"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




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.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I miss you!

After somewhat of a productive week, I find myself sitting on the couch. Not really sure what am I'm supposed to do on this saturday afternoon. Sitting, with nothing but the sound of the air filter and subtle noises from the hallway.

As I try to organize my thoughts on what I can possibly do on a hot saturday afternoon. I came across the timer that Jet installed for Marcus. A little "ticker timer" showing the exact amount of time our baby isn't with us. I cry, I try not to. Yet as I jot down my feelings, my emotions get the better of me again. I MISS YOU TERRIBLY!!!

Oh how I wish I can hold you once more...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Postscript To Mama's Day

Mainly for self preservation, I rarely check my Facebook account. Though when I did for a few minutes on Mama's Day I received a few greetings.

Thank you to my friends Trixie, Jenny, Fatima, and Mela for remembering me. I definitely appreciate the thought.

Thank you also to Tita Lily, Tita Zenny, Ate Sherry, and Regina for the text messages. Thank you for acknowledging.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mama's Day Special

Yesterday was my day. I was more happy than sad to celebrate Mama's Day. I am proud to be a mother. The gift of being a mother is a definite treasure to me. Bittersweet, yes, though I embraced the day because yesterday, my little angel Marcus greeted me a very Happy Mother's Day.

How did my day start?

I slept in - for I went to bed just about when the sun was rising. I stayed up all night reading my new book The Good Grief Club by Monica Novak. I am appreciating this book so far. The emotional and raw feelings of loss by these 7 women who eventually became friends, brought together by the same unfortunate experiences, keeps me in 'positive' touch of my own emotions.

As I read the preface, I felt immediately in tuned and somewhat comforted with this excerpt:
I found no comfort in being a statistic. Where I drew comfort, however, was from knowing that someone else on this planet understood my intense pain, the indescribable feelings of helplessness and loss. I drew comfort from knowing that other people had survived following the death of their own child, eventually finding happiness and purpose in their lives again.
Somehow, no matter how empathic a person - and I really do appreciate the empathy - if one has not lost a child, it is not conceivably possible to dig deep enough and feel the intense grief we bear for losing our baby. It truly takes one to know one.

I could not put the book down. I believe I will finish reading this one in no time.

Now back to my Mama's Day special...

Surprise Gift No. 1:

Around mid-morning while still very much in deep sleep, I can hear Jhon typing away on the laptop. I left him to do whatever it was he was busy concocting. My unconscious mind dreams away.

I was dreaming what seems to be a typically irrelevant dream. The kind that you won't even remember by the time you open your eyes. Even now, as I try my best to recall the dream, I do not succeed. But as I was nearing the end of this 'forgettable' dream, the story shifts.

All of a sudden I was transported to my elementary school campus. I was standing at the huge quadrangle while hundreds of little girls, lined up by the exposed corridors, sing and dance in a well-choreographed, consistent motion. They were all smiling and giddy. Much like enthusiastic choir members performing in front of a big crowd. Then almost instantaneously they ended their act, and altogether pointed to the sky with their arms extended diagonally upward.

I turned to the direction they pointed and there it was... the cutest, most innocent and child-like character one could put together.

The animated character resembled and looked to me like Gumbie, this children's character on television made out of clay. He was wearing some kind of a cowboy outfit complete with fringed leather pants and matching cowboy hat. He was smiling directly at me. It felt like the friendliest smile ever. I could not help but smile back.

Then just when he got my full attention, he endearingly uttered, "I love you Mama."

While still very much asleep I knew, it was my baby Marcus, coming to me in my dream, greeting me.

He made the Gumbie character especially for me. The same way a child would draw pictures for their parents as gifts. My baby Marcus gave me a cowboy clay figure for Mama's Day.

My heart was overwhelmed with joy that he visited me in my dream. He spoke to me and told me he loves me!

My dream was over before I knew it. His visit was quick yet very powerful. It was the first time my Marcus came to me in my dreams. I opened my eyes and I started to weep.

My baby visited me! My baby knew it was Mama's Day and gave me the most precious gift. He knew this day was going to be hard for me. He made sure I started my day with a special gift from him. I felt so lucky. It was truly my special day.

I kept on repeating the dream in my head, trying my best to etch the memory permanently and make it last forever. I never want to forget. Only I know how truly special it was.

What else could I ask for?

Surprise Gift No. 2:

Jhon went in the room when he heard I was awake. I told him about my dream. He comforted me until I could control my tears. Then he eagerly showed me my second gift.

He sincerely told me how unskilled he usually is with writing poems. But then he showed me what he just wrote. He proudly announced that - Marcus wrote me a poem.

The blog entry wrote, A Message for Mama...

My tears started to again fall though I did not feel depleted because for the second time yesterday I was crying happy, grateful tears.

It was obvious how Jhon wanted to make my Mama's Day extra special. I can just imagine how difficult it was to make me feel special without pushing those sensitive buttons. I belong to a unique group of mothers. The littlest things can trigger uncontrollable feelings of grief even though the intent is sincere. Jhon knew exactly how to make the day right for me.

Surprise Gift No. 3:

Just after lunch, I could tell Jhon was feeling anxious. I knew he was waiting for something to arrive. He did a great job making me feel anxious too. He knew how I liked getting surprises so he made sure I knew something was coming.

At around 3 p.m. it arrived, the most special bouquet of roses I've ever received. He said it was from baby Marcus and Lola Talula. The arrangement was gorgeous. Jhon knew precisely what I wanted. I could not ask for anything more.



Even Lola got into the Mama's Day spirit. She was very cooperative while I took photos of her with the roses. She too loved the roses very much, she could not stop sniffing them.


I made sure I rearranged the beautiful roses appropriately to fit my baby Marcus' sanctuary.



I made it a point to take enough shots of my special roses. Ample enough that I had to make a slideshow of it so I could properly show it off. I created it to express my thanks for Jhon's sweetest gesture. I am definitely loved.



Surprise Gift No. 4:

Today, Mama's Day Part 2, Jhon gave me my current favorite cake. Mary Grace's (Red) Velvet Cake. Yum!

He wrote a card that said:
To: Mama

Happy Mother's Day! You are the best Mama in the whole world! We love you very much!

From: Baby Marcus and Lola Talula

Need I say more?


-------------

I never expected anything for Mother's Day. I did not want to be patronized. I would accept greetings only if they were extended wholeheartedly. The last thing I wanted was pity. Call me snooty but that was how I truly felt.

Jhon, Marcus, and Talula perfected my very special Mama's Day.

My ingredients for my very special Mama's Day recipe:

- 1 part Papa Jhon
- 1 part baby Marcus
- 1 part Lola Talula
- 1 very special I Love You Mama greeting
- 1 utterly sweet poem from Marcus (written by Papa Jhon)
- 1 perfect bouquet of long-stemmed roses
- 2 delectable red velvet cakes (Mary Grace style)
- a whole lot of Love

I am a Mama loved.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Message for Mama

As I was writing an entry from the time I got up, I can't help but feel as if something were missing. I couldn't put my thoughts together, and I knew I wasn't writing from my heart. Then all of a sudden thoughts of a poem rushed through my head and my heart, as if Marcus was whispering to me. So I began writing a poem for Jet. Then it ended as fast as it came. A message for Mama on Mother's day:

My Mama

Gaze upon her eyes and you will see
What a wonderful Mama she would be

My Mama, I knew you would be
The best one, everyone would agree

Her love and touch so pure
For my aches and pains there is no other cure

For you Mama I feel so blessed
You stand among the best


I love you Mama! I'm just here looking out for you always! Happy Mother's Day!

- Marcus

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Re-learning To Live

Am I supposed to resume my life the way it was before Marcus? I am not the same. I am a different person now.

I want to live a life with my son. But I can't. My son is an angel. He lives in heaven. Earth is where I am.

I live a different life. I see things in a different light. I am forever changed.