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)”

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

You’ve Got Mail! (The Prequel)

MBA Graduation at PICCMariel’s and my love story started even before the now famous Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie came to the screen. And for the record, this is how it all begun.

It was 12 midnight and I was at our Makati office pounding away on the internet when I got a “page” ( pre-yahoo messenger, this meant an instant message sent by one user to another within the same ISP- Internet Service Provider). And all it said was “Hi Mon, how are you?”. I was surprised since I never liked the idea of paging and did not even know user- “omni”. It turned out that omni or Mariel was actually paging my good friend Mon Ser who at one time used my internet account to page some users on the net probably expecting to lure young, nubile women ( just kidding, Mon). It turned out too that Mariel had just received her computer from repairs that day and was thus offline for quite sometime. She had merely wanted to test the machine. What happened next was probably cooked up in heaven, because we ( Mariel and me) both will not be able to explain to this day why it just happened.

I said to her that “this is not Mon and I am Bong and Mon is away on a business trip to Jakarta. She said why on Earth was I at the office working at past 12 midnight. Well I said I was actually in the office licking my wounds because of a love relationship gone bad that day. Mariel being probably maternal as she can be started to console me. I instantly poured my heart out to a complete stranger and told all. (My daughter Sam will probably shriek in horror and say “eeew” at this confessional but this was the way it really happened). Mariel even then, did not try to preach, she just listened to my heartaches and rants with the patience of Mother Teresa. So that pages or online chats turned into emails that turned into long phone calls. A few months hence, on a lark I took a chance and sent her this email: ” you were once a bleep on the screen, now you’re a bleep in my heart”. I guess that sealed it because after a few more dogged attempts, Mariel agreed to meet me for the very first time.

Mariel of course being aware of internet fiends in the lurk, was also very cautious. At this point, while she had indeed shared with me her interests, hobbies, dreams and other life concepts, she had left out giving me any personal data such as, her last name, address, mobile number etc. And she thought it best for us to meet in full public view at 3 ‘o clock in the afternoon at Gourmet’s Cafe at SM Megamall. But… not until she finishes with her MBA final exams. (You know the recurring theme with Mariel is that she will start on something new only after making sure to complete any pending task. As such, she has learned to stick to important priorities at the expense of hedonistic pursuits. Of course, you can look at the opposite end of that spectrum and find old bohemian me).

On that day in May, having prepped her by asking her to watch out for a Keannu Reeves lookalike (it’s about the hair thing in “Matrix” the movie), I was able to get her to give me her cellphone number just in case I got lost. Fiendishly, I had planned to dial her mobile number from afar, look first and check if I liked what I saw, and make a great escape if I did not. Necessarily, I executed my plan with the precision of Seal Team Six.

I programmed the cellphone number for speed dial, I looked casually at the menu from outside “Gourmet’s Cafe” and secretly dialed the number. From the corner of my eye I saw someone waving at me. I looked and there was my Mariel. She asked if I was Bong. And as I approached sheepishly, she told me that she knew that I was the one calling and that was why, she wasn’t answering. I was floored, surprised, frozen in shame. For I was caught. Mariel was indeed more than a match for me. I had once thought that I was the best at the game. And there was this one person who conquered me “in style”.

And someone with a high sense of style, was also what best described Mariel. Aside from always being impeccably dressed and groomed, Mariel showed class inside and out. For she never once talked to me again about any of any of my online revelations during our married life. Never once did she use any of what I had told her before. Even at the height of our little arguments. She had real style. She was a decent person. But most of all, she had truly loved me very much. She took me warts and all for the frog that I was and turned me into her “prince”.

Mariel, my princess, I miss you now and love you so much. One day we will meet again and will never be apart forever.