Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Dear 18 year old

 Dear 18-year old,

I'm writing this to help you remember, that around the same time last year, on your birthday week/month, a lot has happened. And I mean a lot, from all ends, your life included.

Perhaps by this time that you are reading this, it's highly possible that:

> there are more unexpected deaths in our family and among friends

> your school is still closed for f2f classes

> your academic load hasn't eased up

> we are still doing WFH

> you are grappling with this and that in your mind

>you still have questions

>we have been finally vaccinated vs Covid19

And yet,  your sister and I would be seated together at our dinner table and recalling another year of our lives and how our experiences have turned from bad to worse. Your sister could be cracking a joke in an effort to avoid getting 'unhinged' (her words not mine). And you will be seated with us simply listening and absorbing it all. 

But since you are now 18, you know better.

A parent would always want a better world for their children and I really am sorry to see that this ain't forthcoming yet. And, I am sorry for having passed on something else to you. I guess, there's not much I can do to 'protect' you from all these, son. It is what it is. 

But this I remember well. During OUR very tough and trying times, you have kept to who you are. When I thought I was missing pieces of you, or even thought hard that if I were to lose those pieces of you, I know what I will hold dear about you in my heart, and that piece of you will forever remain, that is -  you held my hand and you pat my shoulder and you listened when I asked you to PROMISE ME that you will be well.  And yes you have become well.  In those days after, you bring to the table some fond memory :)

Then 7 weeks after that, things became bleak. I tore up and told God, eee-nough! Only because I could not imagine - gumuho ba bigla mga panaginip mo sa buhay? So paminsan, iniisip ko, paano ko ba pwedeng gawing sapat ang mga pangyayari sa buhay mo.  I'm really not the best person to even tell you what 'well' means. Cuz when I look back to my years, it's been a journey of 'unwellness' and yet I have such great memories of people, adventures and heavenly moments which have made those unwell years very much liveable... and loveable.

Now that you are 18, it really is your life to live and your world to make something out of. And that as your mother, I won't be one to promise you that life will be better. YOU KNOW life ain't a bed of roses. That life can be bad news on certain days. (And yet once in a while you will always pull out a fond memory or two...of Builders, of life at Hardin, of Java and Mikasa, of Cavite, of Lola Juliet.) And still it can be back to feeling just as worse in a span of 3-5 days or even a 2-week all time low.

But I am one who will give you that space to feel what needs to be felt, until things get numb. I will be the one to pray in those times when you believe otherwise. I will be the one to try to listen even if deep inside me, I feel I am just about to cry and fall apart, and appear not to fall apart cuz I need to pay attention and listen. I will do my best to keep quiet and see you through it, until a smile pops up. And that it is ok, if that is just for a moment or two.

I am no superwoman, nor a supermom, but I'm just here while I still CAN BE here, BE still and KNOW you are well. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020, the year that was

 Ahhh, the usual messages from friends to reflect on this 2020.

When Oscar the Grouch Tweet just goes "Scram 2020".  I've been wishing for  this 2020 to end, just to forget all the baaaad things which have come our way in the Philippines where people still continue to worship a populist leader, like my kababayans never learn. So many other things could have been avoided if not for lousy, un/misinformed decision-making and the failure for my people to see that. I feel 2021 will be an extended play version of 2020 not because an unstoppable God wills it, nor can he simply runneth over this leader and his kampons. It is what it is = consequences of poor choices WE must all bear for years to come.

I really just need to do this for a friend and in so doing, perhaps I can still be hopeful for 2021, for the sake of my loved ones, my UPoU students, my parents and also so as not to put my hard-earned PhD to waste in this lifetime of mine. 

Here goes....

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? I should say, the single best thing that happened would be completing this PhD so I that I was able to keep my sanity and got back to work without further delay.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Still, the research journey amidst this pandemic.

3. What was your best decision of the year?Letting go of that phase of my life because the PhD changes you. In the letting go, I have forgiven myself and that the right time will come for me to realize that letting go was a good thing still. 

4. What was your worst decision?
The worst was still trying to book a flight so that I can get things done at USQ Toowoomba. And with this bad decision, you still feel God's protective hand and firm reminder coming from my son who said "Nanay, I think you shouldn't go."

5. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
An unexpected joy was joy I felt when I saw my parents about 2x-3x year.
I found myself crying and telling them 'a mother's wishes for her children'. I was there, on their bed and in between them. I cried and opened up. I hugged my dad and was utterly thankful that he came back to my mom.

6. Where was the majority of time and energy spent?
The majority of time and energy was spent on writing, thinking, reading, writing BUT this time, alongside my housemates who have long accepted me for who I am. And that also meant making effort to show more gratitude through breakfast, Q-time with my children and the Lazo Clan, and simply being more present in the moment.

7. What were the important skills you learned?
Stepping back and self-regulating...realizing that there is inner-strength.

8. How would you summarize or describe the year?
This is hard so I would not even try. Then again...

2020= was the year of could haves but just couldn't and so what. Life isn't measured by 'yearly thingies' rather moments in time, co-centric circles and upward-downward spirals. Just like research, life can be messy, fuzzy, crazy, and still lovely. 

Glad to have survived this...and thankful for the chance to be with family.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Silent Night for this Year's R.I.P.'s

 To my Mom and Dad - I wasn't around to lend comfort to your grief. But we've managed to zoom for the nth time. Uncle Vic's and Tita Ely's deaths felt like God's way of preparing me for the inevitable. I don't know how I'll be able to cope. I admit, there were days when I wish you would just both relax & be merry, or be thankful for this second chance together. I promise to be there for either of you, just like how I did my best to see mom through all the pain she had to go through when she first lost you.

To my Cousin-sins - we all lost our dearest Tita Ely - in that loss, we kinda found each other all over again. Time just flew by and all of a sudden we are no longer swim-pool buddies and playmates at Alabang.  I will always have fond memories of being cousins playing mahjong, Trip to Heaven, all sorts of card games, Agawan base...and that memory of staring at this adult magazine we chanced upon at the Matoto residence and we all said "Yuck!!!"

To my Tito Uning and Tita Susan - I don't know how it will be like when your time comes. I can only promise to be with my cousins, as usual. And you bet, we will share the happiest moments we have spent with you.

To Cla - your FB post made me see how dead serious the consequences of this presidency's grave mistakes vs the Filipino people. I truly am sorry for you and your brother's loss. 

To Kat - we've kept in touch for more than 3 yrs since you've gone your way to Aussie-land. And yes, I've wrestled with God about trials which come your way. Then this very sad news of your M passing away. I've said some selfish words to you and yet your responses always remind me of my limitations and the limitless kind of love you have for your dearies. I really pray some day we would cross paths once again. Is that too much to ask from God who wills things?

To Sol - I miss you even more these days when I feel so out of touch transitioning from USQ to UPOU. It's like Collab 2020 wasn't enough. I really want to know how you are these days and now I understand why you needed space. Thank you still, for giving me the chance to get to know your dad. Some things about Fathers which occupy an entirely different space in our hearts and minds...

To Victor - I've let you down many times. That includes my lack of understanding of 'grief' and the Catholic rosary's sorrowful mysteries. And so, I've been asking God for quite some time, that I be the one to go first. I have your best interest in mind of course-always have. This year, more than ever, you have been a source of strength for all of us.

To Rachel and Atel - we have lost a part of ourselves as we faced life's battles.  Mine are nothing compared to yours and so I can only listen & listen well. And I know in my heart you will be there should God's will prevail over mine & you will always help me understand his unfathomable ways.