A Dream to Dream

"Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again." - Vincent van Gogh, painter of the famous Starry Night

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.” – Vincent van Gogh, painter of the famous Starry Night

Dreams can be so vivid.

The details are as sharp as a film in HD, and your senses are on overdrive. The scents are distinct, the sounds are piercing, the colors are vibrant and the slightest touch can send shivers down your spine. Even the words echo ceaselessly until it’s all too much to bear.

Dreams can be nightmares, too. Not the kind where you wind up giving a presentation at work naked or where all your teeth fall off. Nightmares can be sorely realistic, and can have such a high potential of being actualized in real life. You experience the worst that could happen with painful accuracy. Soon after a seemingly never-ending episode, you wake up in cold sweat, and let out a huge sigh of relief. It was just a dream, you tell yourself. An unfortunate REM sleep that got out of hand.

But what happens when the said nightmare transcends to reality? What if no amount of self-pinching can help you escape the realness of the situation at hand?

The simple answer is that of course you’ll get through it. You’ve been there before, remember? You’ve faced the same demons and experienced the same affliction. Only this time, you have the power to control the situation. You aren’t lying hopelessly in your sheets, you are living it. It is inevitable that you may struggle to find the grace and humility to come out of it with your dignity held high, but even if you fail, you know you went through it anyway, and survived. We are but humans after all.

And when it’s over, you will laugh yourself silly when you realize it’s not really over. There is a promise of tomorrow. There is another sunset to watch and a sunrise to catch. Another lesson to learn, a book to read, a tear to cry, a breath to take, and a dream to dream.

It’s all just a matter of perspective.

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Valentine Weekend

After Papa’s death, exactly two months and one day ago, I thought I’d never be able to write again. They say writing is a therapeutic repast, especially when one goes through life’s many tragedies. In my case, typing out words to make sense of my grief literally makes my acid reflux act up. The term heartburn is quite fitting — nothing could possibly douse the embers in my chest, smoldering with the remains of last year’s misery. Whenever I would try to write happy memories, of times in childhood when Papa would buy balut from the old man in the street, and the wonderful moment when we’d eat it under the warm glow of our dining table with the funny-looking rooster salt shaker, the thoughts are immediately replaced with the sound of his death rattle and the feeling of his cold, lifeless skin. I remember the grim faces of the men who entered his room and placed him in a blue body bag. I recall with painful accuracy the sound of the bag being zipped up, like a heavy luggage that will be checked in on a plane to Brazil. No matter how much we humans try to glorify death, it all boils down to the same, mundane thing that it really is. Thank goodness our bodies have souls to go along with it. Needless to say I’ve resorted to stick to writing press releases, memos,  business letters, hasty text messages and meaningless Tweets and Instagram captions. It’s easier to keep down my gastric acid that way.

So here is my feeble attempt to go back to writing.

It turns out life is a matter of simply going through the days, rolling out from bed in the morning and facing the daily grind. There is no other way. Christmas has passed, and so has New Year’s Eve. Two days ago, it was Valentine’s Day, and thankfully, I am still breathing. I am profusely grieving yes, but fortunately my appetite for life is back.  While I give most of the credit to my loving support system, I have to say that this newfound zest for life can also be greatly attributed to this person who recently came into my life when I was least expecting it. Oh, and he happened to be my Valentine. :’)

Delightful white tulips, personally delivered to me at work in the morning.

Delightful white Holland tulips, personally delivered to me by Vin at work in the morning of Valentine’s Day.

Post-dinner stroll along the streets of Makati. This is in the lush gardens of  Washington Sycip Park in Legaspi Village.

Post-dinner stroll along the streets of Makati. This was taken in the lush gardens of Washington Sycip Park in Legaspi Village.

The following day, I spent time with my family to celebrate the birthday of my mom’s brother, our dear Tito Vitt and his daughter Mischa, who was born on Valentine’s Day.  After a delicious and filling lunch at Chili’s, we bonded some more and simply enjoyed each other’s company.

Yours truly with my brother Ryan and cousin Mischa. It's always a wonderful time with these two around!

Yours truly with my brother Ryan and cousin Mischa. It’s always a wonderful time with these two around!

Me with my mom Vivian, the strongest and most beautiful woman in the wold! Again we have this whole matching outfits phenomenon. Great minds think alike, I suppose?

Me with my mom Vivian, the strongest and most beautiful woman in the world! Again we have this whole matching outfits phenomenon. Great minds think alike, I suppose?

And of course, Valentine’s Day isn’t all about romance or extra time spent with family. After a whole day of sleeping soundly in my cozy bed, I decided to take myself out on a dinner date, something that I have never done on a Valentine weekend. In my most comfortable summer Mango dress and my trusty pair of flip flops, I crossed the street to the mall across us and satisfied my craving for Jonas’, the favorite beef pares place of my dad. I ordered a big bowl of beef mami and Chinese kikiam on the side while a live acoustic concert was going on in the middle of the mall amid a squealing female population (I didn’t bother checking who the singer was but I’m sure he was one of those good-looking artistas that makes girls swoon.) I found myself being moved to tears as I walked around and heard a live performance of Noel Cabangon’s iconic song Kanlungan. Just what I needed as I was strolling alone and thinking about Papa!

To cheer myself up I went to a Little Orbits donuts stall to consume shameful amounts of carbs and calories. I ignored the guilt-tripping voice in my head and indulged in the mini donuts and even went to the Gong Cha milk tea place to enhance my solitary food trip. A Sunday well-spent indeed.

Whew. Writing didn’t seem so bad after all. I should do this more often.

Death and Taxes

 

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, circa 1789.

This is why I am very anal about getting my payslip twice a month, as if to validate my sheer surrender. It just seems good practice to always compute the figures, not necessarily to search for a miscalculation, but more of to add dignity to my involuntary role as a taxpayer. Regardless of how these taxes are used or allocated in this country, I am not complaining.  I’ve simply succumbed to the system and I am in this comfortable state where I simply accept it.

Given this inevitability of taxes, lately I’ve been finding myself trying to accept the certainty of death as well.

The tricky part about death is that it’s not as simple as filling up a BIR form or paying a visit to the paymaster on a free afternoon. There is no sense of order in dying; it can even be random and meaningless at times, if not tragic or peaceful.

I always knew it would end to this since that gloomy night in January when I was told that my dad is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I just couldn’t fathom how the winding road ahead would be, filled with bumps and wrong turns and forks that lead to the same destination. Why must he suffer so?

The death rattle begins tonight. Anyone who has ever been with a loved one who is but a few blinks away from eternal repose would be familiar with this haunting and chilling sound that comes from the throat.

If I may excuse myself. I have some grieving to do.