Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Of a Promise Kept: Do souls go back?

I believe souls go back before they travel to afterlife. I've had some experiences before that told me they happen. In most cases, it can be through burst of flowery or candle scent, at times, a whip of cold air that envelopes you despite humid days, or maybe a soft touch on the toe or foot when you are sleeping. 

When my very special friend, Dave, died two weeks ago, I was devastated as everyone close to him. We haven't met in person but for the past couple of months, we had been in constant contact. I mean, we talked everyday. When he wakes up, he sends me morning greetings and I do the same thing; that's depending on who happened to wake up ahead of the other. Most of the time, he did that first. Dave was an early bird. He often told me I am nocturnal, and that is one things that, at least, makes us different (that's in addition to his love for the water and my hydrophobia, and his "disgust" for my John Grisham interest though he likes I "have a thing for Southern lawyers haha).

Our talks are always an amalgamation of everything hilarious, serious, and weird. Dave and I share the love for literature and languages, we are both English majors, we love kids (he used to be a camp counselor, I manage a preschool and teach at the university), we have the same view on parenting, education, family relationships, value of hardwork, and changing the world. We both love good conversations; He is a lawyer (but despised that and would love to be called a diplomat) and I have a degree in communication. We talk about life, politics, social issues, and about the world in general. We argue on grammar, religion, choice of hobbies, and monogamy (or polygamy). When we talked about the books we've read, we often pick a name for new terms of endearment. After we talked about Orwell's 1984, he called me "spy" and I called him "propagandist" which he resisted coz he'd rather be the "Minister of Truth".  As he was older than I am, he has been my source of mature advice, motivation, and approbation, and I, for him, a fresh new insight, a spiteful individual who has the courage to banter him, but would not consider me "annoying". His humor is dry, but always intelligent. He told me things that can crack me up. We talked almost the whole day (except when one of us has urgent stuff to finish, like him going to press conferences or must polish an agreement, or when I am in class doing my lectures). We talked about everything; yes everything. 

With that, imagine how devastated I was when I found out what happened. Well, I still am devastated. That Wednesday, Dave strangely told me to prepare for a very strong storm that's in the Pacific. He said, there will be at least four days before it reaches Palau, and how he wished it will go north instead. I told him I'll be safe, and typhoons are a commonplace in this part of the world. He said, I should be safe and must take care of myself. He meant a metaphorical storm. (Huh! This Dartmouth guy!) During our last conversation (that was a Friday the 13th), Dave told me a very important thing (at least leave that to me). He had been asking me when my birthday is, and what gift should I want. I was so happy to know he decided we should finally meet (and was very happy I accepted that as a birthday gift). But that was the end of it. I was dead tired on Sunday but had been rolling in bed the whole night. There were no messages on Monday. This was strange. When I finally got my free time late afternoon, I found out he died Sunday night. It was heart attack. Something I feared the most for him. I almost died from the same thing that moment. 

I wept. I couldn't believe it was all gone. I just can't accept what happened. I would read the entire conversation history again and again until my eyes swell. He is the most admirable individual I know. People who know him can attest to that. But it ended. No more chances. No updates. Nothing. But, I can't dwell in nothingness. I was so sorry I broke some promises. I know he would forgive me. Yep, I hope that will get a "hey, no big deal really". 

I wrote to him a letter and even sent him my morning greetings. I miss him terribly. 

That was Saturday, a little over midnight. Six days after Dave's death. Six days of looking at my phone for the morning messages. Six days of crying every time I realize there is nothing to expect. Nothing. Not anymore. Not ever. And that night came. I decided to work on my editing to keep myself busy. I was in the middle of my reading, some minutes after I chatted with his bestfriends, Jason (from childhood) and Ate Det (from Palau), that my dog started to act bothered. (When I am working, I let my dog stay inside to keep me company). My pet became uneasy, and finally started barking, something he would only do when a stranger comes. It was a bark of defending territory. I saw my dog attacked nothing, and his fur raised as the nails are attracted by a magnet. He approached my bedroom door and never ceased barking, constantly on the offense, and of sudden retreats. I froze. Because my dog won't stop, I uttered, "I think I have a visitor". Growls. Attack. Retreat. Fur raised. So I said, "Hmm... Bite him, it's okay, he made me cry." Growls. Attack. Retreat. Growls. And so I said, "Dave, I know you promised to see me, but please don't scare me." No more growls. Dog stared at the door, sitting, waiting for some movements. And it was my time to have goosebumps. My dog started to move, adjusted his position while rotating his head, observing something that moves. And the dog was looking straight at me. Tilting his head, reading my facial expressions, not moving a muscle for the next 10 minutes. What do you think was that? I know it was Dave. I felt a whip of cold air. A strange deafening silence. I felt an energy right next to me. I didn't move. I stood up to take the dog out. 

I went to bed as my sister arrived home. I fell asleep quite fast, but felt someone's on the bed. My eyes half-opened, I rolled to the other side, reached out my hand and realized there was nothing there. The lights are still on and I could hear my sister tapping the keyboard. That was three in the morning. About seven in the morning, when I woke up, the first thing I saw was a butterfly resting by the curtain, just above my head. It was a big, white and green butterfly. And it flew away even before I had a good look at it. Then came Thursday morning.  I woke up a little later that the previous day as my classes started late. My sister saw a big white butterfly flying around me as I slept soundly. I always kept my windows closed. So, where did it come from? That was the third day after Dave's funeral. 

Dave laid to rest in Alabama.
© Jason Wilson

They said souls go back to people who are dear to them before they proceed to the afterlife. Was that Dave? I believe so. He is a man of words, and I know he kept his promise to see me. But, only him can see me. Until the end, he knew how I felt and wanted to prove he meant what he said. That still makes me a very lucky woman. Not even had he inspired me in many ways; now, he is there to keep an eye on me as one of my angels. He had been a source of my comfort when my father died. He said pop is in a better place now..... now, so is he. I just didn't know they would meet sooner. 

Dave and his boat in Palau. © Jason Wilson. 

Yep, blue Hulk. I know you would always banter me with my love for Korean language. But, as a lover of Japanese culture, I am giving this one to you. So, I guess we both have read the short story, "Of a Promise Kept".  I read that when I was 8, and became one of my favorite Japanese pieces. I didn't know it's gonna make a personal impact after so many years. You are Akana, but I don't know if I am Hasebe or their mother. Either way, don't worry, "I'll take care." 

Thank you for keeping your promise. Sabishii desu. 

Do you know how many people read my letter to you? It's just funny to find out they view "about me" half the time. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

For DWS #2


Yep. I remember you like this picture I took from one of my travels. You even asked me about those footprints, and how to get to this islands too. This would have been a good place to visit, right?

Somewhere down that funny road, we've met. And after all those boxes on the checklist were ticked, everything disappeared. 

We are all travelers in this world, but why do good people have to go that fast? Our roads will cross again, blue hulk. For now, have a great trip. :) 

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Because some people come into your life and leave you with great lessons and fond memories. 
It's not easy. I am still getting used to this absence. 

This is the first post for a series of tributes I will do for the one who gave me so much inspiration while being always supportive of my aspirations (well, at least we share so many of these). 

.... when I think that life must go on (I know you would tell me the same thing)

..... of reality

... and of fighting the tears coz every morning is too difficult to face when something's missing. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An open letter to David Shipper, a good man and a great friend

March 17, 2015 (6:00 PM)

Dearest Dave,

Your sudden death left us grieving and shocked. That was too swift. I know you don’t mean to leave us with so much pain in our hearts as you have always been a good person. Tears keep on falling as I am writing this; not because I know you can’t read this but because I know I have not paid you back with as much happiness and inspiration you have brought into my life. If there is one thing I regret now, that would be that I failed to keep reminding you of going to the doctor and have yourself checked. You loved your work so much, you tend to forget yourself. Now, what’s left in my thoughts are the “what ifs”. When I tell you to go to the doctor, you always say, “Yes, boss. I will do that” or “I do not trust the medical system here, I promise to do so when I go to Manila. Don’t worry.” Remember when I kept asking you about your assistant’s arrival? It’s not just about decreasing your workload, but for you to have the opportunity to fly to Manila and have your check-up sooner. But everything happens for a reason. With the degree of attack you had, there is no guarantee you can still do the things you love to do, and I know you will never like to give those things up. Nevertheless, should there be chances, I still wanted you to be here, and living the life you love so much.

You said, “Don’t worry; I’m keeping you all to myself.” Ah, I remember our agreement to keep our individual lives private. Have we decided to add each other on Facebook, would that made a difference? Had I added Ate Det way earlier and told her about that chest pain, I am sure she would have pushed you to go see a doctor as well. What makes me cry every time I send her a message is the fact that we are talking about you when this is no turning back. That it is too late to do something for you. I am sorry for breaking the promise of making some things private; there is no other way to know what had happened to you, and that is what my conscience can’t accept. Even for the last time ever, I want to know you will be well taken care of. I hope you still tell me, “no big deal”.

It’s funny how we found each other in such an unusual venue, at the perfect time. The way we’ve met was odd, but every thing we have talked about is perfect. Should I be given the choice to meet you or not, I am still choosing this difficult path as I have known a very special person in you. I have never met anyone as bright, successful, influential yet very thoughtful, loving and humble guy as you are. You are everything rolled into one: as I have told you, I admire and respect you a lot. And I am indeed very lucky to have known you though this encounter is short-lived. Maybe, God never allowed us to meet before you pass away to save me from a much greater heartache. Now, I can’t imagine how I can handle this if the opposite had happened. Perhaps it would have been worse than the numbness I felt the moment I found out; felt like heaven was crushed right before my eyes. I had been crying all night, and even until today, at this moment. I know I will have to live looking back at everything we have talked about and share, and with you taking all of them to your resting place. Remember those funny times when we talked about parenting and we laughed at ourselves coz we are actually single? We even talked about how we can change the world in our own little way. Don’t worry, Dave, those parenting ideas we’ve talked about and agreed on will remain the same. I know you could have been a good dad as you told me you will be when given the chance. You said you wanted to have children and raise them as “good people”. That’s how much the world has lost. I remember you telling me during the first suspected heart attack that you worry you could die in your sleep and only to be discovered in the morning. And that attack made you realize it is time for you to find someone you love and build a family before you die. The idea was to also fulfill your mom’s wish of having grandchildren, and we laughed at the idea of her giving you a reward if you can do so. I, of course, recall the lines, “I have a great job and a good life, and I just need a girl to share paradise with”. So, I often teased you with “those girls from there”, and we ended up laughing. I couldn’t sleep last Sunday night, and was uneasy the next day. That was weird as you never failed to send me a message, except last Monday. I cried so much when I heard about the news, so I broke the promise of not adding anyone yet, and I asked Ate Det what exactly happened to you. At least good friends have rushed you to the hospital when you collapsed, not the one you fear to happen: that you are alone, and dead, and cold at home. That’s not going to make any difference, though. You are gone and that is so painful.

Your early morning greetings as I prep to work are one of the things I’m going to miss. The way you encouraged me to look at life from a very positive perspective helped me survived even the toughest day at work. When you have your bad day, I felt special with you sharing those, valuing my words and assuring me you are fine at the end of the day. I will forever keep that in my heart. You have inspired me so much to go for the things I love to do. Thank you for all those words of wisdom. Now I don’t know how to be back at work without you being at the start of challenging days. I guess I will have to imagine the way you say, “Hope you have a great day at work!” I know this is too late, but you ought to know that you are the very person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life, too. I am sure you know that already, didn’t you? We just have to overcome the distance first, and see where it leads. It’s just so sad that fate came in crashing all those wonderful plans, leaving only the thoughts we have shared as foundation of a very deep and special friendship. You are my favorite conversation buddy, always remember that. I also love the way you begin your advice with my name. You always told me I am perfect and would argue if I refuse such. Thank you, David, for appreciating me as I am. Thank you for encouraging me to be a much better version of myself despite the distance. Things might have been more wonderful if destiny allowed us to be together. Your words have been very powerful and those thoughts alone helped me get through a lot of challenges. (You know what I am talking about). The lines, “go out and have fun, accept the things that you can’t change” and “just keep going, you’ll realize you are getting closer to your goal… time will fly so fast” echo on my mind. Thank you for quenching my intellectual curiosity with so much wisdom and willingness. I will miss the literature talks we have! I promise to read the books and watch the movies we’ve talked about.

The love you have for your family, especially for your mom, is overwhelming. I hope that they will also find comfort with you being in a safer place beside our creator. You are too young to leave this life with so many plans left to be fulfilled. You are the person this world needs: just, helpful, loving, honest and so much more. Now that you are gone, all I have are the pictures, and the saved chats to read when I am confused, ecstatic and needing comfort. I will keep all that close to my heart. I once asked God to give me someone like you, and he fulfilled it. Sadly, this ended not the way we both wanted it to be. I appreciate the way you said you admire and respect me, as I also feel the same for you. There is no need to defend yourself, I will say that incessantly. I wanted to tell you again that I deeply admire and respect you, and all those things you said were part of your bad side aren’t enough to outweigh the pure goodness of your heart. I confirmed that now with the things I heard from the people you are close with in Palau.

The last time we chatted, you told me how thankful you are to your parents saying, “Though I must leave, they are supportive and happy for me. I am sad I must be away from them.” I didn’t know you’re really leaving, Dave. When you asked me for my birthday request and I said I wanted to see you, I really mean that. I am thankful I said that, and found out that we both wanted the same thing out of this. I was so happy to know you already had a plan to come over here, and we can finally meet after some time, but fate twisted all these. I didn’t know that was the last goofy chat we have with that “bye” and “have a good weekend” not to be received by me anymore. Have I known that, I would have talked to you the whole day, or “annoy” you the whole weekend. No more “good mornings”, “hey!”, “so how did your weekend go?”, “is today kids’ day of university day?”, “have a good day at work”, “you make me fall in love, strict professor”, “okay that ends my rant for today”, “You are the first person to ever tell me that, so I guess I have been looking for you”,  “I have to go back to work na, ttyl okay?” and so on.  Even to the last few days, I know you wanted me to be happy. With you asking me if it is okay that you will fulfill my birthday request way ahead is already reason enough to be happy. When I say your jokes cracked me up, you would tell me, “Of course, I want to make you laugh always.” Thank you for all that. You are now in God’s hands and we can never compete with that. Maybe you deserve an end to all the human sufferings and live eternally happy from now on. As you have told me, “Jovy, as an older person, you should know that as long as you live, you will never be free from worries”.  I know you are there watching over us. Every time you call me “angel”, I can’t help but laugh, and banter back with “your highness”. Now, it brings me tears as it turns out you will be my angel instead. You have made your mark in the world, so rest now, my dearest.

I am going to miss you, David. I am already missing you terribly. Till we meet again. See you in heaven.

P.S. I will try my very best to be fine soon, Skylark/Blue Hulk/DS. Don’t worry.