Mommy, I’m back

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I just got back tonight from a week-long trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was a very productive one, having accomplished some important milestones for an ongoing project there and also made a number of new friends along the way. It was “good”. However, tonight while I was waiting to be fetched from airport arrival area, it just suddenly dawned on me that for the first time Mariel wont be there anymore to take me home. For she did this without fail with every travel I made (which was quite often considering my work)

Mariel would sometimes also bring along our daughter Sam for those “special” times. And what a treat it was to be able to see the two most important persons in my life after an expectedly stressful outing. We ordinarily “grabbed a bite” after that at McDonald’s or something just to celebrate our togetherness. I imagined that Mariel looked forward to being with me again even if I ‘d been away only for a couple of days. She’d sometimes go directly from her work just to be there despite her own usually hectic work day. She’d customarily ask me how my trip went and if I had done my best to avoid eating those kinds of food that usually brought me gout. She only knew too well that as a rule I would try to “get away with it” as she would not be around to check on me. I missed those conversations so much now. Although back then I’d sometimes think of them as annoyances. You know how it is, guys. Now I only know better.

I had done my best to hide my tears tonight from the driver who had picked me up from the airport. ( Although I know I was never really good at these things. ) I truly felt so lonely at the airport arrival entrance, having again suddenly realized the great void in my life. Some will call it just “habit”, I call it simply love. For Mariel loved me enough to want to “see” even if it meant taking time away from more important things like Sam, work or catching up on a favorite book, etc., etc. I wish I had been thoughtful enough to have completely appreciated those simple moments at the airport terminal. But like many important moments in life, It’s so easy to take those for granted. I never realized that I was a bloody lucky bastard (pardon my French) to have my Mariel. Now I’m just another bloody lucky bastard crying at the airport wishing he knew then that he was the bloodiest, luckiest bastard on Earth indeed.

I love you Mommy, I’m back. I had brought home “something special” from my trip for you tonight.

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Some Thoughts From Vincent

New Jersey trip

today, i finally get to write my thoughts on the loss of my friend, bong. i was in the process of finishing my first piece around a few weeks after this blog was set up. unfortunately, my stupid finger pressed something that made what i labored for around ten minutes disappear in internet heaven or hell. i guess it was meant to be since it gave me more time to fully appreciate and share with bong the loss of mariel. well, let me begin by saying that mariel has always been the quiet type every time that i met her. and this will often been mistaken by some who do not know her that well as aloof. but then i got to know mariel through bong. he would spend time sharing with me all the wonderful things she was to bong and sam, their wonderfully gifted daughter. bong would almost always relate stories about his loved one that showed another dimension — one of a loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. in the movie, jerry mcguire, tom cruise said the famous line “you complete me”. i guess this would be the best way to express one’s love for his or her soul mate. and now that i see how much of a void mariel has left behind in the life of my friend bong, i realized how much he loved and still loves her. and i am so blessed by the life of mariel who even in the death continue to take care of bong and sam in more ways that one. and i think bong you know what i mean. i am sure the she is your special guardian angel who takes care of the two of you. today is easter sunday and the message in our sunday service is about the two men going to emmaus. and when Jesus joined them, they didn’t recognized him for they were focused on despair and disappointment over the death of Jesus. i guess, at times, bong misses mariel in the physical sense — wanting for her to be with them again. but presence is not the only proof of love. it is when one realizes that a loved one will always be with us — meaning in our hearts and minds — do we get the strength to carry on. i know that bong is still grieving over the loss, but maybe the thought that mariel is and will always be there beside them is more than just comforting…it is so reassuring that the separation is only temporary. and we will all be together with our loved ones in His perfect time…just as we await the coming of our dearest loved one which is Jesus Christ. i apologize if this does not really make so much chronological sense. but one thing i am pretty sure of — it is only mariel that can complete bong. what a lucky and blessed person is my friend bong.

( Written by our friend– Vincent Huang Dy Buncio. please watch his beautiful video tribute to Mariel)

Midway To Nowhere

Mariel with Baby Sam

It’s been exactly six months since Mariel left for God’s garden. It’s what some would see as a midpoint in the yearlong “mourning period”. People tend to create these milestones as if we operated like mechanical clocks. I hope he wont mind, but if I may quote a friend, Robert of the price of love blog– “the calendar brings no release. New seasons, birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, Christmas – we don’t want to see any of them, but they come round relentlessly all the same.”

I see it myself as midway to nowhere. For nothing yet has managed to fill in the gaping void that Mariel’s absence had left. She is immensely missed for the love, beauty and gentleness she had brought into our lives. Samantha and I must now try to do our best to “limp on” through the life’s uncertainties. We’ve gotten a little “better” at it these past months, but we still have a long way to go. We know however that the pain and emptiness we still feel today will probably remain with us till we can see Mommy once again.

Mariel our love, we you will forever remain in our hearts. You are the ‘compass” that we hope will someday get us out of this abyss into the light of God’s love. We love you always.

(Mariel loved this song from Nat and Natalie Cole. I wish to play this one for her tonight.)

Hooray! School’s Out For Summer.

At Karon Beach, Phuket

I never prayed for the Summer break to come more than any other year.

No, I was not exactly daydreaming about the white sandy beaches, although they are every bit inviting. I was actually ruminating on getting back some part of my life now that I didn’t have to worry, at least for a few months, about doing homeworks and projects and quizzes and unit tests and trimestral exams. You see since Mariel left for God’s garden, I had to take her place with managing Sam’s daily slew of school work. I never really realized how much hard work when into it until now. Mariel had to deal with GCFs, LCMs, running the household along with doing her regular office work at the bank. She was truly one “Superwoman”. And she never once complained. I had a taste of it these past months and almost lost my mind dealing with mixed fractions and parts of the plant. Now I can see why Mariel had looked forward so much to making the yearly trip to Baguio or occasional outing to the beach resort. It was really the only time to get away from it all.

I asked Sam where she’d like to go for some well-earned “rest and recreation” this year. She’s still deciding, but I just can’t wait to idle away some evenings and catch up on those books still left unread. I do cherish my times with my daughter working on assignments but it’s simply that school work takes so much time away from doing the “cooler” stuff in life. I’ve been reading about some nice places to see in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) Vietnam. Perhaps I can take Sam along with me to check out its wonderfully chaotic markets in my next business “junket”. I know that her Mommy had a chance to see the place many years back when she visited sis Joy Davy who lived there for a while. She told me of its beautifully crafted art and very enterprising people. Perhaps this can be a short sentimental journey for the three of us (for I know Mariel will be with us too like the good old days once again).

So, hooray Mommy, let’s head out for the beaches.

What’s in a name?

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Wikipedia defines Mariel as “a municipality and city in the La Habana Province of Cuba. It is located approximately 40 kilometers (25 mi) west of the city of Havana. . It’s the Cuban port nearest to the United States. It is also where “in 1980, some 125,000 Cubans left Mariel and went to the United States in what is known as the Mariel boatlift, when while many reached the USA, several died traveling through the ocean.” Famed American actress Mariel Hemingway was also named after this town by her also famous dad.

To many, “Mariel” would be quite simply another form of the name Mary. Of Dutch origin, it was said to mean “the perfect one” (how very apt). I’m afraid I never got around to asking her mom why she chose this name for my wife. In fact, I also did not know her as Mariel when I first got to talk to her. I actually knew her as “omni” and then “Gina” much later. (Yes, they are all her ‘names” too but I guess you have to read further in the blog to learn how this came to be)

To some, especially her siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces she was “Mar”, short for Mariel. (I guess they wanted something more endearing.) I even remember her nephews usually going to Tita Mar when they had something they wanted to ask from their own parents but were hesitant or too afraid to tell. She was their bridge, their confidant, their angel. She was “Mar” too to her most favorite cousin Annie who had spent hours with her on the phone talking about anything and everything. Mariel was always there for those who just needed to talk or plainly wanted a shoulder to cry on.

In my case, “Mariel”, among other things, meant guide and teacher. For she had made me realize that God, loved ones and family must come before self. Looking back, I feel so ashamed at my thoughtlessness then. Mariel had shown me that unconditional love was indeed possible. Not just with words, because I’ve been witness to how she had literally given up buying “things” for herself (even as she loved shopping) and instead devoted her life to unceasingly looking after the needs of our daughter and me. She was always caring. She was forever selfless and unassuming.

Then “Mariel” was “best friend” too. For we had shared everything. The ups and downs of life and raising a family. She was my greatest cheerleader. She encouraged me to explore the most “hare- brained” schemes because she believed in me, even if I myself had doubts. She was my critic too, when she saw sometimes that I may be heading towards the edge of the cliff. She’d advice me to “cut your losses” when it was very clear that I had reached a cul-de-sac. And she was always right. She was my “foil”, my teammate, the Ginger to my Fred. She made me whole and complete, that’s why I miss her so much.

Of course, Mariel or “Mommy” (as she wanted me to call her when Sam was just a baby to help her learn the word) will ALWAYS mean my one true love. My kind- hearted wife and soul mate. For while she had come unexpectedly into my life and left as suddenly, she had changed it positively forever and gave me HER greatest gift– our daughter Samantha. She was all the best things that I can only aspire to be.

I love you Mariel. You are the name that forever will be etched in my heart. Till me meet again, good night my sweet princess.