Thursday, January 25, 2018
I was sitting with a bag of chips while chatting with my high school classmates about our coming class reunion. The topic about a retro evening dance party was brought up. There were several suggestions of what attire to wear, and suddenly it dawned on me that there is no way I can lose 50 lbs in time, so I tackle another bag of chips before it get stale.
In my hometown of Sagay, Negros Occidental, the annual combined class reunion includes graduates from the past 60 years. All ages come together to reminisce, and perhaps moan about the loss of open spaces from our old school - no more agricultural lots, the grandstand had shrink in size, and gone is the botanical garden. The new students will never know how much fun we have had! Oh well, that's how we old timers love to pontificate the pending doom of our present society. Everything in the past is always referred to as the "good ol' days".
Reading through the chat in our class messenger page brought me back to high school. We laughed while sharing stories and photos of our youth. Every one seem not to want to miss the excitement and renewed camaraderie that had resulted from planning and organizing the reunion. I guess the shared experience in high school bound us forever, even now, half a lifetime later. Each one is excited to know how everyone had moved ahead in life, and how they looked after almost 40 years. I certainly do not look the same, and neither do my old friends. I am curious who among my classmates lost hair and gained bellies - which most probably about 95% of our class, who will pull out reading glasses to show pictures of their grand children and who had died, which is a stark reminder that we are not invincible.
Of course, I don't expect that we would be dancing until dawn, because it is not just easy to party heartily when our joints talk back. But there will be plenty of rooms for laughter, real hugs of joy for and from each other. Right now the internet connection is already satisfying, so imagine the riot we will have seeing each other in person.
So come everyone. Consider a nostalgic visit back to a time and place that formed an important part of our life. For three days, we could look past the thinning hair, extra pounds and obvious years of wear and tear and realize the true gift of those memories. We don’t get to choose our families nor do we pick our classmates, but we are linked forever, just the same.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Today I offer a prayer to my favorite veteran- my late husband Kenneth.
I honor him and his service to this country even when I had watched him lived his life day-to-day, wracked with pain from the illness that he suffered after serving in the Army in Vietnam. He was only 20 when he enlisted in the military, just a kid really, but returned a man aged by the experience which never left him till he died.
What ever everyone may think of the war — it may have been the wrong war and the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons — but he and many other Americans who went there, went there for the right reason. They went there because they loved their country, and their county had asked them to go.
Here's a salute to you, Ken!
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Today I visited a blog of a reader who was going through the same stuff as I am - only her husband is still alive but left her for another woman. She had moved on and is happy with her new found love.
After reading it, I was also encouraged to talk about my own romantic predicament in the hope that maybe it will inspire other widow like me.
YES, I have found another love, while still loving my late husband. So how can these two lovers reside together in my heart? Is loving again worth the effort of having to adjust to another person? And is widowhood the proper time to fall in love again?
My ongoing relationship and bond to Ken and his family is a central aspect in my life. I don't want to lose them. Now, I have to cope not merely with the new situation of loving two men at the same time, but also with the shift in the way I have loved Ken. I am torn between a physical companion who provides active support and love to one who is no longer alive and cannot be active in my life.
I will always love and miss my Ken. It's really hard to understand sometimes how I can go from tears for him into smiling and thinking of my new guy. There's an odd divide. I love both of them, one here and one gone. It seems that we are blessed with a heart that is very flexible and can accommodate various people at the same time.
However, this new love is different.
I knew things would be different because he is not Ken. But I didn't know that love would feel different.
And so as we became more serious and had deeper feelings for one another, I started to worry. A lot.
I questioned myself and my feelings because this did not feel the same. I wasn't experiencing the feelings that I had 3 years ago. I wasn't feeling that I was falling more in love with him each day. I wasn't feeling that my heart would burst from how much love I had for him. I didn't wake up each morning almost counting the hours until we talk online. So I wondered if I truly loved him.
I stressed a lot over this, not wanting to give up on the relationship, but wondering if I was being fair to him if this truly wasn't love. It's hard to express how much pain I was in. He loved me a lot, but although I was not sure that it was love for me, I am not willing to stop seeing him. I thought I was being selfish. Or worse... maybe I was settling.
And then I began to realize that the way I was loving this second time was "normal". And that I had to let go of my expectations. How could this love feel the same as my love for my dead husband? I was a stranger in town when I met Ken and he made me feel comfortable. We did not worry about money. He was retired. We had time. We had freedom. We had only each other. And we had a long future ahead of us, or so I thought. Four years later, I have a dead husband. I have to make practical decisions on my own. I have a scarred heart. I felt alone.
Love after love will not feel the same. But that doesn't mean that it's not love.
Monday, May 25, 2015
I sit here and ponder how very much
I'd like to talk with you today,
There are so many things
That we didn't get to say.
I know how much you care for me
And how much I care for you,
And each time I think of you
I know you miss me too.
You had so much to live for
So many things to do,
It still seems impossible
That God had taken you.
And though you've walked through heaven's gate
We are never far apart,
For every time I think of you
You are right here within my heart.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Lately, I was bombarded with questions if I am indeed leaving Wells and moving to another states. But I think, people are more curious if I am simply moving to a different location or moving in with another man. That's the disadvantage of living in a small town, you become a fodder of idle talk as everyone seems to want to know everyone else's business.
But you see, my life has always been an open book - that's why I blog about it.
So today, I decided to answer everyone's question although this is a process and the outcome is not certain yet.
So here goes nothing...
I guess, as a widow, I was anything but.
On hindsight, I admit that by continue on wearing my wedding ring and discussing Ken to suitors (yes, there were some), may have signaled that I wasn't ready to move on. It is because I felt torn between feeling very attached to his memory and taking tentative steps toward a future without Ken.
Not long ago, I met a man with whom I instantly hit it off. We talked for hours online telling stories about our childhood and swapping anecdotes about our lives. He knew I've lost my husband. I felt comfortable discussing it with him. I felt none of the pressure that goes along with courtship. And his kind, nonjudgmental demeanor made it easy for me to open up. Instead of pity, he responded with empathy. He wanted to learn more. He understood how essential it was that I talk about it. He acknowledged that widowhood was central to my story, and he take interest in it.
He invited me to visit Florida. We went to Disney with my friend in tow and we had a good time. Our first personal meeting ended platonically, but it reminded me that I still had the capacity to connect with a man. In a small but significant way, something shifted for me when I returned home. It felt good and restorative just to feel giddy over someone again. It was a small step towards truly moving forward.
Of course, I'll carry the experience of widowhood forever. But the burden does get lighter. And where once the possibility of ever having a relationship again was unthinkable, I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel tragic, or anomalous.
I feel ready. Almost.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Anniversaries are suppose to be a happy celebration. Tomorrow's date however, takes on a whole new meaning for me as it commemorates the day Ken died. One year ago.
That is why it is so significant to me. Not because it is the first anniversary of his death – everyday is a day without him – but because I was racing ahead of myself to reach this point. As though by ticking off the so-called major milestones it would be time to start over.
This whole month actually has been very stressful for me as it is filled with many anniversaries. We were married this month too! So just imagine how days leading up to these dates had knocked me for a loop. I would liken it to the two weeks before my menstrual period. My emotions were always on high alert. I cry easily and laugh the next. I think it is more the anticipation of “the day”. It is about reliving those last moments, especially since the death was unexpected. I thought about how I might have lived those last couple of weeks/months differently. Those time period burdened with regrets and lots of what-ifs.
I know that this first year anniversary will hold the most importance to me. It is a marker of all that I have accomplished by myself. I have managed to cope with all the seasons of the year and the hard days they have brought. I have made independent decisions. I have supported myself financially and emotionally. I have grown more than I can imagine. There is no doubt I have come along way in a year. I’m back at work, I can hold conversations that are not about my loss and, perhaps most importantly, I have had moments of pleasure, which I would never have thought possible a year ago. But I am not ‘over it’. My husband’s death still takes my breath away time and time again. It still stabs me in the heart when I least expect it. Sometimes it takes all my effort and composure to walk into our home. Sometimes I still cannot believe he was even gone.
But, I also believe that my grief will not magically dissipate after the first anniversary. No! I don't think that in one year, or two or five, I will not miss Ken or feel the pain of his absence. Grief will never totally dissolved. I don’t expect to wake up one morning and feel like I did before my loss. That is not possible, for I am changed forever (but not necessarily in a bad way). What time did is give me more perspective. I have found that time did dissolve the actual physical hurt that I felt inside. It gave me the option of deciding when I will feel my grief and when I can compartmentalize it - that is, put it away for a while and deal with the present.
Tomorrow, I will visit his grave. I want to look back and think that, despite our loss, Ken and I did alright. We had fun. And we rocked.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Let me make this clear. I love the Philippines - it's just not an easy place to live. Too many petty crimes, cracked sidewalks, garbage everywhere, pesky insects in all shapes and sizes.
Coming here was very exciting for me, although my decision to stay was a bit frightening. I wasn’t automatically eligible for jobs since I didn’t have a work visa, and I knew I would be somewhat dependent on my mom. Fortunately, there were jobs one can do under the table. I baby sat and cleaned houses until I met my husband Ken.
I finally felt safe.
Although Ken was my immigration sponsor, it took a long time to become a citizen: one year to get my green card, then another year for permanent residency and another before I could apply for naturalization. The government doesn’t make the process easy, but it has been worth the wait. Life in the United States has been good to me.
I was fingerprinted, passed citizenship tests last January that challenged my knowledge of the Constitution and was finally called to take the oath today, February 17, a day after the President’s day. This just added one more reason how special this month is for me.
I became an American today at exactly... oops, I don't have a watch. Darn it!
Anyway, my favorite part of the ceremony was when the judge read off the names of all the different countries the attendees represented. She asked us to stand up when our country was called. I wish my son Cedric could have taken a video of that moment. It was truly awe-inspiring. I looked around the room at everyone’s smiling faces. Some were teary-eyed. The feeling of affinity I felt was overpowering. We knew this was a tremendous occasion. Overall, 99 people from over 45 countries became citizens today.
Now it’s official. I can vote and I have a voice in our political system. I can leave the U.S. without being afraid I won’t be able to return. I can worship who or what I want without repercussions. I can speak out against the government, if need be(are you reading this, Patrick?). I can continue to dream big and I’m presented with many more opportunities to make them a reality. I feel safe knowing I live in the wealthiest Country in the world.
My naturalization ceremony was a testament to the American spirit. I looked around me and realized that this wasn't just about the journeys all these people have made. It was about the potential of all that we could achieve in this new nation. I wonder what they were thinking as they, too, became U.S. citizens. Do they have the same emotions I have? Was their joy tinged with the melancholy of giving up a homeland?
My eyes welled as I began the oath. I knew that swearing allegiance to the red, white and blue gave me new nationality. But nothing can ever take away my identity as many other people living in America who were born in other countries must have known.
My Filipino roots run deep, and I will strive to carry with me every day the very best of two lands.
And that's precisely what make this nation great.