Finding Grace in a Grilled Ham & Cheese

I had been waiting since last week to reblog this and I think this is the right time. We all can relate to this. I personally feel that it is the primary caregivers in the family (like I was) and those who can’t go home to be with their ailing loved ones (like my sister was) who feel the regrets the most.

This was what I had to say, though:

“In 2012, I tried to do the best I could for both my ailing parents. Still, I ask to this day if I really did. Maybe it’s really that Angry stage of the grief. There is no deadline or proper schedule for each stage of grief–it could be for months or a year, it could even take a lifetime. It is important that we do acknowledge the anger and learn to forgive the ‘sinner(s)’ (either yourself or others) little by little…”

If you are at that stage right now, don’t be too hard especially on yourself. We must always remember that we are not God and that there are things that our mortal powers cannot any more handle.

 

Thank you to Lori Greer for this.

Lori Greer in Portland

“But when from a long distant past, nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remained poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering , in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”   excerpt from Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust.

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Death, Denial, Depression #atozchallenge2015

D of A to Z“D” is for DEATH. We all know death, but it’s still a big word, considering that grief causes two other Ds, DENIAL and DEPRESSION.

I wish I could write about something else, something lighter, like dancing, which I really considered but my tablet is making it harder to post vids and I don’t have much patience right now, or dogs except I don’t have nice pictures to share of past canine pets. Instead, “death” kept insisting itself on my mind. No, I didn’t want to write about it. I wanted to write something much more fun or something lighter like last year. But here I am. This is much more raw than my “A” post.

Those who have followed me enough times are aware of what I went through these past three years. At first, I refrained from discussing much about death in the family, then I realized I could not get away from it — I had to give in sometime. What better way to do that than to pay tribute to my parents?

I tell you, it was not easy watching your loved ones deteriorate everyday. It was not easy doing the best you could, swallowing pride to ask friends and others for any amount they could share, sacrificing your job, and taking care of your parents while wondering if you’d still have a job to go back to after…Yes, after, because despite everything I did, at the back of my mind, I knew with a certain dread that the end was near for both of them.

When all of these were going on, I hardly wept. At rare times, I just felt a lump on my throat, cleared it, shook my head and continued with my–our–day. I wanted to keep emotionally strong and to always have a clear head for you would never know when a decision had to be made. There were many, in fact. Together with some relatives, I had to rush my mother to the hospital monthly, without fail, until July, which we all thought we would finally skip and it turned out to be her last month on earth.

All the while, I had a clear head. I could not let myself feel down for so long. While I communicated with my sister regularly, she was still miles and seas away; any immediate decision had to be made by myself and I could not afford to make the wrong one. Could it be called strength? I don’t know. It would be very presumptuous and self-serving of me to say it was. All I am sure of is this seems to be the way I react when faced with circumstances that call for me to have a sense of responsibility.

I could’ve cried when my father had the stroke when I was 20, but I didn’t, not in front of my mother anyway. How could I when I saw her break down in their room and right away, I had to hold her and reassure her that things would be fine? Somebody had to be strong for us during those times and I was the nearest family member to do that. I only cried when he was first diagnosed as having suffered a stroke, but that was when I was alone at home and they were in the hospital. It was also very short-lived — I had just started weeping when my cousin called out to me from outside, saw my eyes and basically berated me for being a wimp as she saw that as a lack of support for my mother. I did not have the energy to argue that crying was normal, even a healthy reaction. After that, I don’t remember a time that I cried about it ever again.

facing-griefI guess this coping mechanism was something that got developed in me. “Surreal” is the only way I can describe the feeling. It’s like being sad, worried and alert all at the same time. When my father was pronounced dead, I already knew even before the E.R. doctor could tell us. My friend who stayed with me would later tell another friend how brave I was. Brave? Not sure about that,  just that when another cousin and I were already alone with my father’s lifeless body, I surprised myself when I bawled out, kissing his face, saying sorry for everything bad I had done, especially for getting mad two evenings prior.

Months after losing my parents, I still did not really cry save from the actual funerals. I could have gone through the Denial phase of grieving, for all I knew. I did know that I got to the Anger phase the next year. Being angry at one’s self could be quite debilitating itself. I do believe I suffered from Depression.

Recently, I lost my baby. S/he was just more or less two months in the womb. Can you imagine feeling elated after finding out you’re having a baby, then learning after a week that s/he doesn’t seem to have a heartbeat anymore? Can you imagine the additional stress of waiting after another week to check if the findings are the same and then they are? Now imagine going for a second opinion, getting yet another ultrasound test and still, no heartbeat…

Definitely, I cried several times to my husband over the course of waiting. On that third test, I had no time to really cry. Then again, I was with one of my bestfriends and I decided I was not going to cry until I was alone. That did not happen, though, for once I was alone after two hours, I was bleeding and had myself brought to the hospital. I did not cry either during the whole thing and sang “Defying Gravity” to calm myself. I did not let myself cry for hours while I was at the recovery room. When I requested that my husband be let in for a few minutes for I needed to tell him something, however, I was again surprised by the sudden surge of emotions as I waited. I saw him and then the tears went and rolled down, upsetting and worrying him…

Honestly, I don’t know how to properly end this piece. I guess I just needed to share. So forgive me for the long post and for posting a day late (at least where I am) because I just had to sort my thoughts out and kept typing them down. This is one of the most vulnerable times in the history of my whole blogging experience…

For YOU Who Were Most Special

It’s the love month and I decided to write about stuff that I love or has to do with love for the whole month. So I had an idea and was looking for an audio from my computer archive. For some reason, it wasn’t working the way it used to. I also came to this page because I was going to check how I was able to post videos before. Then I realized that this should be my first post in relation to Valentine’s. I had decided on a theme last week: love in various forms. Now I realize this is exactly the correct way to start.

It’s a reblog, but I still want to pay tribute to my parents who loved me and my sister. I still cannot believe that it’s almost two years. I still remember them like they’re in front of me. But I am happy in the sense that they do not anymore have to suffer and that, even through the hardships we are facing in this world, they are guiding us. Maybe some people who know them and would be able to read this would just mock this tribute, but we cannot do anything about that. We cannot change people. We can only change ourselves…

To Mame and Dade, Happy Valentine’s!!!

We love you!!!!

The End Justifies the Journey

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes…

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2013: The Depression Era

2013-yearend-reviewI don’t really see the number 13 as ominous. Looking at how my year went, though, I know that the person who most let me down was myself (BTW, I speak in the past tense, given that we have only three days to go before 2013 expires). Granted that many factors contributed to the negative stuff, it was in how I reacted to them that mattered. I started out the year all positive and it’s ending in a not-so-good fashion, all thanks to myself.

To be honest, 2012 seemed all so surreal that it was only in 2013 that things really started to sink in emotionally. I thought I was coping very well with the loss of both my parents and the financial burdens brought by the sad events. But as I learned from experts, one does need to go through the Stages of Grief to be able to move on. They don’t necessarily all happen and they don’t normally happen in an expected logical order, not in the way we want them to.

The five stages do not necessarily occur in order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief.

stages-of-grief

To be more brutally honest, I know I went through the Anger (directed at myself, delving on the what-ifs and why-didn’t-Is even when I knew I already did all I could) and the Depression. Hardly a day went by that I wasn’t reminded of at least any one of my parents. Little things could make me tear up in an instant, especially if they were related to family and relationships. Sad things on TV easily made me cry (although happy things had the same effect on me as well).

I had always been easily moved before but I could keep a straight face and you’d never know. However, for some reason, it became very hard to control the emotions–someone would simply be telling a story or I would be listening to music and I would be wiping my eyes immediately. It was overwhelming and embarrassing at times.

Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck. To be pegged as iyakin or one who cried easily was just okay, but then I let other insecurities get the better of me. Insecurity and grief put together is a totally bad combo that can strain relationships. Most people never noticed this about me, but the people I most often interacted with certainly felt the negative vibes from me. Of course, not everyone understood this; they just thought I was being unreasonably difficult, and I was.

I became a self-pitying fool who unwittingly ostracized herself from others, blamed them for it, and felt quite disliked, which was most probably what truly happened after I acted the way I did. I felt so sensitive to somebody’s comments/criticisms, too, that I started dreading going to a weekly get-together, because at the time, that person unintentionally made me feel so much like a bad person and I started questioning myself whether I really deserved to be there still. My energy was on an all-time low.

It’s so hard to explain to you why I felt the way I did without going into more details. The bottom line is, though, I became so much like the opposite of what I was in 2012. I now dub 2013 as my new Officially Worst Year because it was the year I hated myself the most. Mind you, there were a lot of positive things happening in 2013, except when it came to the negatives, the gravity was so strong, pulling down much of my self-love and -confidence.

original-selfThe good thing was I still had the capacity to self-reflect and realize what a pain I had been, and that the worst part was the wounds were self-inflicted. Little by little, I am going back to the Old but Better Me. I know it is working and I know those around me have noticed the changes. I will plant better seeds in my heart and cultivate until I find my Original Self.

So here’s hoping I tell you a happier story next year. I am hoping you’ll have better stories to tell as well 🙂

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This has been the most personal and revealing post about myself, but I felt I needed this. Quite therapeutic, actually. Would you like to share how your year has been, too? Or do you have any reactions/suggestions? Let’s talk. Just write down on the space provided for comments below and let the words flow.

For YOU Who Were Most Special

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes, I did more research on them, and yes, regardless of the surprisingly strong person I seemed to friends, it still does hurt me till now. I’ve asked once when people’s  feelings of grief go away and others who have been there provided the answer: THEY DON’T, NOT REALLY. But what we do is move on. Not really forget, just move on. In a way, to not forget also offers some kind of relief. Loved ones are too special to forget.

Going back to writing, I think I have found the best way to pay tribute to these two noble teachers with this short piece I wrote years ago. It is funny in a sad way that most often, we only learn to appreciate, understand and get to know our loved ones more when they are gone…

WE LOVE YOU, MAME AND DADE

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The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder –

a waif, a nothing, a no man.”

(Thomas Carlyle)

            Many of us go through life wading in the water, creating only the smallest of ripples, afraid to go even farther and deeper lest we drown. We are so much afraid of taking risks only to find ourselves failing. Therefore, we are contented just being safe – too safe – that we do not leave our comfort zones to find and explore what it is that God has laid out for us. We are men without direction, without purpose, without living. We simply exist.

            Fortunately, there are still a few good men (and women) among us who dare to defy the norm. More fortunately, there are those who dare to do more than defy the norm. They change the world for the better, living not only for themselves but for others as well.

            Truly, heroes are those who first think with their hearts. They are made for a mission after all and that is to save lives. Rick Warren’s (The Purpose Driven Life) words seem to reflect what their purpose in this world is all along: “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”

            So what sets a man above the rest? Instead of ripples, he creates the waves that get him to his destination. For all of it is heart. You see, it’s the heart that makes the man.

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A few videos from YouTube, especially for those who lost their parents as well (the last is in Filipino / Tagalog and shows no lyrics so I am sharing an English translation I made years ago as well):

The song Ugoy ng Duyan, literally translated to “the swaying of the hammock”, was composed by Lucio San Pedro and the lyrics were by Levi Celerio. Versions have already been recorded in the past by Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez and Aiza Seguerra.

LULLING CRADLE

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

In my deep and peaceful slumber
The stars watch over me in vigil
Life was like heaven in the arms of Mother
Now my heart longs for the lulling cradle.

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

Lull me, Mother, in my dear old cradle
Oh, Mother.

 

Translation Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

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DISCLAIMER: The translation above should not, in any way, be taken as an official translation. It is only a translation I made so that people would understand the lyrics. However, please do not just copy off and not give credit or link here. Also, I am mentioning this as I am finding out that my version has been copied and being mistaken as the official translation. It is not and is probably not even the best translation. To not confuse you, I used to own a Multiply account using the ID “lildovefeather”. Many of those who shared this translation do give a link to the page, but the problem now is it’s not existent anymore. They can either link to this page, or to THIS…Thanks for understanding.