cursive script.  My own penmanship came from those graceful strokes.  Even when his hands were ravaged by Parkinson’s disease, he tried.

I miss you, Dad.  I pray you are in a peaceful place somewhere where the coughing and the trembling hands no longer ail you.  I know your robust laughter now fill the hallways up in the heavens.

Monday Blues

Mondays are a natural “alarm clock” for me to visit my blog dashboard and I’m reminded I haven’t been here all week. It doesn’t help that my (outdated) browser keeps giving me a “bad gateway” whenever I try to start a post. *sigh* But I am trying not to let that get to me as I want to get on with my week on as positive a note as I can manage. While “Happy Monday” doesn’t quite sound as nice as “Happy Friday”, we all need a little bit of cheer as the rains greeted us when we walked out the door.

So I am wearing a splash of color today despite my all black main ensemble. I have a silk orchid clipped to my fuschia pink short sweater which definitely brightens up my “Lady in Black” drama. I am trying to carry my period of mourning as far as I can. So far so good. Part of me is still coping with Dad’s demise. I still have more thank you notes to write — but the important thing is I’ve started writing them. I haven’t quite gotten to starting my scrapbook about him, but I have started gathering photos that I have on hand. Over the weekend, I pulled one of my empty fancy storage boxes from my closet and put the baseball cap and handkerchief that I took from his things. I will put my letters and his letters to me there, too. It’ll be within easy reach should I feel the need to touch them and feel them again.

I still catch myself thinking of him when I see something I would normally pick up in the grocery or at the store to send to him. Then I have to remind myself he’s gone. I’m still taking it a day at a time. Remembering Dad still gives me pause to just take it all in., but I try not to let the feeling linger, because it’ll bring back the tears and the pain again.

I have never quite suffered a loss like I am going through now, not because I hadn’t lost anyone as dear, but the circumstances behind Dad’s passing were quite emotional and more complicated. I lost my favorite grandmother at age 7, and a favorite Aunt who was like my second mom at age 23. Both were sick and while their passing was expected, their death left me with a numbing loss but not the one that came with as much pain as that which I am feeling now.

In time, I know, I will come to terms with the unanswered questions, and while the feeling of loss will never be totally gone, I am hoping that the pain it occasions in my heart when I think about him now will eventually subside.

The Soap Opera that is our lives

I’ve been caught up watching Magkaribal, and I’m one episode short of being up to date.  The last episode I watched last night hit too close to home, with Mark Gil’s character, the errant father, meeting his end before he could set things right between his two daughters who didn’t even know they were the sister the other one was looking for.  He wanted to make amends and do right by his children.

I decided to skip the last episode for the week and postpone watching it for the morning.  I thought I was tired and decided it was late enough to hit the sack but instead I found myself thinking of Dad.  I know it’s probably far-fetched to connect the soap opera with my own life’s drama as far as my Dad’s recent passing, but I somehow made the connection.

Dad’s passing had left many questions unanswered.  The days following his death only raised more questions than produced answers.  I found out he was trying to have a will drawn up where he was relinquishing his half of the property he was occupying before his death to my half sister, and I knew it was because her mother could not be an heir.

While under the law this was not legal due to the concept of legitimes owing to us his children (including my half sister’s share as an illegitimate child), it appears that the lawyer my father was speaking with was working on having the will drawn up, but as fate would have it, the will was never signed.

Given all the things that had been happening before Dad’s passing and the problems we were trying to solve, it hurt me to realize that it was indeed true that my Dad didn’t seem to care about helping us with our dilemma,   But what hurt more was the realization that his partner had postponed calling us and getting us involved with this last hospitalization because she was afraid that another reconciliation would happen between my father and his children, just as had happened the previous two instances he was confined.

Too many things shouldn’t have happened and I kept repeating Dad shouldn’t have died.  Twice before, he was brought to the hospital on the brink of death, and yet he left in a better state.  This one time he wasn’t brought in for anything life threatening, because we were not involved, the wrong decisions were made leading up to his expiration.

Looking back now I got a reaffirmation that everything happened for a reason.  I would’ve wanted Dad to have stayed on longer, but that is not for me decide.  As they say, when it’s your time, it’s your time. 

I lay there and felt the tears coming — wondering if before he breathed his last, he actually changed his mind.  Perhaps he did.  Perhaps he never signed for a reason — not just because those scheming to make it happen never got the chance to have him sign.

There are many “if”s and “what might have been”s… I just let the tears flow and I realize I miss Papa and wish I had the chance to hold him before he died.  Yet I was fortunate enough to have taken care of him the last two times we saw each other.  I fed him, held him up, and stayed there by his side.  And I was there to lay him to rest.

I forgive you, Dad, and hope you forgive me, too.  I wish you peace and may you find yourself with those who went before you.  May you and Kuya find each other there in heaven.  I know he will keep you company, and you two can be together again finally.  I miss you both. 

There will come a time when we will all be together again.

One month now

I started writing this post while I was in the shower, getting ready to end what has been a rather productive day.  We repainted the bedroom a warm shade of red brown.  The blue tape still adorns the ceiling and the window sill as we’re postponing doing the finishing next weekend.  (Truth is, we ran out of paint..)  I really like how the room is now cozier, even if the darker walls now make the ceiling light look a tad bit dimmer than it used to be.

Like most projects, this one entailed a lot of pulling and tugging between Alan and I.  Well, we managed to survive the day mutually feeling mighty proud of ourselves.  For less than $100, we did a pretty good job of giving our bedroom a new look without making too much of a mess.  I am usually not as enthusiastic about projects like this because I know it means doing majority of the prep work.  I tried getting an early start, but my foreman was still trying to get in gear by midday.  So I napped. 

I woke up in time for lunch, and feeling a little grumpy because I felt we wasted the morning away.  I pulled back and figured I’d just go with the flow.  (Don’t sweat the small stuff, I reminded myself.)  And I’m closing my Sunday thinking the same thing.

So Angelo didn’t get confirmed for the back up childcare tomorrow (and Tuesday) — he can stay home which he just loves!  The boy is on autopilot at home, as long as his lunch and snacks are handy.  I have food in the fridge and have the programmable coffee maker ready to  brew for tomorrow morning.

While the “Thank You” notes were not written, I have tomorrow.  I was doing pretty well until I realized it’s now a month since Dad passed.

Big sigh. 

I actually found some printouts of his pictures taken around 2005 by my reckoning.  I miss him dearly, and yet I get reminded of a double-edged sword ripping through me as I think about losing him and then I remember how his last days were.  The tears have stopped — at least for the meantime — but I still drift away to a blank space somewhere every now and then.  I’m still on my journey of grief but I’m moving on.

Up at the crack of dawn

I watched the sky outside my window turn from a dark to a now glowing light blue as the sun is slowly made its way up. I woke up at just before 5am this morning which isn’t really all that bad, considering I was asleep a few minutes after 10pm. As I was used to sleeping after midnight or later, I guess it was just my body clock “adjusting” — hence the early wake up call.

So I sat here in the living room catching up on news back home — (via Philstar and Inquirer).  I deleted e-mails from the blackberry.  And here I am finally writing a post.

I feel much better.  I think the jetlag is practically gone, but the after effects of the staggered and irregular sleep patterns has started to catch up with me.  Last night, I whipped up dinner and took care of the boy and lay next to him.  Father and son were still in a playful mood but I just needed sleep.  I drifted off to lala land and woke up feeling refreshed.

The sun is finally out.  I am hoping the rain doesn’t make a reappearance anytime soon.  There is something relaxing about falling rain, true.  But there is also an element of sadness to it.

Late evenings and early mornings are the best times for me.  It’s quietest and calmest then.  The silence and tranquility somehow helps me to recalibrate myself and just end or start the day in a more positive vein.  I’ve always been a night owl.  I have found that the best time for me is when the sun is not up.  While I am fully functional during the day, my most productive time is when the skies are dark.

It’s been almost a month now since Dad passed.  I am trying to get on with life and will now try to attend to the many messages of condolences I have yet  to acknowledge.  Even doing that has been difficult.  In fact there are still times when people ask me about my “vacation” and I simply say “It went fine..,” only because explaining I had gone home because Dad passed gets a tad bit too emotional for me. 

I thought I’d be scared to see him or feel him but I can walk into the darkness without fear at any time of the day.  He is here that he isn’t here.