Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Adulthood Taught Me Magic Does Not Exist

When I was a kid, I was a great believer of magic. I believed too much that if you tell me things would vanish in thin air, I would be quivering in fear. I looked up to everything around me as MAGIC.

Until third grade, I would cross the bridge going to the house of my grandparents crawling. I was dreading the time that "magic" would appear and swallow my whole body. The bridge was not really so high. But then, when you were young, you think that everybody's too tall or everything's too deep.

I have no map that would steer me all the way. No "magic" to help my voyage easier. Nobody to point which path is right, but I won't put myself in a bitter strife, my journey continues...against all odds.

Magic also made my childhood easier. I fought my adversaries thinking that magic would do the fighting for me. I would imagine that because of magic, my opponents would go home inflicted with misery and I need not to commit sin by fighting them back.

Getting sick was also easier. My mind was already conditioned that "magic" would do the healing and I would not suffer for long. Family problems? Oh, I have given them up to "magic" for fixing, it made my life easier.

The lush meadows, the splendid blue skies, the marvel of the butterfly coming out from its cocoon, the multihued rainbow...they made my tiny heart ached for more wonders of the world. "Magic" imprinted in my soul the anticipation of my future where "bigger magic" dwells.

Many years later, my conviction was slowly tainted as I sailed through hard life. I was not really sure how it happened but I just woke up one day devoid of the "magic" feeling.

I guess that's the hardest part of growing up. All the innocence slowly ebbed away as tribulations hit me over and over again.

Life's hindrances shred me with the fervor to trust "magic". I no longer crossed the bridge with trepidation or look at an illness as ephemeral. Problems cast dark clouds making me gloomy the whole day. Foes created permanent hole in my heart.

Things around me suddenly lacked wonder and they were just simply part of everyday living. It was not what I envisioned it to be where splendor of magic was abundant.

Life is simply a puzzle I work out each day. Sad as it may be, there is no such thing as "magic".

Each day I face is simply a stepping stone of a continuous learning process. There is naught to fear in the journey ahead but deep down in my heart, a part continuously hope that I just remained a child forever.

However, returning could be done by memory alone. I could only track the road only once. If I see the end of path ahead, it doesn't mean that I could stop. It was just there to help me rest for a while. There is no "magic" that would help me to detour.

I have no map that would steer me all the way. No "magic" to help my voyage easier. Nobody to point which path is right, but I would not put myself in a bitter strife, my journey continues...against all odds.

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Fighting a Dismal Heart

The house is filled with deafening sound. My head is throbbing with the long hours in front of computer editing and encoding for the book I'm currently writing. More so to bury myself in the world of nothingness while doing something worthwhile.

Just a few hours ago, I've been out to do some stuffs. It was a nice feeling to walk in colorful streets adorned with Christmas ornaments. My heart swell with Christmas spirit.

Christmas has that distinctive effect that makes your heart overflow with longing to things you have no power to control. It evokes wistful feeling that usually put you at the end feeling dismal.

Inside the prison of myself, I see a different me. Maybe it was the turbulent of emotions that flooded over my soul, but for whatever reason, I feel like I need respite again from this tumultuous stage.

Have I lost then, the ability to enjoy the nostalgia and homeliness of traditional Christmas?

I don't know. I could count again and again my blessings. I could make a long list of people who love me. But, there is that void in the quiet corner of my heart which a simple "Merry Christmas" can't mend.

My hope did not falter, don't get me wrong. But, sometimes life necessitate candor in order to unravel the seam of optimism and misfortune.

The tearful grimace of my dismal heart perseveres its slow pace. However, there is that bigger part where faith and gratitude reside.

In His right time, I could overpower this thing where I'll emerge victor. 

Monday, November 26, 2007

Life, Death, and Entangled Emotions

I was so disheartened by the message about the death of a friend's mom. I could almost taste again the stab of pain when almost six years ago, I also lost my father.

Death is a hideous enemy. Nothing could fill the void in one's heart brought by the death of loved ones. Years after still feels like yesterday. More so when you knew that he/she suffered excruciating pain brought by illness like cancer.

The paradoxical complexities of life are hard to grasp at times. Conversely, it was barely six months ago when I too, was also diagnosed with the Big C. I vividly remember that moment when in desperation I just crossed my hands and wallowed in self-pity.

I was bereft with emotions especially when asked, "What else I haven't done yet?", then I found myself amidst churning emotions and then...nothing...just emptiness knowing that I have served my purpose already.

Consequently, some welcome death as relief from agony. The gust of wind that touched one's face was sort of an assertion that somewhere out there our loved ones continue to live in a different realm...

Death is neither a grief nor a celebration. Life begins in pain and accordingly it must also end the same way.

However, life's pain is evanescent. Each of us must have that moment where everything will be left behind. It's like a dance where at the final moment we knew the steps by heart lest we will be trounced by woe.

Then, we let ourselves be engulfed by the melody of music...

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Answered Prayer

My sister woke me up from a deep slumber early today because of a phone call. It was a taxing thing to do every morning since the medicines I'm taking make me feel very sleepy. Usually, I would wake up 10 or 11 or else I would feel drowsy the whole day.

However, I opted to fight back sleepiness and answered the call. It's really nothing so I decided to go back dreaming. But the sleep became elusive so I sat down in front of the computer and check email.

Voila! The biggest surprise of the day!

Finally, I received an email answering my inquiry from the assistant director of writing center in one university in New York granting me permission to refer to their website for the book I am currently writing.

It was a humbling moment knowing there are people who are willing to help other people start their dream.

At the same time, that ember of tiny hope in my heart was ignited again into a giant flame of optimistic thinking.

Whilst some of my thoughts are not always happy moments, just the same they are thoughts that make me more appreciative of things like this.

Lit My Heart

The wind was howling as I woke up this morning. However, the bad weather did not dampen the sense of elation in my heart.

It's another day of taking medicines, feeling pang of pain and yet my heart is filled with apparent hope. Could it be because I've finished five pages yesterday for my book? Perhaps the playful bantering of words with my niece? Maybe it's the email full of encouragement from a friend?

For whatever reason, I woke up differently from the previous days. The tapestry of miseries has finally ended. For once, I could feel my heart has been lit up.

Life comprises trials and tribulations. What is important is we continue to live with hope in our heart.

See the stars at night? They will continue to light the tiny hope within me whenever I feel that the world is about to crumble. Life doesn't always have melancholic ending.

Footsteps stealthy on the stair,

Sweet-voiced carols in the air,

Stocking hanging in a row,

My heart believes there's a happy Christmas after all. 

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Solitary Trek

It is so natural to declare to the whole world that you love God with all your heart whenever life is going on as planned. But, whenever life beseeched you with uncertainties and you are in constant pain, your faith is being taken into another level.

It's barely three days after I was out of the O.R but it seemed like just an hour ago when I was in agony again.

It was terrible going through the same process of being subjected to constant examination and pain.

Friends and family were there to surround me with love and prayers but the truth remains, I need to take this trudge of misery alone.

The faith resides in my heart but it is the will to see this through that's slowly unwavering.

I continuously seek for my sanctuary where I'll find peace within. Meanwhile, the solitary trek endures...

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Different Kind of Christmas

The lights around the Christmas tree don't burn as bright

And it seemed I won't have a silent night.

Outside I hear the voices sing the sweetest sounds of caroling.

But, somehow there's a sadness in the song.

In my heart, I know that something's wrong.

It is a bit hard to get up from the bed this morning. I don't know but my heart is heavy. This has been one overwhelming year.

I'm momentarily at a loss on how to deal with this stage of my life. Undeniably, there's an emptiness within.

Six months! That was how long I was braving the odds after my major operation.

My siblings are burdened with the obligations of supporting my needs and that's what makes it doubly terrible. Physical pain is bearable but the knowledge that you are in some way a burden makes it more difficult.

I shouldn't feel this way, I know. Nobody's complaining. But there's something in Christmas spirit that purged me of emotions.

Will I see the light before Christmas? Will I feel again the melody of the Christmas carols?

The buried part of my heart remain positive. I'll see this through until the end. I won't venture again in negative thoughts.

It's a different kind of Christmas 
in a different kind of world.

Even though it looks the same. 

Everything has changed. 

It's a different kind of Christmas.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

God, listen to my plea...

God, our Father, speak through me
so all lost souls can plainly see

not my will, but, God I seek

Your words are strong 

where mine is weak.

When evil thoughts blocked my way
and giving up seems the only option,
to you God, I seek the wisdom of strength.

God edify my heart to love,

so those that hate can climb above

I know that love it is the key

So this I pray,

show love through me.

So, I say thy will be done. For whatever purpose you brought me here, my willing soul will wait till you summon me.

Holy Spirit, make me wise

feed me knowledge my heart it cries

To understand what I don't know

Please make me wise, so I may grow.

The gift of knowledge you bestowed upon me will be my anchor as I sail life.

Holy Spirit, help me trust

to lean on you, in times I must

my faith will grow each time I do

Please build my trust, my trust in you.

The spellbinding moment where I find myself at the middle of the raging sea and yet my heart is packed with complete abandonment is indeed our greatest time together.

God listen to my plea

fill me up this very day

to have the power with you to be strong

to make things right where they are wrong.

Life has a promise beyond what we could think of. Yet, for some reasons there are times that we are embraced with longing to quit what we have started.

No matter how great or small we feel, we have a giant GOD out there. Inspiring us...pulling us...pushing us...to discover the enchantment of the gift we call, LIFE.

God...thanks for listening. 

Success, Failure, Loneliness, Faith

As the pages of my life ran out, I will remember with tinge of nostalgic feelings the times that:

I first remember dreaming of God. At the age of six when I woke up with so much joy in my heart. The image of Jesus I dreamed about was far from the one I always saw before in our altar. He wasn't the one hanged on the cross with a suffering face. In my dream, I remember vividly dancing and singing with Him while we keep on swirling and our shriek of laughter filled the air.

I felt that I was terribly alone. August 2006, days before the grand launching of my first ever big project-the Diamond Jubilee coffee table magazine, felt like I was at the bottom of a dark pit. Everything was turning wrong and I had nobody to turn to.

My first failure. I was in grade five when I was chosen for the second time to compete in the Listening and Speaking Contest. I didn't have the vaguest idea it could be my first failure. All the other contestants who represented the school won different places except me.

My first success. I was in grade two when I experienced to be chosen as first honor of the class. It was a bitter- sweet success because the whole school year I was suffering from the hands of a very strict teacher and everything was going wrong at home. I guess, hard work pays off after all. 

What a Christmas Feeling

Days before Christmas seem to last in the whole world. We cherish each moment we spend with our love ones under the shimmering tinsel. We could almost taste the excitement the season brings.

The buttery smell of cookies, the shining garlands, Christmas trees, and the familiar voice of Santa Claus...they all add meaning to the most joyous celebration of the year.

As I think back of my childhood, I remember with nostalgic feeling all the years I spent Christmas with my father. He wasn't a showy person but in his own way he showed what Christmas is all about. I could never forget that 12:00 a.m. signals the time he would arrived home from the church. The unforgettable sotanghon, his shriek of laughter with our silly jokes...I truly miss them all.

Unfortunately, there would never be another Christmas with him. He was taken from us at the time everybody's frantic with anticipation of the happiest day of the year. Maybe I would never find the answer why but in His own time...I will. -->

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Good-bye Letter for My Father in Heaven

We may not shower him with praise 
Nor mention his name in song, 
And sometimes it seems that we forget 
The joy he spreads as he goes along, 
But it doesn’t mean that we don’t know 
The wonderful role that he has had. 
And way down deep in every heart 
There’s a place that is just for Dad... 

It seemed strange that after quite some time it was only again last night that I dreamt of papa. Perhaps, it was his own way of making me feel his presence in this ‘unstable’ chapter of my life. That dream brought a kaleidoscope of bitter-sweet memories as I recall with nostalgic feelings the years I spent with him.

Almost six years ago when Papa was suddenly taken out from the family. I guess, it was also the first real pain I experienced in my whole life.

It was right after my sister's wedding that papa was first brought in the hospital. All through the ceremonies, he was in pain and could hardly breathe. Nonetheless, he forced himself to be present in the most special day of my sister, Baby. He contented himself watching my sister marched since he could barely walk to accompany her.

The morning after the wedding, I was on my way to work when I received the call that papa would have a surgery. When I entered his room, different tubes were attached to him. The once was strong man was gone.

While he was in the hospital, it became my habit to drop by before going to school. Things changed when he was finally able to go home. I got so busy with the work that visiting became less frequent. For several months, he was in and out of the hospital.

I never thought that the birthday celebration of mama and my niece, Shayne, would be also be the last time I would see him. It was a pain looking at his thin body. However, before I left to go back to Naga where I worked, I entered his room and bid farewell. That was December 5.

A week before his death, I received a call from mama that they asked for another doctor's opinion and it was finally confirmed that papa had a cancer. I listened to her cry on the phone while I felt numb inside. Mama told me that he had only six months to live.

How do you react to things like that? It was at first a denial to me. I am not the type of person who shows off emotions especially to the family. Eventually, I got to talk about it to a co-teacher. I did not have the vaguest idea whether to just let him go or to continue watched him in agony.

That call didn't make me go home more often. I was establishing a career or so I thought that making time for a visit was out of the question. Perhaps it was also the thought that he has still six months so I could make it up during vacation. Ironic but true. I was banking up to the idea of the "six months."

December 19 was just another day except by frantic hustle bustle in school. It was the day of Christmas party and my first ever as a teacher. I was in a salon around 4:30 p.m. when I felt like somebody hit my chest and my heart pounded so hard.

Thinking it was just brought by all the excitements in the air, I decided to just shrugged it off. The party was held at the Archbishop's palace since priests and the archbishop were joining also. Christmas feelings hovered in the air. The program was set to start at 6 p.m. I couldn't explain it but somehow even with my heart pounding we were still the noisiest in the group. We were laughing so hard that I didn't hear my phone ringing.

It was five minutes later that I checked my phone and saw that ma (the one whom I lived with) had a message. She told me to go home because of an emergency. I tried to call her but she wasn't answering her phone.

How to ask for permission to leave was such a dilemma. Our school director was seated with the archbishop and other priests and I could hear the emcee making the announcement that the program was about to start soon.

I couldn't shake off the feeling that something's wrong so gathering enough courage, I approached the director. He immediately permitted me to go.

When I arrived at our house in Sorabella, ma prepared already some of my things. She told me to go home in Sipocot since she said it was already vacation. I was trying to read her eyes but she couldn't look at me.

Ma was evading my question what really happened and just told me she received a call from my sister that I needed to go home. I packed my things bereft of emotion. Before leaving, she hugged me so tight I thought my heart would burst. Somehow, I knew something terrible happened.

The ride on the way to Sipocot was long and arduous. I couldn't bring myself to pray the rosary just like I used to whenever I travel. My mind was totally blank.

When I arrived, I saw that our house was still open and it seemed that all the lights were turned on. When I entered, my nieces had their gloomy look on their faces. My sister just stared at me and mama was crying in a corner.

I put down my bag and entered papa's room ready to get his hand to bless just like I always did. I couldn't put into words what transpired next. I was at a loss when I saw papa covered with a blanket.

The pain was so extreme that I blocked it from my system. Crying uncontrollably didn't help to ease the raw feeling of intense longing in my heart.

Days seemed to pass in a haze. How do you celebrate Christmas with the coffin of your father in the house?

One way or another, each of us found ways to placate our grieving heart. But I knew in the quiet corner of my heart, papa's death left a permanent scar.

It was almost a year before I could finally talk about papa's death. We were in a retreat when I shared it to a group of five. Prodding from my group convinced me to share it to the rest of my co-teachers. I hated talking in a large crowd but on the other hand I knew I needed to do it to find healing.

I couldn’t remember exactly what I said or how I said it but I left the group in tears.

“I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to you,

to tell you that I loved you,

to say what now must be one long, unbroken cry
 of pain,
now that at last you're gone away.

I cannot tell you what a joy it was
to be the one to tend you in your need.

The burden was a gift, for giving does
 not burden one who loves,
though loving bleed.
 I wish I could have been with you when you,
 perhaps aware, perhaps not, turned towards death.

Alone, with no one there to wonder to,

To share your fear, your hand, your one last breath.

For papa, wherever you may be...

I wish, I wish, I wish . . . but it is done,
And now I must surrender what is gone.”


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