27 November 2017

Not getting easier

Next week, we move to December. Time has certainly flown, but not because we had so much fun, but because we had been so busy. Not just at work, but more so with church group activities. I feel that I have actually been escaping from my personal loss by keeping myself busy. Because when I am alone, the loneliness starts flooding back.

Nanay will be celebrating her birthday on the 18th. It is the first time I won't be able to ring her up and wish her a Happy Birthday, or be able to go on holiday and be with her. Sometimes I wonder how other people who I know have lost a loved one can cope. Now that I don't have my Nanay anymore, I know the answer. They don't. They just have to keep on living - for their family, friends, for themselves. They hope that their grief will ease out in time.

And that is where I am at now. Trying to keep on living, keeping myself busy, hoping that someday I will come to terms with my own grief and accept my loss. When that will be, I do not know. One thing I do know: that the next few weeks will be a very difficult one for me.

17 September 2017

9 months on...

... and I'm still grieving. I've read that the grieving process vary; it depends on how people take it. Unfortunately I think I'm one of those who would take a lot longer to get over the loss. Just the thought of it makes my heart ache. We attended the 60th birthday of a friend last night, and part of the programme was a slide show of our friend's photos taking us back to his childhood all the way to the present. Like a digital photo album set to music. It started with these black and white photos, and this segment lasted for the duration of the song. I do not know the people in those photos, but it took me back to my own childhood.

Last year, I made an effort to search for our old photos when we visited the Philippines. I was saddened to see lots of them neglected. They were not placed in albums and were kept together in envelopes. As such, a number have stuck together and may no loner be salvageable. I nevertheless took these with me. That was October last year. I was planning to start scanning after the Christmas holidays , and then the  family tragedy happened on January. The photos remain in my bag. It still hurts too much to sort out those photos.

Tears started welling up while we were watching the slideshow. It's a good thing the lights were out. I tried to keep myself in check and opened my phone for a game of Sudoku instead. I hope they did not see me do so lest they find me rather rude, but the slideshow just reminded me of my Mum and also my Aunt who I lost also a couple of years back...

07 August 2017

The 38th night

(I'm the kid being carried by my Nanay at the left)

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. We’re past the halfway mark of 2017 and time seems to just whiz by. But it does not seem to be moving as fast as I need it to be, for someone said that time heals all wounds, and at this point in time I am still very much in grieving.

When I am in the company of friends, or even at work, I am able to function normally. I haven’t heard any complaints from work (quite the opposite, actually), and my church group keeps a bulk of my spare time ticking along nicely. But it’s when I’m alone that it hits me – I miss my Nanay so much.

06 January 2017

Conchita Rodas Ballesteros, 1943-2017

My Nanay was born on the 18th of December.  I'm sure our grandparents were so happy to have her, and it would have felt like she was a Christmas present especially for them.

I would like to think that her Christmas was always a special time for her. And so she always strived to make Christmas special for us, her kids, too. My memory of Christmases as a kid is always a time of happiness and celebration.

When it's time to put up the Christmas decorations, my Tatay would bring out the Jackson 5 Christmas album as well as the Gunther Kallmann Christmas record and start playing these on full volume.  All of us would squeal with delight and help out with putting up the decorations.  The succeeding days would see us making decorations and Christmas cards of our own.

We did not have much, but Nanay always made sure that she cooked something special for noche buena.  She would busy herself in the kitchen right after lunch. Spaghetti, salad, pancit, barbecue, were staple. Even a couple of days after Christmas, after all the guests have come and gone, we'd still have so much leftover! Frankly I do not know how they manage it.

They also kept the magic of Santa alive for us.  We would hang stockings on Christmas Eve and sleep a couple of hours past midnight.  Then come Christmas Day, our socks would be bulging full of sweets and we would have presents from Santa!

My Nanay passed away on the 3rd of January. She's been in and out of the hospital the past couple of months.  Knowing her, I believe that she fought on through the holidays because she's still thinking of us.  She didn't want us to be sad during the Christmas holidays, this special time of the year which she always strives to make it special for us, be it through the wonderful cooking, or the gifts that she would personally make for us.

Christmas aside, one of the most unforgettable moments I have with my Nan (as I fondly call her) was when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. I was burning with fever and kept tossing around my bed, unable to sleep. She roused from her bed and took me by her side. She turned on the TV and we both watched this rather fascinating stop-motion movie. We both kept up until the movie finished and I had a glass of warm milk.

Nanay, please look after me and our family.  Words cannot express how I feel now that you're gone, but I know that you are in a better place.  I'm sorry that I was not able to do more for you, and that I'm not there with the rest of my brothers and sisters. I will always celebrate Christmas in the same happy way that you showed us, and I hope that you will always be here, celebrating with us.
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