Since I was a kid, I have always gravitated towards writing my feelings in a journal or diary. I was not always consistent, and would sometimes revert to locking myself in my room to compose mushy, embarrassing love or hate songs. Although writing is not my greatest strength, I've always felt good about being able to identify my feelings, find a resolution, and conquer the next emotional outbreak. With the evolution of technology, I am grateful that there are more ways to share my experiences through blogging, and reach out to my family and friends in the best way I can.
Last Tuesday, I spoke to my Mom on Skype for the first time, after moving to Madagascar. She was really quite sad when we talked, nodding silently through my excited rants and raves, seeming to be in deep thought through the really bad connection. (third world to third world internet, not a good combination). When my sister May asked her why she was quiet, she just said she was sad. Sad that we are not there anymore, sad that our family will never be the same after my Dad passed away.
You know how memories of the past just hit you unexpectedly? I went to a store the other day to scout for some fabric for home projects and clothes, and while touching the fabric and imagining what I would do with them, it hit me. I missed my Mom too, terribly. She's always been crafty, and growing up, we always had beautiful pillow cases, table cloths, placemats and sofa covers. She was the reason why I barely passed my home economics class. She would make my sewing projects ugly enough for my teacher not to notice, but in a recent reunion with my elementary school teachers, my teacher said she totally knew it was my Mom's work, and therefore gave me a C. In the middle of the hot sun in Madagascar, surrounded by all kinds of textures and colors, I thought of my Mom so fondly.
She definitely wasn't the typical "hands-on" Mom - she barely went to school programs or was involved in the parent teacher association. She only went to my school once for a teacher's conference when I got in trouble with my 3rd grade Math teacher. She never pushed me to sing and perform like my Dad did, and she always gently showed me her support by smiling and patting me on the back. She wasn't always vocal or affectionate, but I realize now, recalling details of my childhood, that she showed her love in other ways. She showed it by growing the most beautiful orchids in our backyard so I can bring some for my teachers during special programs in school. She showed it by teaching me how to cook in high school, training me to feed more than 8 people in the house, creating a menu and choosing the best produce in the market. She showed me by making the most delicious food growing up, making nice lunches that made me decide to eat in the playground so my classmates won't ask to taste it. (what a brat!) She showed her love by being tough and faithful to God in times of family crisis, and tried her very best to shield me from our financial problems.
One thing that struck me, as I was choosing fabric for my own daughter, was the memory I had before my senior graduation ball in college. I wasn't intending to go, as my love life then was pretty shaky, and I knew that we wouldn't have the money to pay for the tickets, plus a graduation ball dress. Luckily, I was invited to perform at the ball, so my ticket was free, the only problem I had was I didn't have money for a dress. My Mom woke me up one day and said we were going to go to a fabric store so we can have a dress made. She chose all the fabric like a boss, and had an idea of what she wanted it to look like, called a seamstress so I could be measured at home, and the dress was ready in 2 days. I attended the graduation ball in a light purple gown, went up on stage carrying my guitar, and in the most humble way possible, I whispered in the microphone, "Seriously, this is how I am paying for my dinner tonight!".
My Mom loved me and is loving me so quietly, so gracefully, and so unconditionally, in the most tender ways. So, thank you Mom, and I am sad too that I am away, and I am looking forward to your visit soon!
My Dad's death anniversary is coming up, and I feel him and think of him everyday. It's so funny that when I was explaining his death to my children, I said that we shouldn't worry as he is in a better place. I said that to make me feel better when I miss him, whenever I see a butterfly, I remember him, and I imagine that it is him, watching over me. There have been a LOT of times that we've seen butterflies in our travels, and sometimes, in the most eery way, we see a butterfly in the most peculiar places, or the timing is just right. One afternoon while I was working on my book in Starbucks, I sat on the bar facing the window, with the view of the street. I was experiencing writer's block that week and it was tough for me as I was in such a hurry to finish the book, when a giant Mariposa butterfly suddenly appeared before me, flying straight right at me outside the window, and seeming to encourage me to keep going. I knew that was my Dad. Now, every time we see a butterfly, my kids will just blurt out, "Hi, Lolo!".
Homesickness will always be a part of my life and I have accepted that a long time ago, but it never gets easier. Every sensation, every taste, every sound, every smell, every feel of the air takes me back to so many experiences in my life, and I am grateful for the mindfulness that comes with it. To my Mom, I miss you so much I couldn't say it in your face as I know we will both burst into tears, so here is my open letter to you. To my Dad, I miss you everyday, and I know that you are watching over me, especially when I sing your favorite songs in the quiet corner of my room. To my family and friends, you know who you are. I miss you all, so dearly.