Tagged: family

Wishes and Expectations

Love is not always the happily-ever-after that we think it is. We would surely have moments of disappointments, anger, irritation, and whole lot more different (and negative) emotions when we love a person. But these negative feelings sometimes stem from our own wishes and expectations from life. When we begin to weave dreams and wishes for what we thought was love, and then things don’t happen the way we envisioned it to be, that’s when we feel disappointments. Disappointments because something or someone did not live up to a certain standards. Then we start to beat ourselves up emotionally, wondering what just happened, what we did wrong, what should we do next. Or we find someone to blame for these disappointments.

I’d seen a romantic-comedy movie recently about a guy who was deemed “unloveable” because of his problematic personality. Portrayed to be someone who wanted to prove to his family that he was a capable leader for the company, the guy is mean and extremely strict towards his employees, and sometimes doesn’t realize how much he has hurt other people’s feelings. Later in the story, the guy is revealed to be the illegitimate youngest son of the company owner, and the reason that he is so driven to succeed is because he just wanted to be accepted by his half-siblings. The guy wanted to please his family, thinking that was the only way to “deserve” their love. And when the project he was handling fell through, he distanced himself from the girl who loves him (even though he had developed feelings for her). He told her to have pity on herself, because she will only get tired of hoping, wishing, and waiting for the love to be returned. As the guy said it, I couldn’t help but realize that his words mainly referred to the guy’s hope of being accepted by his father’s family. He was seeking for an affirmation of love, and upon finding none, decided to give up altogether.

I think experiencing negative emotions is inevitable for everyone; there’s no such thing as a “perfect” life. But how we react to the struggles and sufferings we face is what we can control. We have the choice to approach these negative emotions in either an optimistic or pessimistic manner. When we treat these struggles in a positive manner, we can think of them as a challenge meant to make us stronger. It is when we find ourselves vulnerable that we learn to discover our limitations and work with that. Sometimes we just need to find our motivation to live—something to keep us going when things get tough. For the guy in the movie, his motivation was to get his family to accept him. But when he made the decision to give up the fight (for his job and employees), he also lost the one person who accepted and loved him despite being “unloveable.”

So whenever you think that you don’t “deserve” love, think about the people you know (family, friends, colleagues, even remote acquaintances). There’s bound to be at least one who care about you and what you do. If things get tough, remember that it’s much better to continue the fight (even if it’s hard) than to give up so easily, because you’ll never know when things will suddenly look up and get better. When you give up, you lose your opportunity to change things.

Time

If there’s anything that is more valuable than money that you can offer to the people/things you love, it would be time. Once time is spent, you can’t get it back. Great artists honed their skills by spending tremendous amount of time on their craft. Day in, day out, they would make something everyday, or try out a new technique until they get the hang of it. And when they’ve mastered the technique, they would make more products in order to stretch the limits of their skill and knowledge. As for people, we spend time with family and friends to strengthen our bond with them. We talk and hang out with them to know more about their daily lives, and from there we maintain the emotional connection. The more time we spend with them, the more we value our relationships.

Spending time doing things you love, whether it’s a simple task like reading, cooking, or cleaning the house, is very important—not only for others, but also for yourself. It is when you’ve accepted that you like doing a certain routine, activity, or people, that you realize what kind of person you are. You also discover your values, ideals, and priorities. After you’ve spent time with someone or something, memories will be what you will mostly remember, not precisely the amount of time you spent. Yes, occasionally you would remember how long you’ve talked on the phone with your family, but the fact that you did something with someone/something you love is what really matters. In relationships, other people will remember you for what good (or bad) you’ve done for them, no matter how small a gesture it is.

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Source: staypositive.tumblr.com

It’s also when you spend time with things or people you love that you feel a little bit of happiness, even momentarily. We may not feel happy all day every single day, but I think it’s also good to do something for yourself that makes you happy—whether it’s chatting with high school friends you haven’t talked to for months, reading a fiction novel in two hours, or having dinner and movie date with the occasionally annoying siblings. Even doing things that may not necessarily cause immediate happiness (i.e. doing house chores or going to work)—we should also do it. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, and keeps us going everyday. It’s a reminder that we’re alive, and we still have a purpose in this world.

Indeed, I believe that we’re living in the world for a certain purpose—it’s just that we don’t know that exact purpose. So we live on… struggling with life, living with family and friends, coping with work stress…. it definitely has something to do with finding out the purpose of our life.

To Have Loved and Lost

Despite the existence of thousands of words in the dictionary, there are no words that can fully express the feelings of loss and mourning. Nor are there any photos, music, videos, and other media that can help prepare a person on what to feel, what to say, how to act, or how to deal when they encounter death in the family for the first time. Unless you’ve experienced pain, suffering, heartache, loneliness, and other negative emotions, you cannot fully relate to what you see in movies, hear in music, or read in poetry and prose. Having attended several wakes during my lifetime, I’ve always been hesitant and cautious when attending, primarily because I did not know how to behave around the bereaved. I would dress appropriately and offer condolences to the family, but I could not precisely relate to their loss. Until now.

Eleven hours ago, my paternal grandmother passed away in her bed at my aunt’s house. She had been diagnosed with colon cancer almost three years ago, and had undergone surgery as an attempt to remove the cancer cells. Back then, we were fearful of her demise—the illness was not something we expected, given her old age. After her surgery, we were unsure of God’s plans for her life, but we were hoping for a full recovery. As it was, God blessed her with two years’ life extension. It was only late last year that I was informed that the cancer cells had spread to other parts of her body, and that it was possible she might never recover. Later, the fluids that filled both her lungs had to be drained—twice. And then last week, my youngest brother told me that our grandmother had been brought to the emergency room because she had difficulty breathing. My sister, who is studying in London, expressed her intention to fly home to see our grandmother, perhaps for the last time. Sensing the dire situation (and despite my initial hesitation because of financial issues), I immediately booked a flight to my hometown as well.

To make the long story short,  our grandmother lingered for four days after my sister’s and my arrival. The last four days were probably the longest days of my life. Everyone in the family were in a somber mood, because we knew that she could go at any time. Our cousins who had gone abroad just before our grandmother was admitted to the ER, had returned yesterday and noon today. Almost everyone in the family had the opportunity to see her and talk to her, hoping she might open her eyes and speak.

But just moments after our cousin (the last one to arrive from a trip abroad) spoke to our grandmother, our grandmother finally passed on. It was as if she was held out as long as she could, in order to see everyone. The nurse on duty today had expressed her surprise on how our grandmother slipped away. Her vitals simply stopped (not gradually as the nurse expected), and her final breath was shallow—as if she was breathing normally.

Indeed, our grandmother looked peaceful in her eternal sleep. Even in her last moments, she was spared from pain normally associated with cancer. Yes, there were many discomforts for her these past days (intravenous therapy, nasogastric intubation, and tubefeeding), but I’ve never seen her face contort from extreme pain. She even tried to speak last Friday and yesterday, despite having no more voice. Aside from that, our grandmother was silent, struggling to take deep breaths to keep on living. When the nurse finally declared her gone, I still couldn’t believe she had left so quietly and suddenly. Many of us were of the mind that she looked as though she was asleep—that her breathing was too faint or too shallow to notice.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the alternating feelings of (slight) anxiousness, numbness, worry, sadness, confusion, and relief. One moment we were shedding tears for her weak and dying body, the next we would make jokes about our grandmother’s imminent arrival in heaven. Indeed, the loss proved the existence of the “emotional rollercoaster.” And I expect I’ll be experiencing more of it this coming days. Now I’m beginning to feel the importance of having more of my friends and family around me, to provide support and care in this time of mourning. I’m learning the value of the prayers and words of encouragement offered by acquaintances and close friends, as well as the importance of expressing feelings in ways I am capable of.

Each person mourns in their own way. For me (so far), it is through tears and music. Remembering how our grandmother looks like and how she spoke, or moved when she was still alive has brought tears to my eyes these past few days. When my brother played Christian music on the grand piano and I tried to sing along with him, I found myself feeling a rush of strong emotions I never knew I could feel. It was as though the music held new meanings for me, and I couldn’t stop crying. I would cry until I had no more tears left, and go on doing whatever I was working on before I started crying. I am not sure how I and my family’s life would change after the funeral and cremation are over, but I am thankful that finally my grandmother is free from her illness, and I am once again reminded to live a full life with Christ, just like my grandmother did. And these feelings of indecision, confusion, and grief has made me realize the meaning of true mourning for a loved one.