It's the eve before All Souls' Day. I spent the late morning at the Keyport pier, wanting to just spend some quiet time there. A little windy, the fall sun was so warm. The pier was completely unoccupied. I sat on the end of the bench next to my Dad's blue canopy chair. Despite pain, Dad was peaceful that July day -- telling us that we should definitely bring Auntie, Uncle and a couple of his close friends there in the future. Calm and simply enjoying the peace of the bay with our family.
I find myself weeping lots lately (and I'm done bleeding). Some of my crying is because I miss my Dad so much, and I'm anticipating the holidays. I think I've also been crying because I'm anxious to start our own family. Yesterday afternoon, I was so honored and excited to have met a friend's second daughter, Casey, who arrived from China this past summer. Just sixteen months old, she warms up pretty easily to folks, is so beautiful and just a delightful baby. I call her my little shumai (dumpling). I am so happy for my friend, who now has two lovely daughters, Casey & Callie. To the blessings of little girls . . . congratulations, Laura & Ronnie!
Laura & I seem to be on similar paths. I am a member of the same club no one really wants to be a member of -- having had my Dad pass away. Also, Laura has been so wonderful in sharing her personal story of her own challenges in having a family too. I know, I can't worry too much about the future. It takes me away from enjoying the now.
I appreciate all the blessings in my life and continue to pray peaceful intentions.
I pray to the Sun
Whose warm arms bring me comfort
When I weep in my father's memory
I pray to the Sun
Whose Spirit sits quietly with me
When I long to be a mama
I pray to the Sun
Whose grace envelops me
When I am with others
I pray to the Sun
Whose gift of thanksgiving
Overwhelms others with Life's simple abundance
While I've been breaking through the past couple of days, I finally had a moment of clarity. Perhaps I'm overwhelmed trying to do too much, trying to keep it together -- especially in front of my Mom.
Everyone is concerned about my Mom -- and with good reason. Her life partner of 40 years has died. Few family or friends call her regularly to check up on her, and she doesn't want to reach out to folks. I know everyone leads their busy lives, they've got their own issues to work out. Sometimes I feel, rarely does anyone ask me how I'M doing. And really, I'm not doing that well all the time.
It's hard, really hard. So hard I wonder, Do I really have the heart and strength to come through this? And in all of my effort to keep it together, I do sometimes lose it. I'm sad. So sad I wouldn't mind hibernating in bed for the next month or so, maybe the entire winter. I'm easily frustrated. I have to learn a new patience with my Mom whose natural disposition is to communicate things to me as if there's always a fire to put out. AND I have to keep it together. Ironically enough, my therapist whom I haven't seen in more than a year called me recently (on one of my bad days) to touch base. So much has happened since I last saw her. It comforted me that someone (besides my cousin and husband) was concerned about me and my well-being.
I must sound selfish. I'm just trying to maintain my sanity. It's not easy being strong all of the time. It's not easy -- not crying in front of my Mom. It's not easy having to worry about having to contact an attorney to draw up important paperwork like power of attorney and medical directives for my Mom. It's not easy dealing with the anxiety of my disabled brother's future care when Mom passes. It's not easy negotiating the complications of family obligations (and it's so complicated!), mainly Dad's side of the family.
I know that family and friends are praying for us, are keeping us in their thoughts, and I'm grateful for that awareness. In prayerful discernment, I ask for the Spirit's guidance & grace to work through situations as they may be with an open heart.
Ho'opuka E Ka La.
[Hawaiian for Open the door to thoughts of light & love.]
I had an extremely hard day yesterday. Overwhelmed by my cousin RayRay's (Dad's brother's youngest son) visit and just physically and mentally exhausted, I completely lost it last night. I went to pick up Al from the PATH in Jersey City, and as we drove home, I could feel tears welling up. Holding it all in, I made it down the turnpike and parkway and didn't want Al to freak out that I was the one behind the wheel and actually feeling out of it.
Blame it on the first day of my period. I don't know. Cousin RayRay spent about a week with us. New York City by day with Mom and me, fishing by night with Al. It was a busy week! Wanting to perhaps offer him a change of scenery, maybe explore his options, this is the same cousin whom Dad asked to come live out here if he wanted to, years ago. Ray declined then. Dad was so generous that he was willing to take in his nephew and help finance his education. Not the only family Dad was willing to support. Cousin Danna (Dad's first cousin's daughter), also a doctor, arrived from the Philippines and lived with Mom & Dad for a while so that she could get her footing in the States and eventually pass the boards. She is now a physician with a successful practice in South Jersey. More than the common "It's family." Dad's heart was so amazingly sincere, especially with family.
When Al & I finally arrived home, I was too tired to go to the gym and just felt sick. Washing some dirty dishes, I lost it and started sobbing deeply. The wonderful partner that he is, Al comforted me as I sank into him and his broad shoulders that always hold me so lovingly. I know that these roller coaster emotions are natural during the grieving process. Some days are just so much harder than others. I mean, really hard.
I try to think myself out of my more solemn moods. I often think of a friend who has lost all of her immediate family members -- a mother to cancer, her father to a stroke and her brother to a heart attack while playing basketball. And she has come out of her grief so strong and fierce a woman. When you ask her, how do you move on? She says she relies completely on her faith in a higher Spirit. She is amazing.
It's like the character of Clark Davis in the Hallmark film, Love Comes Softly. He says not to wonder why God lets bad things happen to us, but to be grateful that God is with us when those terrible things happen. Maybe too corny for some folks. But as I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for Hallmark movies.
My daily meditation chant --
Tat tuan asmi (I am that I am)
Shanti, shanti, shanti (May all beings be blessed with peace)
May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy
* To all those who keep up with my rants --
My wish for you: Blessings of fall's serenity, rain's inspiration & the Spirit's warmth.
Tita Cindy (from Texas) has been in town. We were blessed to visit with her a bit this afternoon and enjoyed a lovely fall stroll along Raritan Bay just five minutes down the road from our home. A mindful walk, the sun nourished my tired spirit. I was reminded once again how peaceful the walk is along the bay. What a gem to live so near the water.
my mind's stroll
my spirit wanders
the beaten bayshore's boardwalk
as i breathe deeply
We also had a chance to visit with some old family friends in Newtown, PA this weekend. Tita Lor is in remission from leukemia. Definitely worth celebrating! Tita Daisy & Tito Joon were up from FL for a quick hello. While we were thankful to be spending time with them (including Tito Lito, Auntie Aurea, Uncle Regino, Aileen, Julie, Jasmine & Tita Noemi), I think Mom & I were both overwhelmed. These are my parents' old friends from Stamford (CT). Dad & Mom would drive up on the weekends just to bowl with them. The only person missing was Dad. I suppose he was there -- enjoying everyone's company too.
in my home
i sit quietly
my computer screen
sings lesbianic tunes to me
anxiety grabs my chest
mindful of the bad earth's stresses
memories of my father pass
each one taps me on the shoulder
i remain unalarmed as
each moment feeds deep roots within me
in my home
i weep quietly
I'm a sucker for Hallmark movies (Channel 191 in Parlin). I just finished bawling my eyes out watching the last thirty minutes of "Annie's Point," starring Betty White. It's the story of an older woman who misses her husband, who recently passed, so much. She decides to drive cross-country with her granddaughter to spread her husband's ashes over their special spot, the crashing waves of Carmel (CA).
I learned that much like the character of Annie, Betty White misses her dead husband, whom she greets every morning when she passes his photo in her home.
I know that Mom does the same. I know that's why she can't stand to be away from home more than a few days. And when I visit home I, too, greet Dad. I remind myself that it really hasn't been that long since Dad passed. Only 53 days. Yes, we're counting.
I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to spread Dad's ashes along the Keyport (NJ) pier where we last spent time together, just 15 minutes away from our home. I'll have to go there soon again.
I am overwhelmed with sadness and love every time we drive down the NJ Turnpike, and I miss my Dad so much. These upcoming holidays are going to be challenging. Mom will be leaving the Monday before Thanksgiving for a two-month retreat to the Philippines. She won't be here for Christmas or New Year's. I worry that she will be overwrought with tremendous grief having to make this trip on her own. But I am frequently reminded that she is a strong woman who has experienced so much already. And maybe she needs to make this trip alone. I feel extreme guilt (I know, a useless feeling) that I can't go with her right now. We've talked, and I know she understands.
A good friend reminds me that I am doing the best I can, that it's amazing given all that's happened what with my Dad's passing and recently having been laid off from work, I'm not completely dysfunctional and reclusive. Yes, it is amazing. I have to admit, it's not always easy to keep it together, especially in front of my Mom, Al, friends or during any family gatherings. I am . . . doing my best.
I'm currently reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I'd read The Power of Now a while ago, and it had a profound effect on my trying to find inner peace and to understand the madness of people and the world as it exists. Reading is one thing. Disciplined practice is another. All I can do is keep trying and know that my effort is worthwhile.
I've been tweaking our meditation chantry, wanting to incorporate a diverse set of spiritual inspirations that have nourished us throughout our lives. Luckily all of the icons were already in our home. A beaded floral glass paperweight representative of our love for nature's soothing power. A photo of the Virgin Mary because we were raised Catholic. Of all Christian icons, she is a womanly figure and a Mother who watches over all. I like to think of her more fondly as Aunt Mary. A small Buddha who reminds us that ultimate peace is laughing at ourselves, life, and with the entire universe at the sheer joy in being and feeling that 'being-ness' with no inclination to think or overthink. And finally a good luck Native American junoesque surrounded by multiple children passed along to me by a dear friend who knows that Al & I have been wishing to have a family of our own for a long time now.
I've been thinking about whether or not I spent enough time with my Dad. Al reminds me that it isn't so much how much time we spent with him, but the quality of the time when we were with him. I know in my heart that we enjoyed our time together (other than when Dad was knowingly criticizing me and trying to get a dig or two in) and laughed lots. And I, along with Dad, can be at peace with that.
wakes me with her beaming smile
and calls me
to the sanctuary of peace
towards a more soulful path
Aunt Mary nods to me
a caring 'good morning'
with his infectious laughter
Native American Woman
to join her wisdom circle
of maternal love
as the winged beings
outside my heart's window
with their psalms
I went on a shopping spree last week, and I hate shopping. I couldn't resist buying new floor pillows. In an effort to refocus and be free from anxiety, Al & I agreed to create a serenity space in our home. We are hopeful that we will learn to practice more mindful and disciplined meditation.
From Remez Sasson, who for over 30 years has taught and written about positive thinking, creative visualization, motivation, mind power, self-improvement, inner power and strength, peace of mind, spiritual growth and meditation --
- Plant the seed of meditation and reap the fruit of peace of mind.
- When you calm your mind and your senses, you become conscious of your always-present inner Self.
- Spirituality and materials coexist. It is the mind and attitude which attracts more, and to what extent.
- Meditating on an event that is going to happen, and visualizing it as you want it to turn out, you have the power to mold it according to your thought.
- Calm the winds of your thoughts, and there will be no waves on the ocean of your mind.
My blessing for you --
May you find your peaceful heart, and may it lead you to living creatively in the now. Maluhia.
What happened today:
9:45am Routine check-up with endocrinologist at NYU Medical Center. Got to tell him how I've been doing in the last three months! (My Dad passed away, I was laid off, and I'm still not pregnant. I'm doing just fine!)
10:15am Brunch at Sunflower Diner on the East Side. Two eggs over easy, whole wheat toast and coffee. Read.
11:15am Walk to Madison Square Park to continue reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I cry as I read about his own and his family's cancer journey. Squirrel comes close, scurries across the top of the bench. Think it was Dad?
12:10pm Walk to lunch appointment on 20th & 8th.
12:30pm Lunch with old colleagues from GCWW.
2:30pm Check-in with sister- and brother-in law. Does the baby need a playmate this afternoon?
3:00pm Ice cream and visit with brother-in-law Steve and nephew/godson Jasper. Any time with a little one lifts my spirits. I needed that today. Thanks, Jasper!
4:00pm Subway to Bryant Park. Start to read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
6:00pm Al meets me after work, and we walk to Port Authority for our bus commute home. On the bus, I am once again overwhelmed thinking about my Dad while listening to tunes on my ipod. Why can't I stop thinking about his last few days with us?
8:00pm Al & I forego the gym and make it a double feature -- a Walmart and Pathmark date! Al wants to pick up more fishing stuff (Think he has enough?), and we need more groceries.
9:30pm Salad, spinach nuggets and turkey burger patties for dinner.
Not a bad day for the unemployed. Blessings.
Dropped Mom & Auntie Aurea at the airport yesterday afternoon. They're in CA visiting with their older sister. Afterwards, I drove to my old stomping ground in Jersey City on Nunda Avenue. I wanted to relive my childhood memories of the dead end blocked by a cemetery, the street on which I loved playing until late into the summer night. I looked at our old, maize colored, brown-trimmed house and remembered how much my Dad had worked on that house inside and out. Knocked down a wall in the livingroom, built the carport in the driveway, tended the garden in the back. I didn't see any of our old neighbors. I hoped that some of them might be out. Maybe I might inform them about Dad passing and reminisce about how neighborly he was.
Like how he was always willing to help out a neighbor with a home project. There were Mr. Conte's driveway and Mr. Rodriguez's vegetables. I loved Jack and Nell Harris who lived next door. They were like my adopted grandparents, who watched out for me when I returned from school in the afternoon. Growing up on Nunda Avenue was amazing. Liberatore, Conte, Rodriguez, Johnson and Harris families living pretty much in harmony. Ours was the only Filipino family. It was great to find community among the Irish, Italian, South Asian, Puerto Rican and Black neighbors and play with all the kids. It didn't matter that we were from different backgrounds, and it didn't matter to our parents.
Dad had a hard life, and he had a good life. He didn't come from wealthy means. Pretty much orphaned (his mom was a traveling business woman, his dad died when he was young), he was raised by his older brothers and sisters who let him run around like a streetboy most of the time. He worked hard and made so many sacrifices. A chemical engineer, he'd worked all kinds of jobs -- from manual labor (loading dock, pumping gas) to that of a marketing executive, his career ending as a lab tech at a paint company, figuring out formulas for paint colors. Mom always recounts the story of when Michael and I were just babies. She and Dad had to work different shifts, so that one of them was always home with us. How blessed I was that Dad and Mom were able to send me to a private, all-girls Catholic school for 13 years, college and grad school too.
Dad gave me more than just a good life. He gave me my love for Jersey City, and I will be forever grateful to him for that.
since dad died
i have missed
i have remembered
grief has led me
to life's dance floor
sorrow has laid
by my side
Please tell me that it does get better. I awoke this morning to a 7.20am call on my cell. Our tenant, who rents out our old place in downtown Jersey City, informed me that the toilet was leaking from the bottom, and the toilet did not flush. In addition, she shared that she'd been in a major car accident over the weekend, was in pain and her right hand was bandaged, injured from shattered glass. Oy.
Al had already left for work via bus. So I rushed out of bed and headed up to Jersey City to deal with the situation. Luckily, All Week Plumbing came through and met me as I was pulling up on 6th Street.
I am proud to say that all by myself I, ALONE, hauled up a toilet tank and bowl in two separate trips up three flights of stairs. Of course, I chose the most compact set at Home Depot. Nevertheless, I carried each part by myself. Mom was in tow as I needed her car to load the tank & bowl. Naturally, I didn't want her to lift anything! Yep, I did it all by myself . . . up the stairs -- because All Week Plumbing does not install any new equipment unless it is already on the premises.
I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR.
It's more like SCREAM. I wanted to SCREAM. AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!
I didn't lose it. I didn't cry, but I sure felt like it.
When I first arrived at the apartment, all I could think was:
- My dad's 40th day death anniversary is this week.
- My job is gone.
- And I have to deal with this 'shitty' problem.
Some major blessing must be on its way, do you think?
I know -- I have my mom, my husband, my health and some of my sanity (though that's questionable). Simple abundance and thanksgiving, I remind myself.
We celebrated Auntie Aurea's birthday and her and Uncle Regino's anniversary in Stamford (CT) this past weekend along with the Tangonan Family. The celebration feast featured Mom's pancit (birthday noodles) and inabrow/dinengdeng (vegetable stew) -- of course, Uncle's lobster with homemade seafood stuffing, roast beef, strawberry/kiwi angel food cake AND mango cake care of Red Ribbon. It was hard not to miss Dad, especially when the karaoke round came into action late in the evening . . . amidst a couple of glasses of scotch, goblets of wine and margaritas.
I got all ferklempt when the song request for "More" (' . . . than the greatest love the world has known / This is the love I give you to alone / More than the simple words I try to say / I only live to love you more each day . . . ')
But Mom & I surely lost it when My Way made its way up the karaoke reserve chart.
"And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case
Of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I've traveled each and every highway
Much more than this
I did it
Mom retreated to the dark sun room and sat with her moment. I grabbed a wad of paper towel and sat with my moment. Those were Dad's songs.
(Did I mention I had more than a handful of glasses of cabernet? Needed it. Thank goodness, no hangover the next day.)
Let's see . . . My dad died a little over a month ago. My employer laid me off the second week I was back to work . . . AND I'm not pregnant since trying for a year and three months now. Can life be any better? I have lots to share with my endocrinologist next week when he asks me at my routine check-up, "So, how are you doing?" Yeah, how am I doing?
I am happy to say that I am a Ninang once again! And every time is truly such a an amazing blessing. My sixth (yes, sixth!) godchild was born Tuesday, September 30. Welcome, Gabriel Diaz-Barias. Eight pounds and two ounces. He is looking muy guapo as he is Chino-Latino. Congratulations, Jodi & Faustino! May every day of your son's birth bring you lots of love, laughter & hope.
Always a godmother, never a mother (sigh) . . . and I'm okay with that though I am considering returning to therapy after a considerable hiatus . . . still considering. After all, I never thought I'd be marrried -- ever! I keep telling myself, I am okay. The Spirit works in wondrous ways. Really, I do still have my wits about me. And I am grateful for the blessings that I experience. To autumn's peace. Breathe.