Archive for August, 2009


“There are four cars behind us,” R breathed as he glanced into the rearview mirror. We were bumping along the gravel-covered Control Road, eating the dust of the cars rambling ahead of us, leaving behind dust for cars behind us to swallow.

“Will our cabin be safe, papa?” Sophia asked from the back.

R and I looked at each other.

“Probably. It is hard to say. It should be ok.”

About 15 minutes ago, while I was lounging on the couch reading to the girls, whilst trying to dissuade Lyra from exploring beyond the edge of the couch, and R was taking a nap, we heard a siren and a fire-truck stopped in-front of our cabin.

“You need to evacuate RIGHT. NOW.” A voice boomed. R jumped up and threw open the door and we were told a fire had started some five minutes ago and that we were to leave immediately. Do NOT wait.

I grabbed Lyra and put her in the car-seat, as gently as possible and then threw everything into our packing crates at lightning speed, while trying not to shake too much. Sophia and Val quickly stuffed their things into their bags and R ran between the car and house barefeet, loading our worldy possessions and yelling to us to use the bathroom before we leave.

In five minutes we were out. At least three fire trucks passed our way and several other emergency respond vehicles. We looked back and saw thick, dark clouds rising and blooming, an eerie, ominous beauty. The air smelled of trees burning. Our hearts were thumping. I thought of asking the girls to chant a mantra to help them calm down, but thought maybe I should not focus attention over their trauma and just sat. (Interestingly Sophia started to sing Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung soon after, a mantra of healing and the same one I chanted for the 49-day meditation last year for Ferdinand’s anniversary. I guess her innate wisdom and instinct called to her!)

I just started to think, “Please let everyone safe. May all be safe. Please let everyone be safe. May all be safe.”

And as the air in the car slowly started to calm down, I started to hear the voices creeping into my head. One said, “Ferdinand was not safe. He was not safe! He died within you. He was not kept safe. He was not safe. He was not safe. he was NOT safe!!!”

Another tried to say, “He is safe. He is safe right now. He is OK. He is where he wants to be; he is peaceful. He is safe.”

And the two voices just screamed at each other and I tried to adjust the volume controls, I tried to mute but they just went on, so I just left them because my mind started to wander to two years ago… …

About a week after Ferdinand died we had a flood at our cabin. It was no shit. This little creek behind our cabin, that had been barely a trickle for months, suddenly swollen to a raging river over the few days of rain, and strengthened by the rain that came down from the mountains. We watched (in awe,really) as the river rose in minutes, taking our wooden shed with it. Our wooden shed that was filled to the gills with stuff-  heavy equipment including two lawnmowers, bicycles and large bags of seeds and fertilizers. We also had to quickly get into our car and drove to high ground.

That time we did not pack everything. We just took water and some food that can be eaten in the car, and I grabbed the box that the hospital had sent me home with. This blue box with his stuff- his footprints, those bracelets he wore, a hat and all those things.

I remember sitting in the car, grabbing onto the box and thinking, “I’ve got you with me.” Except of course, I did not have him with me.

At least, not physically, and I never will.


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I’ve taken down the powerful, poignant poems but here’s the link to read about poet Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno and the poems she wrote in the aftermath of her daughter’s murder: the link

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(wanted to title this “Labor of Love” but found it a little too… cheesy)


This is the necklace R made for me, on the day before Ferdinand’s anniversary.

He was not impressed with the technical quality and workmanship of the previous necklace but refrained from his criticism. Instead, he told me how it was made and that perhaps it would not be the best way if you want a necklace that lasts. The necklace broke, was sent back, you know what happened, and now I have no idea what has happened to it.

The day before Ferdinand’s anniversary, I sent R to a bakery outlet to get bread and he told me he would like to visit downtown Mesa to look at this electronics shop. He came back about three hours, around lunchtime, and told me about the various interesting shops he visited. “There was also this little shop that does custom jewelry,” he said, and then after telling me that he discussed with the owner about making jewelry, reached into his pocket and took out a tiny plastic bag with this little dot of red in it.

“This is a Thai blood ruby. I thought I will try to make something myself.”

He then took a piece of paper and sketched me his design, which he told me he had been turning over in his head the past days.

“I want to keep the design simple,” he declared, pointing to the triangle.

“And, triangle, because- it has three points and three sides, and he was our third child. The ruby goes to this bottom point. At the sides will be those seashells we found at Rocky Point.”

A couple of months before Ferdinand was born, we went to Rocky Point. We found lots of tiny seashells on the beach. R thought it would be lovely to make necklaces out of these tiny shells so we started to go on our hands and knees to collect all the whole shells we could find. The girls were excited to hear they would have a seashell necklace.

“And one for the baby too?” they asked, “even if he’s a boy?”

“Of course. Of course the baby gets one too.”

The shells had been sitting in R’s drawer, untouched.

So then he set to work. Cutting a triangular piece from this small sheet of silver that we once bought together in Laos, ten years ago. Then he polished and treated the edges. The piece was shaped and bent so it is curved. A hole was then drilled and then the ruby dot mounted. Next he did some welding on the back of the triangle so a necklace wire can be threaded through, and then beads were threaded through. The shells were drilled (which took way much longer than expected, and so there were only two) and threaded on as well. Then he fixed the closure.

I think in all it was about ten hours of continuous work. It wore beautifully and I loved it. Lyra was immediately attracted to it and the problem is she picks up the triangular piece and then digs it into my chest, so it’s definitely not something I can wear everyday, alas. I was really moved that R did that for me. He tried to brush it off, saying he had always wanted to try making jewelry and that after this attempt he knew that making jewelry was not in his future. He also said he had the week off and it was nice to do something else not work-related. But he also said he saw that I was sorely disappointed with what happened with the other necklace, and wanted to do something about it.

So, now, I have a necklace to remember and honor Ferdinand, made by his father. R and I had been through tumultous times, all kinds of big ups and big downs and sometimes we can get so mad and upset at each other, but there are also times, like this, when we know that we do love each other rather much.

This necklace gives me such mixed feelings when I hold it, wear it and see it. I feel thankful and grateful. I feel loved, I feel hollow. I feel sad, I feel peace.

And, my pictures just do not do justice to the necklace.


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I swear. I swear I have made many attempts to come here and elaborate on the points that I had scribbled on this post-it note that has been moved so often that sticky part is no longer sticky. Soon, little Lyra, who is threatening to be fully mobile any second now, and who lives true to her nickname Lyra Longfingers shall get her fingers on that little crumbled post-it and saturate it with sweet, thick drool and the next thing will be for me to discover it in her diaper or in the potty.

Life has been crazy hectic busy here, with Sophia suddenly deciding she wanna go to school. (details over here and here). So I have been running around like a headless chicken, gathering up supplies, filling in forms and all that fun stuff. It’s a sudden big change, for all of us. And today, she came home really tired, and she cried and she told me, “I feel I do not have enough time with you.” and it took all of me to hold myself together and not break apart. The thing is, I do not like being crazy busy like this. It make me feel disconnected to everything- myself, friends, family, myself. And, Ferdinand. So, some minutes ago as I sat down at the computer, fingers on the keyboard, inhaling deeply and getting ready to type, tears started to flow.

You see, life is a huge thing, and grief is a part of it. Well, maybe for some people, grief is to be erased, ignored and pretended not to exist, swept under the carpet and all that. For me, grief is just a part of life, it melds seamlessly into everything. There is no need to pound chest and holler everyday about it, but it is something I process everyday, almost. From time to time, I need to go on and on and on about it. And the last few days, I felt I had not truly breathe, and I am gasping. I need time, just a few seconds, to put my hand to my heart, and listen, head cocked, feeling the nuances in pulse and rhythm, to acknowledge that ache, that throbbing.

There is this book I’ve started to read, called Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear and Dispair. I haven’t gotten very far but I am already loving it. Absolutely loving it. It is beautifully written and resonates so deeply. This is a library copy and I know I need a copy of my own because I feel I need to underline with a sharp pencil so many lines that are just so precise. There are so many parts where I want to show to everyone, my finger violently jabbing, “Yes! Yes! Read this!”  Like  said, I am not very far in but I already heart it. The author talks about how important and crucial it is to totally feel that grief and let it come forth. You get it, don’t you? You. need. to. freaking. feel. the. grief. NOT sweep it under the carpet. Not look on the bright side. Not wish it away because it is a “bad” thing.

I  still need to feel the grief. I am not done with it yet. I know it is still there. I know grief can be transformed, but it still needs to live with me for a while yet.

And so! when Loribeth highlighted on her blog about this post, wherein advice is asked about what can be done when someone experiences a late pregnancy loss, I hurried over, admittedly curious what people had replied. I was pleased to see that the first comment was a link to Glow in the Woods. Most comments were really touching and I won’t lie, I was basically bawling while I scrolled my mouse. Until, comment #41. Someone who protested the use of the word “tragedy” to describe the event of a stillbirth. An overused word, in his/her opinion, for, “a real tragedy occurs on a large scale, and especially when it could have been prevented, but was not.”


And read on to hear he/she tell more about how you ought to grieve in private, out of normal people’s way, and pray, do not fall apart, for it is a luxury to not have a paycheck.

And the comment ends with this sagely advice: Life is for living. Remember that, always.

Holy crap cow. Of course life is for living. It is also for dying. It is also for mourning, loving, learning and grieving. Life is not about acting strong while growing a tumor inside. Come on, you want beautiful flowers? You will do good to start with some good shit that is called compost. Within good shit is something called Grief.

I know I should just let it slide, ignorant I-know-it-all people like these abound. I thought to post a comment but eloquence escapes me right now. I guess it reminds me of the insensitivities and stupidities I had experienced the past two years. And now, now that Lyra is here, I am also aware of people heaving a sigh of relief and waiting for me to finally “move on.” And I’m just tired of explaining and elaborating on this whole experience, this thing called Life. I hope I made sense. I need caffeine injections, and I probably should not blog when sleep-deprived, but by golly, I had to write something.

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powerful poem

Gal posted this on her blog. What a beautiful, gorgeous, powerful poem. Thank you, Gal, for sharing…


by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

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I have been trying to sit down to write a post. All these thoughts I had in my head the past two weeks, they are fast escaping me as I make feeble attempts to grasp at the shreds. “STOP!” I yell, but they are not listening, only running faster, taunting me, wagging their fingers at me, saying, “Now, or Never.”

So I determined to do that tonight but I failed, yet again.

My brain is just mushed, and even as I sit and try to list the reasons excuses reasons why I did not find time to write, it keeps coming up like a list of whines. I’m sorry you get to read this but here is my list:

  1. This is week #3 of our garage door opener still NOT working. So, every time we wanna go out or get in, I act like an Incredible Hulk to lift our garage door  to open or close it. It ain’t a pretty sight and I’m always afraid someone passes by and sees me and thinks I am trying to break into my house, with a troop of little thief helpers to help stuff my minivan with, you know, garbage from my own house.
  2. I asked the dishwasher to run last night and it refused to budge.
  3. Last week Lyra was sick. Roseola. Before the fever broke on Friday and the rash emerged on Saturday, we had NO idea what was going on and yes, we imagined all kinds of worst-case scenarios. The rash was gone by Sunday but she is not back to her usual self yet. So I start to think, Maybe it is not Roseola, but something like that… some kind of rare disease… Both older girls had Roseola, and we were never worried. We were cocky people who believed in the body’s supreme immune system to let things take its course and build immunity in the process. I am trying to be like that again.

I know, all no-big-deal’s but I am in a whiny, wimpering mood.

And I wanted to write about the necklace I wore on Ferdinand’s anniversary but now is a bad time to take photos so that will have to wait- again. Said necklace is not exactly something I could wear on a daily basis, and I have been giving myself time and space to find out if I do need something to wear daily? I still don’t know, but I was looking at bedsheets on Gar.net H.ill and saw this:

I looked up on the designer and it seems this is an exclusive for said company. I do like it, quite a bit. I like that it is hand-hammered (gently) and I like how there is that space between the circle and the circle, the solid and the void. I feel life eventually comes full circle (as in, you begin and you also kick the bucket) and I am no exception, but there is always that little missing space, that incompleteness that is Ferdinand. (And it reminds me of this eclipse necklace, neat.) I dunno, I am still thinking about it. What do you think??

And now that I got my whines out, I think I can go sleep. If you don’t give up on me, I’ll come back eventually and whine write what I wanted to write about… …

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thank you

Your thought, your words, your wishes…… they all meant so much to me. Thank you.

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