# ‘Parenthesis in Eternity’

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Exhale.”

### Dear Leah,

Greetings from New York City!

I wish I could say, “Do not let cancer rob you of your inner joy and zest for life.” But I do not really know anything.

You have requested me to create a math equation for you. “Just like that episode in the TV show Numbers,” you said. You giggled like a little child when you made your request.

I tried hard not to cry.

I did muster the courage to say, “Although we all face certain struggles in life, it is the way by which we respond to our struggle that dictates the weight of our burden.”

Know that I deeply admire the strength of your faith. Even now that you are battling with Cancer, you still radiate hope and joy to us – we, who are supposed to be the ones to give you comfort.

Because of that, I believe that r = a – b sinθ can be your mathematical equation. Let the coefficient, a, refer to the strength of your faith and the coefficient b equal to God’s love for you, such that a = b = 1. Then, your equation becomes:

#### r = 1 – sin θ,

the graph of which is a heart-shaped polar curve known as cardioid, from the Greek word “kardia,” for heart.

The polar equation r = 1 – sin θ may then signify that you, Leah, are love manifest. Cancer cannot change that fact.

Thank you for reminding me to always take time to whisper a prayer of gratitude for each breaking dawn.  For indeed, tomorrow is not promised.

To quote Paulo Coelho:

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

Know that you are always in my heart and prayers.

### Lovingly,

Ma’am Mayette

`P.S. Leah joined her Creator on July 29, 2014.`

```
"Although I have trekked this path of forgiveness a million times, I can confidently say that I have forgiven and I want to ask forgiveness,too, daddy for all the heartaches that I have caused you and mommy."```

#### by Rhea C. Hernando

This will be the first and last time that I will write about you. “Strained” doesn’t begin to describe our relationship, although “estranged” is a bit harsh. But I just want you to know that one morning, I thought of you, and there was not a trace of bitterness or anger or pain in my heart and in my soul. Instead, happy memories flooded me.

“Walking in the beach with dad”

I remember daddy. I remember every single thing that you taught me: at 8 years old, with me standing on a wooden stool, both afraid and excited, and you hovering near the stove, teaching me how to cook fried rice using just the right amount of oil, garlic and salt. I had blisters in my ten fingers because the potholder was too thin and the cooking utensil I was using was too hard. But I was happy because I saw you beaming with what looked like pride. You started teaching me that complicated game of chess and strategies at 7 years old, I was winning against the older neighbors when I was 10 or 11 years old, and against high school students older than me during school sports fests. You gave me a Citizen watch at 9 years old, and taught me how to read the short hand and the long hand. You insisted that during summer breaks, apart from the household chores, I have to write an essay and a poem for you to critique. It was from you that I learned what “myriad” means. I was winning essay writing contests from elementary up to high school. You taught me how to wake up at 5am when the rooster crows, because you think that knocking on our door or waking us up every morning will make us lazy.

In my entire life, you didn’t give me big sermons nor did I hear you spout big, complicated words, not during mealtimes because we usually ate in silence, not during down times because I honestly could not remember any. My schedule was always full. I wake up at 5am, cook rice in the good old metal pot and watch over it like a hawk or it will burn and you won’t like it because it’s a waste of all the hard work that Uncle Toto and Tatay Oscar and Nanay Minia put in the rice fields, take a bath, put on my uniform, and eat at exactly 6:00am so that we will be on our way to school by 6:30am, just in time for the daily flag ceremony at 7:00am. I come home at 5pm and not a moment after, wash my uniform, take a bath, cook rice, eat dinner, wash the plates if it’s my turn (some days it’s my sister’s turn), study at 8pm, and sleep at 9pm because whether I want to read a Sidney Sheldon novel or not doesn’t matter to you, it is lights off by 9pm at our house.

“Children at Play” Photo by Dupz Ravelo

Weekends were the best days of my life. I get to play outside, climb up a hill, slide down with just a piece of cardboard on my butt, and go home at 5pm dirty but happy. We try to hear mass on Sundays when you’re in a better mood, but usually we skip it because you strongly feel that praying is a personal thing, not something to show off to all and sundry along with your best Sunday dress. If you have extra money, we’d go straight to Tavern Hotel for buttered chicken, chop suey, and bouillabaisse soup. I remember that soup daddy, it was difficult to pronounce but very easy to gulp down because it was by far, the best soup dish I’ve ever tasted in my whole life, and I’m not a soup person.

It must be old age – mine. But the pains have blurred far, far away into the distant past. I remember but I choose to forget. Although I have trekked this path of forgiveness a million times, I can confidently say that I have forgiven and I want to ask forgiveness too daddy for all the heartaches that I have caused you and mommy. I have bad days when I feel trapped in that vicious cycle of regret, forgive, ask forgiveness, regret, forgive, ask forgiveness.

If I could, I will go back, be a more obedient and respectful daughter, do everything all over again, get married in Church flanked by you and mommy because I know it is something that both of you would want and because it is the right thing to do. Maybe we’re not destined for that kind of altar ending, maybe something far better awaits in the next life. That is what I keep telling myself every time sadness envelopes me. I know it doesn’t matter now, and I know you have forgiven, but I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Ma used to say every time I am angry at you “he puts food in the table, clothes on your back, and sends you to the best school in Surigao and then in all of the Philippines, surely that is enough to be grateful about.” Thank you daddy. You were always such a hardworking man. After office, you’re puttering in the house, cooking our meals, planting mango trees and kaimito and guayabano and tambis and macopa and langka and bayabas and okra and pechay and herbs of all kinds for all your gourmet-like home-cooked meals. And you are generous with whatever you have. Your government salary bonuses always go to us- a new dress during Christmastime, complete ingredients for mommy’s spaghetti (the real del monte tomato sauce and not just ketchup no no no, plus extra cheese), and a kilo of crunchy grapes.

Until now, every time I tell you we are coming home, you always insist on paying for our airplane fares, and I had to insist back firmly that kaya ko na ‘dy. You are a strong man. You have difficulty walking because of a stroke that left you half-paralyzed and yet, you continue to live life the way you’ve always wanted to live it I suppose, in an unhurried way – reading the morning paper while drinking tea in the morning, watching a bit of TV, taking a nap, watching the world go by.

Every time I offer something to make life a bit more comfortable, you always refuse. I get it daddy. You refuse to be a burden. You are not. But thank you for recognizing that we have our own lives now, and raising our own children. Ma was right, the fact that you chose to rear us and nurture us the best way that you could, when you could be like other fathers who abandon their family at the slightest hint of hardship, is something to be thankful for. But what I’m most thankful for is that you raised us not by words, but by example – of working hard, being generous and taking responsibility. We turned out fine daddy; we all turned out fine.

Lovingly,

Me, Mae, Ayn, and Ryan.

# A Vow of Love and Friendship

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.”

`It is not lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche`

As fate would have it, the course of my love life suddenly went off on a tangent and collided with your journey’s curve at a precise time. That very moment, when my path unexpectedly touches with yours, was meant to be our point of tangency – our inflection point.

It was no coincidence. We were destined to meet.

“Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

That was our vow of consent, the act of will by which we give ourselves to each other, during our solemn wedding ceremony in December.

It seemed like yesterday. But, no! It has been twenty-six momentous years of highs and lows, a seemingly roller coaster moment of joy-disappointment-happiness-sorrow, that we shared with our four children.

Coupled with prayers, it is friendship, I believe, that has kept our love alive all these years.

It was friendship that kept us stronger when the honeymoon stage dimly faded and when our hearts seemed to have forgotten the fiery embers of romance. When our personal spaces seemed overwhelming, due to money or lack thereof, friendship helped us overcome our shortcomings and seemingly unending flaws. When parenting woes kept us awake until the early morning dawn, it was our friendship that made us held on to each other until both of our sobs died down.

And this gold ring explicitly portrays what words can’t.

Unadorned but timeless, this gold ring reminds us of a hope and a prayer that our love will be without end. It is an aide-mémoire of the vow that we made to each other and of the promise that God has made to the both of us.

Happy 26th anniversary of love and friendship, my dear Maxim! I thank God for the gift of inflection points.

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# A Letter to a Friend

Dear Leah,

Know that I am with you in your moment of trial.

I wish I could say, “Do not let cancer rob you of your inner joy and zest for life. ” But I do not really know anything. All I can say is this: Cancer does not define you.

Before I will attempt to write your personalized math equation, please allow me to say that we all face a certain struggle  in life. How we look at each problem and the manner by which we respond to it seem to dictate the weight of our burden.

Image:cardioid-wikimedia-commons

There is one thing that I am certain about humans, though. We are all created in HIS image. HE who is love and the source of everything good and eternal.

You are a child of the light. That is why you always bring such joy to your family, friends, and colleagues. You continue to radiate hope and faith, more so now that you are battling with the Big C, than you ever have been.

If I were to summarize your life’s journey using math, then I believe that the equation r = a – b sinθ models your story.

Let the coefficient, a, refer to the strength of your faith in HIM and b equal to HIS love for you, such that a = b =1. Then the equation of your journey becomes: r = 1-sinθ, the graph of which is a heart-shaped polar curve known as cardioid, from the Greek word “kardia,” for heart.

The polar equation r = 1-sin θ, therefore, signifies that you, Leah, are LOVE MANIFEST. Cancer cannot change that fact.

Always take time to whisper a prayer of gratitude for each breaking dawn because tomorrow is not promised.  Stay positive, keep the faith, and live life to the fullest!

To borrow the wisdom of Paulo Coelho:

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

You are always in my heart and prayers!

Sincerely,
Ma’am Mayette

P.S. Leah has joined her Creator. This was posted in her FB wall:

“Graduation time has finally come for me. With gratitude for the chance to journey thru life with you, I just joined the Lord wholeheartedly bringing along fond memories. Thank you very much for being a part of my journey. God bless you and your loved ones! ” ~ Maria Leah C. H. (July 2, 1974 – July 29, 2014)