Loss and Grief

I almost forgot how it feels to lose someone I love to death until my uncle’s untimely demise last December. It was all too sudden. He was still physically fit at 78 and was even able to drive around although he was probably already feeling sick but kept it hidden from the family. It would have been so typical of him, someone who doesn’t wanna waste time in a hospital bed. Whenever we had a family outing, he was notable for hurrying all of us to go home right after we finished eating even though some of us haven’t started swimming yet. He just wanted to be home.

The day before he died I was happy to see a video uploaded by my cousin on Facebook of him opening his eyes for the first time after several days. We all took it as a positive sign. I thought I would still be able to see him well and kicking with all his jokes. Past midnight I woke up and checked Facebook only to find he was gone. I would never see him with his toothless smile ever again.

My cousin suggested we make a slideshow of his photos. Being the one with the technical know-how, I was tasked to produce the video. I checked all the photo folders in my external drive, searched for his photos in all my cousins’ Facebook posts only to realise all of us don’t have much photos of him. We don’t have even a single proper solo photo to frame and place above his casket. We ended up framing a photo when he was younger, probably 40 years old. It was because he didn’t want to be pictured so all we have are photos of him sandwiched in a crowd, many of which he wasn’t even looking at the camera. Now I don’t dread people who post too much selfies that much anymore.

“Come stop your crying it will be alright,” I was unto the first few slides but my tears couldn’t stop falling. “You’ll be in my heart, from this day on now and forevermore…” I looked back on those opportunities I missed when I could have visited him. I realised we didn’t really have that much memories spent together but that doesn’t mean I loved him less. He was always in my heart, I was always fond of him, I just don’t know why I didn’t exert that much effort to spend more time with him. The last time I saw him he asked for a Christmas gift and I just answered him, “Yong it’s too early. Christmas is still far away”. Had I known that I won’t see him ever again, I would have given him all the cash I had at hand then.

You see, regrets are futile. It will never bring back missed chances. It will never bring back our loved ones. I remember about 5 years ago, I was struck with the thought that our elders are getting too old and that they may leave us soon. So I began to take lots of photos of them with my DSLR. The sad thing is my uncle, being himself, evaded my camera so much that I never found the right timing or angle. I thought there will be many more chances to capture him but I failed. And I also failed at making sure he felt how much I cared about him.

Since high school, I tried to live by the saying “never leave words unsaid and things undone” and “roses mean nothing at deathbed”. Somehow, I was good at executing these words to my friends maybe because I knew they are in my life only temporarily; our paths will cross and then they will move on with their career or marriage and I may not see them for years. On the contrary my family is always there no matter what happens, or so I thought.

Christmas 2015 was a very sad moment for our family but as the new year begin, my uncle left us with a valuable lesson and that is to always make the most of the time we have with our loved ones. We are a united family but my uncle’s death bound us even more. It’s still difficult to move past this grief but I will make sure that it doesn’t cripple me from appreciating those that are still alive.

The book I will read every year

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari inspirational book

It’s a brand new year once again and this season is always filled with enthusiasm, mood for a fresh start, ‘material detox’, renewal and resolutions. Every time I think of coming up with New Year resolutions however, I noticed that I keep repeating the same things over again, which is a sad indication that I was not able to stick with them. So I decided to break up with this tradition and just vowed to always keep a list. Mobile apps don’t work well with me when it comes to organizing my life so I always carry a small notebook where I can jot down pretty much everything as I can be very forgetful, though at work I can be a walking directory.

There is one thing though that I never failed to do every year despite my New Year resolutions failure and that is to read Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book. I got this book as a gift in Kathmandu in 2014 though strangely I never heard of it before then, even if I read a lot on meditation and was surrounded with meditators. Honestly though, I wasn’t very eager to read the book when I got it because I thought it is another story of a person who gave up everything to become a monk and promotes a life void of any form of attachments. But when I did read it, I finished it in a day! It’s not the typical story that I expected nor about how to empty your mind. Instead, it offers insights on how to live a simple but passionate life, what truly matters, and teaches us the value of time.

I resolved to read this book every year to constantly remind myself of the lessons it offers. I find it a good grounding especially when I feel I’m slipping out of direction because it also offers practical guides on how to live a life of purpose. I won’t talk so much about its contents so as not to influence your impressions of it. However, I’m happy to share some of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Never overlook the power of simplicity.”

“You truly cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought – not even one.”

“…the best thing you can do for yourself is move beyond it.”

“…never get into the petty habit of measuring your self-worth against other people’s net worth.”

“You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see.”

“The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself.”

“Fear is nothing more than a mental monster you have created, a negative stream of consciousness.”

“Never forget the power of music. Spend a little time with it every day… When you feel down, play some music. It is one of the finest motivators I know of.”

“…truly enlightened people never seek to be like others.”

“Live for today – there will never be another one quite like it.”

“Slow things down. Enjoy the beauty and sacredness of all that is around you. You owe this to yourself.”

“There is a huge difference between making a lot of money and making a lot of life.”

“Starting today, learn more, laugh more and do what you truly love to do.”

Click here to see the list of the books I’ve read.

Cheap and artsy place to stay in Panglao, Bohol

Being a Boholana, I’ve traveled to Panglao island in Bohol several times mostly on day-trips to the beach, though on several occasions I stayed overnight and paid over a thousand pesos for accommodation. After living abroad for over 7 years, I found that the island has significantly changed. There are more hotels, restaurants and shops now. I always had this perception that accommodations there are all expensive because it is one of the most famous beach destinations in the country with its very fine white sand. Little did I know that there already exist cheaper options for backpackers.

A friend who traveled with me to Panglao suggested D’ Backpackers’ Barn; what I shame though coz I’m the one who’s from Bohol yet I don’t know much information. I was hesitant at first because it is so cheap – at 400 pesos (approx. 8 USD) per person for a dorm-type room for 4 people. I imagined a poorly maintained place with dirty toilets. I thought I’d stay somewhere else but got lazy to do the research myself and decided to stay there.

I fell in love with D’ Backpackers’ Barn right away. It’s definitely my kind of place, totally opposite to what I had imagined. It’s a place that has a ‘character’. I loved how artistic it is, with life quotes spread all over which got me all pumped up. I even asked the receptionist where they got their decorations and who did their lettering so I can get some for our house. I particularly loved the mini-living room. We spent the night talking there with my friends. It felt so comfy; the rustic feel of the decors added good vibes because I love anything vintage-like. Most of all, I loved having breakfast there and sipping my coffee while looking at the plants at their backyard. Oh, and their toilet is clean too!

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Totally forgot to take a photo of the room itself but you can check their Facebook page here.