Watching this video reminded me of the stories my Mama used to tell me. How she saw her dream car and how she wanted to have her own Jaguar someday.
I’m taking a deep breath now as I type my first words on this entry. I’ve been struggling with my writing, with my heart, with words, and with my time. I’ve been posting a variety of entries on my blog but nothing seemed to be as significant as what really bothers my heart… this beautiful and lingering pain…is… still here.
I was sharing my blog with a new friend and told her how much she blessed me on our out-of-town trip last December. I’m sure she was not aware how much of a blessing she was to me and my other friends in that time of grief, but I think she should know. I hope she will. Our exchange of SMS last April 23, 2013 went like this:
New Friend: “I was reading your blog last night. You made me cry!”
Me: “Hi! The Episodes of Grace? Wow thanks for visiting/reading them. It’s not yet done, still have parts 5-7. I haven’t finished the drafts yet coz every time I do, I just cry heaps and need a day to really write them. Sorry for making you cry.”
New Friend: “Yes Episodes of Grace. Wow it’s only now I realize what that trip meant to you. I’m glad I was able to help in any way….”
“I guess you need to take your time in writing everything down. It must be very exhausting to cry like that but I can imagine it may be cathartic and therapeutic too in some way… Gosh God bless you and your dad and brothers. I can’t even imagine what you went through and what you are still going through. You are so strong!”
We started exchanging longer messages after that. I was encouraged by my new friend’s SMS and she was right. It is exhausting to have my “ugly wail” every time I write entries continuing “Cancer and Israel” (Part I). I know it’s God’s way for me to be relieved and healed, to completely move forward but it’s just difficult. It is difficult to backtrack, remember, write, and share. But I also know that I have to… I need to. It is also for my own benefit, my peace, the unexplainable comfort when I remember, write, and share.
Yes, it is hard to imagine what people go through when they lose someone they dearly love and nobody knows when it will stop. Will it ever stop? The pain and the loss, I wonder, myself. I may seem strong but honestly I don’t think I am that strong. I think the only thing that keeps me strong is the grace that flows from the knowledge of God’s love, His character, and His promises. I hold on to His Word, believing that He will show up, take care of me as He promised, bring me back “home”. He knows what He is doing. He has it all planned out – plans to take care of me, not abandon me, plans to give me the future I hope for (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message).
The stories are not yet done. The Episodes of Grace, stories which are not really about being strong but having the grace to withstand the trials and tribulations in this life. It’s all about making other people know that you are just like them, vulnerable, imperfect, in need of GRACE.
I don’t know where to continue after my last entry “The Promise” (Part IV). A lot of occasions passed by – all were suppose to be joyous celebrations from Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, my Mama’s Birthday, my 30th birthday, and my brother’s birthday. But in all these celebrations, we also celebrate and remember the life of a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend – the life of my Mama that left this beautiful and lingering pain of losing her this early in my life. Early for me, but I know that God had His reasons, His ways and timing are perfect. It is a maturing stage for me. A process of completely moving forward…to finish what God started in my life. And I am looking forward to the God who started this great work in me, that He would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish (Philippians 1:6, The Message).
Three months in the hospital, 2 weeks in Israel, 2 days of my last good byes… The memories are triggered by the things that remind me of Mama, every single day after her death.
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The Story of Mama and her Jaguar:
I remember when my grandpa, Lolo Max, used to tell Mama stories. He was like a broken record. He repeated the same stories over and over again and Mama would just listen to him. I saw her patience and endurance in listening. And when Lolo Max passed away, she recalled his stories and reminded us of how important it is to just listen and to make that person know and feel that you value him no matter what.
Years passed by, and it seemed like I was the one listening to a broken record. This time, it was Mama. She would tell me characters and stories from the year “kopong-kopong” or aeons before I was born. I didn’t get it but I did what she used to do with Lolo Max – patiently listened and endured.
Now, I realize how important it is to listen and to enjoy times like that even if it entails listening to a broken record. Listening helps you give value to the person and to what is important to her as well. It makes them feel that they are valuable.
One story Mama repeated was entitled, “Mama’s Dream Jaguar”. Mama shared how she and her father were very close and how they enjoyed watching movies together. One of the movies they enjoyed watching together were movies that starred Steve McQueen. I was like, “Steve what? What movie is he from?”. Then she would say, “Oh don’t bother, he’s an actor from a long time ago even before you were born.” Then I would be like, “Uhmmm, ok…..”. In my head, I’m like, “why do I need to listen to this again?”. But I started to love it – whenever she opened up, she would lighten up. I started to just listen and enjoy our time together. I started liking to listen to old stories and sometimes ended up finishing Mama’s sentences.
Steve McQueen, his wife, and his Jaguar XK-SS
Mama’s dream of having her own Jaguar started after watching one of Steve McQueen’s movies. She used to share how she enjoyed his action movies like “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt” from the 1960’s. (Yeap that’s what I call action classics!) One time, she got to see her dream car, a Jaguar on the big screen. I saw how thrilled she was while recalling the story and how her eyes brightened up just recalling how exciting McQueen’s movies were and how she first dreamed about having her own Jaguar.
Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I always firmly believed that we should dream big and live life to the fullest. With this in my heart, I also wanted my Mama to live life to the fullest and somehow, in some way, enjoy her life and live her dreams.
So before my 28th birthday, (she was already being given different homeopathic treatments) “Mama’s Dream Jaguar” replayed in my head and I realized that she never got to have her own Jaguar. Then I got a brilliant idea – why not buy her a Jaguar? But wait, it was waaaay too expensive, I could only afford a Matchbox Jaguar! And so I started to search, google, and email people that maybe, just maybe I can rent from. After some near heart attacks because of the rates and unavailability, I ended up getting us a Mercedez Benz as our airport to hotel transportation, a gift to my Mama & Papa. And instead of a real Jaguar, I gave Mama her very own Jaguar pen and keychain.
It was something simple but I know that Mama, who has always been selfless and thought about us first before her own dreams and desires, has lived a beautiful life filled with hopes and dreams (even without her Jaguar). Her life was a beautiful ride.
Are you dreaming big today? What are the things that you have started and wanted to finish? I believe Mama started a beautiful life which ended with a promise of a more beautiful future.