On Life and Everlasting Life – A Letter to J

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To my dearest J,

Tatay sat you all down, and let you know that his Lola has passed away. He quickly explained before heading out the door to get your Lola Auntie at church. You looked at me and asked “Is Lola Auntie sad?”.

When Lola Auntie came in the door, instead of hiding, you went straight to her, took her hand and placed it on your forehead. Then, you gave her a hug. (Ig followed, although slightly distracted by the chips and oranges Lola Auntie had in her arms.) You seemed determined to give comfort, and you hugged a little longer, and a little tighter than usual.

You were quiet most of the evening, and before bed, you were deep in thought.

“Nanay, can I whisper something? Is Amah’s body in the cemetery? But her soul is in Heaven?”

It is the Feast of the Assumption, the day Ina went up to Heaven. Today, Amah joined her. Amah was a holy, happy woman, and I know she is in Heaven too.

Tomorrow, you’ll be six years old! We will celebrate your life, and the life of your great grandmother.

She had 97 beautiful years, and we are so blessed that we had time with her at the twilight of her life.

She witnessed many of your firsts, and I know you, and your cousins brought her great joy. But before you, and all the other great-grandchildren, she was a doting grandmother to her own apos.

Tatay spent more than half his life, under the careful watch of his Lola. His stories of the meals she prepared (bringing Tatay dried fish from Bicol all the way to Vancouver), the lectures he endured, and the medicinal drinks she made him take, are but a few things that made him the man he is today.

Your Tatay may not express it out loud, but his love for your Amah runs deep. When he was old enough to go on his own, she asked him to stay. And he did. But her love for him, and for all her grandchildren, and the rest of the family, was deeper. And I believe this is why she stayed as well. She stayed, she endured pain, she fought hard and long. But she did it all for love, and with love.

But on this beautiful feast day, she joined her creator. And although I assure you that she is in Heaven, I want you to know that Amah is also in your heart.

You carry her name, and her blood runs through you, my little J. Because of her life, and her choices, we have ours. And are forever grateful.

May you be as strong, as selfless, and as loving as your Amah, J. We will have your chocolate cake to celebrate your life, and Ama’s everlasting life.