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

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

Spring in December

mariels-orchids

Too often, life for me this past year had been one of the “challenging” variety. The recent week however has given me something to be hopeful about. For starters, I actually saw a rainbow across the road while driving home from a visit to Heritage Park. It had given me a surge of happiness and hopefulness. Could it have been a sign from Mariel? I’m not sure really but it had me turning up the music of my car stereo and simply enjoying the cool Sunday breeze. Also Samantha had asked me if we can go and watch the “Twilight” movie together. Of course I said yes, especially as it will afford me more bonding time with her. She’s growing up so fast and I know that she is beginning to want more independence. (I just keep reminding her though that I’m always there for her whenever she needs me). Finally, there is this thing with Mariel’s beloved orchids.

Many of you know that Mariel loved flowers. And that she had done her best to keep a small pocket garden at our home even as we did not have the space to maintain a bigger one. And that when she had passed away, I had somehow completely neglected her flower garden because we had moved out of the house for sometime. In fact, the flowers, particularly  the orchids were ultimately reduced to shriveled brown buds because no one was there anymore to tend to them for almost a year. Well, the good news is that my sister Alma had nursed them back to life, having “rescued” them from such a sorry state. It’s been something of a miracle that the dendrobiums have bloomed again (yes, the picture above). Life indeed promises us hope that Mariel now truly lives and thrives in God’s beautiful garden, and that someday we may also learn to smile again.

I know that there will still be more dark clouds ahead.  But today, I just want to relish these rare moments of joy. And as Oprah would say– “Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings”.

Thank you Mommy for your life of love. We love you always too!

Through the Looking Glass

This week brought me back to where my journey had began. I tried so hard to avoid going to UST hospital this past year but I just couldn’t get out of this one simply because Sam needed to be admitted to the same hospital after having taken some “bad food” at a party and her pediatrician happens to come from the very place too. And much more, the only available room was on the same floor where Mariel and I had stayed a year ago. It was like diving to the trenches anew. Tough luck or providence? You be the judge.

For a time I was of course more preoccupied with Sam who was going through the lab tests and was running a high fever. But still the images and emotions of the recent past had kept hounding me, taunting me to confront my fears and regrets. It wasn’t long before I had finally found the guts to again walk the long, lonely corridor. To relive the days when time had stood still. To return to the valley of tears.

I must admit however that it was not as bad as I had imagined. In fact, I felt a certain kind of peace with my sadness, as I stood outside the door where Mariel and I had shared seven fateful days not so long ago, believing love will be enough to get us through. At that point, some nurses at the station recognized me and remembered Mariel. (I guess very few people really forget her once they somehow get to know her.) They said they remembered most the whiteness and porcelain-like texture of her skin. I’m not surprised though, because I had always known that Mariel had radiated such simplicity and childlike purity. That’s what most people usually grasp, that was the very feeling I had when I met her for the first time at the Gourmet Cafe. She was glowing and almost translucent. It was like old times again for some fleeting moments. And I neither felt afraid nor burdened because I was sure, Mariel was there holding my hand.

Good night Mommy. ‘ Love you.

Mariel’s Day

Of course, never a day passes that Sam and I do not remember Mariel’s love and cherished memories. But Saturday, September 20 was one we had specially marked to gather friends and loved ones to remember her on the day of her passing a year ago.

We would like to share this one with those of you who may not have had the chance to be with us on that day, but share our love and memory of a truly beautiful person.

We love you always Mariel.

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.