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 you 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 to 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 would have wanted for us. You can count on it.

With love and fondest remembrances,

Bong

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Forever Young In My Dreams

Dear Mommy,

I had originally called this new post as “The saddest day of my sad, sad life” but your daughter Sam found it too depressing and wont have it. But indeed it was, because I could not imagine being told that morning of Sept 20 that you had passed away. When I had just kissed your feet the night before and I was asked to leave the ICU so you can get some rest. Add to that too, the most painful task of telling your daughter about your passing when she did not even have an idea that you were at all sick. (Just the thought makes me again shiver. I can still hear her anguish)

I kissed you only at your feet that night because I was afraid to give you germs. I’ve always thought germs and you, even just in the same sentence, were completely incompatible. You were after all, always angelic, pristine white and porcelain-like. Remember how I thought you were somewhat “Imeldific” the first time I saw you at Gourmet Cafe? You were glowing in the mid- afternoon blush while I was fidgeting on my chair staring at the Cappuccino. You were so beautiful then and I felt like I had just won the lottery, but I was trying to act cool and nonchalant about it. Remember also that I had told you, before I actually met you, that I sort of looked like Keanu Reeves? (To everyone, that’s a joke that I’ll reserve for another day).

It’s been three year now. But it feels like three weeks or three days or even three minutes to me. Time has not behaved the same way since. I used to find the work week too long because I’d always looked forward to our weekend trips to the mall. You know, discovering that new exotic restaurant or simply browsing at the “tiangge’ with you made me very happy. I liked shopping with you because you always gave in to my “retail therapy”. I was a spoiled little boy, or did you just love me too much? That’s why I miss you so much now. My days look like endless clones and weekends are not much fun anymore. Except maybe when Sam agrees to go out with me on Saturdays. I dread too, the day when she wouldn’t want to hang out with me anymore or have more time for friends. Where will I go then?

But as I’ve told you a lot, I’ll just do my best to keep busy looking after our daughter. I know she needs more space these days, but also I have to assure her that I’d be there for her anytime she needed me. Well mostly today, it’s still about reviewing for her math quiz. I don’t know someday if it’ ll come to talking about “boys”. Then, I wish you were there to hold her hand when that time comes. I’ll just try to wing it at best for now. Perhaps you can help me with some tips?

I miss you Mommy. There are days I imagine how it’ll be when we meet again. I do look forward to that time, but you keep reminding me of  being here for Sam. I’m quite torn, but I know doing it will make you happy, so I submit. I’ve always imagined too that we will eventually grow old together. And hold hands while taking long trips to the beach, when Sam gets to have a family of her own. But alas it will just be another movie script, waiting for a re-run. I will grow old my love all right. But you, my love, will remain forever young, in my dreams. I hope you will not mind though some silver streaks on my hair, when again we meet. I promise to continue where we left off, when we last talked. I love you so much Mommy, there will always be a void in my heart that can be filled only when we are together again.

Watch over your daughter. Pray for me and never forget how much we love you.

Forever yours,

Bong

Live life and carry on …

I got a note from dear blogger/friend Linda of Mysteryoriley some days ago, which I’d like to share with with you. I hope Linda does not mind, because many of you may have noticed that my last post was almost a year ago and may be wonderin’ where I’ve been all this time.

“Hi Bong, Has it really been a year since you posted here? I was hoping to see how you’re doing these days. By the date of this last post, I’m hopeful you’re doing well, and that you and Sam are well into your new lives, though never the same in the absence of your dear Mariel. Please take care of yourselves. Love, Linda”

________________________________________________________________________________________

Hi Linda,

Above all, I’d like to thank you again for your loving kindness, your little notes have kept me going especially during the times when the blue funk hits and things just seem to grind to a halt. Yes, you know only too well that the first to go when our loved ones passed on was that linear concept of time. One could get “unstuck in time” as the memories fly and the future do not seem too hopeful to think about. You see, I have never left the “garden”,  as I’m still here almost every single day re-reading the blog and checking on “comments”. It still is my only place for solace. I also pray for you and Owen and our other friends like Robert, Di and Jan and ask that you all are given the strength and peace of mind that you so truly deserve.

I have not written for some time in the blog because I had, at some point, only not- too- happy thoughts to share, and I feel embarassed dragging so many people into my grief and sometimes, whining. I have of course overcome that a bit by resolving to “carry on” (as you would often remind us) for my daughter Sam. You see (in the picture above) that she has grown somewhat since the last time. She is now starting to be her own person and making lots of new friends. I can see so much of my Mariel in her that sometimes I could just smile and heave a sigh. I try to spend more time with her now, like eating out and watching movies and buying her clothes and hanging out at the bookstore because I know she needs me during this confusing teen years. But most of all, I know doing those things with Sam is what will make Mariel really happy. When I’m feeling blue, I just try to do something that I know will please Mariel and that helps to chase the clouds away. I sometimes I even hear her say to me, “live life and enjoy”. I know that day will come but till then, I know there is Sam, who is all that matters to me now. I carry on for her.

Always wishing all the best for you and those you love Linda. I know Owen is with me in wishing you that and more. Take care and see you in the garden tomorrow if you have the time as we remember Mariel’s 3rd year in heaven. She is truly too beautiful to ever be forgotten.

With much love and prayers,

Bong

Letter to Mariel, May 31, 2009

Sam at Lexington Clubhouse

Dear Mommy,

I went to the mall again today, trying to get some of the old ‘excitement ‘ back. But then even in the midst of a great sea of shopaholics, I still find myself so alone. I’m missing those times we would be there trying to hunt for ‘ great bargains’. Yes, you would have loved the Power Plant today, there’s the usual cakes and pastries exhibition and your beloved Marks and Spencer Sale (of course, I’m usually the one happily at the receiving end of this). I even watched a movie- Angels and Demons– alone. It was quite engaging till the end credits when I again realized that I  have much more time on my hands to fritter away this day. I’m really sorry too, especially to my dear friend Jan and ever-caring niece Mariel if I have to sound again to be a bit on the gloomier side. You see, I just can’t help it because I still think a whole lot about you all the time. (But you already know this too well)

It’s been about one year, eight months and ten days since you were called back to the Lord’s garden. And I just feel so lonely today. It’s the way things are, after the kind offers of sympathy, comforting calls and messages had to give way to life’s  more “pressing realities” for many of our dearest loved ones and friends. I know that it’s not that they don’t care anymore. It’s just that like most people, they just have to move on. (Oh, the moving on thing again). Well in my case. I’m pretty sure that I cannot ever if it will mean living my life without you. And I want you to know that you will always be part of  my life, my “reality”.

Because you will always be part of every little birthday party we celebrate for our Sammy. Will always be there when she gets that recognition from school. Will be there too watching all her musical performances. Will be there with me when I buy those new shoes or clothes for her. There  for her own lovely wedding some day.  And surely there every single day when we wake up or go to bed at night, it will always be– “We love you Mommy”. You will ALWAYS be with us.

I love you Mariel. Don’t worry about Sam because she will grow up to be like the wonderful and loving person that  you were/ are (I’ll make sure of that). And I know she misses you too very much. Good night 🙂

With all my love,

Bong

Between Nothingness and Eternity

golden-gate

I shamelessly borrow from song titles these days, like this one from my favorite musician- John McLaughlin- above, because I’m truly at a loss for words to describe my life at the moment. And  this tune comes to mind.

My days are filled with the unrelenting minutiae of everyday life, helping create the illusion of being “busy” (or as if moving forward), when all I  really care and think about is being one day reunited with my Mariel. Of course, I try to live my life for our Sammy now. But no matter how hard I try to pretend that there are still more dreams waiting out there for me. My heart, I guess can only be found in another place. It seems that there’s not much left to keep me inspired in that space between nothingness and eternity.  So till then, I’ll just carry on expertly filling up emptiness with “disconnecting distractions”, keeping myself preoccupied till my hopeful day comes.

I love you Mommy, I miss you so very much.

Life without Mariel

proud-mommy

I started writing this post around Christmas but things have taken some kind of a detour.

I’ve been really trying to understand, how the pain I’ve felt with Mariel’s passing had suddenly given way to a deep feeling of emptiness. I tried to keep busy during the holidays especially as Mariel’s favorite sister Joy was visiting from abroad with her family. But after I started failing to return a number of emails, I knew something was wrong and that my life will never ever be the same again.

I had gone through the motions of trying to be hopeful and positive with the coming of the new year but I can’t seem to get the old feeling back. I had never felt lonelier even in the midst of all the celebrations, except maybe for the precious few times I found some  joy in the warm embrace of my daughter Sam and the kind wishes of encouragement from my dear friends Malyn C., Linda, Rhosie, Shadowlands, Robert, Writinggb and Jan. I had even decided recently, to go on an impromptu business visit to China to see if I can find something there meaningful for me to do. But again it has been largely like the proverbial Groundhog Day.

Of course, I know that most people are bound to say that I must try to let go and start to move on. But living life without Mariel can never be easy. Especially if you only knew what it was like to always have a loving and exceptionally caring person in your corner. Or waking up each day to funny, intelligent conversation. Or simply snuggling in bed on cold, cold mornings and dreaming dreams for our Samantha.

Mariel is so missed. And I’m almost sure that it’s an emptiness that can never be filled. But then, I know too exactly what she wants me to do right now. So I’ll keep trying…

I love you Mommy, now and always.

Musings On A Friday

It’s a bit like learning to walk again.

If someone asked me what it’s like to try to move on from grief, I guess my best answer would be something like it. For life’s now like wanting desperately to leave behind the pain, yet not really even knowing how to make that very first step . Which will it be? Will I lead with my right foot or left foot? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Even life’s simplest tasks can get to you. Being afraid to fall flat on your face yet wanting to prove to the world what a brave little boy you’ve become. And if it’s some consolation, everything seems to move so utterly slow and everyone’s so willing to cut you some slack. “Poor little Bong” comes to mind. Slacker Joe turned hero is another. I must admit I may even be strangely beginning to enjoy this but I know however, I’ll have to do just it sooner or later. I must make something of my life again (other than just sitting around, feeling sorry and waiting for that chariot ride to the pearly gates). I know Mariel insists on it. For Sam? Maybe also for me. For she had always looked the other way as I’ve gone through life merely getting that free ride. Well now, I’d have to really hack it. No more training wheels.

I attempted to do that the other day, when I had inadvertently found Mariel’s Christmas CD collection at the car’s glove compartment. It took me a while to gather some courage to play it. For I had mostly stared at it only before, knowing the floodgates of emotions it can open. Of course, I did manage to get through the third song before the portal started to open again and tears naturally came flowing once more. It was somewhere the “dreaming of a White Christmas” part when I lost it. It’s just fortunate that it was raining outside my car and I had my oyster all for myself. Otherwise I may have looked like a fountain Gargoyle. But I know I had made Mariel proud that time, maybe even laugh too. Because baby steps as they are, I had tried to “walk” again. For Sam? Maybe even for myself. And I know I will never walk alone because Mariel’s always there with me.

I love you Mommy. Let me play this tune for you, good night.