Mariel’s First

At around 5:20 am exactly a year ago, Mariel was called home to God’s garden leaving behind me and our daughter Sam to try to make out the Lord’s plan for her…for us. We were at such a loss then because she was the one that held our family together. Her self-effacing ways made everything in our home run routinely easy and almost boringly simple. Until of course this fateful day in September, which will now forever be etched in our hearts.

I started this blog really to try to “communicate” with her. Because there is so much more I had not told her well enough. Like, how much I loved her and how much I had truly appreciated her loving ways. (You know these very important things are oftentimes the first casualties of our obsession with the daily grind). Now therefore, all I want to do for the rest of my life is to remind others to “pay more attention” to love. And in the process even make a few more people “discover” what an exceptionally beautiful person Mariel was.

May I please ask you to say a little prayer for Mariel Gina Francia Bello today. She was one who wanted neither fame nor great riches. All she cared about was to be with family and do every little part of each day properly and boringly well. And that is why she was truly special.

We love you Mommy.

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Letter to Mariel, August 28, 2008

Dear Mommy,

These past few days have been particularly tough. I’ve been really missing you a lot. I don’t know if its the anticipation of your coming “anniversary” next month that has been weighing down on me or just the relatively bleak weather this week. But I’ve really been thinking about you so much (and crying more than usual). Mostly it’s about feeling sorry about how the world has been robbed of your beauty and kindness by that cruel sickness. And also about being caught unawares by it all.  Yes I know I’ve been through this internal conversation many, many times these past months. But still, I cannot get over the fact that I’m here, and you’re… there. It was never like anything I had planned or imagined for us. I’m sure you’ll ask me to PRAY more right now. I think I really need to do that. And that’s why I guess you’re the real angel and I’m not. (Ok, let’s just say, I’m still a “work in progress”). I’ll maybe just need to hold on to all the wonderful memories we had shared.

By the way, I tucked Sam in bed the other night and I just can’t help but realize how much she has started to look like you. I mean many people say she is little Bong (or “Bang” as Lola Mommy would often call her). But to me, she is absolutely little Mariel. (and fortunately too, she has your nice skin). And she is really growing up so fast. Her “Ninang” Alma tells me she had to get her new size 8 shoes. I know the big feet came from me and her big “brain” from you. But I’ve now come to realize even more from where she got the big “heart” from. Because she never has anything nasty to say about anyone, much like you.

Lately, Sam has been into the music of young performers like the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. (Yes I had to catch up on these stuff and watch with her those music videos on youtube so we can have something to talk about. I’d do anything for her, remember?). She has been doing well in school and I’ve been working too on making her more “independent”. Being able to think for herself and make decisions guided by the values you’ve brought her up with. I know I wont always be around so I’ll just have to equip her for life. She will always be our baby, our “Sammy”.

I promise not to revisit right now our travails at the hospital around this time last year. The memories are still way too painful to recollect. It still breaks my heart every time. Although I will someday try to visit those who had helped comfort us then at UST, like Dr. Lanee, and the others. If only to say thank you for their care and kindness. They did their best but God had other plans. I know He knows what was best for you most especially. I’m sure He loved you very much. So that while I still cannot fully comprehend what had happened, I will just try to humbly accept things. And pray that He will also grant me the chance to be with you again one day. I look forward to that time as the night longs for the first light of dawn. For only you can make me whole again .

I know you hear me now, Mommy. And though I was never good at telling you about these things then. I just like to tell you again that I love you so very, very much, just in case you still don’t know. I cannot find anyone else like you ever to complete me. So I guess you’re kind of stuck with me whether you like or not.

Please wait for me. I love you.

Eternally,

Bong

I Still Can’t Say Good-bye

It’s often said that “Time heals all wounds”. But I can tell you now that after almost a year, I ‘m still nowhere near the so-called “moving on” thing. I guess I’m just not ready to say good-bye yet. Maybe I never will. For Mariel is very much a part of my life today as she has always been. In fact, there is nothing I do now where I don’t find time to try to “share” with her. She is even there when I go through my moments of musings and daydreams.

One of our many “dreams” was to someday see the famous castles of Europe. To walk along the storybook land of princes and princesses. “To gaze awhile among the fields of barley”. I’ve often imagined myself as some knight out to save my “damsel in distress”. And because Mariel and I are incurable romantics, tonight I offer her this song from Sting and Eva Cassidy– Fields of Gold. To tell her that one day she will have her wish. That I promise that we will then, forever walk “among those fields of gold”.

I miss you Mommy and I love you so much.

Celebrating Mariel

I had originally called the post “Waiting for Mariel” as I did exactly that when work brought me to Singapore this week. And it was also exactly a year since Mariel had unexpectedly asked that we go on an impromptu holiday trip to the “Lion City” for Sam’s 9th birthday.

My trip this time however was one I had found very difficult to make. Because I know it will surely bring back an avalanche of memories. So while I had tried to focus on preparing for some needed business meetings there, I just can’t help but see Mariel, Sam and me strolling down the same Orchard Road and browsing through those ref magnets at Bugis.

Now I appreciate even more why Mariel had wanted so much to spend more time with us then. She was literally trying to cram every bit of memory she could get because time was not on her side. I remember too how she was not even interested in shopping even while being in the midst of the so-called Great Singapore Sale. She was busy instead planning for the little tour to Sentosa which should give us more bonding experiences. We took that hair-raising ride on the Cable Car with its glass-bottom cabin, hobnobbed with celebrity fishes at Underwater World and even got our family photo taken at 100 meters above the trees at Siloso Beach. It’s the vacation trip that will forever be etched in my mind. And I now return for the first time to the same memorable places to remember and thank Mariel for the wonderful life she had shared with us.

While there I also decided on a lark to grab some breakfast at the “Toast Box” at Wisma Atria. It just happened that the only available table at this place was the one I had shared with Mariel a year ago. For a few moments I had gone back in time leisurely drinking coffee with her and Sam and still being a family. Of course now I just have to be content to nibble on these tiny bits of memories being somewhat afraid they could run out someday. It was one of the “longest” breakfast I had taken in my life too.

At the airport, I had instinctively dialed Mariel’s number on my mobile phone because I had come across something “remarkable” during the trip. It took a second later before I had realized that she was no longer there to take the call. That she was no longer there to share my “excitement” and that things will never be the same again. I miss her so much. And I just continue to thank her for giving me the best times of my life’s and its happiest memories that I now treasure forever.

I love you Mommy, good night.

Letter to Mariel, April 20, 2008

Dear Mariel,

I woke up today feeling a bit light-headed from staying up too late last night. You know I could not sleep because I had to lie alone on an empty bed in an empty house and I still terribly, terribly miss you . You know Sam is away on a weekend trip to Fontana Resort with Mama, Alma and her kids. I wanted to go with them but there are just too many things on my mind these days and I wont be a “nice” traveling companion so I decided to stay home instead. I did however manage to call “Sammy” before she went to bed last night and she seems to be having fun specially with the pool and the “giant slide”. I know that we would have both been there with her if things were different. That’s why I miss you even more.

I also dread facing this day knowing its the 7th month “anniversary” since you know. And all I can do is to pound away on this computer while feeling lonely. Nothing much really has changed since you left. I have not been able to organize much my life just yet, preferring to coast along instead or keep busy with little side projects. It’s like being on auto-pilot I guess as I rely mostly on Mama, Alma and Baguie to tell me where I needed to be. And I have not had much luck either with Sam who seems to be in some kind of a “space bubble”. She still avoids talking about you or looking at your pictures. Which is exactly the opposite of what I’d like to do all the time. But don’t worry Mommy, we will be able to sort things out sooner than later. Again as they says “grief is the price of love” (right, Robert). I know still that you will be always with us even while we go through our darkest and most difficult journey.

I still get “ambushed” by bad memories of our times at the hospital. I just try to block them off and just keep praying whenever those times come. You may have noticed that I’ve been “surprisingly” more prayerful these days. (I know at least the change would have made you happier now because you tried so hard to get me to realize this before. I know now why, for at the very end there’s just really God who will truly understand what you’re going through. Now I know..)

It’s a Sunday and I must be off now to Heritage Park to tend to your little memorial there. I think I will be bringing you more colorful ones this week. You may have been bored already with those white roses, white stargazers, white mums, white everything. I will do my best also to see “today” on a more positive light, as I know this would please you (I’m not making any longer term promises however because you know how it is). I will try today to remember only the good memories and all the good things you stood for, which are a lot. And to remember too the beautiful person whose beautiful face I loved to touch and kiss so much. And whose beautiful and loving embrace will remain with me till the day we meet again.

I love you Mommy, now and forever.

With all my love,

Bong

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.)

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.