It’s already been 2 years.
2 years since that Sunday morning when we were already on our way to Bulacan, but had to turn back, because Mommy left her phone at home, charging. It was ringing when she unlocked the door to get it. My cousin, Mai-mai, was on the other line, frantic, telling Mommy that Amapo was rushed to hospital. It was heart attack.
We cancelled our trip to Bulacan and hurried to Batangas instead. I prayed in the car, believing for Amapo‘s quick healing. But a few minutes later, my Tita Ime called, “Wala na si Amapo. ‘Wag mo muna sabihin kay Mommy at Daddy.” Her words echoed in my ears. Wala na si Amapo. My grandfather is gone. The only grandfather I knew and grew up with is gone.
All the things that I wanted to do for him and with him started to flood my mind. But all those thoughts were drowned by the fact that I’ve lost my chance. He won’t see the portrait I’d make of him and Inapo for their 60th wedding anniversary. He won’t be there when we go to the beach with his great granddaughters who came home from Canada. I won’t hear his reprimanding voice. I won’t see him laugh. He’s gone. I held back my tears until we got to the hospital. And then I saw him…lifeless… I only saw his feet because I couldn’t bear to look at him like that. That day, tears didn’t stop flowing. I cried all afternoon.
For over a year since that day, I would choke back tears during special occasions because it’s the first time we’re celebrating without him. Sometimes there are milestones I want to share with him, and I want would imagine what his reaction would be. Writing about it now 2 years later, just magnifies how God has really taken my grief and turned it into joy. I am writing this now with so much gratitude instead of misery. Death made a way for our family to come together and praise God for Amapo’s 80 years here on earth. Death didn’t have the last word. God did. And death has no more sting when you realize your loved one is back in his Creator’s hands.
I thank Him for giving me art as a way to cope for that sudden loss. Here are some of the things that I’ve shared in the last 2 years of moving forward from losing our beloved Amapo.
626th post on 6/26: Today would have been the 60th wedding anniversary of our Amapo and Inapo. We were already planning for it as we welcomed 2015. Kaso ayaw na kami ni Amapo maabala, nauna na siyang sumama kay Lord last March. Pero grabe, that's almost 60 years together—through the highs and the lows, in sickness and in health, and everything in between. They were able to raise and support seven children, cared for eleven grandchildren, and got to see two great grandchildren (salamat sa Skype). Even if we don't get to celebrate your marriage today, we can still worship and thank God for the amazing demonstration of His faithfulness through the decades, and the days to come. So here are flowers for you, Amapo; while I stay here with Inapo, on your behalf. 😊
Celebrating a birthday, for the first time, without the celebrant. Every anniversary, birthday, or any occasion—all are celebrated for the first time, without Amapo. But 80 years was enough. There is solace in knowing, that in those years, he experienced overflowing grace and blessings. That's what we get to celebrate today. This is the portrait I made for his birthday last year. #HowGreatIsOurGod
I ushered in Christmas trying to hold back tears. I didn't know grief can be strongly felt during a season of joy. My heart is grateful for that feeling of togetherness, the good food, gifts, stories and laughter exchanged—yet my heart is also breaking—because this is the first one we will celebrate without the only grandfather I grew up with. This pain got me wondering if God also felt grief when He had to let go of His Son for our undeserving sake. I wonder if Jesus mourned when He came down from a glorious throne in heaven to be born in a manger. I wonder if the reason why God is close to the brokenhearted is because He knows firsthand what loss feels like. One thing I am holding on to is the truth that it didn't end in death—Jesus overcame the grave. There was glory waiting for Him after all the agony of the cross. He rose again so that we can rise with Him. I don't know if I'll ever get used to Amapo's absence during special days with our family, but I know I'll see him again one day. I'm not sure when the mourning will really end, but I know that if we keep pressing on, mourning will eventually turn into joy. And I look forward—with hope in my heart—for that sweet day. Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NASB) Merry Christmas. ✨
"Naka-isang taon na, hindi pa rin ako sanay… Hinihintay ko pa rin siya kumatok sa kwarto tuwing umaga." Today would have been Inapo and Amapo's 61st wedding anniversary. Today we celebrated by remembering. Habang tinitingnan namin mga litrato ni Amapo, sabi ni Inapo, "Buhay na buhay ang inyong Ama." Naisip ko, oo nga… Kahit hindi na namin siya kasama, buhay na buhay si Amapo sa aming alaala. At buhay na buhay din ang Ama sa Taas na patuloy nagbibigay lakas at pagmamahal sa aming mga nangungulila kay Amapo. ✨
God held my hand through it all. He never let go even when I questioned His presence in my life. He would always prove His faithfulness—not just in my life, but also in my family. The cross is proof. Jesus is His faithfulness personified. Every time I remember the cross, I remember that death isn’t the end. Because Jesus overcame, death begets life.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.