Sunday, November 28, 2010

Memory Visit

Dad, Sarah, and I spend the weekend in Oklahoma. Yesterday was Dad's birthday and he planned something for the entire family to enjoy.

We left Grandparents' house early on Friday morning and drove to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Mom spend her undergrad years there. After eating lunch at Red Lobster, Dad took me around town. We took what he called a "memory visit" and went around the places that Mom loved, that Dad and Mom went and enjoyed the nice weather in Stillwater.

We ate Dinner at one of Mom's favorite place, Eskimo Joe's and walked around downtown Stillwater. Dad told me things about Mom that I never knew before. He told me about Mom's college days, he told me about Mom's love for OSU football and her love for her major and the people around her. Dad even told me how he and Mom met. About their first date and their first OSU football game.

We spend rest of the night and morning in our hotel room. (Which I must say that I am extremely impressed with Best Western. Our room was accessible, had a roll-in shower, lowered vanity areas and toilet. It doesn't get anymore accessible than this) Dad slept for most of the time, I think he just needed to catch up on his sleep from all the missions and the miles we covered within these few days.

Yesterday we ate small breakfast in the hotel and spend time in the pool area. I think Sarah loves the water as much as Mom does. We dropped off Sarah at one of Dad's friend's house and drove to Boone Pickens Stadium, where we met a few of Mom and Dad's friends for a tailgate party. Yesterday was the big game, OSU vs. Oklahoma and trust me, the tailgate party doesn't get any better than that.

We had a great time. Mom's friends talked about Mom as if she was their own sister. We ate, drink, and celebrated life. We celebrated the game and at the same time, celebrate Dad's birthday and the memory of Mom.

We didn't get back to our room until late. I helped Dad get a new plan with Verizon and canceled the phone plan he had with Mom. I think even though Dad seems excited about his new Blackberry Bold 9650, he was sad and hesitant of taking this step. The step of canceling something that Mom had. I think we were both hesitant but it's just another step in our lives. And we're taking it very slowly.

We drove home early this morning then got a bunch of baby proof items to baby proof the house. Sarah's getting active, wanting to walk everywhere herself so I think it's that time we actually baby proof the house.

Truth be told, I haven't heard Dad talk this much in a long time.
It was a good weekend.

Happy Birthday Dad
and thank you, Mama.

Enjoy this week's Weekly Tunes:
Forever by John Michael Montgomery

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our First Thanksgiving

You can say that today was our first Thanksgiving. Sarah's "first" Thanksgiving and walking around my Grandparents' place like there's no tomorrow. And of course, our first Thanksgiving without Mom. Or rather, with Angel Mama.

Wednesday early morning, we started the drive to my Grandparents. The drive was nothing too crazy, just a long drive and we only stopped once. Dad and I got some Whataburger before heading back on the road again.

We got to Grandparents' place late Wednesday afternoon. Before we went out to dinner, Dad, Sarah, and I went out and visited Mom. We brought her flowers, gave her some cards, left her a Whataburger napkin (because we both know how much Mom loves Whataburger) and talked. We told her how much we all miss her and told her how we are doing. Sarah sat near her grave maker as if sitting on Mom's lap. We talked, we smiled, and cried.

Grandma brought a lot of food this Thanksgiving because we were expecting not only family, but friends at the same time. Aside from family, we were expecting 3 other families. So trust me, Grandma went all out. She brought 2-30lb turkeys, 2-20lb ham, and made 6 pies (though one was said to be our taste test pies, so we finished one pie last night)

Today, I had a chance to head out and said hi to Airborne. He was still the good horse I remembered and he sure love 'em sugar cubes I kept giving him. I could tell he wanted to go for a ride but weather just didn't permit this time. Sorry, Airborne, we'll ride next time. We spend the most day away from the kitchen (orders from Grandma) and spend time with family playing Wii and PS3 and watched football.

And the dinner? Let's just say that I am more than stuffed.
We spend rest of the night eating, talking, and just enjoying the time we have as family. We talked about anything and everything. Including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and so on. It was a mix of great food, family, and friends. Definitely good way to spend Thanksgiving.

After people left Grandparents' place and the clean up process. We sat in the lounge, enjoyed some coffee and talked more. We talked about those deployed and how they love their pies and turkey. We talked about what happened at previous Thanksgivings and of course, we talked about the ones we lost. We shared their memories and their laughs, we kept their memory alive.

We found things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and not only for Thanksgiving, for rest of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mama.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We'll Be Alright

After attending an event for a psychology extra-credit, I stopped by a coffee shop and brought a small pastry. In ways it was my time away from Sarah so I thought it's nice to take a break and people watch for awhile.

As I was ordering my pastry, I saw a couple walked into the shop with a stroller. The couple looked like they recently graduated college, got married, and now are the parents of a 4-months old boy. As I sat next to them and listened to their conversation with their friends, I wondered if that was how Mom and Dad were. I wondered if that's what they did an a Sunday afternoon and I wondered if that's how they spend their casual dates and visit with their friends.

Behind me sat a family of three, parents and a daughter. As they laughed and talked about some game on their cellphone, I smiled. I thought of when I was young and about our family outings we'd take when Dad was home. As the parents converse with their daughter, I could hear my parents' voice. I could hear Mom's laugh and Dad's never ending challenge to beat the game. I could see myself laughing and smiling like there's no tomorrow.

I smiled as my mind wonders on, it was as if the clock was turned back for our family. It was as if everything was alright and cancer never entered our lives. It was as if our family is whole again.

Or maybe, we were never broken to began with. I'm not sure.

As I was about to leave the coffee shop, a Dad and a 3 year-old girl walked into the shop. Her words were unclear and at the same time adorable. Her gestures were out of this world. I thought about Dad and Sarah as I made my way to my car. And during the drive home, I thought about Mom, Dad, Sarah, and our family.

A voice from the depth of my heart spoke as I turned into the drive way. "Dad, Sarah, and I will be alright. Mom may not physically be here with us but she's here in spirit. Mom may not be living in the house with us but she lives in our hearts. There will be difficult and unbarring times. There will be bucket full of tears and sadness. And there definitely will be hate but I think...I think we'll be alright."

I am sure we'll be alright.
We'll have Mom and God's blessings every step of the way.

Right, Mama?

Enjoy this week's Weekly Tunes, everyone, and remember to NEVER take your family and loved ones for granted.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week of November 14th, 2010

Due to a stupid decision of mine, I'm suffering through the pain with no way of making me feel better. I've been cussing, praying, and yes, even crying, that's how much pain I am in.

And somehow all the craziness reminded me of this song.

Tim McGraw- I'm Only Jesus

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week of November 7th, 2010

Real apologies that I forgot to put this week's Weekly Tunes It's been a long week plus I caught the flu so guess I completely forgot it til now.

Anyways, I've been a fan of Zac Brown Band for a long time. And as soon as I heard this song, I was blown again. Another great song by the Zac Brown Band indeed.

Have a listen:
Zac Brown Band- Highway 20 Ride

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Family and Veteran's Day

First and foremost....

Happy Veteran's Day to all the veterans throughout the world.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

"A Veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the USA for an amount up to, and including, their life."

Lately I have been feeling pretty down. With the stress going on around the house, the effects of SCI, catching the flu, and even missing Mom got me pretty down in the dumps. And trust me, I am doing my best to pick myself up. I have had plenty of friends telling me that they don't like me like this and trust me, I don't either.

I'm doing my best to keep my spirits as high as possible. And I'm doing my best to pick myself up from the dumps.

Since Mom passed away, I really am amazed at the amount of support coming from family, friends, and even complete strangers on Twitter. In ways I have gained so much more Moms and Dads through Twitter. People cheering me on about getting an A and wishing me luck on my exams. People from all over the country giving me "hugs" and hoping that I get better is overwhelming.

And it's a good kind of overwhelming.

Truly, I can't thank you guys enough.
It truly is my privilege to "know" all of you. I think Sarah's lucky grow up knowing all of you.

Thank you. Truly can't thank you guys enough.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kingsley, Happiness, and Heartaches

I wrote this after visiting my friend Kingsley at the hospital. He’s currently fighting a cancer so rare; they don’t even have a name for it.

I don’t know how I would feel coming back to this place. Last time I was here, I saw my 5 year old cousin fought a war against brain cancer. Last time I was here, I saw him took his final breath as he proudly lay down his arms in this war. I didn’t know if it was the best for me or for Kingsley that I dropped by unannounced. I heard the news and had no other intentions but to pay him a visit and wish him well.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the hospital, memories flashed in my mind. I tried my best to block both the horrible and fund memories out of my head but it was useless. I saw myself and Cousin Sean going in this hospital and only I came out. I saw the tears in my family’s eyes as Sean fought his last few breaths here on Earth. It was that part of my life I just did not want to re-live.

I said a quick prayer before heading into the hospital. I was immediately greeted by a Drum Major. Then, realizing that was close to Halloween, I smiled at the Drum Major (one of the hospital staff that was sitting at the welcome desk) and went to grab a visitor’s badge. I truly didn’t know what to expect coming back here. Before heading to Kingsley’s room, I stopped by the bathroom and splashed my face with some cold water.

Everything felt surreal. I had no plans on coming back here any time soon and yet; here I am, visiting a dear friend.

I made my way up to the 7th floor and made my way to his room. I had no plans coming back here any time soon and here I am, rolling down the same hallway I did just a short year ago. Upon entering the room, I heard a weak, yet familiar voice.

“Hey dude, you made it.” Kingsley said to me.

I forced a smile and replied, “Hey.”

I didn’t know what to expect or how I’d feel. Last time I was here, my cousin was fighting a war against cancer. Last time I saw someone with cancer was Mom, her lifeless body sleeping peacefully in her old room. I couldn’t imagine Kingsley as sick as he was. In my mind, he was still the person filled with excitement and always out looking for something to do. Instead, what I saw, was a man swelled up from the chemotherapy and weak as a twig. There was an awkwardness between us and I think there was a big elephant in the room that neither of us wanted to talk about. Even though it was staring right into our eyes.

Kingsley and I caught each other up with both of our busy lives. I told him about what’s been going on and he did the same. As we talked, there was less awkwardness in between us, though we both did not wan to bring up just how cancer changed so many things in both of our lives.

Then Kingsley spoke, “Well…ya you know…” and with as much energy as he can, talked his hearts out. I have never known Kingsley for someone who will talk about his feelings or what he’s going through, but there he was, talking about the diagnosis, breaking the news to his parents and girlfriend, the treatment, and just how sick he feels on a day to day basis. I didn’t say anything but sat there and listened. Kingsley’s voice was sore as it can be and seem to give all his energy telling me just what’s going on.

I didn’t say much, just listened. It’s amazing what you can see and hear when you stop and listen.

Then Kingsley caught me off guard.

“Let’s play some Call of Duty, dude. Some friends lend me a PS3.”

We spend next couple hours playing Call of Duty. There weren’t many words as we geared up and the good old PS3. Despise the chemo and how weak he was, Kingsley pretty much kicked my ass. And like the Kingsley I know, threw some friendly competition words around.

I’m sitting here now, right by Kingsley’s bed as he just passed out cold from all the meds they’ve been given him. I still don’t how I should feel or the things I must do to keep Kingsley’s spirit in check. I’m just here as a friend and it is in the deepest part of my heart that I hope Kingsley can pull through this one. Kingsley’s a good friend and truly, I hope the best for him.

Kingsley’s up now…kind of surprised that I’m still here and asked if I’d like to have bucket duty.
Here we go.

I’ve visited Kingsley several times since the initial visit. He seems weak as ever and that somehow scares me more than usual. Seeing him struggling to pull up his own covers reminds me of how bad Mom got when she was sick. It reminded me a lot of things…and I am confronting them before I actually want to. But I’m here for a good friend; I’m here when no one else would even care. Just fighting through this together I guess.

Yesterday, I watched as they put a feeding tube in him. As the tube passed through the gastro reflex, the unspeakable came rushing out of his mouth, again, reminded me of Mom. Truly hope Kingsley will get the nutrition he needs ASAP. I plan to visit as often as I can. I know what support can do when someone is truly sick. There are just no words I can use to describe what's going on, simply because there is just too much going on.

On another note, Sarah’s first birthday is in two days. Both of my grandparents are coming to celebrate this milestone. It’s rather scary how fast time passed by and Sarah’s already one. I got her several gifts I know she’d like but at the same time, I wish I can give her one thing that I just can’t.

I’m dreading the day she opens her mouth and stare at me with those wondering eyes and ask, “Matty…where’s Mama? How come she’s not here? Does she not love me?”

I’m dreading it now, because I know that’s what she’s wondering about daily right now. She just don’t know how to put it in words.

And when she does ask, I wouldn’t know how to put it in words either.

I wrote this last night and slowly realize I haven't been happy in a long time. I laugh, sure. I smile, sure. But I haven't been happy in a long time. And as much as I'd like to fix that, I don't know how.

Relaxing on my parents' bed. Last time I was here, I was 5, snuggling with Mom while she told me jokes. We laughed and stayed in bed forever.

Now I sit here thinking of all the memories we made throughout the years.

Every time I see the sunrise, I remember sharing our ritual together. And I think of you.
Every time I hear our favorite song, I remember sharing a dance or singing a chorus together. And I think of you.
Every time I smell the items you once hold dear, I remember sharing stories and making memories. And I think of you.
Every time I touch your picture, I remember giving you a hug while you latch onto me forever. And I think of you.

My heart aches like no other tonight.
I'm just a little boy, asking for his Mama.

I miss you Mama.
Come visit soon.