Letter to Mariel, February 29, 2008

our-family.jpg

Dear Mommy,

It’s been over five months now and I still miss you so badly. I promised myself not to keep count but what can I do, when I still think of you almost every minute of the day. You know I talk to you all the time and I’m very sorry to keep bothering you with my trivial issues. But I have had no one else since you left for God’s garden last September 20. And there’s so much more I wanted to say to you.

Most of all, I never had a chance to say good-bye properly. They had to let me leave the ICU at 11pm the night before and all I can do was to give you those little kisses on your feet. I was very afraid to give you ‘germs’ for I know they were giving you those immunosuppresants. Plus, I thought you really needed some rest. That’s why I can’t understand why I suddenly woke up at around 3:30 am with the very high fever and that bad case of gout. And how can I ever forget Alma (my sister) getting that fateful call at 430 am from the doctors telling her that they were administering CPR on you already. I was in shock to put it mildly and I wanted to rush down to the ICU to be with you. But I can’t even stand up. I wanted to be brave and be with you like you always wanted, but I just couldn’t walk. Was it God’s way of saving me from seeing you in such a desperate state? Alma told me later that you decided to “go” only when she told you that she will take care of Sam. And she has really delivered on that promise to this day. She truly loves Sam like her own but I still weep knowing Sam can no longer have your embrace. (It hurts now so much just thinking about this, Mommy. Please help me finish this post, it’s too painful.) And yes, I remember how peaceful you were when I was finally able to go down to see you (and kissed you once more) that day.

Sam misses you too very much, Mommy. But she would not talk about it much. She takes after you. But I guess you already know that. By the way, do you want me to bring her to the salon for a haircut? We’ve had some “spirited discussions” about getting it some days ago. Although I can’t believe how much she is starting to look like you, specially with the longer hair. She is as beautiful as I’ve always remembered you. And she has your “flawless” skin too. Don’t worry though as she is fine and is generally starting to “recover” from that little dip with her grades. She’s still number one in her class (I know you’ll hate me for writing this), that’s because she really takes after her smart and beautiful mom.I also got your little message the other time. I know you’re really always there for me, especially when I get those usual “setbacks’ at work. I’m still not 100% but I do try my very best for you. I know you want me to succeed in life for our daughter Sam and I promise not to fail you. (Even if it’s the last thing I do before my own exit) I still can’t do much traveling these days, although I really think I need to do it so I wont miss any of those opportunities in Thailand and Vietnam. Mama promised meanwhile to look after Sam whenever I’m away. Besides, school’s out in a few weeks. Don’t worry Mommy, it will just be for a couple of days at a time. I vow to make you proud of me again.

It’s kinda late and I also know you want me to go to sleep now. I will write again soon but then I hear you in my head all the time, so you know where to reach me (hehehe). Also, please keep “reminding” me if I sometimes “go astray”. After all, you’re my Guardian Angel now. And I ‘m very happy because not very many people get to call their angels by their first name. I miss you Mommy. Please stay “close” to me always. I also really look forward to that time when I can be with you again, “to love and to hold” forever. I love you so very, very much.

Good night Mommy.

With all my love,

Bong

P.S. Here’s a song I thought you might enjoy listening to before you sleep, ‘love you.

Advertisements

We love you Mommy always!

“Love is repaid by love alone” — St. Therese of the Child Jesus

I was with my daughter, Sam last night helping her with her “schoolwork’ when I came across this passage from the life of St. Therese of Liseux . And I had to tell her how this is something she must remember if she truly loved her mom. But that’s getting ahead of the story. So let me first describe how I got here.

You see, I have been agonizing these past few days over Mariel’s fate. I felt so sorry for her and can’t help but have feelings of deep regret over her unexpected passing. She was after all the one who kept a healthier lifestyle. She was even the better person. I was the one in line to go, having racked up all the bad medical stats over the years. I was the one whose passing would have had minimal impact on our family life. I would have gladly traded places anytime. I felt so bad. But the one that really hurt the most was that I never really got to say good-bye to her like I would have wanted. Yes, we did talk for days on end during her illness and I was the only one she wanted beside her 24/7. I was at times so physically and emotionally drained. I must even admit I wanted to”escape” from hospital- duty on some days. But then, I never saw it coming. I never really considered that she may possibly lose the battle. Not even when I was told that we may have to transfer to the ICU after just a week from being “admitted”.

I was prepared to fight on and stay in the hospital for as long as it took. But never once did I consider that things may turn out the way it did. I may not even be too sure that Mariel did either. Although looking back, I sensed a certain amount of “resignation” from Mariel during those last days. In fact, she looked to me as very brave and very in-control, that’s why I was never really worried. I remember her putting back her own ventilator tube after it once got “detached’ . My response was to jump up and down like a scared chicken while calling on the nurse.

Mariel was tough and from my perspective, she was the one even taking care of me.There was this time when I had asked her if she felt all right (stupid me) with all her tubes and needles at the ICU. And she had motioned to me to get a “whiteboard”. ( By now, she was already “intubated”, hooked to a respirator and thus cannot speak. So I had improvised this board and got her to scribble notes and instructions to me) At this point, she had chosen to write instead, “please pay the car insurance, its due tomorrow”. And God, I even found out later that she had been paying our household and utility bills through phone banking from her hospital bed. She was dutiful as she was loving. And she knew she had to take care of her “big baby”.

I was “happy” though to have told her the following as a last message through our whiteboard. I had found this one later on the hospital floor after it was “all over”. I will now keep it “preserved” for as long as I live. As there is nothing else in this world that I would have wanted her to know more than this one.

We love you Mommy always– Daddy and Sam

But as tears flowed again last night while doing Sam’s homework and having chanced upon these words from St. Therese, I had to remind myself and Sam that the only way for us to truly show our love to ‘Mommy” was to learn to now love back. As only love can repay the love we had received.To love and honor her memory. To love all the beautiful lessons she had shared with us. To love all the people and things she had cared for in life. To love and celebrate everything she stood for– love of family and friends, dutiful love… unconditional love.

We love you Mommy, now and forever.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy

“Things are not always perfect between us, but you’re still the only valentine for me… Dear Daddy, Happy Valentine’s Day!  I love you, Mariel”

And so goes my last Valentine card from my love– Mariel. It was one I discovered serendipitously while running through her things after her passing. She kept every little memento between us, and now I can only treasure this one for as long as I live. I do believe it was Mariel reaching out across time and space to me.

Mariel was never overly sentimental about anything, or at least she did not display her feelings for the world to see, unlike me. Oftentimes, instead of blurting out “i- love- yous”, she would much rather remind me about watching my diet , lest I get another one of my gout attacks, or buy me another nice shirt. That was her way of telling me how much she cared for me, And that was my wife Mariel’s way of showing, how deeply she had loved me. I’m sure she knew too how much I loved her deeply. And it goes without saying that she will always be my one true valentine.

By the way, Sam and I have some special cards for you today Mommy, be sure to read them please. And always remember that you will forever be in our hearts. And that we longingly wait for the day that we can be all together again, and share our love through eternity. We love you so very, very, very much. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy.

A Few Laughs for Mariel

Mariel was the one with the real sense of humor in the family. She always found something interesting even in the most banal of situations.

That is why she never missed watching on TV the “infamous” American Idol auditions around this time each year. Even as Simon Cowell’s nasty critiques may have now somewhat lost some of their original edge, she still would have enjoyed the surprising new vocal discoveries and entertaining “flunkers” as well. In fact, we usually would have the time of our lives with our daughter Sam watching this and even making a contest of predicting who would get “in” or not. (And I’d like to share that it was Mariel who normally “wins”. Now you know where Sam really got her musical genes.)

One of this year’s lovable and inspiring flunkers is Renaldo Lapuz, a Reno- based Filipino who got his “fifteen minutes” and wowed most Idol watchers this year with his blend of audacity and unique message. Mariel would have loved watching him over and over on the tube because she always had a soft heart for the underdog and thoroughly enjoyed a good joke if she ever saw one (I’ve told you before that she usually forwarded me text jokes on my mobile phone all the time).I can now imagine Mariel having a rollicking good time at this funny and characteristically Filipino prank.

So enjoy this one tonight as we have a few laughs with our love– Mariel. This one’s from me and Sam, Mommy. We love you.

Too Beautiful To Forget

mariel-in-kl.jpg

It’s February the month of love. And I’m again starting to get anxious on the expected coming of Valentine’s day. Because I remember it was the special time when Mariel never failed to give me those heartwarming little gifts and thoughtful cards. I will miss them so much. But more on that in my next posts.

Tonight, I just wanted to get it finally off my chest. You see I’ve been noticing “visits” to the blog tapering off a bit. Yes, I get to see everyday how many actually read the blog articles in Mariel’s Garden and I just can’t help but think if people, especially friends and family have started to “forget”Mariel. I know most people have to get on with their lives and do not necessarily live to read about my meanderings. I know too how life’s challenges have oftentimes a way of viscerally demanding urgency and attention. But could this be what I had feared all along? That maybe someday no one will care enough to remember the beautiful, loving and generous person that was Mariel. Please don’t get me wrong. I do not take it against anyone not visiting Mariel’s Garden. But I just had to ask if life could really just be so. When lovely memories of a person, special as she was, will eventually just evaporate in the haze of life’s here and now. I hope not. Because that thought can really be depressing. Or is it just my bad writing?

Nonetheless, I hope to carry on until the ink just simply runs dry or until when I do finally get that “golden ticket” to meet my love once more.

I love you Mariel. And to you all, a peaceful and good night.