The power of now

Mom's been back stateside for about a week, and it's great to have her home, just a 30-minute ride down the turnpike, not a 20-hour flight around the world.  She's still jet lagged, but I think she's thankful to have worked out Michael's paperwork at the U.S. embassy in the Philippines.  It was my Dad's last request.  Though Mom had an opportunity to enjoy her daily massages in the home she & Dad built in the province, I sense that she didn't get too much rest what with being surrounded by family members around the clock & making 7-hour trips between the embassy in Manila and Ilocos Sur. 

Since Mom has been back, I have been overwhelmed thinking about other to-dos on my list.  Clarifying some hospital and doctors' bills with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicare as well as with the doctors themselves. Contacting attorneys on Mom's behalf who specialize in setting up trusts and estate planning. Making sure that we're supporting Mom.  This week, I just started to focus seriously on my job hunt and have finally begun to submit my resume to various places.  In the meantime, I've also been scheduling tea/coffee/lunch times with friends, letting them know what I'm up to, what I'd like to be doing, so that they're aware . . . & so that it feels more real to me -- what I want to do next.
I meditated this afternoon as the Soundscapes channel played in the background.  I chanted my usual, and I was overcome by the real-ness that yes, Mom is back.  Dad isn't.  Just thirty minutes earlier, I was mad that the day was gray, snow flurried . . . When is the cold going away?  And then, for about four seconds, the sun peeked through the bamboo shade.  I'm always wondering if Tolle-esque moments like these are Dad's way of saying, I'm here.  Don't worry. Feeling Dad's presence, comforting tears reminded me, Appreciate the power of now.

Just last weekend, when we ran an errand at Target, this little sparrow sat on top of the cart next to our car for what seemed some significant seconds.  Al seemed to think that the 4-inch creature wanted to stare him down, then shooed him away! . . . Al somewhat disappointed that he could never see the world the way that little bird does or fly the way he does.  And I thought the tiny winged one was just Dad wanting to say hi.    

Those small moments of now are powerful ones.


First response


When any kind of crisis hits, you expect your closest family and friends to respond, but especially family.  I've had many moments to reflect on who was there for me, for Mom, for Al as Dad became more ill.  911 . . . who checked in, who sent us a note, who called, who visited.  Mom has done the same.  

Sometimes we've been disappointed that we didn't hear at all from particular family members or friends. 911.  Uncle Regino reminds me that sometimes, people don't know how to respond to a crisis situation. They may not know what to say, they may not know how to react.  911.  While I am still coming to terms with accepting that, I still wonder . . . 911.  How could they not acknowledge Dad's death or more importantly, his life?  How could they not send an email?  How could they not call?  Couldn't they have sent a simple note? But every person's different. We never know exactly what people are thinking or feeling.  Maybe they can't confront their own emotions around illness and death.  

Or even worse.  911.  Sometimes people say the most absolute wrong thing, the most insensitive thing. Maybe because they don't know any better.  But maybe for the same reason -- because they can't confront their own fears around illness and death.  And for those folks, I have learned to grow tremendous compassion and in those moments of unbelievable heartlessness, I have learned to just walk away. It is one of the most challenging actions I have had to learn, especially when those folks are family. 911.

In a family where I have been taught emotional intimacy, daily phone call check-ins and saying 'I love you' at the end of conversations and in-person visits, I have learned in my three and half years of marriage that that doesn't happen in all families.  

Despite that, my first response to any 911 family crisis is -- How are you?  We're thinking of you.  We love you. Know that we're here for you.  Please let us know how we can support you. 

Because sometimes that's all we need to hear.  



Great Spirit, 
Thank you for Mom's safe re-entry stateside.  We pray for her peaceful re-entry into Life, your gift to her. Thank you, Great Spirit, for those poignant moments which remind me of Life's blessings of simple abundance.  Thank you for helping me to understand & accept that things are the way they are for a reason. Help me to learn prayerful patience.  Thank you for our families who share their love, support & compassion, especially in times of overwhelming heartache.  May our hearts & our families' hearts remain open to thoughts of Light & Love always.  Mahalo.


Falling stars

I watched people die tonight.  In a hospital.  At home.  I sat and wept. That's what sucks about watching TV. The drama on shows like Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.

I looked for Dad.  I remembered what it was like to watch Dad die at home.  His urn sits in our home until Mom returns. It felt good to cry.

I reconnected with the head nurse at Bayonne Hospice on fb.  She happened to also be my school nurse many years ago.  She reminded me, "You and your family did a wonderful job . . . a gift of love for your Dad.  I'm sure you feel relieved and satisfied that you could accomplish what you did . . . I am proud of you and grateful to be a part of it."  She's right.  What a gift of love it was to have Dad die at home.  Thank you, Barbara.  

"Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever."  ~ Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

Falling stars are beautiful, aren't they?


Re-entry stateside

I've been crying less, focusing on keeping busy, ASQ & finding work. I had a dental cleaning yesterday, and Doc asked me how Dad was doing.  I calmly . . . lost it, sharing that Dad passed away this past August.  
Mom returns from the Philippines this weekend.  I'm a bit anxious about her re-entry homeside.  Gone for the past two months, she's had company, family always around and somewhere to go on a daily basis. Upon re-entry, the freezing chill will be a rude awakening from the ongoing nightmare that Dad is no longer with us.  I worry that Mom's loneliness with resurface stateside.  I worry that my impatience will resurface much too often.  I worry that both Mom & I will still have so many loose ends to tie up regarding Dad's affairs. How often does it take to inform every single entity that Dad has died?  Sometimes I think it might be more helpful to have a card -- Amante B. Cabalda died August 30, 2008 -- that could be swiped universally, and all the necessary organizations would have it immediately marked in their records, and all would be done.  And I would never have to answer another question that required the answer, He died August 30, 2008.

Strange how the death of a loved one forces us to put life aside for a little bit.  Strange how we want to just disappear and hibernate for a long while.  But then there's re-entry . . . into Life.



the gray 
washes over me and over my doorstep
as i walk drunkenly into the snowfall
into the eve of a promising sunburst
graceful hope
showers me with life's tears 
heaving the gray away

A new blog in the family
p.s. Al's new blog may give you a tickle or two.  Check it out:  Fear, Faith & Fortune.

Love - All
This past weekend, Al & I were finally able to take two of the five couples tennis lessons he gave me for my birthday in August. Being my uncoordinated, unathletic, non-sports oriented self, I absolutely dreaded any possibility of any tennis instructor losing yelling at me.  After two lessons, my entire body ached, mostly my big ol' butt.  I'm reminded that I actually have muscles there!  I surprisingly enjoyed myself, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  Both instructor Crystalle (a French tennis pro) and Al, who already plays tennis, were so patient with me.  Al has been gracious enough in the past to entertain my limited tennis skills. Now that I have the fundamentals, maybe we'll be able to have close to a real game going once the weather warms up.  It feels good to be able to share in an activity that Al especially enjoys. Tennis anyone?    

Dad tried to teach me how to play tennis when I was 11.  I loved/hated getting up at 6am on the weekends to spend an hour hitting against the wall in Lincoln Park and then heading to the courts afterwards for another hour.  I was terrible.  But Dad was eager to teach me how to play.  I suppose I wanted to spend that time with Dad knowing that tennis was something he loved to do, so I could at least try to love it too.  At that time, Dad would constantly say to me, "If only you were a boy . . . you could be a great tennis player." But I wasn't a boy.  Hope Dad didn't mind too much.     


Sometimes my feet smell like . . . vinegar!

I spent yesterday afternoon with my old friend, Vinegar.  It had been a while since we'd reconnected.  

There's something cleansing about Vinegar.  I love using it to give the kitchen and bathrooms a good rubdown.  Maybe it's the way Vinegar smells -- pungent yet soothing.  Or maybe because Vinegar's colorless yet powerful.  As strong as Vinegar is, you'd think it would be carbonated.  But its strong silence without the bubbles somehow brings peace to the mundane task of housework.   

Oh, Vinegar!  So tasty with lumpia, crispy pata, any fried fish and bulaklak.  Oh, Vinegar!  Just the right portion will make or break homemade sinigang.

And when I was younger, my summer feet (because I detested wearing socks) sometimes wafted in an odiferous but unique combination of vinegar and popcorn.  I inhaled it for hours and loved it.  Mom didn't! 


For Dad by A.Torres

Guess Alex was inspired on this freezing, gray day . . . The best advice Dad ever gave us --

Please feel free to click on the link.  


The Red Road

I've been doing lots of reading on Native American spirituality lately, hoping it would bring me some peace. I've become more anxious about the fact that no jobs on any websites excite me at all, and after almost three and a half months, I'm not working full-time.  Still, I've also appreciated the time off. 

I've been hoping that reading more about The Red Road will bring me closer to harmony with my present as it is.  I've just got too much on my mind.  Still grieving, still trying to get on the baby bandwagon and/or get a 'forever' child (what with 7 women in my circles notifying us of their due dates in 2009), still trying to figure out if I can make the consulting gig work full-time, still researching everything -- jobs, adoption (& fb which is way too much time wasted).   

Every so often, I do experience a moment of clarity.  I'm where I'm supposed to be.  If it were any different at this moment, it wouldn't be my life.  The life I lead, the new life that will be gifted to us -- they're all miracles.  I can only control so much.

Part of journeying on The Red Road is being forced to seek guidance from the Great Spirit on my own and taking the time to sit and be okay with what the Spirits offer me at this moment in this life of mine.  So I need not be so overwhelmed.

I am an empty vessel through which the power of the Great Spirit can flow so long as I step out of the way, remain humble, and always walk with my heart.     


When we meet you

when we meet you
we will have received numerous birth announcements
and holiday cards
from family & friends who are excited to debut
(share!) their kids

when we meet you
we will have played too many times 
that pain-piercing game, 
'guess who's having a baby?'

when we meet you
we will have been thinking about you for a while . . . 
how you were born in the depths of our hearts 
before you were miraculously gifted to us

when we meet you
we will have waited 
what seemed such a long time
sometimes envious times, sometimes frustrating times,
mostly mindful times

when we meet you
we will have waited 
and lived from moment to moment --
and the most cherished present 
will be
when we meet you


One pelican

Back from GA, I woke up to a nightmare about a pelican, who tried to poke his way into our home.  The last time we saw a pelican was at Keyport, where my favorite summer 2008 memory of Dad is. What with the New Year finally coming around, I'd wanted to take a ride to Keyport & reflect on 2008.  And so we did . . . 

Having been distracted by Emi & Malachi in GA, I didn't have much opportunity to be sad which wasn't a bad thing.  I suppose little ones will do that for you.  Such blessings they are . . . 

As we walked along the promenade, I remembered Dad sitting on the pier in his blue canopy chair working on his sudoku.  Enjoying the summer bay breeze, he was so relaxed.  So content.  So simple.  And I remember his most important advice to Al & me, "Live a simple life."  

Maybe the pelican's poke was just letting me know . . . Dad's always in Keyport.


2009 . . . finally

That's Dad in the striped shirt & baseball cap . . . playing poker with his Knights of Columbus barkada this past July. 

Other than Christmas, I found myself distracted by the laughter and innocence of my cousin's kids -- five-year-old Malachi and two-and-a-half-year-old Emi . . . which is a good thing.  

2008 wasn't so great, and I'm thankful it's over . . . though the emotional ride of Dad not around is not quite over, and I'm pretty sure it never will be.  I felt like an orphan this past holiday.  Mom abroad in the Philippines, Dad gone.  On Christmas Day, I was harshly reminded that the tears & sadness are always there, and it's okay. And in other moments, I was reminded that family members continue to support us & keep us in their thoughts & prayers.  It was so heartwarming to feel that, especially from my mother-in-law & sister-in-law.

Highlights of the holiday season?  Experiencing Emi's entertaining facial expressions and participating in the 1st Annual McElroy Smokeout in Kennesaw, GA where chefs Al & Thom shared their smoking & grilling talents.  We feasted the entire time -- smoked & grilled vegetables, duck, chicken, ribs, dumplings . . . bailey's in my coffee every morning . . . and did I mention, I loved using the iron, non-stick stovetop griddle to make perfectly fried eggs for breakfast?  We definitely indulged, and it all tasted great!  And every so often, we'd remember something Dad used to eat too.

Happy New Year, Dad.  We remember you every day.