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

Dear Nanay

img_8797I have a vivid memory of you with plastic pink rollers on your hair while getting ready for bed. My sisters and I were still giggling from the other room, so you stepped out and told us to go to bed before the night monster comes knocking on our door. We rushed to our beds and put the blanket over our heads. I peaked and watched you slowly walk in to your room with a slight smirk on your face…

Thank you for telling us stories about our dad and all sorts of mischief he got himself into growing up. Thank you for taking care of us when we were sick. Thank you for reminding us to do our best while we were still in school. Thank you for sending us birthday cards for as long as you could. Thank you for having patience with us even when we avoided your calls as teenagers. And thank you for being our grandma.

I wanted to dedicate a brief post to my grandma. She passed away peacefully in her sleep a little over a week ago. The past few days I couldn’t help but feel grateful that I had the opportunity to fly back to the Philippines and visit her. We hadn’t seen each other in 13 years! Though her face hadn’t changed much, she didn’t have the same energy as she used to. It was tough but I cherish the conversations we had.

Before we immigrated to Canada, my sisters and I grew up road tripping to our grandparent’s house for the summer or during Holy Week. My grandma always had short hair, no longer than her chin. She had the OG bob haircut before it was thing! And she always had these pink rollers that she used at night to put a slight curl on her bangs. So for today’s beauty post, I did a quick collage of vintage hairstyle inspirations.

She showed me a photo of her when she was a young woman. She still had the same smile and a similar vintage hairstyle Julianne Hough has (but less glamourous of course), wearing her white uniform shirt. I was around 7-8 years old when she showed me those photos, kept in a box underneath her bed. Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure whether those photos are still around, but I hope they are. When I go back for another visit, I’ll look for them. Until then, I know she’s always with me, living within those birthday cards and short nuggets of wisdom.

This is my letter to you.’Til we meet again.

Always,

K

 

 

Dear Lexi

IMG_5387.jpgThis is my open letter to you on your first birthday.

I’m not sorry to tell you that I will not be the auntie that spoils silly. I will, however, teach you how to earn what you have and what it means to be happy even when you don’t have everything you want right now.

I won’t be the auntie who coddles you when you first fall off your bike either. I will, however, teach you how to get back up on that bike and ride it even if you’ve fallen many many times before.

I won’t let you get away when you get in trouble. I will, however, tell you that sometimes it’s okay to break the rules and live in the moment because we may not have another moment like this again.

I won’t tell you that you’re enough. I will, however, show you that you are more than enough and no one in the world can take that away from you.

I won’t be the one who tells you to dwell within your comfort zone. I will instead encourage you to see what the world has to offer and experience a rich and meaningful life.

I won’t turn you away when you get your heartbroken for the very first time. I will instead teach you that all the love you’ve given to someone else does not compare to the love you can infinitely make and give. 

I won’t be watching you from the sidelines because I will always be there with you somehow, physically or otherwise.

I could add more to the list but let’s just take it one day at a time, shall we? 🙂

Someone once told me that you were going to change my life. And girl, you have! It has been an adventure watching you crawl all around the house; dancing with you as soon as the Tinga Tinga Tales theme song comes on and hiding items around the house because you just want to put everything in your mouth. You gave me a glimpse of the kind of parent I want to be…the kind of mother I hope to be.

Thank you for the cuddles and letting me kiss your chubby chubby cheeks (before waving me away anyway haha!) You probably won’t remember your first birthday, but that’s okay. We will have more birthdays to share. I hope you have an amazing day filled with laughter and love.

Happy birthday squishy face Lexi! I can’t wait to watch you grow every passing year.

Always,

K

P.S. It’s okay, we won’t tell your other auntie that I’m your favourite 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Posey & Chick

IMG_2778.JPGI recently read a beautifully written book by Mitch Albom called, For One More Day. It tells a story of Chick Benetto recalling a surreal experience he had after attempting to commit suicide. He supposedly saw his deceased mother, spent the day with her and learned more about her; not just as his mother but as Posey. Whether it really happened or not doesn’t matter. It made me feel something-love. This letter is dedicated to Posey and Chick. Thank you.

Posey, you reminded me of my mother. Working from dusk to dawn in a nursing home for close to 10 years while having a second job, I never quite understood how her tiny figure could bear so much? Mortgage payments and muscle aches were more than what she carried. Nonetheless, it was her fighting spirit that prevailed.

She’s the reason I’m here. I may not have liked it when she nagged me to do my chores as a little girl or her absence during school dance recitals. Despite of it all, my thirst to become better each and every day comes from her. Tales of courage and risk told across our dinner table as she reminisced her younger years gave me a glimpse of the woman before she became my mother; the woman that she has been lately missing.

Chick, I would be lying if I said that I was never like you. I was, and I’m still working on it. It’s a process, isn’t it? Perhaps, we’re not alike in the literal sense, but we both have been oblivious to the kind of love that has been repeatedly shown to us. The kind of love that we have taken for granted so easily. Why is that? Why is it so easy to take it for granted? How can we stop?

Reading your story made me see that I don’t want to yearn for one more day. Today is as good as any day to uplift the woman who has held me up for 23 years. It’s my turn, don’t you think?

Thank you, Chick & Posey for letting me feel the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child.

Always,

K

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers and grandmothers out there! Please know we love you and hope to make you proud 🙂