Grappling with grief

Grief is too abstract to explain. Words seem insufficient when you grieve and clarity of thought becomes evasive. I lost two special people this year. My five-month-old godchild passed away a few months ago while a dear colleague passed away just weeks ago. To this day, I still can’t describe my own grieving process.

I remember a stabbing feeling upon receiving both news. Tears didn’t flow immediately. A certain kind of heaviness weighed on me for a long time. I was blessed to have my husband with me on both occasions, giving me comforting words and hugging me ever so tightly. I didn’t even have the words to tell him how I felt; I probably mumbled some words like “so sad” or something like that. Even after we prayed, the sadness remained.

I guess it’s not so much about the pain that makes grief unbearable. It’s the reality that you’ve lost someone dear to you. It’s the reality that you won’t be able to see and talk to that person anymore. It’s the reality that “the end” really exists in one’s story. I remember telling my husband over lunch, “One week lang ako naging ninang (I’ve been a godmother for only a week)”. Then all of a sudden tears started to flow uncontrollably. It felt like a huge dam broke and released my stored grief, bursting in all directions. I still haven’t cried over my colleague who was like a mother to me. I don’t know if one statement will break my dam again or if my stored grief will just silently settle within me.

When my grandfather died, I remember not crying during his funeral. I mean we were very close and each time I went on vacation in the province with him and my grandma, he never failed to make me feel that I’m the apple of his eye. But for some reason, with his passing I felt more peace than sadness. I saw him in the ICU for a long time and seeing him relieved of pain calmed me. Knowing that he is now enjoying a perfectly healthy body with our Creator gave me a sense of peace and contentment. For days, I recalled all the good times I shared with him, fearing that if I stop recalling I might forget my beloved daddy (that’s what I call him; I call my dad papa). Later on, I realized that you do not forget the people you love even if they’re gone. They leave indelible marks in your life—even the ache that you feel is a part of it and as you carry it with you, it becomes a bittersweet thing.

It makes me wonder how God grieved when Jesus died on the cross. How the angels suddenly stopped playing their heavenly melodies and replaced them with melancholic instrumentals. How the disciples and the women who followed Him mourned after witnessing His brutal death. This made me realize that we have a God who empathizes with us when we grieve. He is not oblivious to it. He’s been there, done that—in cosmic proportions even. We will never be alone when we grieve. We have a compassionate God who knows, who understands, who comforts, and ultimately who heals.

I guess writing about grief is my own way of expressing it, too. Perhaps writing about it helps me celebrate the 5 months that my god-daughter lived and the more than 40 years that my colleague shared with the people she touched with her life, including mine. Perhaps this is just a means to an end, a part of the process that closes with lifelong remembrance and expectation that someday somehow you will see those faces again in a place where “I miss you” statements don’t exist anymore and where “It’s so good to see you” is simply an understatement. 🙂

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Wolves of Mercy trilogy

Maggie Stiefvater created a world of wolves that draws readers deep into the lives of the wild and the resilient bond that tie them together.

The trilogy starts with “Shiver” where we are introduced to the character of Grace Brisbane and Sam Roth. Grace was attacked by a pack of wolves when she was a child. She was saved right on time before the wolves can do further damage to her. She distinctly remembered seeing a wolf with golden-yellow eyes who snarled at the pack to back off. Since then, she has been watching the wolf that saved her from her bedside window. For years, she tried to communicate and draw near to her wolf but she can only go so far.

Little did she know that the wolf that rescued her is also human and he is Sam Roth. On one hunting spree, Sam was shot and he turned human. The house closest to where he was shot was Grace’s house. Upon seeing him and looking at his eyes, Grace knew that Sam was the wolf who saved her. It was then revealed how wolves turn into humans during summer and they turn back to being wolves when winter breaks. The cold weather triggers the change. The struggle to keep Sam human to be with her and the unrelenting love of the two characters consumed most of the story.

I must admit, when I was reading half way through the novel my mind was screaming “Twilight!!!” The love story between Grace and Sam is sooooo “Twilight”!  The stubbornness of youth mixed with their impulsive love is like reading Bella and Edward all over again. But this time, it’s the wolf version. I was at the brink of giving up when the novel amazingly started to pick up! By the time I was down to the last 70 pages, I was so eager to know what will happen—if the cure for Sam will work or not. So there, the ending saved the novel. The science behind the paranormal gave a new twist to this growing genre. The end was so good that I decided to immediately read the sequel, “Linger”.

In “Linger”, a cruel reversal of fates happened. Grace is starting to show signs of being a wolf through the deterioration of her health. While Sam is struggling to find out how he can help her. An interesting character also enters in this novel, Cole, front man of the famous band Narkotika. Cole is a new wolf trying to find his way in this new world of wolves. Linger begins with a gripping plot and ends with unexpected changes in the characters. For me, this sequel saved the trilogy. It kept my interest (and perhaps the interest of the other readers) and compelled me to open the pages of “Forever”.

“Forever” is the final part of the Wolves of Mercy trilogy. In this novel, lives are threatened, a complete annihilation of wolves is at bay, and humans are showing no mercy. As I was reading the book, the image of the dogs in the movie “Eight Below” came to mind. The way the wolves communicated with each other to save the pack felt so real and believable.  I love the way the story ended, the maturity of each character along the way, and the unconventional resolution of conflicts. It took a few days before I was able to part with the characters of Sam and Grace. After reading the trilogy for 4 days, it felt like I was living in Mercy Falls, too, and they were my friends. It also made me want to have a wolf as a pet. Well, come to think of it, I already have my own wolf (canis lupus) all these years. Now, that’s interesting. 🙂

Thrilled to be Thirty!

I guess I’m the only person thrilled to be thirty. 🙂 Most women dread this age because it means having your age slowly deleted in the Roman calendar and your biological clock setting off annoying alarms. In fact, by the time one reaches 29 you’re already disqualified from the February race! Haha! But there’s so much more to being thirty than aging. It’s a new season of life that opens countless opportunities if you plunge into it completely. 🙂

I remember counting the days to my third-decade milestone. Only by God’s grace can I say that my 30 years was filled with the best things this life can offer. I indulged in the playfulness of being a child, savoured every crazy moment of being a teen, revelled in the freedom of being in my twenties, and now I’m embracing this new season of being in my thirties. I’m 30 and I love it!

In my 30 years of existence, 17 years of which revolved around my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ—our journey together has been exciting, unpredictable but fun, and literally life-changing. He has been the best Lover of my soul. I have to admit, I’m not the most faithful lover to Him. My heart has been distracted so many times by things, people, and futile activities. I knew there were times when I made Him cry. 😦 But He still forgives me nonetheless whenever I apologize. (Hey, it rhymes! Haha!) My Jesus loves me for who I am not for what I do. He won me out of love and not out of fear. He created me and knit me in my mother’s womb. He took care of my every need most specially my need to be reconciled with Him. He gave me His life, I believed and trusted in His sacrifice on that old rugged cross, and my life has never been the same after that. I have learned that good people don’t go to heaven, FORGIVEN people do. I’m one of those forgiven people, experiencing my Savior’s love, mercy, and grace every single day of my life.

In those 30 years, 13 years of which have been with my wolf (Lupus is the Latin word for wolf). There were several periods of remission and relapses but each and every time it happens my faithful Savior extends His healing hand upon me. Adjusting my lifestyle, getting my laboratory tests done regularly, going to check-ups, and experiencing odd body changes like getting bloated and hairy are all part of living with my wolf. But it’s not all that bad. Having the wolf is like having a thorn in the flesh. It makes me completely dependent on my God. It made me and my family closer and stronger as we weather each attack together. It also made me appreciate aging all the more because not everyone gets to spend another day more so another year. As years passed, our co-existence has been mutually beneficial. As I try to tame the wolf, the wolf tames me, too. It made me aim for a healthy lifestyle not only for me but also for my loved ones.

In those 30 years, I’ve met the greatest friends, worked with the best people, and treasured valuable moments with my family. My parents who have been with me over the past three decades have been nothing but sacrificial and selfless. They’re a crazy bunch, too! A year ago, I got married to the best and most loving husband that God ever created. 🙂 Of course, I’m biased but that’s how I view him. In fact, I think my description is an understatement. 🙂 We’ve been together as a couple for two years now and married for more than a year. Every single day I spend with him is a sweet blessing. To cap off my terrific thirty, my baby Timothy was born 9 months ago. You see, I never thought I’d be able to have a child. God in His infinite goodness and grace allowed me to get pregnant sooner than we expected (Timmy is a honeymoon baby!) and He tamed the wolf during my entire pregnancy. Our baby may have been born prematurely but he is a testament to the greatness of God. He is just as normal as other babies now and he brings us so much joy every day.

So, for whatever my 30-ish year has in store for me, all I can say is, “BRING IT ON!” 🙂