Of grief, changes, and never walking alone.

Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

I’ve loved that line for as long as I can remember. I remember marking it from my mom’s copy of “The Prophet”, among a few other passages that struck me. Yet it is only this year when I truly understood what it meant.

I started the year in the worst way possible. Seven days into 2011, I lost my mother to cancer. It had been a battle she was fighting for nearly two years, with the malignant cells from her ovaries eventually spreading into other parts of her body, including her lungs. I keep thinking I will miss her even more so in the years to come, when those everyday moments and momentous occasions will unfold and she’s no longer here.

A part of me died last January 7, 2011, and it was a struggle to pick up the pieces. Suddenly, I realized how little I knew about running the house, having been forever dependent on my mom and the household help. It was a process of relearning even the most basic of things, like doing the laundry and going beyond frying and microwaving (I’m hopeless, I know).

I didn’t know it back then, but death marked the start of some significant changes in my life. I started on a new job in April, which gave me the kick that I was searching for—an outlet to be once again competitive with myself and to be a bit more creative than what I had been used to for a time. Of course, that didn’t mean completely leaving what I had been doing—work and advocacy came hand in hand.

I found a new sense of purpose not long after. I’m not the only one who would say this, but 2011 took away a lot of mothers and fathers from children who were never really prepared for such loss—and I found myself supporting friends that were undergoing the same grief. And as I type this, my best friend just shared with me the photos of Kythe Foundation kids that we gave gifts to. I cried for their smiles, which had shone through, despite much pain.

And then there was football—which, I suppose, helped me cope with my grief. I’d like to think it wasn’t escapism, but more of living out a passion—which necessarily leads to another purpose. It literally took me places this year. However, beyond that, it connected me with people that shared the same passion—the ones I hope to share many more years of friendship with.

I still find it hard to fully comprehend the changes I had to undergo this year. Perhaps it will hit me in the unlikeliest of times, at the unlikeliest of places. The only thing I know is this: life really does go on after loss and grief. And if you let it, it can just love you back once more.

2011 broke my heart with the loss of my mother, but my heart had to break so I could let you all in—and re-learn what it meant to love once more. I learned it from my old friends, who were there with me at the toughest of times. I learned it from new friends, who showed me what passion meant. I learned it from my family, especially from my dad, with whom I have reconnected. I learned it from a stranger who took me by surprise in one lucid moment that would never be repeated.

Somehow, despite my grief, I never walked alone in 2011. I hope your 2012 will be filled with magic—the kind of magic that you make and share with the ones that matter most.

Channeling Emma Morley and some.

When I saw “One Day” the movie with my best friend, I thought to myself that I had to read the book, regardless of its tragic ending.

Call me masochistic, but there’s something about tragedies that draw me in—maybe I am equally incredibly tragic, I don’t know. That or I just felt incredibly drawn to Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew—my tragic self thinks there’s something that’s just so relatable about them.

Dexter Mayhew reminds me of the guys I (have) love(d)—self-confident, world explorers, and despite having accomplished exteriors, they are the types to have a part of themselves that don’t really know what they want (yet would not ever dare admit such). And of course (I’ll begrudgingly admit this), the types who seem to have a ridiculously schoolboy-ish charm about them. (Perhaps, secretly, I wished I were more like them—the ones that got what they wanted and got away with murder.)

That said, I always felt that I was a bit more like Emma Morley—self-deprecating, self-righteous, everything self-whatever, except self-confident. it is probably a surprise that I admit this, given that I’ve been branded as intimidating more than once and in different periods of my life (to which I reply, “How is that so? I’m such a dork!”). I’m the kind that felt forever in limbo, forever waiting for her big break, forever waiting—

Sometimes I think I’ll never be in a genuinely functional relationship (Lord knows I’d rather be a spinster than end up with someone un-funny like Ian Whitehead) until it’s too late. While I don’t have premonitions of dying unexpectedly and too early, I just think that for the most part, I’ll be someone like Emma to (perhaps more than) one person—the shoulder to cry on or perhaps, in a night of debauchery—well, I wouldn’t dare go there.

What I do find redeeming about Emma is that despite her self-deprecation and lack of self-worth, she goes into a metamorphosis in a span of about 15 years—perhaps growing into the best version of herself for that period in time. It’s as if she reached her dreams—just not in the timeline that most people would probably have imagined. And yes, she was Dexter’s redemption. At the end of it all.

I didn’t intend for this piece to be a book review. It’s just funny that I saw One Day at a time when I was at my happiest in recent months—I just thought it mirrored a few things in my life and that it grounded me back to reality—that all good things must come to an end, eventually.

Yes, I guess I really am like Emma Morley that way.