Everything Stops


I drove by the cemetery again where my helpful and ever busy boss Brian was buried. He died in January. He had a heart attack in California while doing the Spartan Race (aka “suicide race”) with his wife. When he was alive, Brian was always doing something. If he was not walking a vacationing neighbor’s dog, or fishing (which was his life), he was busy helping other people like me. He fixed my door and assisted me with other things to help me sell my former house.

Brian had a heart of gold. They say the good die young. Well, that’s Brian. He was only 52. He was a rare kind of an individual. He was selfless. My co-workers and I really liked him. A few days before he died, I stayed true to my word. I had been meaning to give him some money to compensate for his help – though what he did for me was priceless. He would not accept it. I slid it in his jacket’s pocket. He found it and went to me to return the money. He smiled and said, “just give me a hug,” to which I reluctantly obliged especially because there were co-workers around and I did not want them to think weird of us hugging there in the workplace. Later on, I felt glad that I gave him that friendly hug.

As I slowed down to look at the cemetery and to hopefully catch a glimpse of his gravesite, I saw cars in the intersection turning left, turning right, rushing… rushing. Suddenly, I had a realization: Everything stopped for Brian. Whatever it was he was busy about no longer matters. If he had to fix his kayak, or to buy something, or travel to another state for a fishing tournament, whatever projects he was planning to do, those will no longer happen.

So what about those of us who are still alive? What are we busy about? What are we fussing about? Really. If any of us were to die today, will our worries and things to do still matter? If we really think about it. I had to stop and think about this myself.

Death truly is the great equalizer according to one poem. It does not matter if you have over a hundred things to do on your list. It doesn’t matter if you have little children to take care of. It doesn’t matter if you are on your way to your wedding. It doesn’t matter if you’re the richest or the poorest man in the world. It doesn’t matter if you have a country to run. Death does not have respect for anybody.

We don’t know when we will die. If we do, we’d avoid it at all cost. Therefore, it’s wise to ponder on what the Good Book tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might, for there is no work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the Grave, where you are going.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10

What a sobering thought that should move us to adjust our priorities in life.

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Image source – https://swimbaitzone.com/best-cheap-fishing-kayaks/




I hear the word “bonding” being loosely used when people get together, usually for coffee or a meal. Perhaps, the spending of time together helps in forming a closer bond of friendships. An Internet definition of “bonding” states: “The establishment of a relationship or link with someone based on shared feelings, interests, or experiences.”

Have you been to a place or event where you met some people and became friends with them? When you left, it’s like you left your heart there, especially if you stayed there for a few days. You felt sad, even depressed for several days or weeks, because you’ve “bonded” with them.

This happened to my youngest daughter several years ago, when she and I went to Washington DC for her to compete in the National Spelling Bee. There, she met 7th and 8th graders her age and formed a bond with about fifteen of them. What I remember her saying was, “they are so like me!” (AKA word nerds), at least the extrovert ones who stayed late sitting at sofas in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel until midnight, instead of staying inside their rooms slaving for more words to memorize.

When my daughter and many others were eliminated early on in the competition, I saw a girl crying in the elevator, but not my daughter despite her sadness. We went back to our hotel room, sat on the bed with our heads hanging low and said to each other, “Well, what do we do now? Dream is over.” She then stood up and announced, “I’m going to the lobby.” It’s because she knew that’s where her new friends would be at. They’d be there to commiserate with each other. Or so I thought. When I went to check on them, they were laughing and giggling, and actually happy that the stress was over. And they can spend their remaining days in the nation’s capital enjoying each other’s company. Their outgoing personalities and social interaction actually helped these kids bounce back immediately from disappointment.

Guess what happened on the last day when everyone was saying goodbye to each other? Participants and their parents/chaperones were rushing to leave earlier than us to catch flights, including my daughter’s newfound friends. Some lived in far-away states. We live in Delaware, which is only over an hour drive so we were able to stay longer. One by one, her friends disappeared. And I saw my daughter’s demeanor change from cheerful to forlorn and teary-eyed. We walked then to the nearby Chinatown to have our final lunch before heading back to Delaware. She was depressed for several weeks. Thank goodness high school entered her life after that summer has ended. It means new people, new friends, at least for the next four years.

She and her spelling bee friends promised to keep in touch (this was the era of MySpace). And they did, for quite some time, writing to each other and sending pictures, even calling each other. Then they moved on to high school, grew to young adulthood and went to different colleges and universities. One of them even wrote a book of her experience at the National Spelling Bee (Verbomania: Experiencing the National Spelling Bee*).

But like any well-meaning “Call me! Let’s have lunch soon!” that usually ends up not happening, their early formation of friendly relationship eventually fizzled with the passing of time.

On that last day of the Spelling Bee week, I tried to cheer up my daughter. But deep inside of me, I knew there was no consoling. She had to go through this – the way it was for me many summers ago (decades in fact), when I was a young woman of eighteen. From my hometown in the province, my two chaperones and I went to the nation’s capital to participate in the Mr. and Ms. University at the University of the Philippines. It was a national talent competition of college students coming from all over the country representing their college/university. A young man and young woman from two separate schools won the contest, and were sent to Japan for the International competition. But that did not diminish the experience to me and the lesson I learned that long weekend.

Being sociable, I befriended some of the participants especially a young man named Marty from a nearby university. We only stayed there for three days but it felt like time stood still, and wished we could stay there longer. On the last day, I felt the same feeling my daughter had on that last day at the spelling bee. It was a beautiful summer day too. But my heart was sinking into deep sadness, that feeling of void or emptiness and abandonment. So I understood completely where my daughter was coming from. Will we ever see each other again? Deep inside, my daughter and I both knew the answer. Because the reality is, for what particular reason would we and our new friends see each other again?

Marty and I exchanged letters and post cards for a while. Then we lost touch, and moved on with our lives.

What brought on this reminiscing?

Read on….


Thank You America

Statue of Liberty & Caravan of Migrants

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” – America, the Greatest Nation in the World in this Era

Donald Trump, Mr.President, can we say you have succeeded in making America Great again? So great that people continue to want to come to Estados Unidos (US) even if it means facing dangerous terrains, extreme heat, torrential rain, criminals, gangs, deportation, hunger, thirst and painful family separations. Not to mention, leaving behind the only homes they have known of all their lives. Just imagine, leaving your humble abode, with no intention of coming back and not knowing where the next “home” is. A house is more than a home. Studies show that homelessness leave psychological scars due to losing a sense of security, a physical sanctuary that can protect you from all kinds of elements, and a place to rest your head on after a long day of struggle in the outside world. I could not imagine leaving mine. That by itself, is painful. I know, because at one point in my life, I asked myself: “Where is home?”

When I arrived here over twenty years ago, I had 2 small children, 2 suitcases and 2 cardboard boxes. I now have 4 children, 2 American sons-in-law, a government job, a house, 3 cars in my name and 2 cats. I am by all accounts, living the American Dream.

Thank you America – from the bottom of my heart.


Image Source: ktvu.com

FACT: Almost everyone wants to visit the United States for pleasure or to visit family. USA has its own beauty. But rest assured that NOT everyone would like to come here and live. I know many Filipinos who’d rather stay in the Philippines because they are happier and live in a degree of comfort there. Many of us here even prefer to go back to the Philippines to retire there. The reality is, life can get lonely here. So we visit the Philippines regularly. I am sure this sentiment is true of the other many ethnic cultures.