You Can Count on It

Mommy and Sam in BK

Dearest Mommy,

I’m not a bit surprised when many people seem to tune out whenever I start talking to them about you. I guess most of them have already heard my many stories before. I do admit I tend to ramble on and on sometimes. I know that I may be sounding by now like a broken record, but I can’t help it because I want more people to know about your love and kindness. It has been ten years today since you had left ahead for our heavenly home. Does not really feel it’s been that long. (But then what can one really expect from a broken man.)

To me, those moments when we had laid you to rest at Heritage are still as vivid as yesterday’s sunrise. I can even remember looking at the overcast sky that fateful day, and wondering if God had been a little sadder that day. I also remember fidgeting in my ill- fitting pants, staring into the wide unknown.  I recall promising you then, as I do now, that I will make sure to give all my best to your beloved “chung-chung”– Samantha. She is after all, the ultimate personification of our love and our hopes.

Sam is now in her second year in college. She has started to test the boundaries of her independence. But she has every so often, counted on me to still cover for her when she “suddenly” forgets some very important school work. Don’t you remember how often we had to drive back to AC when she was in grade school, because she had invariably left behind some notebook at home. I could not however, get myself to get mad at her during those inconvenient times because I knew you would have done anything for her in a heartbeat. She was your pride and joy, and also she had reminded you a lot about me.

Looking at myself now, I know I was never a perfect husband. There were so many things I regretted not having done for you. Didn’t I say that you’d see those beautiful castles in Germany one day? That would have to wait a while. Of course, I could have also said more about how much I had loved when I had the chance. So now I just try to do it every night with Sam before we sleep. You deserve that at least, for being the perfect wife that you were.

People may tire about my circular reminiscences. But I will never tire about telling them and the world what a lucky bastard I was to have been a part of your life. You are a truly special and beautiful person who has shown us what it is to love unconditionally. For this, I will forever try to prove myself worthy of your love.

I know you hear me Mommy. I love you and would someday like continue on those conversations we could have had. (Always pray for your daughter too, she loves you dearly in many other ways.) And until that time, Sam and I will both try to live the life you have wanted for us. You can count on it.

With love and fondest remembrances,

Bong

Advertisements

Seven is a Good Number to Remember

mariel-on-the-grass

Dearest Mommy,

In Math, the number seven is called a happy prime. It is one of those numbers that is both ‘happy and prime.’

To others, seven it seems has come to represent completion. There are many examples of this even from our Bible. Some even refer to it as the number of perfection.

And these thoughts are why the promise of today’s anniversary sounds a bit dissonant to me now. For I still find myself nowhere happy, nor near completing many of the things I know you would want me to do.

I however want you to know that I really am trying hard and somewhat already on my way. It is the least I can do to honor your love and everything you stood for. Most of which is about making sure that Sam grows up to be the best she can be. I’d be happy for her to be just even half of the beautiful person you were, you are. And I never tire about reminding the world about this.

By the time you may be reading this, which I guess in heavenly terms would probably be a blink away, I would have finally found the courage to pack away your things I have left untouched at our Mandaluyong home since the fateful day. I’ve avoided doing it or visiting our once lovely home often because they will make me sad. But grief I guess truly is the price of love. I take some pride however today in being able to start ‘donating’ your things to those who may need them more, as you always like to do before. (I may even ask Mang Tom, our neighbour, if he could help ‘rescue’ some of them. Our street in Sto. Nino has never been the same since you left.)

I would however keep a few mementoes for myself.  To simply remember, like your favourite pajamas, perfume and Jeffrey Archer pocketbook.

The years have not been too kind to me. But it seems that remembering is one of those I am still good at, especially when it’s about you.

Like, I have not forgotten your love for Gershwin, or those magnificent castles in France. On reading up on Shakespeare or watching the Lifestyle Channel on TV. With catching up on Efren Bata Reyes even when I know that you never once held a pool cue in your life. On snuggling happily in bed on those cold rainy nights. And collecting things that come in purple, or hunting new DVDs. In eyeing new bags and shoes, and designing that next Christmas tree. And talking about your dreams for Sam, and our growing old together. Watching waves, sharing jokes, eating out, reading a book, talcum on your feet, Estee Lauder, and Dendrobiums, I can go on and on and on, because they keep me wishing and hoping. For that day, we could just continue from where we last left off. I know that day will come.

I miss you terribly Mommy, especially now. I am not sure I will ever be good at this moving on thing. But I try, I will keep trying. Because I know this will make you happy.

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me Sam. Thank you for the life and love you shared. You are forever special. You will forever be in our hearts.

Seven is a good number to remember. We love you always Mommy.

Forever yours,

Bong

Lessons on love

Sam's Bday

“You don’t know what love is
Til you’ve learned the meaning of the blues
Until you’ve loved a love you’ve had to lose
You don’t know what love is.”

I was listening to Kevyn Lettau’s version of this tune from her recent “What is Enough” album when it just struck me that I’ve never really learned to love till Mariel came into my life. Love for me before that was a hedonistic quest for fairytale endings, with me mainly as the beneficiary. Of course, Mariel had changed all that.

For she had shown me that love indeed is serving something greater than yourself. It means as I’ve said before, “finding one’s happiness in the happiness of another”. It’s doing good without expecting anything in return. It’s about setting aside one’s ego and also about “being firm” sometimes with those you love, when you’re sure you have only their best interest at heart. It’s about tenderness and unwavering support. It’s about planning to grow old together. Mariel was all these to me (and our daughter Samantha too). And now it’s our turn to share these lessons with others so that they do not have to one day sing songs “about- what- love- is” and have to live through regrets.

We love and miss you Mommy so much. Good Night.

(My thoughts tonight especially for dear friends Linda S, Di and Jan M. Thank you for all your loving kindness)


Spring in December

mariels-orchids

Too often, life for me this past year had been one of the “challenging” variety. The recent week however has given me something to be hopeful about. For starters, I actually saw a rainbow across the road while driving home from a visit to Heritage Park. It had given me a surge of happiness and hopefulness. Could it have been a sign from Mariel? I’m not sure really but it had me turning up the music of my car stereo and simply enjoying the cool Sunday breeze. Also Samantha had asked me if we can go and watch the “Twilight” movie together. Of course I said yes, especially as it will afford me more bonding time with her. She’s growing up so fast and I know that she is beginning to want more independence. (I just keep reminding her though that I’m always there for her whenever she needs me). Finally, there is this thing with Mariel’s beloved orchids.

Many of you know that Mariel loved flowers. And that she had done her best to keep a small pocket garden at our home even as we did not have the space to maintain a bigger one. And that when she had passed away, I had somehow completely neglected her flower garden because we had moved out of the house for sometime. In fact, the flowers, particularly  the orchids were ultimately reduced to shriveled brown buds because no one was there anymore to tend to them for almost a year. Well, the good news is that my sister Alma had nursed them back to life, having “rescued” them from such a sorry state. It’s been something of a miracle that the dendrobiums have bloomed again (yes, the picture above). Life indeed promises us hope that Mariel now truly lives and thrives in God’s beautiful garden, and that someday we may also learn to smile again.

I know that there will still be more dark clouds ahead.  But today, I just want to relish these rare moments of joy. And as Oprah would say– “Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings”.

Thank you Mommy for your life of love. We love you always too!

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

sunday-at-heritage

I chanced upon this poem while going through some blogs the other night. It had touched something in me, one that I’ve been struggling with this past year. While I’ve always done my best to truly believe that Mariel is in a far better place now, the “human” part of me still craves for greater certainty and more reassurance. I guess I’ve got my ANSWER now. Maybe Mariel even helped me find this one. So I’d like to share this poem with you today. Perhaps you too can find some answers in it.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep–  by Mary Frye

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.”

(A truly wonderful poem that has an interesting story relating to its origin that probably deserves a separate post.)

Back To The Garden

They say that it’s time to go home when you start to look like your passport photo. I think I might have actually outdone myself. For the past three weeks have not only taken me away from my beloved “garden” but had literally robbed me of all energy to write even a couple of lines. Singapore moves at such a frenetic pace that it allows almost no room for introspection. The city is totally about commerce and completing that ever-present “to-do” list. I’m sure Mariel would have fared better because she was always organized and was unfazed with those corporate skirmishes. I however feel that I may be getting a bit too old for these “games”. And as some would say, “I’d rather go fishing”.

Being away however has made me again review my priorities. Why do I even have to sit staring at my computer in another nameless hotel room toiling on that to-do list. And more than ever, I had come to realize that it is simply all about my Sam. She is after all Mariel’s “life’s work” that I must today dutifully continue. She is all the best things her mother was. She is my life and my only hope. And I now must make sure she gets the best chance at life.

So while I’d really prefer to be somewhere else “fishing”, part of it now is just invariably working on that “list” and of course being away sometimes for Sam. At least I’m sure Mariel is never really far behind.

Good night, Mommy. I’m home.

Everyday I Thank You (For Mariel)

Mariel knew my love for jazz music. But there’s a special reason why I had wanted to play this tune for her by Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker. You see, more than ever I’m convinced by this day’s events that Mariel continues to look after me even from afar. I just can’t tell you details that are maybe too personal or even unimportant to most of you. But I guess I just needed to share this with you now, especially with my dear blogger friends, Shadowlands and Linda of mysteryoriley. That however painful the loss we’ve had with our loved ones, we must know that they still “hear” us and that they are still deeply interested in our happiness. Don’t take my word for it. Just close your eyes and listen with your heart.

Thank you Mariel. Thank you for your caring. Thank you for always being there for Sam and me. There are really no words to express my gratitude to you today and every day, for your love… in life and beyond. So I offer you this wordless tribute tonight, as only both our souls can understand.

I love you Mommy.