The Things We Did Last Summer…

The Summer of ’04 will forever have a special place in my heart. It just started as idle conversations over lunch and before we knew it, we were actually already lining up for visas at the US embassy. We had the time of our lives bringing Sam to Disneyland, meeting old friends and kin and really bonding as a family. Although the trip was quite physically demanding, having covered five states in barely five weeks, Mariel was always there to keep things running hunky- dory. She arranged all our flight connections, ironing and packing while balancing a 20- kilogram bag on her arm. And she never once whined about being inconvenienced, that’s why she ‘s such an angel.

But like most vacations, snapshots get tossed into the bin after one goes back to the business of living. Hey, I’ve always thought I had a lifetime’s worth of more family vacations coming. Of course, now all I have are these photographs and memories to remind myself that I once had with me the world’s perfect traveling companion. We had both wanted to see the world together when we’re “old and grey”. But now I’ll just have to take comfort in the words of a song that said- “the things we did last summer, I’ll remember all winter long.”

Good night my beautiful princess, I promise we will have that nice holiday when we next meet.


Three for the Road

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Mariel had always looked forward to planning Sam’s yearly Birthday celebrations. It was mostly coming up with fantasy themes like Kim Possible, Winx Club etc. and would have a nice excuse to make Sam wear some unique and colorful costumes. Or worrying about some clown or emcee that preoccupied Mariel on those June days. Surprisingly, this year however, she suggested doing something different. She proposed instead, for us to go on a trip together. It was an “expedition” to Singapore that coincided with the annual “Great Singapore Sale”. Those who knew Mariel know how much she loved to shop. I also wished this one so she could “relax” a bit, as she had been unusually busy at work in past months. I then made quick arrangements ( just a day before our trip) with the travel agent and off we were to our Great Singapore adventure.

It wasn’t our first trip out of the country together. Since about two years earlier we also brought Sam to the US for the usual Disneyland, Universal and Statue of Liberty jaunt. Back then, we had traveled with my mother – Conchita, who was quite close to Mariel. Uncommonly, this time however, Mariel wanted our travel to be an exclusive one. I even partly resented the idea thinking that we could have more fun with a bigger party.

Of course, I did not know that in about three months later, Mariel will no longer be with us. Had I in some way known this, then I would have done more to treasure our every moment in this trip. I would have taken more pictures of the two of us together.(I got only one). I would have taken more time having that leisurely breakfast at Wisma. I would have made sure to be with her more in her shopping excursions rather than waste time on my own selfish bargain-hunting. For in the end, all I had left are the memories, random snapshots and a deep regret that maybe I should have been more mindful of the “clues”.

Things like, Mariel not buying anything for herself despite the great lure of “the” sale. She had bought tons of presents for everyone but left out her own wishlist.Very puzzling. She had made sure that Sam enjoyed the Sentosa attractions even if it meant braving some rainy Singaporean episodes. She had even wanted me to have that fancy wristwatch I could only lust for at the watch store. She was giving me extra “attention” in the Singapore trip but I had not really taken notice. Maybe, because I’m was so used to her taking care of me. Because I had always known that we will someday grow “old and gray” together. Because I had always thought that we will have many more “Great Singapore” shopping trips to make.

And all I have now are these snapshots. I miss you “Mommy” so very, very much.