Monday, March 16, 2015


Ever since the break of my marriage, I have taken a lot of trips home.
What used to be a journey  that was taken every 2-3 years became an almost yearly occurrence. Weddings, special occasions, seasonal holidays...and sometimes, because I just NEED to be home to be amongst my family and friends. 

Because it takes a lot to pretend that life here is exactly all that I have envisioned -- actually, I don't think I have ever succeeded in convincing myself ever of that. But I persevere, because I tell myself I am doing it for my kid, because the opportunities are better here, because the standard of living is better here. 
All of which are probably true to some degree, but the main reason is because I am a coward. 

I don't like change. 
I don't like uprooting what is comfortable. 
I don't like making too much of a splash.
Because what if the end result ends up taking me to a situation that is worse that what I started with?
Best not to risk it.

And so I trudge on in life in a cloud of mediocrity, just....existing and taking it day by day.  But that takes its toll and eventually, I am in desperate need to be enveloped in the warmth and humidity of my country.
And that could not be more true during the early years of the break.
I went back twice that first year and I took a lot of videos during one of those particular trips. I wanted to ensure that there was something that Isabel can go through when she was older because chances are, she will have no recollection of those events. And I took it for myself too, because I needed it as something to hang on to: a reminder of my family to help me pull through when times got unbearably hard when I returned to the States and back to the shambles that was my life at that point in time.

I don't know if it ever occurred to me then that these videos will serve as a memory of my family members for when they've passed on - as a way to remember the sound of their voice and laughter, to remember them when they were so alive and vibrant, to see them interacting and remember.

At least, not so soon. 

My aunts are very dear to me.
They were my "companions" during my formative years. I "hung out" with them, I learned from them, I laughed and joked with them -- in short, they played a big part in raising and shaping me.

And this past Friday, one of my precious relatives passed away.
The youngest of my mother's siblings, she was one of the most welcoming, most gracious person I know. If someone was meeting my family for the first time and they needed to be put at ease, she was the one who would naturally step up to that plate and she will do it like the pro that she is. 

She took me on vacations with her family because my mom doesn't really do vacations, she always gave the best presents because being "younger" gave her an edge of knowing what moody, ungrateful teens might prefer, she was the "cool, put-together" relative that won't embarrass you.

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She counseled me, comforted me  and guided me when I was going through difficult times as a stubborn pig-headed teen. She cheered for me, encouraged me, and was there for me when things were falling down around me. She prayed for me and have always tried to gently encourage me to the way of the Lord.
In simple words, she loved me.

I am so grateful and so blessed to have known that love. And I am so incredibly thankful that my child has known that love as well, even though she may not remember much of it. The videos, however meager of a substitute they are, will serve as a reminder. 

Yee Chai -- I know that you are in a better place, that you are whole and beautiful and healthy once more, that you are safe and happy and reunited with loved ones previously lost. I pray that I will find the strength to be a better person than who I am now. A braver person, a more loving and kind person,  in hopes that I will make you somewhat proud. 

I love you.