Helpless in Hanoi

Just arrived last night again from Vietnam after a week-long trip to work on a launch project for an airline company there. This explains my apparent absence from the blog for sometime now. Life had simply caught up with me as I tried to keep busy on “making a living”. Yes it takes so much more effort to “make” it when the very person who inspired you and moved you to be the best you can be is no longer there. I have to remind myself often that I still have Sam to live for. But while I’d do anything for our daughter, there are just it seems some things that could never be the same. Like, enjoying watching flower vendors in Hanoi’s picturesque streets and alluring parks.

I missed Mariel as I went through some small curio shops and art galleries in Pho Hang Trong street. These were those little things we did together when we were out on trips of “exploration”. These are now the little things that I tried doing but find to be somewhat pointless and uninspiring. I made sure however I brought home her favorite “fridge magnets” to add to her collection on our trusty ref. If truth be told too, I had actually found them before to be quite unattractive. Of course today I can only look at them with fondness and longing. I may even have a clue to why Mariel had collected them. Maybe perhaps, so that someday I can look at them again and re-live our lovely memories. I now would like to use them to remind Sam what a truly wonderful person her mother was. And how I had counted myself to be so lucky to have at some time shared browsing through those little curio shops with the most BEAUTIFUL person in the world.

Mariel, I love you. And I still miss you so very, very much.

5 thoughts on “Helpless in Hanoi

  1. Hey Bong,

    As I read through tonight’s post, I kept thinking, “I know this, I know this.” That thing about returning to a place you once (or often) visited with Mariel, is the thing I run smack into on a daily basis, as I’m sure you do there at home. I’m surrounded by my memories of Owen, and while he was my son and Mariel was your wife, there are so many common themes to our losses.

    That refrigerator magnet thing? Owen wasn’t such a big fan of my poetry magnets, but I’m fairly certain he knew every poem I ever wrote on our frig. And, now, his picture adorns that space, too, along with butterfly, dragonfly, and hummingbird magnets. Would he cringe at the thought? Maybe, but he would certainly know that he was in good company – my internal thoughts spread out for all to see in the very open space of our kitchen.

    I know that while you’re missing your lovely Mariel, you’re also honoring your memories of her, every time you look into Sam’s eyes. I hope Sam is the light in your dark nights.

    By continuing the blog, you are helping those of us who are missing our loved ones, too – simply by sharing your pain. Yes, sharing your pain is a gift. Thank you, Bong.


  2. Hi Bong,

    Sometimes the most unexpected thing can ambush you, can’t it? The smell of soap, an old postcard, perhaps just a letter arriving with that loved one’s name on it. And for one glorious magical moment you can imagine they’re with you.
    Then in the blink of an eye reality – and you suffer the news of their death as if for the first time.
    I understand. I’ve been there.

    Kindest thoughts.

  3. Dear Linda,

    It’s funny I say the same whenever I visit your blog. “I know this, I know this”. Although I must confess I can’t read more than a few at a time because my emotions overwhelm me as you write so vividly and so truthfully. Please continue to share because we too partake in your pain and your triumphs.

    God bless you,


  4. Dear Jan,

    You speak so true, the other day saw me “ambushed’ even in the shower. When the feelings come and I just “talk” to my Mariel and tell her how much I really love her. It helps to ease it a bit, but I guess I just have to learn to live with this pain. For they say that grief is the price of love. It’s one I don’t mind bearing for the chance to have shared my life with such a very beautiful person.

    Thanks again for visiting her “garden”.

    Warm regards,


  5. Interesting discussion, Bong. It’s remarkable how such things can suddenly become so precious.

    After Jenny had gone, I found myself going through her record collection and appreciating some of the discs I’d so rudely dismissed before.

    Likewise the pictures which she had chosen became special even if (perhaps especially if?) I hadn’t liked them all that much before.

    Relationships are funny things. We spend a lot of effort trying to hold on to our individuality and identity even as we surrender other parts of ourselves quite willingly. And yet, over time, we subconsciously assume so much of our partner’s taste and even their outlook on life.

    That’s a real gift, although it’s highly unlikely to be something you can recognise so clearly at the time.

    Especially when you’re arguing about the next record or those ruddy pictures. Or ‘But haven’t we got quite enough of your delightful fridge magnets now, Darling?).

    Good work, Bong. Spirits up.

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