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

Advertisements

A Bleep In My Heart

Mariel and me in San Francisco

It was on the Ides of March that  I had first “met” the person who had changed my life forever. She was to be my wife, my best friend, cheerleader, soulmate and ultimately, my redemption. For with her passing, she had made me into the infinitely better person I can only before dream as possible. For she had taught me how to really love. To love unconditionally and to find one’s happiness in the service of something greater than one’s self.  (I also believe that she continues to offer her faithful guidance to our only daughter Samantha today.)

To my dear friends who had followed this blog… our story, I wish to again reiterate my eternal gratitude for your having been a part of my journey. I am so thankful for the comfort you had shared with me. It may seem too that I had been away from the garden for sometime now. Trust me when I say that I’m still always there EVERY single day. Only that I have chosen to bear my pain in silence. For Mariel is too beautiful to ever be easily forgotten. And greatly missing her is just something I’m doing my best to try to live with, until our next reunion .

Not long after the fateful day in March I had told Mariel that, “you were once only a bleep on the (computer) screen, now you are a bleep in my heart”. For me, those words and moments shall remain frozen in time till eternity and that she will remain always my one true love.

I love you Mommy, you are not just a bleep now, you are my heart forever.

(Allow me to share this tune from Chick Corea and Return To Forever called “Crystal Silence”, which just like Mariel’s love is both wordless and sublime.)

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!

Happy Birthday in Heaven!

new-mommy

Dear Mommy,

Last year, Samantha wrote you a birthday card wishing you a happy first birthday in heaven. Well today would then be your second one there. Actually I’m not sure how they celebrate it over there, if at all, but all I really wish for is that you are truly happy now and that you are always gloriously in the presence of our Lord. I’m sorry though if I still bug you from time to time with my trivial little problems. You know more than anyone that I could never get any rest unless I had shared them with you. (I also miss those reassuring hugs so much.)

I posted too this candid photo of you when Sam was barely a week old because it speaks to me about how much you had loved her– then and now.  I promise to do my best to face life bravely for her sake and shall always strive to take care of her the way you have always wanted. She is growing up so fast and I see more and more of you in her with each passing day. Please try to guide her also whenever you can because there are just some things I was never really good at, like perhaps explaining about “the birds and the bees” thingy.

Mama offered Holy Mass for you today as I make my usual trip to Heritage. We will also have a simple dinner to remember you tonight with Mama, Alma, Baguie and kids. I do hope you can join us then. And always, always remember that we love you so very much, now and forever.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Mommy!

With all my love,

Bong

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.

To Bong and Sam

Bong, Mariel and Baby Sam

TO BONG AND SAM By Henry Lopez

I talked to Bong last night. The grief that Bong showed as well as that of what I learned of Sam’s is truly heartrending. The agony that Bong and Mariel went through during those harrowing three weeks seem far, far worse than the plight of that proverbial Kafka character. The unfolding of events was just too surreal and staggering. Pardon the drama. I just found it truly that. I, myself, have been in and going through similar ordeals that I found myself totally immersed in Bong’s emotion. Life can be cruel at times. To some, constantly that one wonders how much of it can one take.

But there seems to be something there gleaming behind the cracks of the ruins. And that I thought was something very plain, very simple– very clear. It’s love. Mariel’s remarkable devotion to Bong and Sam– love. Sam’s irrepressible sense of loss– love. Bong dedication to extolling the memories of Mariel– love. And during the moments leading to that cruel day, love may have been just the sole impetus that made the family push on. At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, I dare say that love is what is going to lift Bong and Sam up and out of this painful time in their lives.

Bong, you know what I mean. Continue to love Mariel and listen to what she maybe telling you. Your bond is strong that she will continue to speak to you from the past as you confront situations day by day and in so many other ways yet to be revealed in the future.

Mariel’s Garden will live forever. It is a magnificent tribute to Mariel and her life. It is a tribute to you too, Bong. To your eternal love for her that transcends all barriers, even death. Mariel’s Garden simply breathes love. But it won’t be the last garden you’ll build in your life. If you haven’t yet noticed, you have started a new one. It is Sam. Sam will now be your new garden. The new celebration of your love. Your’s and Mariel’s. Sam is going to be BONG’S AND MARIEL’S GARDEN.

Mariel will always be there by your side helping you. And you know what great inspiration that is. Nurture Sam. Nourish her with love and care. And she will bloom much richer than all the flowers in any garden on earth. Perhaps, this is the garden that would bring eternal joy to Mariel.

We, your friends, will always be there for you, Bong. At any time you’ll need us, we will be willing tillers of your gardens too.

Bless you, pare. Give our love to Sam.

Sam at Avilon

It’s been another week and I can’t really say this one has been much different from the others. Days seem to just whiz by when you’re grieving. Nothing makes it exciting even with Terrell Owens hysterics or Britney breakdowns in the news. Of course some days are better than others, but the little glimmer of sunshine you get, if any, are plainly unremarkable. And I can’t seem to get that “old” joy back into my life because Mariel’s not there anymore to share it with me. So at times, I just try to imagine going out on carefree adventures with Mariel and Sam as we would usually do on Sunday afternoons. And that’s exactly what I did in the last one. Oh, to be our family once again.Sam and I went to check out the new Avilon Ark in Ortigas. I was a far cry from the real deal in Montalban, but ‘ey it’s 15 minutes from where we live so I shouldn’t complain. It’s of course a petting zoo so the usual suspects are there. Miniature horses, exotic birds and certainly highly paid rabbits who get to eat from you for a fee. Sam, as some of you know, loves animals but only to look at from a distance. Yes, she was even scared of the nosy Ringneck Hens lurking around. But she had fun overall because it was definitely different from the accustomed mall fare. Mariel would have enjoyed the day with us. It would’ve been as always another opportunity to bond with just the three of us. And, I guess that it really may have been. I knew we were a family again at Avilon.Let me share some snapshots on January 13 at Avilon Ark with Sam, me and surely, Mariel too.