Jollibee Talk & Blush Doll — Got One!

Jollibee's Talk & Blush Doll
Jollibee’s Talk & Blush Doll

It’s funny how Jollibee becomes a big part of a parent’s life as soon as their child reaches 2.

Since Gabby now adores Jollibee, I just got her a Talk & Blush Doll. It costs me P420, a Happy Meal, and later on, three AA batteries.

A cousin gave us one of Jollibee’s older plush toys. This new one looked exactly like the older version, except that this could speak in English and could say more phrases. Definitely Gabby Approved. And if Gabby approves, Mommie approves.

Oh and yes, it’s Talk & Blush — not Talk & Plush. The doll talks, but it definitely doesn’t blush. Thankfully no one really cares about the names of these toys. I have no idea why I even do.

Here’s a photo of the toddler with Jollibee

Gabby & Jollibee
Gabby & Jollibee

Happy Anniversary

It was 1998. I saw you, but you didn’t see me. We only knew each other then via email.

I wanted to introduce myself, but the press and everyone else wanted a piece of you. You were the big website hotshot, and the award you just won affirmed it.

I shyly walked away, nudged my girl friend, and just said “I have a feeling I’ll end up marrying that guy anyway.”

More than a decade passed before I got the guts to tell you that story. Ang labo, you said. You laughed. I laughed.

Happy 17th year anniversary, babe. Wishing everyday that you were here.

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Solo Parenting

I immediately felt the effects of being a widow.

The simplest things would rip my heart into pieces:

  • Checking “widow” for the first time when I had to state my civil status
  • Writing only my name beside “From” when giving gifts
  • Being the one to drive the car while someone else would sit & play with the baby
  • Wanting to try out a new restaurant and having noone to go with you

The realization and the heartache was (and still is) a real physical pain.

It took me a long time to take control of my health & finances — two things I’ve identified as critical for our survival.

Health

Health just recently became a challenge. For some reason, ever since Jim passed away, my lupus would flare up sporadically. And since I have been in remission for such a long time, I had to relearn what to do.

Finances

Getting a grip on our finances was hard. We are now living on a single income. And as far as I’m aware, there is no financial help coming from either my family or my late husband’s family.

I immediately divided our remaining savings between mutual funds and high yield time deposits. I decided to live on my employment salary alone, which does not amount to much for our day-to-day needs.

I decided to start budgeting every peso I receive. Gabby came first on all things — food, clothing, and comfort. I stopped buying anything for myself. I cancelled all planned vacations, and decided to make do with whatever is affordable (i.e., malls). I stopped buying clothes for myself. I started eating whatever is remotely edible in the cafeteria.

Big decisions I’m seriously contemplating on:

  1. Whether or not to sell our condo
  2. If we need to move somewhere where there will either be more income opportunities, or less cost of living

It still feels weird handling all these alone. But I’m getting there.

Jim

It's been almost a year since Jim died.

I did a lot of staring into space. A lot of crying. A lot of sleeping.

I did a lot of reading about near death experiences. I also started slowly veering away from Catholicism. Started meditating. Exploring other beliefs. Seriously contemplated on seeing spirit mediums so I could communicate with him.

I read & listened to Conversations with God multiple times. Read about Buddhism. Saw a spiritual guide. Had an angel card reading.

I still believe in God. Religion, not so much. I still believe in kindness, in love. Even more so now.

I still cry.

It doesn't really stop as they say it would. I'm doing a better job of hiding it now. I'm more conscious especially after I received judgement from one of my colleagues.

Someone asked what I would do for his first year anniversary. I unhesitatingly said "Nothing."

I want to do something that would make Jim happy. And until I find out what it is, I would do nothing. No get together, no reunion, no laughing with other people while reminiscing fond memories of Jim.

This grief is my own. I am still hurting.

A Eulogy and a Prayer, for Jim’s 40th Day

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Dearest God,

Thank you for creating such a wonderful human being in Jim.

He would help anyone, even those he remotely knew, whether they were students, Uber drivers, budding developers, aspiring musicians, members of the press, presidents or CEOs.

And he would help them with anything — whether they merely wanted help with their thesis, his opinion on the current state of the Philippine internet, to look for a job, to fix their phones, or advice on which Mac to get.

Thank you God for creating someone who showed us the value of sharing his talents and knowledge selflessly.

He brought people together and created communities — whether they are for Filipino musicians, for his classmates, for startups, or for the internet community in general.

You also made him so honest and so innocent.

He never knew how to lie. I would always say that all I had to do was stare at him, and he would admit he ate lechon.

He would wonder why people would act meanly towards another. He could never understand office politics. He hated gossip, and would make me sermon whenever i would participate in such.

Thank you God for creating someone so intelligent and yet so humble.

Whenever he will be on TV, he wouldn’t tell a single soul. People will just find out and tell him about it.

And he would always be so shy to ask favors, even from his classmates. “Baka I don’t matter to them …” he once said.

At work, he would usually be one of the smartest and the most logical. But like in a typical office setting, there would be obstacles and debates. He would say his mind, and if his opinion is rejected, he would leave it at that.

He valued peace and harmony over anything else. He would simply resume whatever he is working on like a dutiful soldier.

Thank for for making Jim show everyone how to be curious.

He loved seeing the world. I was the opposite. I was contented to stay home, clean the house, take care of the household. Him, on the other hand, would always want go everywhere, even if it’s just a walk in the neighborhood.

He would take pictures of his mini adventures, and share them to me (and social media) as soon as he gets home.

Thank you for making Jim show me how to love like a child.

He was always insecure on how to show people he cared. “I don’t know how,” he would always say. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”

He would ask me the weirdest questions “What does an uncle usually give to nephews and nieces for Christmas? Do you think Byng and Jojo will go if I invite them to lunch?”

The same with his team. Years ago, I asked if he would give pasalubongs to his team in Smart. He got rattled. “Oh I’m supposed to give pasalubongs!” From that point onwards, he would make giving pasalubongs a project.

Once he even got hurt because I got the chocolates that he was supposed to give Vida and Nim. I thought he wouldn’t mind, because they looked like cheap chocolates. I only knew later on that he actually gave a lot of thought into choosing them.

When we first got Booger, he would watch a lot of Ceasar Millan videos. And when he found out that we were supposed to walk a dog every single day, that’s what he did. Even in the pouring rain.

Months before Gabby was born, he would read books and take down notes. He wanted to be the best father in the world. He read about the benefits of breastfeeding, and did everything in his power to make sure that I breastfeed, even driving for hours to look for donor milk when my milk ran low.

He would wake up in the middle of the night for Gabby. He would feed her, change her diapers, read her books.

And he became the person who could always make Gabby laugh. For some reason, Gabby reacted so naturally to his childlike innocence. Gabby would coo, would smile, and would copy him. He was her playmate and her teacher.

He also loved me with the same childlike innocence. He would accompany me anywhere, because as he said, “I heard that’s what husbands do.”

He would give me flowers even if I repeatedly said it was a waste of money. He would drag me to our anniversary dinner, open the doors, hold my hand, and have someone take our picture.

He would always be rattled if there’s anything which made me sad or angry. He would do anything and everything to make it up to me. And more.

Whenever I say he was the perfect husband, I say it with no exaggeration. He truly was.

Dearest God, I also want to ask for your mercy. Jim would always say I was a better wife to him than he was a husband.

That’s not true. He actually was the better spouse.

I was too busy worrying about our daughter’s future, about myself, about my own health, about ticking off our todo list, about making things clean and organized.

He was the one who did it right. He was the one who loved us wholeheartedly, without the need to plan, without any todo list, without any hang ups — the way he knew how. And, he was not only there for us, he was there for others too.

His health was already failing. Why didn’t I recognize or acknowldege the signs? I left everything up to him and his doctors. I could’ve screamed foul, I could’ve demanded more, I could’ve fixed his diet better, I could’ve objected, I could’ve made him live …

I didn’t do things to my expectations. And I’m sure not to Yours.

Please forgive me. My heart is full of regret. We’ve been together for 16 years, and for some reason, the only things that I remember are all the things I should’ve done for him.

I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Only then can I forgive myself.

Is Jim in heaven with you?

If not, once again, I’m begging for your mercy. I beg of you to cleanse him of his sins bring him to heaven with you.

Please let him be with Toni, with his parents, and all the people he loved who have passed before him.

Could you tell him I love him? I would always say it. But now I wish I said it more.

Jim always said he was so lucky to have me. I’ve would always retort that it wasn’t true — that I was the lucky one to have him.

And for that, dear God, I want to thank you. I was a sinner, and yet you loved me so much that you made someone like Jim enter my life.

Those were the best 16 years of my life. God, if 16 years is all you can give me in a lifetime, that’s more than what I deserve.

Amen.

Thoughts on mourning, a month after

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Mahirap pala mawalan ng asawa.

The heavy physical feeling is still there. It hits the moment I wake up. Now it’s a mixture of extreme sadness & fear. Fear of what, I still have no idea. I dread waking up in the middle of the night bec of this.

They say focusing on the baby will lessen the pain. At first, it was actually the opposite. She reminded me so much of him. It got better after a couple of weeks when I allowed her to make me smile again.

Jim hasn’t visited me in my dreams. Maybe my subconscious doesn’t want to give me false hopes.

It’s still hard to attend to things by myself. I wish I can just call someone, anyone, to accompany me to certain things. Going alone just emphasizes his absence.

I still long to spend time with people who knew Jim — his family, his classmates, people he worked with.

A precious few have kept in touch. They took me out, let me talk, kept me company. I wonder if they knew how much they’ve done for me.

I’ve begun to reach out to other widows. “How long will I mourn this way?” Two years, they all said.

It’s still painful to see pictures of daughters with their fathers, or wives with their husbands.

The other week, I let myself cry. Really really cry. It was in the most embarrassing places — at the lobby of our condo. Jim would’ve been mortified. He used to chide me that I didn’t know how to cry.

Everyone tells me I need to be closer to God. I’ve always believed in him, even feared him … but I wonder what “close” means?

I developed a sudden love of the outdoors. I would sit in the park just to stare at my surroundings.

I stopped craving for good food. I can now last an entire day with the cheapest hamburger in Jollibee.

I treasure the few photos we have together. We were smiling so happily in each and everyone of them.

“Internet pioneer.” If he were alive, he would’ve blushed. I would’ve teased him, and he would’ve retorted something intellectual to cover his embarrassment.

I wished I just lost an internet pioneer. But I lost a most extraordinary husband. He was perfect in every way — he was so kind, so loving, so thoughtful.

He loved me even when it wasn’t easy to.

Seems like a cruel joke, to finally find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, and not being able to.

I wish I could turn back the clock. I wish I could’ve done more. A lot more. I still punish myself for it. Is this a phase? Or something I will carry as long as I live?

I still whisper his name every chance I get.

Where are you now? Are you okay?

What haunts me most is the thought that Jim is not okay. How can I know? Is he feeling sadness? Is he really in a better place?

I googled “proof of after life” to get some sort of reassurance.

Visiting the office was hard. Memories of Jim is very strong there. But friends and officemates were around, and they did their best. On a weak moment, alone in my cube, I sobbed.

I didn’t know mourning is a physical pain. That your entire body would feel weak, cold, and heavy.

I long for that broken hard drive to be repaired, photos when it was just the two of us. This year, I was too preoccupied on documenting the baby’s life that I failed to document his.

Just a couple of months ago, I remember blurting out to Jim: “I”m actually happy. It’s as if I have everything I ever wanted.” He teased me for being cheesy, and I teased him back.

And now, “a part of me has died.” I never really understood what this meant until now.

To our dearest friends, thank you for your messages and SMS. I read and re-read them when alone … and it has helped me more than you know.

Thank you

For carrying my bags
For buying me food whenever I’m hungry
For driving for me, anywhere
For listening to me
For making my mango shake
For accompanying me when I don’t have anyone to eat with
For hugging me when I ask you to
For feeding the baby so I’ll get some sleep
For doing your best for me all the time
For saying sorry even if I’m at fault
For helping me pick out my clothes
For helping me take care of Gabby
For going with me anywhere I wanted to go
For being there whenever I ask you to
For being there even if I don’t ask you to
For not blaming me for my faults
For making me feel I’m perfect