I Carry You in My Heart

Dear Mommy,

It’s now been 5 years today, since you had to leave us for our heavenly home. It’s been a long hard journey, Mariel. And I often had to remind myself, not to give in to temptations of despair. For it was so much easier to feel sorry for myself and blame God for the apparent injustice, than face a future still to be written. Remember our dreams of traveling and visiting castles, they will have to wait, for a little more time.

You had so much to live for, and so much more to give that I would not hesitate trading places in a heartbeat. I thought things may have turned out a little better if…, but who am I to question God’s always perfect plan? …for us, for Sam.

I look at your beautiful Sammie today, and can see the same strength of character and resolve you had. She is growing up to be in many ways very much like you, always accepting that things in life do not always happen as planned. She is extremely ‘pragmatic’, not of the bad kind. She has learned to put aside her own comfort, believing other things are far more important than the material world. Just like you, she knows her priorities. She is therefore my strength now; while I keep trying to feign courage so that someday I can eventually learn it.

Sam is the greatest part of you and me. She is all I live for. She is the one thing that had kept me from giving in to the easy path of hopelessness.

I still remember that day in September, when I had to tell Sammie the most painful news. It still is the second most difficult task of my whole life, next to, of course saying goodbye to you that morning. No words can ever describe the emptiness and complete disbelief that a person so beautiful such as you, can suddenly be removed from our lives

Five is a nice round number. Five years they say should be enough. Some even claim that the number does represent “opportunities for decisions for the future.” Like perhaps, moving on. Yes, I have grudgingly learned to tolerate those words, even as I remember hating hearing it from people, who I know also cared a lot. But I ask, is moving on some place?  Or some kind of enlightened state?

Yes, I will move on now Mommy, but I choose to “carry you in my heart.” That way I can move on, without ever having to leave you. “I carry your heart… in my heart”

Sam and I love you Mommy always. And will forever be thankful for the life and loving heart you shared.

With all my love,

Bong

P.S. I will visit our special place in Promthep Cape later today, perhaps to sing or read you this poem from E.E. Cummings, with the squeaky voice you always said you loved.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

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My Heart’s in the Highlands…

mariels-garden
“My Heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here… My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go”  –Robert Burns
Dearest Mommy,
It’s been four years today since you left us for God’s garden.
I know you never like me keeping count but how can I not when part of my broken heart had left with with you on that day. It’s also not been easy these past years, but I know that you’ve watched over us through our long journey. I have often whined about it not being fair that you had to leave me so helpless, completely torn and all alone. Until I had begun to realize that in fact you have left me with the best and biggest part of you– our beautiful daughter, Sam.
She is grown now Mommy. And I could not believe how much she has become to be the strong and loving person that you were until I finally left for Thailand last week.  Of course we had  said our goodbyes and good wishes together with you at Heritage, but it was only after I had sobbed shamelessly at the airport on this trip that I had truly caught on that Sam has indeed in many ways taken over where you had left off. For just like you, she had calmed me even through her own pain. That I have nothing to fear, that everything will eventually be all right. She always starts our conversations with asking if I am okay. Like you were, she is  strong- willed and ever caring.
Through all these, I had also tried to think of a fitting way to mark this important day in our lives. But being so far away in Phuket has left  me incapable of even “kissing the ground where you lay”. I remember too that in the not too distant past, I had held your hand, kissed your lips, and promised to love you and to hold you at Promthep Cape under a tree.
So today I return to sit under the same Pagoda tree, near Rawai to remember and thank you for having shared your life.  And to once again say,  that I  truly love you and will hold you forever always. I love you Mommy. You will forever be in our hearts, as a part of us will forever be with yours too.  Please continue to watch over our daughter until the day that our family can again be together forever in our heavenly home, in the most beautiful of highlands.
Forever yours,
Bong

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

Thank You Mommy!

mariel-at-the-park

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my… mother” — Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Coming home from school, I asked Sam about the little box in her school bag that had this wonderful Lincoln quote (it was a gift from her grandma). I also wanted to know if she still often thinks about her mom. She just simply nodded, probably thinking it was a rather silly question. I guess I just wanted again to find another excuse to talk about Mariel. (I’ve often felt a bit embarrassed finding myself unintentionally “appending” my beloved into many casual conversations. Friends I think do their best however to “accommodate” this habit). That was when I asked Sam further about what she thought she had “owed’ her mommy with regard to being who she was. I kidded her that I was quite sure that she had “inherited” the healthy appetite from me. She then went on to enumerate the following, as best as a young ten-year old can. ”

“Thank you mommy for”:

– “my good grades” (she believes it’s her mom and rightfully so, who had instilled in her the discipline to take school work seriously and consequently excel in it. Sam works hard at it and I see Mariel’s passion for perfection in our little Sammy too)

– “my nice skin” (Mariel did have that unbelievably flawless complexion. Fortunately too Sam got her’s and not mine)

– “my nice clothes” (I think Sam meant mommy’s fine taste in clothes. Mariel had always been a smart dresser and channeled this passion in getting Sam clothes and accessories almost weekly)

– “our nice house” (Mariel loved to make our home comfortable and beautiful. She was always taking care to decorate it specially during Christmas. I guess I just have to do my best to continue where she had left off)

Our only daughter, in time, I know will come to realize that there are so much more to be appreciated about her mommy  (specially with her mom’s complete love and devotion to her). I have come to recognize more and more each day, that Sam is indeed becoming to be all the best things her mommy was.

I still miss Mariel as much as the day when she had left us for God’s garden. But it eases the pain somewhat each time I get to be with Sam. Because she is truly Mariel’s greatest gift to me, having given the best part of herself through our beloved daughter.

We thank you Mommy for your life of love. We love you!

We Miss You Mommy

Sam as Hannah Montana
Sam as Hannah Montana

Dear Mommy,

I can’t believe that it’s almost 11 months since you left for God’s garden. I still miss you so much every day. In fact, many times I even half-expect that you’d be there when I get home from the office. And when those “tough days” come too, I wish so much that you’d still be there to listen to my lamentations. I miss having you tell me to take things in stride, with matching hugs and “Daddyyyy” trailing in the most pleasing “decrescendo” tones. Now I am lost in limbo hoping to wake up from some bad dream. But I know only too well that this is for real. And that my life will never be the same again. Or whole again.

Yesterday I had to accompany Sam to Joanna’s 7th Birthday party. I miss your having to dress her up for the “Rockstar” party theme part (Of course Alma and Mama made sure she got her costume). I miss your being there for her for the “Bring Me” game (you and Sammy always won). I miss that big smile from you when Sam had performed that short dance number with her cousins. I miss your coming out in your usual “best-dressed” style. I miss your being with me in “entertaining” the guests. You always knew how to be gracious and make good conversation. Now I just try to sit in a corner and pretend to take photographs. I miss coming home with you after a long day and just watching TV and snuggling on the bed. I miss your “reminding’ me to get up for Sunday mass or service. You know I miss just everything about you.

And I look at our daughter Sam today and I miss you even more. Because she is growing up to be like the fine and beautiful lady that you were/ are. I will miss you still eleven months or eleven years or eleven centuries from now. And I love you still so very much… We miss you Mommy.

With all my love,

Bong

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.