Dear Tatay

I woke up this morning with the sun shining as bright as can be and the skies blue and cloudless. The sound of my clock just outside my bedroom continued to tick-tock away, oblivious to the one hour we get back from the start of daylight savings. Full eight hours of sleep AND I get an hour back, PLUS a quiet Sunday with no plans but to nap, snack/eat and go for a walk. I live for Sundays like today. Yet throughout the morning, my body felt glum. Sadness crept in and before I knew it, tears started to roll down my cheeks. I kept asking myself, “Why are you crying? What do you feel sad about?” And it took me most of the morning to realize… It has been exactly a month today since you passed. They said that the body keeps score, I guess they were right.

I’ve felt at peace over the past few weeks knowing that you’re at peace now. It was really hard at first, and I kept remembering your smiling face. Most, if not all of my memories of you are you smiling one way or another. But for some reason, the prevailing memory that I kept remembering was of you and me riding the tricycle to the beach and you specifically telling me not to put my hand on the bike tires. My curious little self was adamant about wanting to know why and what that sensation might feel like. Well, it hurt like how rotating rubber on the skin would and I found out why. You were annoyed, but not upset. You didn’t yell at me or get mad. I don’t remember much about that day after that, aside from going to the beach anyway. 

You’re with Nanay now, but don’t tell her that you were my favourite. You made me laugh; danced with me; taught me how to play solitaire (after I insisted on watching you); how to fish (I assume to keep me quiet); negotiated with me when I didn’t want to share my favourite Ligo sardines; took care of me when I was sick and watched me slowly grow. With the same small almond-shaped eyes and tan skin, you helped me feel like I belonged. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for the lightness and calm you brought to my heart. Thank you for encouraging me to do my best and always being proud of whatever outcome. Thank you for giving me the privilege to be your granddaughter. 

Some days I miss you more than others. And I wish you could meet the family I hope to have someday, the friends I have and be a part of the life I continue to be in. Then I remember that you are here, perhaps not physically but you are. In the birthday letters I’ve kept, in the impromptu at-home dance parties to Mambo No.5 while cleaning, and the bellowing laughs when something is really funny.

Or when someone tells me, “Pull my finger.” 

Always, 

K

Re: Like a force to be reckoned with

I stumbled upon a musician on Spotify while looking for a podcast about the different Enneagram types. Ryan O’Neal under the name Sleeping At Last produced an album celebrating all nine types of the Enneagram, telling stories of redemption through beautifully crafted music. 

If you haven’t heard of the Enneagram, the Enneagram is a model of understanding our diverse human personality types and psyche. Not necessarily a means for categorizing people in our lives or beyond, but a way for us to have more empathy and compassion with each other as we experience the world together. There are nine types numbered between one to nine, and three intelligent centres (body, mind and heart). By all means, I am no expert so please do take the time to research more about it. That said, after taking the test and reading more about the Enneagram I find myself identifying with the type two or type two wing three if you want to get specific. 

Listening to Ryan’s podcast about the songs he created for the nine enneagram types undeniably pulled on my heartstrings – hard. The intentionality with every instrument, every lyric, melody, tempo and so on. It inspired me more than enough to write this blogpost and share his podcast episodes amongst my friends. Most of all, his songs made me feel seen in a big way during a time of trying to combat my own fears and anxieties. The ebbs and flows of how I’ve reflected on my identity as a human being is evolving over the years. I am so grateful for incredible artists like Ryan who are able to convey stories of our humanity with all its parts. Our victories, brokenness, transitions and redemption. 

Admittedly I’m still reflecting on the lyrics Ryan used for the three songs I’ve connected with the most – Two, Three and Eight. The lyrics for the song Two hits home and so that’s how I’ll be signing off for this post. Below is a link to Ryan’s video of the song Two and right below that are the lyrics written out.

*All rights reserved to Sleeping At Last

Two

Sweetheart, you look a little tired
When did you last eat?
Come in and make yourself right at home
Stay as long as you need
Tell me, is something wrong?
If something’s wrong, you can count on me
You know I’ll take my heart clean apart if it helps yours beat

It’s okay if you can’t find the words
Let me take your coat
And this weight off of your shoulders

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
I will love you with every single thing I have
Like a tidal wave, I’ll make a mess
Or calm waters, if that serves you best
I will love you without any strings attached

It’s okay if you can’t catch your breath
You can take the oxygen straight out of my own chest

I know exactly how the rule goes
Put my mask on first
No, I don’t want to talk about myself
Tell me where it hurts
I just want to build you up, build you up
‘Til you’re good as new
And maybe one day I will get around to fixing myself too

I don’t even know where to start
Already tired of trying to recall when it all fell apart
I just want to love you, to love you, to love you well
I just want to learn how, somehow, to be loved myself

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
I will love you without any strings attached
And what a privilege it is to love
A great honor to hold you up

Like a force to be reckoned with
A mighty ocean or a gentle kiss

I will love you with every single thing I have
Like a tidal wave, I’ll make a mess
Or calm waters if that serves you best
I will love you without any strings attached
I will love you without a single string attached

Always, 

K

P.S. Water has many amazing properties and complex characteristics. It has the strength to tear down buildings, wear down organic and inorganic materials yet it’s equally a fuel for things to come alive and for animals to have a home. Assertive, playful, calming, transformative and sweet.

Re: Growth charts

Months ago I wrote about how plants are like people and the impact our environments have in our growth. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t follow up with the diversity in the ways in which plants grow, the varying ways we grow.

I’ve been joyfully growing different plants since that post in October. More recently experimenting growing red bell pepper seeds and an avocado seed from food scraps. Sustainability is something that I value, but we’ll dig into that later (yes, pun intended!) After a few weeks of nurturing my bell pepper seeds, I started to notice how fast certain seedlings were growing, while others held a much slower pace. And so, even if they came from the same bell pepper their growth charts were not equivalent, the ways they developed roots were not equivalent and the direction that they were growing were not equivalent. My avocado seed actually took more than 100 days to start a stem, and the root is much thicker in comparison to the roots found on a bell pepper seedling. I watered all of these plants the same way everyday, yet their outcomes are not totally the same. Why? I’m not going to pretend to know why because I don’t. Although, not knowing does not limit how much I can and want to take care of these plants. The uncertainty of their growth charts don’t dictate the love I want to shower them with and the joy I receive seeing them flourish at their own pace and at their own time. So why is it so hard for us to translate the same level of compassion with fellow human beings? One word: expectations. 

As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is… 

Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pg. 35-36

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together shares a powerful message about what it means to live in community as Christians during a time of hatred and great division, a hopeful byproduct of experiencing Nazi Germany. Who would have thought there was such a thing? Nonetheless, I was humbly reminded by Bonhoeffer’s book while tending to my seedlings and feeling the frustrations of navigating through difficult relationship dynamics. To put it simply, I was reminded to meet people as they are as God meets me as I am, wherever they may be in their life journey. And yes, I recognize that this is easier said than done. But if I can’t make room to see humanity being reflected in front of me, how could I carry the same level of compassion I’m willing to pour over my plants? How could I connect with people meaningfully? How could I love people truly? We learn and grow in so many ways, because we are beautifully diverse in nature. 

Always,

K

P.S. Be brave, curious and kind. 

From the one who got away

You’ll see me live a joyful life without you. See me smile and hear me laugh. 

You’ll see the radiant woman that I’ve become at the most unexpected time. 

You’ll wonder why things didn’t work out. 

Was it really about you or was it because of me? 

Maybe it’s both? 

You’ll wish you could have treated me better yet continue with the same patterns. 

You’ll wish you could talk to me the way you used to. The way I understood you – accepted all of you.

You’ll wish you made different choices because you didn’t think that I’ll actually leave. 

What you didn’t realize is that committing to you was always a choice,

Not a necessity. 

Looking back now, would you rather have regrets or loss?

Would you rather have a home or a house? 

Would you rather fight than hear silence? 

Would you rather feel afraid or empty? 

Would you rather tell the ugly truth or transfixed in a beautiful lie?

Most of all, would you rather love than pretend? 

At the end of the day, you’ll see me as the one who got away. And sure, there might be moments when I would wonder what could have been… before it becomes a faded memory. Remembered, but not part of the reality. 

Always, 

K

P.S. “You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them. You can miss a person everyday and still be glad that they’re no longer in your life…

I think we do love a real disservice when we make it about control and power and changing people. That’s not what it is. You love people, you give them that for free. And you decide if that’s something that you want to have in your life. The alternative is to say, ‘Well, I’m going to change them and then I’ll have them in my life’. And that’s not love. That’s not what love is and that’s not what it does, and that’s not the power it has.” 

– Tara Westover

P.P.S. Because of some circumstances and choices, you may read this from the lens of “the one who got away” or “the one someone got away from”. Now, it doesn’t really matter which camp you’re in. What matters is you are continuing to live. God has a funny way of sorting things out. As my 23-year old self once said, “Forgive always, love and laugh endlessly and be bold with your endeavours.”