February 9, 2023

I am often asked, “Do you ever stop grieving or when does it stop?” and my answer would be, it comes in waves – sometimes it’s intense, sometimes it’s fleeting, but it never stops, it’s just latent. You just have to be busy to forget the many shared memories and that you have to build new ones. Beautiful memories that should not be forgotten or taken for granted.

My husband, Ed, just celebrated his second birthday since he left. My children gifted me with six dozens of roses plus three, to signify his age perhaps? My daughter even said when I asked her, why so many? She said, “It’s sort of, kind of like papa’s handiwork. I just ordered 20 roses but Sir Bernard (of BB Weddings and Events) delighted us with this big beautiful bouquet instead.” When I put the roses in vases, there were 75 pieces.

Towards his birthday I have been getting signs from Ed, in pictures, in butterflies, or just plain memories. You see, love is not quantified by age. You might be 20 or 70, but your soul is ageless. It remembers everything, that is why you have soul mates. Your body might be wrinkling but your soul remains young. Matthew 26:41 says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And then I read this reflection of Michelle Price of Healing from an unknown source whose mother passed and the father insisted on going to the cemetery before midnight. He said to his children, “It was 55 years… you know? No one can talk about true love if they have no idea what it’s like to share life with a woman. She and I, we were together in crisis. I changed jobs. We packed up when we sold the house and moved out of town. We shared the joy of seeing our children finish their careers, we mourned the departure of loved ones side by side, we prayed together in the waiting room of some hospitals, we supported each other in pain, we hug each other during Christmas, and we forgave our mistakes. I’m happy, do you know why?

Because she left before me. She didn’t have to go through the agony and pain of burying me, of being left alone after my departure. I will be the one to go through that, and I thank God. I love her so much that I wouldn’t have liked her to suffer.”

And then it dawned on me, Ed and I have been together for 42 years before he passed. We have been through many crises, ups and downs, and yes, my kids have their chosen careers now. My eldest has a loveable son and a beautiful wife, same with the second son who is filled with adventure with a likewise beautiful wife and my beautiful daughter – the youngest – is navigating her life. Together we are strong because of papa’s memories and guidance.

I remembered a friend who sent his condolences and said that my husband Ed is now resting in peace. After all, he took care of me when I was sick. I thanked God because he was with me during the biggest crisis of our lives. When I was almost giving up towards the end of my chemo treatments, he said, “Mama, finish the treatments, I would not know what to do if something happens to you.”

Yes, I am sad but also happy that he would not have to experience the loneliness and the pain of losing me. I have seen how he was always deep in thought and in emotional pain when I was being treated, though he tried hard not to show me. He suffered all the hardships too staying with me in the hospital for four days each session, when I would be irritable, sad, and inconsolable. Now I understand why he always wanted my daughter to sleep in the hospital with him and how my daughter felt. And how he suffered a heart attack and got five stents only months after I finished my chemo treatments. I am thankful that God still gave us a bonus of eight years before He finally called him home.

Life in the hospital with him for three weeks when he got sick this time during the pandemic was hard. The feeling of isolation was torture. But he never complained, he only always asked, “Nahihirapan ka ba?” And I would say, “Of course not.” When I asked if he was in pain in spite of the numerous I.V. drips and blood extractions, black and blue hands, he would say, “No mama, I would tell you naman if I was in pain.” He delighted in the video chats with his children and apo, and of course the baths.

My husband had been my fortress, my rock, my direction. He did everything. I was so dependent on him. I had to learn how to do things by myself little by little when he was no longer around. And many times, I would get this feeling and “aha” moments that he was giving me instructions from the great beyond.

For instance, I wanted to charge this beautiful flashlight that my son gifted him but I did not know where to find the charger. And lo and behold, I found the never used charger still folded inside a box with my glasses. Then, there was a time I did not know how to operate my brand new oven. It suddenly stopped while I was heating something. In my mind, I unplugged it and started it again. It worked! He even guided me on how to clean his aquarium, and little by little I learned how to do things by myself. I mostly miss his editing my articles which is now done by my daughter.

That unknown writer in Michelle’s reflection finished the article with this quote, “That night I understood what true love is. It is far from romanticism, it does not have much to do with eroticism, or with sex, rather it is linked to work, to complement, to care, and above all, to the true love that two really committed people profess.”

Happy birthday, papa Ed. Thank you for all the wonderful 42 years of memories.

I wish everyone who is celebrating All Souls Day to remember their departed loved ones. Peace and happy memories. God’s plan is always right after all.

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