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

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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

All Roads Lead Home

“All Roads Lead Home” was a tune written and performed by musician and dear friend Noli Aurillo in his latest “Noli” album/CD. He had asked me to listen it when we met again last year, after having lost touch of each other for like “centuries”. Noli had found out about what had happened to Mariel and consoled me with this song. Perhaps to tell me that Mariel is in a far better place now, or that someday I will have her again in my arms when we meet in our heavenly home. I’m just guessing though because we never really got to talk about it. But then it’s been said that “what is given with the heart should be taken with the heart”, so I will just let the beautiful music speak for itself.

(I’d like to share this inspiring tune with you all tonight, and most especially to my dear blogger friends Robert , Linda and Jan who have always had a special place for music in their own journeys.)

To Noli, thanks again, bro

To my love Mariel, this one’s for you Mommy. I love you so very much.

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!

Your Heart Is My Garden

It’s three o’ clock in the morning and I just have to get a load off my chest. In less than three days, we will be commemorating the first year of Mariel’s passing. It was one that I knew was coming but had somehow tried  to deny. Because the “wounds” are still as fresh as the day when I was roused from sleep at about 4 a.m. to be told that my Mariel is already being given CPR, only days before we had checked-in to the hospital for some routine treatment. In fact we had felt like simply going to some “picnic” and had happily celebrated our togetherness. It was only hours after I had kissed Mariel goodnight (on her toes, not wanting to give her any “germs”). Then I found myself helplessly wading through a sea of bewilderment and tears and having to tell my daughter Sam that her beloved Mommy has gone. Gone to heaven. Oh the pain was almost as unbearable as my losing Mariel. For how can I ever forget Sam’s expressions of panic and disbelief over what had happened to her mommy. It’s been nearly a year now and I’m still terribly heartbroken. Moving on, I guess may still have to wait.

I am very grateful however for the love and kindness of my family, relatives  and friends who had helped me make it through it all largely in one piece. To my Mama, Alma, Baguie and kids I will forever be thankful for your life-giving care of Sam and me. To my relatives, officemates and “barkada”, I will always be awed by your tireless support and understanding. And still to my dear blogger friends too–  Jan, Linda, Writinggb, Shadowlands, Robert and many,many others who had propped me up on this journey and had put up with my constant and embarrassing whines, thanks truly from the bottom of my heart.

Now I await September 20 with great ambivalence. Wishing to wake up from just another bad dream. But then too yearning to make sure that the day is made into a fitting tribute to my Mariel’s beauty, kindness and love. Among others we are planning to offer Holy Mass in her memory at Santuario de San Antonio Church at 6pm, then have a thanksgiving dinner for close family and friends at the nearby Parish Center. We have also prepared a short program to fondly remember what she had meant to us and share reminiscences of our happier times. I know Mariel will be in our midst hopefully reveling in our stories and for sure lending us her usual tenderness and warmth.

Mommy, I promised you once to build you a garden. I now try to live all the days of my life telling everyone how you have shown me that the most precious garden is one where true love blooms. Thank you Mommy for your gift of love and all the wonderful memories. I will treasure every bit till the day we meet again and share our heavenly garden forever. I love you now and always.

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

Mariel My Wife

I fell for Mariel even before we actually “met”. Call it what you want, but I knew she was the ONE even before that fateful Friday at the Gourmet Cafe. The “affinity” we felt for each other was so strong that in spite of the short time we’ve known each other then, we had already shared many of our “well- guarded secrets”. For even Mariel who was normally cautious and deliberate surprised herself with this leap of faith. We had friends calling us soul mates and our relationship “karmic”. To me however Mariel was simply a gift to me from heaven. Because the more I think about it, why else will God want to match Mariel’s beauty with my unattractiveness, Mariel’s class with my crudity, Mariel’s selflessness with my self-absorption. God must have loved me somehow because I know I had not deserved such charity. But it was a gift too that I had not come to see in its totality save for now.

One of Mariel’s many outstanding traits was her great capacity to listen. She could make you feel you were in conversation even when you were the only one doing all the talking. In my case, she would always seem genuinely interested even with my obviously boring narrations. She made me believe I was smart when deep down I had secretly acknowledged that she was intellectually my superior. And she had made me look like the “genius” in the family, especially with my friends.

She can come across as “left-brained” but she was really also very intuitive. She could instantly sense if I was feeling low or if had something on my mind. She would not however pester me with “wanting to know”. Not until I was ready to share. She usually just hugged me and comforted me without saying a word. I miss those hugs today. So I just try to close my eyes now and get an awareness that she is still there for me.

Mariel never liked to talk about money. Or let me re-phrase that, never talked about my utter lack of it. We did not have a single argument about it in all our married life. She had just accepted what we have and did her best to make us live luxuriously comfortable within our means. This may have meant that she had to probably sacrifice the usually desirable “signature” girl stuff. But Mariel was creative as she was practical. While everybody thought she had those brand-name- of- the- stars wardrobe, she had actually just made up for it with great neatness and poise.

Mariel was also the most thoughtful and caring person I’ve ever known. She had maybe considered me as her “other baby” (next to Sam). Almost every day she’d bring home “something” for Sammy and me. Whether it was my favorite sweet food or DVD movie, she’s just basically telling me that she’s thinking about me all the time. She took care of me so much that I was “lost” when I had to buy a shirt for the first time after she’d been gone. I had not done that in a very, very long time. I also missed her packing my bag for me, when I had to go on those trips overseas. She did it lovingly, even making sure I had fresh “supplies” in my toiletries kit. She was constantly looking after me, and most of that I’ve only come to realize on hindsight.

Mariel was super-efficient in running our home. She had kept impeccable records of everything (she’s not a CPA for nothing). She kept track of bills, filed all the necessary statements etc. In fact, I was primarily its beneficiary when I had to produce all those arcane documents for the “system” after she left us for God’s garden. Then also, there’s our house which had become Mariel’s “canvas” for her love of home decoration. Mariel was happiest making our little place fit for “Better Homes and Gardens”. My only problem now is that I don’t think I have the heart to re-arrange her “masterpiece” and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I can really do a better job. (But I have to try because I know that’s what she wants).

Mariel also had a great sense of adventure. You could ask her to go on an impromptu hunt for some new restaurant or make an unplanned out-of-town trip (if we can afford it) to some exotic destination. She was always ready to support my short attention span and plainly go out on a limb for something untried or untested, especially if it would make me happy. As I’ve said before she was my fairy godmother, genie in a the bottle, full-time nanny, lover and best friend, who would follow me to the ends of the earth if she had to. For love? Oh, you bet.

So now while I admit that before I had cringed at the use of the “w” word, thinking its a bit “old-school”. I now advertise it so proudly. Mariel was my wife. For wife meant loving partner and greatest cheerleader. Wife meant the mother of my beloved daughter Sam. Wife meant the only one I can count on when I’m on my way “down”. Wife meant teacher of unconditional love and selflessness. Wife meant the person I’d like to be the one to meet me at the entrance to the “pearly gates”. So then maybe I should just ignore all the “b” about “till death do us part” and just say that, Mariel is my wife, always will.

Good night, Mommy.