Monday, January 19, 2009


I felt something different when I walked into the office last Monday morning. The usual “hi, how are you” greetings and morning chuckles from my officemates were conspicuously absent. Over in the corner of the room, I saw the HR director in a close huddle with two other managers, intently talking to each other in hushed tones.

In the hallway, I met two colleagues who seemed so self-absorbed that they didn’t even bother to return my hello. I think I also saw something in their eyes – was it grief or sadness – I wasn’t exactly sure.

Did I do something wrong – I asked myself. My mind raced back to the events last Friday. To the best of my recollection, I could not think of anything I have done that could have caused their indifference.

A few minutes later, I was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I understood. They were grieving for the loss of a dearly-beloved colleague of 15 years who succumbed to death due to heart attack right inside the Office at 5:00 PM last Friday.

His name was Bryan and he was in his 50s, a father of two teen-age daughters and a faithful husband. I didn’t know him personally, but from what I’ve heard, he seemed to be a very jolly person, putting a smile in everybody’s face with his wacky humor. He was a health buff, they say, hitting the gym everyday and forever conscious of his diet.

And so for the entire day last Monday, the world seemed to have stood still for the employees of MPI as everybody mourned the passing of Bryan.

Every time I hear stories of death or witness the death of somebody, my heart goes out to the family of the departed. I know how it feels. I’ve been there. But one doesn’t have to go through this painful experience to feel the pain of losing a loved one. Death permanently cuts off our physical and emotional ties with our loved ones, without any hope of being able to see them again, talk to them, touch them, embrace them. And this is quite hard to accept.

The only consolation, the only source of strength and comfort for the grieving, is the belief that somebody, she or he will be reunited with his loved one in eternity. In a different realm where there is no longer pain and suffering and death. Where there is only pure love and pure joy.

That is, if the grieving person believes.

If he doesn’t believe, death will never make sense.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sixteen years, and counting

January 9, 1993. I made a decision that would change my life forever. I married my ex-boyfriend now husband and best buddy.

For the last sixteen years, we have managed to stick together without killing each other (lol) save for body bruises and sprains here and there (courtesy of me, lol).

Kidding aside, today is the time to count the many ways why it was easy for me to overlook his shortcomings and to acknowledge how blessed I am to have him as my lifetime partner:

• He has been faithful to me all these years (at least as far as my knowledge goes lol). I completely trust him in the company of girls (although not completely in the company of boys lol again).

• He trusts me with family finances. He never asks for accounting. He is more concerned with the time I spend on shopping than with the amount of money I spend. What is funny is that the more he trusts me, the more I become conscientious about spending.

• He is not very expressive of his feelings for me. But what he lacks in words he compensates in action. His language of love is time and service. He does things in the house like laundering, cooking, dish washing, house cleaning and runs errands for me that I’m tempted to call him my runner (lol).

• He easily learns his lessons and takes it to heart. For instance, during our first years of marriage, he wreaked the hood of our car because of drunkenness (thank God he wasn’t hurt). He never drunk again since then.

• He covers up for me especially when I am overboard. He invents excuses and alibi so as not to put me in bad light before the eyes of other people.

• When our babies were born, he would get up late in the night to feed the baby or change diapers so I don’t have to lose my sleep.

• He snores so loud in sleep (imagine the sound of a helicopter lol). As a considerate act, he ensures that I get to sleep first before he sleeps.

And the list is endless.

Best of all, he taught me that marriage is a good excuse to grow up and think less of myself.

Of course, we also had our share of fights and struggles. But what I learned over the years is that fighting is healthy in any relationship provided you know how to do it. There is also no such thing as a perfect relationship precisely because the persons who compose it are imperfect. When things go wrong - when his ugly side looms large – I always go back to my list of reasons why I am blessed to have him. And when I do, the ugly side shrinks so small in comparison to the reasons why I love him.

If I can bring back the hands of time and be given the chance to choose the man I would marry, I would choose him over and over again.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Post-New Year Reflections

My favorite John Lennon sound track was playing: ♪♪♪"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.”♪♪♪

As I listened to the song, it brought me into serious thinking “what have I done” so far. After all, the dawning of a new year is as good a time as any to do an inventory of what we have done during the past year.

Of course, I haven’t done anything spectacular or grandiose for 2008 that would consign me to the pages of history, nor do I intend to do anything of historical proportions for the next year. I don’t intend to climb Mt Everest, be a world changer, or do something extra-ordinarily heroic that would land me to the top pages of a newspaper. What I learned over the years is that with maturity comes the awareness of what I can and cannot do, and finding peace in the knowledge that I am whole and complete despite my limitations.

But what I think I have done, in my little corner of this world, is that throughout 2008, I have tried to be the best person I could ever be. I have sown kindness to the people around me and I am now reaping the harvest. I have remained true to the values and ideals I hold dear in my heart, although not without great pain and struggles. Best of all, I have given as much love as I could and tried to make life easier and meaningful to the people I care about.

These may not consign me to the pages of history, but these have definitely made a mark in the hearts of the souls that I have touched. I love them and I strongly suspect they love me too.

With the passing of every year, I have come to the realization that it really has nothing to do with how hard or how much we work. Sometimes we can delude ourselves into thinking that we have done so much but in reality, we are simply convincing ourselves.

Because by the end of the day, what really matters is that we have brought a smile in the faces of those we love just by our simple act of caring. And here is the thing that I have long realized: there is no substitute for doing that.

As I contemplate 2009, I think of how far I still have to go in this mission of loving and caring and giving.

But I expect to see all of us there, down the road.