Thursday, May 26, 2022

Grief's Lessons

Grieving is likened sometimes to running a marathon. It feels like there is no end in sight. But I trust that there will be a resolution at some point and I will see nothing but goodness at the finish line. Meantime I have to learn to live with the maelstrom of emotions that I can't ignore because I may miss what it has to teach me.

Allow me to share some more of my stories of grief moments in my running blog. Thank you for following my blog. In time I will be back to my running stories.

The Watches

While doing some spring cleaning, I opened a drawer and there I saw Jinky's small collection of watches inside a turquoise-colored velvet cloth bag. Jinky liked watches. She had watches for different occasions. I remember her showing off to me how her watch and wardrobe match every time we go out. Unfortunately, when her cancer turned for the worse, she hadn't had a chance to wear them at all since we couldn't go out as much. Worse, she found out too that a lot of the watches stopped working. One day she asked me if I could bring the watches to a repair service. I said yes I would, but I put off her request for a few days, wondering why she actually needed it soon.  Eventually I took the watches for repair but sadly the repairman didn't have the right specialized tools for her classic pieces. When I told her the news, her head and shoulder dropped, feeling disappointed just like a child, being unable to play outside. My heart just sunk. I couldn't bear see her sad and crestfallen.

Looking back, I pondered on this event. Why did she urgently wanted the watches repaired at that time. Perhaps Jinky longed to be healthy again for an occasion to wear a watch in good condition. Perhaps she wanted those watches ready to wear them when the time comes. But perhaps, if she doesn't live longer, she was also symbolically getting herself ready, when her time comes. 

A Son's Tribute

Jinky's Celebration of Life
File photo from 3/25/2011

At Jinky's Funeral Mass, Tim (he was 14 years old then) spoke and said, "I wish I could take away your pain, Mom. If there's any way, God please take it away away from her. If you have to, give it to me. I can take it. If I could've done that, I would've done it again, and again, a hundred times. Just for my Mom. And when I said that, she was asleep when I looked at her, I could see a tear rolling down her cheek. That was the first time I saw her cry her whole sickness."

Tim and I celebrated Mother's Day (the first time without her) with an early morning Mass. During the blessing, I raised up a picture of Jinky when the priest asked all mothers to stand up. Jinky always proudly stood up during this time of the Mass every Mother's Day. That morning, Tim and I visited her at the cemetery. We spent some time talking and reminiscing Jinky's favorite things to do. It was a lot of fun and I thought it was a really special moment for us to share memories.

Tim also said in his tribute: "There was a point that I'd tell her that I love her and she'd just open her eyes and say I love you too. And then she'd close her eyes again. That was using all of her strength just to say that. And there came a point that she couldn't even respond. And I knew that I had to let her go. I  had to tell her that it's okay. Me and Dad would be fine here. We'll take care of each other. Don't worry, we'll be okay. But it's hard to be okay. It's hard."

Tim and I had our own tearful grieving moments that particular Mother's Day. But one thing we realized as we shared joyful memories, is that our grief is also a gift. It's allowing us to honor the tie that bind us even stronger now - our common loss in the person of Jinky. Although it's hard, our grief reminds Tim and I of our own capacity to love and take care of each other.

God's Moments

One day I found myself just crying while holding in my hand the receipt from the restaurant of our last dinner date. I also saw a box of her medications which reminded of how much she fought to outlive her illness. I also read our love letters that she kept where she wrote about our plans and dreams as a family.

I was feeling so heartbroken. But as I carried on with cleaning up, I realized I was making progress. I was able to box her clothes for donation. I organized her scrapbook materials. I was able to file the  important documents I still want to keep. I just kept going and before I knew it, I accomplished a lot cleaning up her closet. Awkward as it felt after crying a river when I started cleaning up, I now wanted to celebrate.

I thanked God I was able to sort Jinky's things and grieve. I realized that sometimes, grief is undefinable but you need to go through it to get through it. I call it God's moments. You can't explain but when you just let it be, it has the power to transform you to be the best that you can be.


How can I pray for you today? In the light of the tragic event of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, I offer my sympathy and prayers to the families of the 19 children and two teachers who died. As a teacher myself, this tragedy touches me to the core. Hug a loved one today and tell them how much you care for them.

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