"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving




Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December

My Dear Baby Marcus,

The Christmas season is here, my love. As December 25 nears I continue to yearn for you, my baby. My arms ache to cradle you, my heart overflows with love.

Mama is feeling so much better, don't you worry about me. I am sure you know that for I talk to you everyday. Though on days like this I cannot help but express how I miss you so my baby Marcus. I picture you sometimes as you would be 9 months old now. Cute and cuddly with chubby cheeks and a very handsome face.

However, I know you are with God so I am at peace. I have a visual image of you being cradled by Jesus Christ, happy and cooing. Every time I picture that I feel a smile on my face.

Baby, you will forever be in Mama's heart. I feel your love each and every day. As Christmas nears, though I miss you so, you are here with me spending the season each second with Mama. Because you are always in Mama's mind and in Mama's heart.

Mama loves baby Marcus very much!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Today Marks Half a Year

Today marks Marcus' supposed sixth month birthday. Many, mostly family and friends, are probably wondering how Jhon and Jet are. 

Just last night, Marcus visited me again in my dream. I wasn't filled with sadness because my son and I had a short conversation which revealed the answer I have been praying for. How can I be sad with an answer from God delivered by my sweet angel baby boy. It's a secret that he and I have, and in time this secret will be revealed.

Yesterday, when Jet and I were talking about the day that will be Marcus' sixth month brought about a conversation about our baby in the future tense. We talked about how Marcus would have been chubby, starting to move about, or just simply alive and well. Are we crazy? Is it denial? I don't think so, I see it more as hope and anticipation that one day we will be reunited with our baby boy in heaven, never to part again. 

Occasionally, we'd experience many emotional moments. The difference from just a few months ago and now is that we both can take a deep breath and move on. It's not because we don't want to release our emotions, it's because we'd want to be able to continue working on the projects made possible by our son's love, and most importantly, a promise we made to our son that we would live our life to the fullest.

I often tell Jet that I like the person that I am now. I feel and believe I am a much better person all around. I have a much much better outlook in life, and the future. I try my best to be a better person to everyone around me. I feel that life is too short to worry about small issues or petty circumstances. There are many more important things that need attention. I am more positive and I have my son to thank for this new found outlook in our life.

So if you ask how Marcus' parents are today? The answer lies in all that we are setting out to do. In all of our projects, our relationship with each other, our family, and our friends. Though we are not completely healed, we are taking "baby steps" and moving towards a more positive tomorrow.

For now, on our son's sixth month birthday, I just want to give some time to remember my son, light him a candle and pray for his eternal peace. I still wish to cuddle him, hold his hand, and kiss his tiny lips even just for a moment. I know it's not possible but I will always and forever long for him, and till that day comes I will be grateful that God gave us our Marcus... 

Papa Loves you very much baby Marcus!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Mark of Power and Strength

Reading through a blog entry of Rebecca, a recent babyloss mother, I am refreshed by a quote she shared that was also contributed to her by a fellow blogger. To me, it spoke exactly of how Jhon and I feel about our sorrow.

"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving

Need I say more?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not As Easy

I finally updated my baby's Photo Memories page. Ever since I discovered the world of digital scrapbooking, I have been meaning to use these interesting elements to improve the overall look of Marcus' photos. Voila.

I realized that while I believe my days have been much better lately, seeing my Marcus' pictures for hours while working on the project made me yearn for him all over again. This feeling of being transported back in time... to the night I lost my sweet son. Staring at his beautiful and angelic face makes me want to hug him tight and keep him in my arms. I long for him. After 5 months without my son I realized that I still feel the physical pain of having "empty arms." While my heart aches for my baby, my arms ache to cradle him. 

I am learning how to live with the pain. The physical pain of my broken heart and the pain of my empty, aching arms. I will just have to keep teaching myself to live with it.

Though I do embrace feeling the pain, I would rather that than feel numb inside. I long for my son, and I do not see any wrong in that.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Power of Prayer

I feel I am in a good place now. These past weeks have done wonders for Jhon and I. There is a sense of wellness that surrounds us. I know we have our son to thank for our gradual recovery. We have a little angel. He rolls alongside God.

Last Thursday we took a short pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Together with Mama Myrna and Ate Belle, Jhon, Lola, and I braved 12 hours of non-stop road trip (from Manila to Manaoag and back) to pray to our miraculous Mother. With only 2 hours of sleep from watching a World Cup all-nighter, we soldiered on to offer a humble sacrifice and prayed. I believe Jhon and I prayed for the same intentions -- we prayed for our baby Marcus, for healing, for strength, for family, for assistance, for guidance, for enlightenment, for peace. Jhon said he felt a tremendous sense of relief after praying. The power of sacrifice. The power of prayer.

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Wednesday, I received an email from Fr. Santhosh. He was sending us his greetings from the U.S. with the hope and prayer that we are doing fine. It was indeed encouraging to hear from him. It feels like our prayers connect us to one another, for that same day I was thinking of sending him an email as well. Positive signs point us to the path we are hoping to lead. It seems Jhon and I see signs everywhere, it is crystal clear. The power of prayer.

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Claire, my high school classmate offered her personal prayer for us when I thanked her for her kind gesture this whole time. I thought of sharing her words in the hope that others benefit from it too. In times of deep grief, when you feel you are alone -- your faith, a prayer and Mama Mary's love will help see you through.

She showed me a comforting photo of Mama Mary and offered her warm words, "... it show's Mama Mary's nature of loving each & every child, no matter the color or background. It's a very reassuring visual, don't you think?

Here's my prayer for you: that you & Jhon always feel Mama Mary's loving embrace. That warm, trusting feeling of her putting you under her mantle of maternal protection. That everything will be okay even when you are really down. That you will find comfort and healing."


I can't help but feel the power of prayer around us. It has helped me and Jhon get through our trying moments and it continues to strengthen us each day. The power of prayer.

Dear Papa and Mama

You held my tiny hand for a while
but will hold my heart forever.

Your Baby Marcus


Be Happy, Be Free

"Be who you are and say what you feel, 
because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss

Monday, July 05, 2010

Mama's Love

Sunday was a very quiet time for Jet and I. We spent the day just lounging and enjoying each others company in the comfort of our home. We popped in a couple of movies which included "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "The Back-Up Plan."

We didn't expect much from "Hot Tub Time Machine," though we were pleasantly surprised. There were a few scenes that gave us a good workout, I was literally crying. I haven't laughed like that for quite sometime now. We moved on to the next movie, again not expecting much. We do this often now so as not to get disappointed with high expectations from previews and all. Neither of us had a clue as to what the plot of the movie was till we began watching it. From the get-go, we knew Jennifer Lopez wanted to be a mother.

Throughout the movie, no part truly touched me more than seeing Jennifer's character had an ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat of her twins. I could still hear my son's heartbeat fast and strong. Also, towards the end when her boyfriend was reading a book to the two infant girls -- it made Jet and I cry...

I know how much sadness fills my heart during moments like these, especially when I least expect it. I want so much to be a Papa to Marcus. But what makes my grief more intense than that of my own is when I see Mama Jet grieving our loss. Jet wants to be Mama so much, more than most people could ever know. I could never imagine how it truly feels to be Mama. I don't know how it feels to carry our son in her womb for 7 months, I don't know how it feels to experience "empty arms," and I don't know how it feels to have that special bond between mother and child. All I know is how much Jet wants to be Mama to Marcus.

I believe I can say nobody knows how great of a mama Jet is but me. One can feel how much Jet embraced being mama, if you witnessed it. Even before we lost Marcus, we would have countless conversations about our plans and her plans for our son. Everyday she woke up brought about joy that only parents would experience when expecting their first child. How she looked even more beautiful while carrying our son and how her love exuded in every possible way. Now, Mama Jet has a new reason for being. Soon others will see a glimpse of how great of a mama Jet is. Not for personal glory but for love, an advocacy driven by the love for our Marcus. I know she's the best Mama, and she still is and always will be. Go for it MAMA JET, we are here behind you all the way!!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Beautiful Memory of a Beautiful Boy

While Jhon watches his World Cup game I cozy myself to write this special entry about this beautiful memory of our baby Marcus. It's been long overdue.

During the darkest moments of our grieving, Jhon and I aided ourselves with helpful reading and journaling. Though the most important aspect of our healing is prayer. We surrendered all our worries and heartaches to God and prayed, foremost for the eternal repose of the soul of our son. Until now we see to it that we pray for our little angel everyday. During the course of our grief we have proudly become prayerful.

When the 40th day of Marcus was reaching (March 17th), I thought of giving our families something notable to remember our son with. It was going to be his Send-Off To Heaven. I did not want him to be forgotten in time. I wanted something that they can keep with them and always remember our son by. I wanted them to also continue to pray for him, as well as to be reminded to pray. That was essentially the remembrance and the gift we wanted to give them of our Marcus... the gift of not just any jewelry, but the gift of prayer.


When Ate Belle gifted us with amethyst bracelets early on in our grieving we were reminded of the healing attributes of crystals. The amethysts truly helped lessen the heaviness of our heartbreak. We wanted to share that healing to family as well. We hoped for Marcus' remembrance to heal them not only through prayer but through the healing properties of precious minerals as well.

Prayer and healing crystals combined led me to the thought of a rosary bracelet. Something that we can all wear as often and will lovingly remind us of our darling Marcus. After much research, we came up with a design that will suit all ages and lifestyle of each family member. We decided to use the amethyst because it is Marcus' birth stone, it represents him perfectly, and its healing properties are appropriate to our needs. The rose quartz because of its particular trait of healing a broken heart.
AMETHYST
Power Stone
It is used as a dream stone and to help insomnia. Put an amethyst under your pillow to bring about pleasant dreams, or rub it across your forehead to offer relief from a headache.
Protection Stone
Ancient Egyptians used the amethyst guard against guilty and fearful feelings. It has been worn as protection from self-deception, as well as a protection against witchcraft. The amethyst has long been used to open the spiritual and psychic centers, making it one of the power stones. It is also used as a meditation aid when worn as a necklace.
Wisdom Stone
The amethyst is known as the Bishop's Stone and is still worn by Catholic Bishops. The amethyst symbolizes piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom. It is thought the amethyst is the perfect stone to symbolize The Age of Aquarius.
Healing Properties of Amethyst
Amethyst is a gemstone often worn by healers, as it has the power to focus energy. A healer will usually wear several pieces of jewelry with amethysts set in silver, especially an amethyst necklace. The person to be healed will have an Amethyst to hold while the healing is being done. The healer will place another piece of Amethyst on the area of the body in need of healing, the heart or lungs usually.
Amethyst is used for problems in the blood and in breathing problems. Amethyst crystal clusters are used to keep the air and life force in the home clean and positive.
Amethyst clusters, points or several tumbled Amethysts placed in a window that receives sun most of the day are very beneficial to use in healing and to heal negativity in the home. Place Amethyst clusters, points or several tumbled Amethysts in moonlight and everyone in the home will be feeling calmer. Using an Amethyst as a meditation focus will increase the positive spiritual feelings. Amethyst helps overcome fears and cravings. It also helps relieve headaches.
ROSE QUARTZ
Your marriage can have more sparkle and fire when you keep a rose quartz under your pillow. You will look younger too.
Rose quartz is known as the love stone. It helps the user feel a strong sense of self-worth, therefore being worth love. Rose quartz is the stone of universal love. It is also the stone of love in marriage. When worn in jewelry the wearer feels a sense of self-worth.
Healing Properties of Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz has a gentle vibration of love for the owner. It gives inner peace and helps in all matters pertaining to love in all its forms. Rose Quartz opens the heart to love. It also helps as a rejuvenator to the skin. It is a lovely stone for a young person.
It is said washing the face in water charged by rose quartz will help fade wrinkles and keep the skin young.
Jhon mentioned to me early on that Ferdi wears a necklace with Marcus' name on it. That definitely touched me and I wanted each family member to carry his name with them as well. We thought to include it with the rosary to make it even more special. Nothing is more fitting than a heart charm engraved with his beautiful name. A detail that will truly make the rosary his own and close to each member's heart.

It was very important to us that this project be flawless and overall perfect. This was to be a memory of our dear Marcus. We knew it was not a jeweler we needed but a skilled and meticulous beader. The timing of Jhon finding Ysa online was perfect, almost serendipitous.

I feel it is suiting to not only to reiterate our journey with Ysa but to offer her with a testimonial as well because if not for her dedication, Jhon and I would not have accomplished this project with 100% satisfaction.

Ysa Yason (The Charmed Life) specializes not only in making bead accessories but most importantly she is a crystal enthusiast and believer who has an expert eye in such. She promotes the positive well-being that crystals represent. When she emailed me the amethyst and rose quartz she planned to use for the rosaries, Jhon and I knew she was the one we wanted to execute our baby's special remembrance.

From the get-go after Jhon mentioned to her how we planned to use the rosaries, she expressed her sincere interest and dedication to the project. Even weeks after their initial talk, she did not hesitate to take on the task.
"Although I have many projects as of the moment, it is my honor to be making this very special project in remembrance of baby Marcus, it will be one of my most special. ... I am very touched with your story and I pray for your peace."
Jhon and I encountered quite a number of challenges during the course of this project. We knew we were going to be as detailed as possible to ensure that each rosary will last forever, if not, at least withstand some physical stress especially since it will be used by our young and very active nieces and nephews. This nagging need for perfection and attention to detail led us to delay the distribution of the rosaries until they were perfect.

We personally chose and bought the more important components ourselves from the heart charm to the Cross and Mother Mary/Divine Mercy pendant. We also made sure that we used sterling silver chains to perfectly match the healing crystals. Ysa's valuable suggestions as to the more resilient designs to use for the chains were very helpful not to mention beautiful.

We appreciated that Ysa addressed every concern with the same meticulousness. She delivered with flying colors. Her attention to detail was evident in each rosary bracelet. From the samples to the finished product it was obvious she took her time working on each individual piece to make it perfect. She honestly exceeded our expectations.


Ysa assembled 29 rosary bracelets in less than 5 days. When we received the finished pieces we felt very excited and relieved at the same time. We were obviously looking forward to finally distributing one of our baby's most precious memories yet we were also very relieved that we were giving away something truly beautiful to look at.

Together with the package that arrived was a personal handwritten note from Ysa. Re-reading what she wrote now, I can't help but feel privileged, her words were warm and sincere and I was definitely moved on how this project truly meant to her. Without disrespecting the personal nature of her note, I would like to share her words for it is a true testament of how Marcus touches people's lives in many ways.
Dear Marjorie and Jhon,
This is such a special project and I feel so honored that you trusted me in making these bracelets.
This was a learning experience for me in many ways and I say from the bottom of my heart that your son is truly an angel, touching so many people's hearts.
You are blessed and I wish you the best.
Yours,
Ysa
I thanked Ysa via text message and relayed how very pleased we are of the rosaries. There was no doubt she took extra effort into making each rosary special. It was so diligently assembled that it looked almost machine-made. Her response message brought tears to my eyes.
"... Of course you know this already but I just want to let you know I feel that your son is always watching over you. All I could think about while doing every piece was 'make it nice for them, make it nice for them.' There were many times I had to redo a piece to make it better. I'm thinking now it was your little angel whispering to me to make it nice for his Mama and Papa. I was kind of embarrassed to tell you that 'cause we don't know each other but I just need to let you know that. That's why I included in the note that you're blessed because you have an angel watching over you. Take care."
Even before she expressed her thoughts on this project I already knew I was going to write about it. This project brought about a lot of emotions because it is too special to us. And I was jubilant that it produced such beautiful personalized pieces. Ysa made it happen. I was very thankful for the work that Ysa did that I told her of my planned blog entry. I wanted to keep it mum until the post but I was filled with gratitude that I could not help but tell her in advance. I hope she humors me as I share her response message yet again.
"Oh Marjorie, thank you so much. That made me teary eyed again. This project reminded me so much why I love what I do. Thank you and I truly wish you the best. Thank you for sharing your story through your blog. My heart aches for you, I can't say I understand 'cause I can't even imagine the grief. I pray for you and I know it is but little consolation but please know your son's short time touched so many people more than a person who lived a hundred years. I truly wish you the best."
I opted to share her messages because I feel hers is a sincere expression of how Marcus' magic lingers. I believe our son's life truly touched her and it definitely showed in her work. I shared her messages too to show how good of a person she is and how her honesty shows she has a big heart. I am also very thankful of her because she made it happen not only for Jhon and I but especially for Marcus ultimately.

In truth, we were quite concerned on how to make a handmade piece as flawless as possible. We knew there were a number of limitations when it comes to handmade accessories. We almost came to a point of having them 'finished' by a jeweler. But Ysa put our worries to rest. She saw to it that the components she used were of quality and the construction of each was carefully assembled. It is not surprising she regarded herself as an artist of her craft. This is more than just a business for her, it is her passion. And it showed.

Thank you Ysa. And thank you for acknowledging the life of our Marcus.



After having them blessed, Jhon and I gave away the rosary bracelets on Mama Myrna's birthday, June 14th. We felt it was appropriate that day because it was a day of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for yet another blessed year for our Mama (many more years to come) as well as thanksgiving for our little angel Marcus. We wanted to give each rosary personally instead of just having them delivered. It was Marcus' gift to them.


As originally planned in our little angel's Send-Off To Heaven, we distributed each bracelet with our baby's personal prayer card and a note describing each respective healing crystal, all package in a little silver paper bag. After much effort that we put into executing this project, Jhon and I placed a personal note inside each box to express how truly special this rosary means to us with the hope of them treasuring it equally.



Ate Belle who witnessed the process we went through into transforming these rosaries noticed for a fact that they are truly beautiful. Every time I see her, I see her wearing Marcus' bracelet and wristband with pride.

Our Mama Myrna wears hers proudly as well. She does not wear any other accessory but the rosary.

Our sweet niece Daniela girl, wears her bracelet to school and makes sure she keeps the box ready in her bag for safe storage.

Our darling Cielo pie also brings her rosary bracelet safe in its box to school everyday and wears her wristband even to sleep.

Our sweet nephew Miguel, wears his wristband "all the time even when he takes a bath" as he proudly says it. He also brings his rosary to school everyday as they require them in Ateneo.

Our young lady niece Bea never takes off her wristband. When I see her, she wears her rosary proudly and with much care.

Our big boy nephew Jake wears his wristband to school everyday.

Regina messaged me after receiving her rosary and said she will never leave home without it. Marcus' prayer card is kept in her wallet for her to look at always. She lovingly mentioned that "nothing will ever come close to this gift." She messaged Jhon recently and said she has gotten numerous compliments from wearing the bracelet.


Jhon and I continue to pray everyday for our son and for our healing. Though now we pray using the very special rosaries we have in remembrance of our Marcus.

We wish for our families to experience the same healing and hope the rosary bracelet provides us and the meaning it ultimately represents... the loving memory of our dear little angel Marcus.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I am Marcus' Papa

Several days before Father's day, I was at the mall running an errand when I came across a father and son sitting quietly at the cafe. As I made my way pass them I noticed the son was sleeping securely on his father's arms and shoulder. His father holding him with the utmost care one can give his child. He too catches a few winks as they wait for mommy to come back.

I tell myself with a smile and some amount of grief, "that could've been Marcus and I." I carry on about my errand facing another day without my boy.

I smile because I had thoughts that it was Marcus and I sitting on that couch waiting for Mama Jet. Crazy as it sounds, but I do daydream often about Marcus. I always want to remember my son as he were alive. I know in my heart and mind that he is very much alive in heaven waiting patiently for his family.

June 20, 2010, Father's Day. I didn't feel much sadness during this day. Jet greeted me, my family greeted me, I know my son was with me. I couldn't help but feel proud to be a father. I am especially proud because God gave us such a handsome and wonderful little boy. He gave us more than anybody could with his short time here on earth. For that, I am even more proud to be his father.

As the day progressed into the night, I was given the most wonderful gift a father could receive from his angel son. Mama Jet, worked all day and dug deep to connect with our Marcus as they collaborated to create the most beautiful message a son would give his father.

Both joy and sadness filled my heart, the tears fell as I read my "Electronic Journal." It brought back so many wonderful memories and feelings we experienced together as a family, yet it's just Mama Jet, Lola, and I that remain here today... We will always have our moments in which we feel bereaved, that will never go away but we have equipped ourselves with the tools that bring faith to our little family.

The scene I witnessed at the mall meant more to me than just another father and child. It gave me a short glimpse as to what I could expect in the future. It gives me hope that one day I too will be given a yet another chance to be the father I want to be.

When that day comes I'll be ready as I ever will be. And most importantly to always keep and hold his memory safe for the rest of my life, because I am Marcus' Papa...

P.S.

To my Marcus, Jet and Lola. I love you all!
Papa is always here for you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What I Would Give

Reading through works of a bereaved mother, Stephanie Paige Cole, who turned the loss of her daughter count in a much bigger way, I stumbled upon a poem she wrote that spoke of exactly how I feel about mothers in general.

I have yet to be a mother of a living child though I feel the alienation of a mother with an angel child. I wish for no one to experience this enigmatic pain.

I do not resent mothers who have living children, quite the opposite actually. Lucky is the word I'd use. Oh how lucky they are. I can just imagine the joy and pride they feel for having the chance to nurture and raise their miracles. How privileged they are!

What I would give to experience sleepless nights cradling my child in my arms, lulling him to sleep. Waking up early in the morning and ready him to school. To be there for him throughout his growing years. The future that will never be.

Do you grumble about how difficult it is to be a mother with children to raise? Oh how lucky you are!


Why I Cannot Join A Moms Group
Stephanie Paige Cole

Surrounded by women

With children in their arms

On their laps

Circling their legs

I belong and I don't

I meet the criteria to be in this club

With a little one balanced on my hip

Playing with my hair

It is a typical mom conversation

What foods have you introduced?

Is he sleeping through the night?

Anyone thinking about having a second?

That's not what’s on my mind

There's a little girl laughing in the corner

She would be just her age

Now I am choking on thoughts

That I cannot turn to words

I will not allow myself to cry here

But I miss her I miss her I miss her

You will alienate yourself

You will be the-woman-with-the-dead-baby

You will not make new friends

I repeat it until I accept it

I chat about teething

I go home and cry

Yes he’s sleeping through the night

He likes pears and avocado

And we’re starting to think about having another

But that would be our third.

And you don’t realize how good you have it

There are things worse than sleepless nights

with cranky infants

There are sleepless nights alone

Monday, June 21, 2010

To Papa on Father's Day... From Marcus Baby

Dear Papa Jhon,

I have been thinking for weeks on something special to do for your very first Father's Day. How can I top the special poem, gorgeous flowers, and delectable cake you gave me on my day? We both know that nothing 'just material' will be suffice. I had to be creative.

I hope you liked the animated journal made speaking from the thoughts and words of our little Marcus. I spoke to our baby the whole time, and asked him to help me write the words he would have told you.

I know how special our 7 months together is to you Papa. These memories we have of our baby Marcus is treasured. And I knew Marcus wanted to tell you too how much love he felt during our pregnancy.

We love you very much Papa... me, baby Marcus, and Lola. We are very blessed to have you taking care of us and loving us. Thank you for spoiling us rotten.

Jhon, you are my best friend, you are my life. You know how much I love you...

Happy Father's Day! Love love love!

To Papa on Father's Day... From Marcus Baby




Friday, June 18, 2010

Good Grief, Bad Grief

A close family member told me lately that there are different forms of grief -- various instances where we experience feelings of loss. Since we lost Marcus I have read a number of books stating this same fact as well and I acknowledge it. We grieve when a loved one is lost, may it be through death or broken relationships. We grieve when we lose a job or a business which we have learned to love all these years. We grieve when we lose a business deal. We grieve when we lose material things that we consider priceless and irreplaceable. By definition, loss simply means an end to something. What was once there is now gone, sometimes nowhere to be found.

Interestingly enough, while I jot down these types of losses, one Filipino word keeps on repeating in my head. "Sayang." A very common term Filipinos say when they feel something worthwhile is wasted. With Americans, they usually say, "What a waste."

But what is considered "sayang" anyways? Is it right to weigh these losses into different degrees of depth? Which weighs more than the other?

The most common form of grief that people automatically attach with the word is death. Coming from a person who has lost 2 loved ones in 4 years - 3 in 10 years - and most recently 1 just 4 months ago, sadly I have become an expert in losses. Maybe I could call it a progressive loss, where the pain of losing one loved one at a time gets deeper and more intense each time. And each time, it digs deeper and deeper into the core of my still wounded, barely recovered heart. Ten years ago I lost my Nanay (our nanny) who took care of us siblings since birth, four years ago I lost our Papa Jaime, and just four months ago I lost my infant son Marcus.

So why does grief significantly coincide with death compared to the others I mentioned early on?

Because death is final.

The finality of death is unspeakable. One can't even comprehend the unfathomable despair of death until they experience it themselves. It is more than a closed book, bigger than packing your bags, greater than seeing someone exit the door, more significant than cleaning up your office, more than signing divorce papers, hugely different from surrendering the keys, graver than anything material that one could possibly lose.

When someone loses a loved one through a broken relationship, the people involved seldom reconcile. And when or if they ever do, there will always remain some sort of unspoken bad blood between the two. The bottom line, shouldn't that be considered as "good riddance" anyway? If you were wronged, the emotional baggage is not worth hanging on to. Though ultimately, the person is still very much there. No matter how burnt the bridge is, it can always be rebuilt.

Losing material things is another. When you lose a job or business, a house or car, a business deal -- all of these can be replaced even superseded. The time and effort one has put into acquiring it is greatly considered, yes, and it is a waste. "Sayang." Yet the obvious fact is, it can all be obtained again, in one form or another. The bottom line, it can be fixed.

This does not say that one loss deserves better acknowledgment than the other. Who wants to experience greater grief than the other anyway? I assume nobody would want to be included in this contest. Life in itself is dramatic enough. I seriously do not wish for anyone to experience the extreme heartbreak I currently live through.

I usually wonder why some people see it that Jhon and I should be over our grief by now. Is there a time limit to grieving? Is 4 months enough time to finally lock up our emotions and treat life as if we never lost a child? Is Marcus' short life easier to get over compared to a person who lived a hundred years? I wonder again, if people looked at themselves during times when they were in deep grief, would they have told themselves to stop feeling? Scathing, yes. Pun very much intended.

Grief does not have to be altogether bad. Grieving does not mean you are weak. Grieving and being true to yourself does not mean you are dwelling. Jhon and I have reached a point in our mourning where we are learning how to live with it. The fact of the matter is, it is the additional stress and external forces in life that compound the affliction.

The vital detail that needs to be addressed is how you channel grief into something monumental, something positive.

Good Grief.

Grieving does not automatically define us to be sulking and sinking into deep depression. Our 4 short months of grief has taught Jhon and I to better ourselves. We are fortunate enough to have found books that aided in our healing. These books paved our path to acceptance. During times when we could not articulate the emotional roller coaster of it all, these books shed light into every perplexing feeling we experienced. Expert advice of clinical psychologists who specialize in neonatal loss and grief; stories of other parents who went through the same experiences we did and offered learning 'modules' into understanding grief and channeling it into meaningful actions. We are still very much grieving though we do not see wrong in that. Our grief does not cripple us, it empowers us.

The short life of our son taught us to live a more meaningful life. His memory fuels us into doing good for others. Every time I have an epiphany for a project to honor Marcus it lifts my spirits knowing that because of him we are living a life not only for ourselves but for others as well. My heartache and loss is channeled into something positive.

"Sayang?" I refuse to believe that the loss of our son has gone to waste, in a matter of speaking. His short life is not "sayang." Our grief and intense longing for him is "not a waste." The magic of Marcus has turned a gruesome negative into a momentous positive. This is a pivotal time in our lives and we consciously decide to utilize it for others.

Marcus' love has catapulted us into becoming humble benefactors to select recipients, one Baby Step at a time. His love emanates. Hence, The Love Of Marcus Fund.

A labor of love to honor his memory and to make his short life count through outreach projects. Simple and pure. It is not bound by selfish reasons or illusions of grandeur. Pure love, pure assistance.

The Love Of Marcus Fund.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We Remain Grateful... Thank You Dear Friends

Roughly 4 months ago, Jhon and I received some very touching messages. Without consciously knowing that we needed it, we felt truly overwhelmed with the outpour of love and sympathy we got not only from family and close friends but from unexpected friends and acquaintances.

Mostly throughout the span of our pregnancy, we chose our miracle to generally be a 'need-to-know' basis. Though we were not hiding our blessing, we considered it as privileged information. It was our intent to keep the whole experience of our son, our tremendous joy -- pure and untarnished. We did not want any negative energy hovering around us during the whole course. We wanted only happiness and positivity surrounding our Marcus.

When the quiet news went around that we have lost our son, Jhon and I were flooded with thoughts of sympathy and prayers. Some even considerately mentioned that they had no idea we were expecting and were truly devastated for us. It was all unexpected.

Outright we want to acknowledge the love and support of our closest friends who came to Marcus' service. With only a moment's notice (1 day) through text message, they went out of their way to be there for us, took time off their busy workday schedule to pray with us and offer support as we laid our beautiful son to rest.
Jinno Rufino, Mike Thio, Anna Puey, Hubert Tan, Leo Capinpin, Mark Chua, Celine Robinson, Ghengis Enrique, Angela Valenton, Nic, Greg Anonas, Trixie Reyes, Patricia Malay, Mela Vicente, OJ Maliuanag

One of my best friends, Trixie, flew straight from CDO to witness the beauty of our Marcus and was at our side while we cried tears for him.

Jinno's message of support was touching. “Jhon, you know I’m always here for you. I have been before and will continue to do so for you both. I’m just a call or text away. I know you will continue to be strong and one day raise beautiful children. God bless you both.”

Mike's sympathy was moving. “Jhon my heart pours out for you and Jet. I am so sorry you had to go through this and it makes me sad knowing that such great people have to go through so much undeserving pain. I am always here for you whenever you need me. Please call me anytime. You are always in my prayers.”

Friends of family who we did not expect to come but did through the kindness of their hearts.
Aisha Jaafar, Saladin Jaafar, Faricia Jaafar, Frances Deocadiz, Carol Hoese, Alex Campbell, Suzette Ledesma
Others extended their sympathy through text messages and Facebook.
Billie Roche, Norman Velasco, Rico Robles, Fatima Angela, Apple Arboleda Delfin, George Olarte, Geoff Chen, Rudolph Ganzon, Mike Sy, Angela Garcia, Hansen Nichols, Dru Baltazar, Paul Limjoco, Miguel Blardony, Abby Sunglao, Adora Cantillon, Erica Ilacad, Diana Fonseca, Katrina Primavera, Tollo Bote, Sharmaine Cantillon, Mary Ann Nicolas, Marge Enrique, Fayinna Zaragoza, Korina Nevada, Trina Salavante, Paul Genato, Jona Bagadion, Rhea Lin, Sarah Meier-Albano, Aina Sun, Ate Aida Sunglao-Canlas, Mayi Teodoro, Trina Mears, Greg Chua, Ate Gaylie, Fatima Jaafar, Abbie Manlapaz, Mila Salazar-Bruan, Mitch Ramirez, Jerome Tan, Gerald Ganzon, Bong de Ocampo, Paul Olarte, Paulie Yllana, Kathrina Cantillon, Camille Santiago, Gimo Asuncion, Kristine Tan Liao-Williams, Justine Perrine, Dra. Lyra Clemente-Chua

Our friend Billie, weeks before we lost Marcus, bought booties for him - all the way from Houston - as a welcome present.

Grace Carlos, who I will forever thank for reaching out during our lowest moments and offering words of love and prayers. I will always feel a special connection with her. “I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I was so touched with the blog you created for him… ... ...I can just imagine what you are going through… God will pull us through.”

Jhon's family friends from Jersey, Kuya Romer and Ate Christine, sent a sympathy card through mail. The personal touch of receiving an actual card through traditional mail is sincerely heartwarming.

My high school classmates:

Trisha Martinez-Reyes, Jenny Vergara-Selga, Olga Cinco, Maureen Ava dela Cruz, Ade de las Alas, Andree Lou Kintanar, Rachelle Ruan, Melody Cortez-Rayala
One of my oldest friends Trisha, sent her love from New York, "Hi Jet, Just found out what happened to Marcus. Omigosh I feel so sad right now. Hope I was there to console you. I wish I was there talaga. Be strong ok. Kaya mo yan. We will be praying for Marcus. Just remember that everything happens for a reason. Pareho pa sila ng name ng inanaak mo his real name is Ralph Marcus. ... ... ... Believe me I know how you feel. Basta be strong ha and just keep on praying no matter what. I know sometimes sobrang malulungkot ka pero you have to fight it. Be positive always. Believe me things will be brighter again.....it will come just be patient. I maybe thousand of miles away but I'm here for you. Anytime you need to talk to me just email me and I'll call you. Take care my friend."

Ana Interino-Cezar, another good friend from high school, "My deepest condolences to you Jet and to your family. This blog brought tears to my eyes. My prayers are with you. Be strong, my friend."

Claire Mercado-Obias, a high school classmate, who although we never got close, sent a genuinely sentimental message that I treasure. "My Dearest Jet, I'm sending you a big hug today. I know it's not much but I want you to know that you are in my thoughts in this challenging time in your life. The slide show and blog that you started for Little Marcus has touched me (and I'm sure has touched a lot of people, too) and I want to say thank you for sharing your feelings. I know that writing down your thoughts, and most especially being appreciative of all your blessings, will help you & Jhon become stronger. There's this saying that goes, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done." We may not understand why God has taken away a very special blessing, but that doesn't mean He doesn't love you. Keep the faith and hold onto His hand. Little Marcus will be in my prayers. I promise. Take Care & God Be With You Always, CLAIRE."

Ricah Ramos-Maramba, another high school classmate who I never thought would extend her sincere support and prayers to us truly moved me. "Hi Jet. I am so very sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you and your husband that God may give you strength thru this challenging time in your lives. Always remember that you have a friend in me. Message me anytime if you need anything!!"

A few old friends from NHC:

Carla Zensen Erazo, Samantha Novales-Floro, Charlie Tsai, Vicente Pajaro
Joshe Romo Leroux, another NHC friend who I haven't seen and heard from for a long time was one of the first ones to message from thousands of miles away, "So sorry my friend.. God works in mysterious ways and it is not for us to judge his decisions. I will pray for you from the distance and be sure that this will pass. God has something bigger for you.... Love, Maria"

Our close family friend and spiritual advisor, Fr. Patrick Guru sent his personal message of love and sympathy from Indonesia. “Gud pm John and Jet. I have heard about The Little Angel Marcus from Mache. I was happy for both of you that Jet could deliver a baby Marcus. We do know the plan of God for us and for him. He is now with God and becomes your guardian angel. I feel sorry to hear that he has gone. I do pray for him and for both of you. Condolence. God bless you all. Fr. Patrick Guru”

From Jhon's good friend Phil Lirag, “Jhon, I am SO sorry to hear the worst news a person can ever hear.... My condolences to you, Jett, and family. There are no words to say, nothing can be done to give you the satisfaction, but I do pray for Marcus, and hoping that time can heal your pain.... Again I’m so sorry to hear about your loss... God bless pare.”

Jo Tuazon-So, Jhon's friend whose sweet gesture donated to March of Dimes in the name of Marcus. “Read Regina's status. I didn't even know u guys were having a baby. I'm really really sorry, I can't imagine what ur going through. I'm preggers with a boy right now and we had a little scare that he was gonna come out at 26 weeks. Condolences Jhon. My prayers to u, ur little one, and the fam..”

Ana Miren Achaval, another good friend of Jhon who lives overseas messaged, "Jhon, I received a text early this morning here in LA about Marcus being in the NICU. I sincerely prayed for him. I'm sooooo sorry for your loss! My condolences and prayers to you and your family! I'm wishing you everything you need to get through this difficult time. With heartfelt condolences, Anami”

From Chris Gaisberger, "Jhon, I wish I had the words to take the pain away... But Life can be very unfair. You have a strong head on your shoulders and a good heart. Let this guide you to brighter days. I love you brotha!”

From Simon Corr, “Jhon, No mistaking this is going to be a really difficult time for you. Just to let you know my thoughts are with you... much love, Si”

From Michelle Tagle, "Your little one touched many hearts, mine included. Jhon you and your family are in our prayers, take care always.”

From Mj De Jesus Diaz, "Hope you're doing ok John... Be strong, God has His great plans for us, we may not see and understand them right away but trust in Him for He only has the best plans for each and everyone of us. God bless you and your family!!! Our condolences.”

Ate Belle's friend, Chiqui Soriano together with her family Eric and Mingy, extended their sympathy by sending mass cards.

Ate Mache's friends sent text messages of sympathy and prayers.

Walter Tolentino, DeeDee Deborah, Pac Quinsay, Raysh Reyes, Joyce Bangayan, Baby Tugbang, Rely Fajardo, Tita Marissa Serrano
Alain and Gina Duminy offered their precious time to help Ate Mache edit Marcus' pictures and create the slideshow for his service. They stayed up till after midnight and offered their labor of love for baby Marcus. Two weeks after his service, they gave us a small prayer book to aid us with our grieving.

Ate Remy Bantigue drove around till the wee hours of the morning looking for the perfect urn for baby Marcus. A special little urn for tiny babies.

Extended family members and loyal staff who stayed up almost the whole night to prepare for a flawless service for our baby boy.
Tita Lily Montealegre, Rhoda Maderazo, Gina Magluyan, Joey Torres, Alvin Torres, Tito Lando Montealegre, Inday Torres, Jimmy Bactol, Juret Torres
Hazel, Heritage Park's funeral director who extended her help to organize and lead Marcus' solemn memorial service.

Jhon ultimately obliged everybody with message of heartfelt thanks. While I still could not muster to communicate my thoughts and feelings to others, Jhon pulled through for us yet again.

Occasionally, we hear from friends to check up on how we are doing. We appreciate that they respect our privacy and space during these times while at the same time making sure we are holding up well.

Our dear friend Patricia Malay, who never gives up on us. “Jet, Jhon – was just praying and was moved to text you this: 1 Peter 4:12-13 says – dear friends, don’t be surprised at the painful trial u are suffering but rejoice that u participate in the sufferings of Christ U ARE BLESSED for the spirit of glory & of God rests on u. I’d just like to comfort u both that although we will never know why God allows what he allows, He does use even heartbreak & painful loss to show u that He is there to bear ur pain with u. And He promises comfort & peace despite the sadness. We just have to hold on to Him. The Lord uses these situations to show us that if we submit even our pains to Him, He will take care of us. So through pain, just hold on. He is there. And how blessed u are that ur family & friends are too. I pray for u constantly and also for baby Marcus. I love u both.”

On Valentine's Day I received a cherished and loving message from Trixie, "Dearest Jet, Happy Hearts day! I know you would have wanted to spend it with your Little Marcus physically, but God has other plans.. . For now you will have to be strong for your little Angel, who is cheering you on as you struggle with the toughest time in your life. I know what you are feeling is incomparable but I feel like my heart's been squeezed so hard and tears just fall off my eyes when I think of what happened to you, Jhonny, and Marcus. I didn't want to bother you by entertaining me, after little Marcus' cremation because I knew you and Jhonny were tired and you needed your alone time... Take care of yourself Jet and Jhonny baby. I know this Valentines day is a special one still because you have Little Angel Marcus engraved in your hearts :-) love yah J."

Jenny, one of my high school best friends, never forgets to cheer us on. "Jet, I'm praying for you guys especially baby Marcus. Take care... God has special plans for you both. I'm just here anytime you need me. Love you Jet, God bless. Always be strong."

Mela Vicente, our friend who even though far away sees to it that we hear from her. "Hey sweetie! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your blog. Thank you for your honesty. I wish I was there with you and Jhon. Write to me whenever you want even if you just need someone to listen. You're always in my prayers, Mela"

Now four months after the passing of our son, we remain grateful for all the love and support we received from everybody. Despite our reservations and maintaining a low profile during the course of our grief and loss of our precious Marcus, our considerate friends still made sure they offered some thoughtful words of sympathy.

We knew that in time we will find enough strength to thank everyone. We have not forgotten, we have not taken them for granted. Now we are ready, now is the time.


Though we know it is long overdue, we thank everyone. Thank you for showing you cared. No matter how awkward it was for you. Even though unsolicited, you went out of your way and conveyed support. We are very thankful. Our hearts overflow.

And our special thanks and gratitude to Fr. Santhosh who cancelled his various scheduled appointments to celebrate Holy Mass during our Marcus' service and on his 4oth day. He continues to pray for us and most especially for baby Marcus. Though he said his goodbye to us yesterday to go back to India, we will never forget him. We promise to stay in touch. We will talk to you soon Fr. Santhosh. We have so much to tell you.

In truth, we have more than a handful of friends who we, sadly, did not get to hear from. Friends who we expected to be the first ones in line to offer their sympathies. We are saddened by this turnout of events. Although it is their prerogative and we respect their distance. Death is an uncomfortable topic, more so if it's an infant who passed away. What more should we say? ...Though you won't hear us saying, "we understand."

But more importantly, thank you to you who were there, and to you who continue to be there for us. You are indeed invaluable instruments of our on-going healing and long road to acceptance.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Butterfly Mommies

May 14, 2010:

I was surfing around Blogger reading entries of other parents, mostly mothers, from blogs that they have started for their precious little angels. While browsing Footprints On Our Hearts I saw a link button appropriately named Butterfly Mommies. I knew right away this is a site I appropriately belong to.

Butterfly Mommies

Butterfly Mommies was visualized by Kristie Verret and Katy Larsen. Two mothers who themselves have babies living in heaven. They came together and offered a place for butterfly mommies to share their respective stories to one another and hopefully, for the general population to understand better the gravity and intensity of a mother's deep grief. I see it as a safe-haven for mothers with babies in heaven.

Katy and Kristie opened their site to any butterfly mommy willing to share their journey with others. With no second thought, I found myself sending an email to Katy and stated to her how an honor it would be to share our Marcus' story to their readers.


May 18, 2010:

I received a response email from Katy saying that she had included our blog in their list. Her email was uncomplicated and warm. The message of sympathy was heartfelt.

Their synopses for each blog list is very personalized and I was expecting for her to ask for a picture or some kind of a layout I would want used for the link. When she did not detail this in the email I immediately checked what they have come up with. I was excited.

I loved the way they incorporated Marcus' framed picture with the title of his blog. They kept the background white, which I truly appreciated. This simple gesture of creating and arranging a personalized abstract for my son's blog is very moving to me. I'm very thankful.

I responded to her email and thanked her for the very thoughtful gesture. I wished her and her family well and offered my prayers.

I wish Kristie and Katy the best in all their endeavors. These two butterfly mommies go out of their way to reach out to people who have experienced great loss. Among others, they have started a ministry called Anchored By Hope (www.anchoredbyhope.com), an "online Bible study and Christian support ministry for those suffering pregnancy and infant loss." Right when I read the mission of their cause from their website, I was instantly given comfort that I was understood and that God is there walking my journey with me.

The lead that Kristie and Katy take makes me stronger in my faith to accomplish my personal projects for my Marcus. I find that I am certainly on the right track to paying tribute to the wonderful memory of my son.

Though my child is not with me, I have experienced more than most mothers ever would. Being a butterfly mommy (or butterfly mama as I call myself) indeed gives us a higher purpose in life after our tragedy. As Marcus' mother, I vow to make my experience a stepping stone into something truly worthwhile; to reach out and help others, to make the mistakes done to us right for others. I vow to make the memory of Marcus undoubtedly count.

My eyes are wide open... I see things in a different light. This is my journey.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Marcus Love-band

While browsing through Fully Booked hoping to find some good reading, I stumbled upon some rubber wristband "name tags." I am very much familiar with the Lance Armstrong "Livestrong" wristband but this one had a selection of various names you can choose from. You'll have to check though if your name was one of the lucky ones chosen to be produced.

I instinctively looked for our Marcus' name. And to my luck there it was. Woohoo!

I excitedly showed Jhon my newly-found treasure. With it I also got one wristband that says "Little Angel" which completed my term of endearment for my baby.

*LITTLE ANGEL MARCUS*

To add to the distinctive character of the wristband, encouraging words are artistically scattered along the circumference of the bracelet.

*Smile * Dream * Inspire * Laugh * Hope * Trust * Believe * Dare * Encourage * Wish *

I love that these words are all intertwined with the name of our Marcus. These words represent everything that he is about. It is truly inspiring. It may look cheesy on the outset but if we look deep inside us, some good words of encouragement can go a long way. And Marcus is the perfect channel.

A couple of times I've experienced myself encouraged by these words. One morning I woke up feeling quite down about myself. It was one of those days. Incidentally as I opened my eyes the first sight I saw was my wrist, Marcus' name, and the words Hope and Encourage staring at my face. Needless to say, I spent that day more hopeful and encouraged with an air of peace within me. One of my more productive days to date.

We have been wearing these wristbands for almost a month now. We never remove it. It's definitely special.


As always, we wanted to share the beauty and magic we experience from the love of Marcus. We decided to buy more of the wristbands and distribute them to family. Fully Booked managed to collect 12 bracelets for us from their various branches. Enough to give away to our 10 nieces and nephews plus 2 more for 2 adults in the family.

Jhon and I imagined the kids answering people when asked, "Why Marcus?"

"He is our cousin. He is an angel baby."

We thought we would distribute the bracelets on Miguel's birthday celebration, knowing all the kids would be there. And seeing Ate Belle that day was fitting. We knew she would appreciate the meaning behind the wristband.

Her text message that night was very sweet. She promised to always wear it. "Every time I see it, Marcus reminds me to live my best life and to be grateful for everything and to everyone..."

As luck would have it, Jhon accidentally found more wristbands while buying Miguel's birthday gift that afternoon. We will have more to give away to Jhon's family. We were worried it would take some time to collect more. It's very exciting.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Visit From Nanay

Let me tell you about Nanay*. Tita Sima to most, Nanay to us Torres siblings.

She was our nanny who we considered as our second mother. She had been with our family from the very beginning. She witnessed each one of us get born into this world. She took care of the 5 of us.

She was entrusted by our Mama to take care of our household. Mama entrusted her to take care of us. She was a governess. She handled 5 to 10 staff working under her. Everything would have turned upside down without her.

She was an integral part of our family. She was family.

I remember her taking care of our every whim. Life was easy and smooth-sailing because of her. Every move we made and with everything that we needed we ran to her.

The countless times she nurtured us when we were sick. From the comfort food she prepared for us to make us feel better.

We were spoiled rotten.

The way she consoled us when we were down. And the way she defended and fought for us when we were bullied or trampled on.

She gave her whole life to us. Her love was unconditional.

Then early this morning, I dreamt of Nanay...

The setting was Edsa Shangri la Mall. It was her favorite place to stroll. It was where we always brought her.

Jhon and I had just finished having dinner at that Mediterranean bistro near the carousel. On the way towards the escalator I heard a couple of people mumbling some words and with it the word "Nanay" followed.

I looked around to see. And there she was having just finished talking to some people and now she was headed towards the same escalator we were going. She was wearing her classic short bob cut with specks of silver hair peeping ever so delicately accentuating her hairstyle.

I immediately called out to her, "Nanay!" I was genuinely excited to see her, after a long, long time. My heart was fluttering with joy.

---

Memory Recap:

The last time I saw my Nanay was more than a decade ago. I remember very well the night before I flew back to the States, January 2000, when we were hanging out at the informal living room. She was sitting on one of the chairs while chatting. There she gave me a package as big as a shoebox wrapped in colored paper. It was her "padala" for me. It was customary to her. I knew it was packed with goodies that I craved for when I was away. Flat Tops, Magnolia Quickmelt cheese, Lucky Me pancit canton. The works, I would say.

I told her I would miss her so much. And while my feelings of love for her overflowed, I went to her and sat on her lap. I hugged her neck tightly, smiling while my eyes closed, still sitting on her lap.

I knew it probably looked funny for I am much taller than her but there I was enjoying every minute of my comfortable seat on Nanay's lap. That memory would forever be etched in my heart.

Nanay was never a demonstrative person. She showed her love to us through her nurturing ways. She took care of us more than she cared for herself. She would even occasionally give us gifts when she could afford it. She loved surprising us. From cute nighties, to food, to even money, she gave unconditionally.

She was extraordinary.

Even thousands of miles away from her, she never forgot to check up on me. Even though I - and I admit - most of the time failed to check in on her, she never gave up on me. She would send me greeting cards just to say Hi. She even sent me a gigantic musical birthday card one time. It said, "To Jet, Kamusta ka na? ... With Love, From Nanay." Her carefully written, shaky penmanship even made it more special. I showed off the card on top of my entertainment center for months.

One summer when Mama and Ate Belle visited me back in the East Coast, Nanay sent a greeting card for me. Her usual love note was inscribed. But what truly got me were the bills inserted in between the card. There it was, a bundle of dollar bills neatly gathered together totaling $200. It composed of mostly $1 and $5 bills with a couple of $10's and $20's. A $2 bill was even included in the stack.

My jaw dropped. I could not believe she sent those. It was obvious that it took her a good effort to collect that amount, more so have them exchanged. It seemed like it was her life savings.

She wanted to make sure I was okay and covered during my stay there. A little something to give me a helping hand. She knew Papa supported me and paid for my way. Though she knew times were sort of tough because of the Asian financial crisis. P60 to $1. I was still comfortable enough. She did not have to do that gesture, but she did.

I could not hold back my tears. All I could say to Ate Belle was, "Oh my God. I can just imagine how long she saved up for this. She didn't have much but she gave it all to me." Right then and there, Ate Belle and I cried loving tears for Nanay because of the unconditional love she had just showed me.

When she passed in 2000, I was living in the States. I did not get to formally say goodbye to her. I was not there when my family laid her to rest.

---

When Nanay heard her name, she turned to me, looked at me, and with what seemed to me as a semi hurt look, she turned away and continued to walk going up the escalator.

I was dumbfounded. I hurriedly tried to catch up with her using the adjacent set of automatic stairs. To my surprise both escalators were moving up instead of the usual "down and up."

I watched her intently while the 3 of us, Nanay, Jhon, and I, were lead to the highest level of the mall, our distance only a few feet away from her.

When we reached the top we saw a small water plane parked in an area resting on a pool of water. Apparently, Nanay was waiting for her new employer who owned that plane. Two security guards were waiting as well, one uttering to the other how it will take the owner some time to come out, "She's still hearing mass."

I took my chance to converse with Nanay and told her how much I missed her. She finally looked at me with compassion as I went towards her and gave her the tightest hug. I started crying hysterically.

I continued hugging her while I spoke. "Do you know I had a baby?" Still crying, I told her that he died. I told her that if she was there with me, to take care of me, I would not have lost Marcus. I told her that her care would have made things better for me. And that my pregnancy would have been easier.

Nanay did not speak a word. She just listened the whole time. She listened and patted my back as I vented my feelings to her.

Finally I told her, "Come back to us Nanay, we miss you very much. It's not the same without you."

She answered me without opening her mouth. And in my dream I understood when she said she can't. She works for a different family now, and they love her too.

I struggled to accept what she just had said. Though I knew ultimately that, that was true. This is how we would have to live our lives. Our Nanay is not there anymore.

The next few seconds after that were a blur. Eventually I found myself back to reality, I was awake.

How do I interpret this dream?

As always I narrated my amazing dream to Jhon. I told him that finally Nanay had communicated with me. After more than a decade after she passed, she finally came to me.

I knew she would have preferred me being there when she faded in 2000 and I would have done so too. The guilt of not being there will live with me forever. Though I know she knows how much I truly miss her.

But early this morning, she finally broke the ice. She came to me and comforted me. She gave me her shoulder as I cried for the loss of my Marcus. She listened to me intently as I told her how much I missed her. How much I missed her nurturing ways.

She knew I needed her, that's why she came.

I am also relieved that she showed me how she was. When she told me that she belonged to another family now, I knew she meant she is with God. The symbolism of the airplane said it all. Her new employer, her new family, had wings. They fly high.

Rest in peace, Nanay. You now have an "alaga" to take care of in heaven. Please watch over for Marcus. I'm sure you and Papa Jaime are taking good care of him.

Thank you for the visit. I love you forever.


*Nanay is Filipino for mother.