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The Much-Awaited Pause

Just in case you were wondering where I have been hiding for the past few days, here’s a short explanation.

As usual, work is always busy. The more I try to finish my tasks, the more I feel that there are still a lot of things to do.

Today is my first day in university. I enjoyed this day, met the lecturers (who cracked straight to business) and met some friendly classmates (who like me, are wondering how we would cope with this pressure that we have voluntarily enrolled in).

Last week, I went to Brussels for a work-related meeting and took this picture of the Grand Place.

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The Grand Place, Brussells (2006)

After the meeting, I went to see my parents, sis, bro-in-law and sweet smart nephew in Germany. More pics:

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Which way leads to Ben’s House?

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The Crystal World

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Can you see Auntie M and Ben’s reflections on the Blown Glass?

Tomorrow (I mean, several hours from now), I will be flying to Canada. I will attend a five-day cancer conference. A is coming to join me so we can have a good holiday after my conference.

Talking About Birthdays

Since I was little, I do not normally have a birthday party on my own. My sister’s birthday is three days later than mine. So almost all the time, we have joint birthday parties. We have one party and two birthday cakes. We have lots of pictures opening gifts together. In fact, my eighteenth birthday was even celebrated on her birthday.

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My older sister and I (Germany, 2005)

So strictly speaking, I always share my birthday with someone else. But now, my sister and I are in different parts of the world. Therefore, I can have the party on my own!

But then I married somebody whose birthday is three days earlier than mine. Therefore, I will never have a party on my own as long as we both shall live…but I don’t mind that at all.


Birthday photos on my own

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The Highest Point of Zurich (2003)

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Atomium, Brussells, Belgium (2004)

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The River Danube, Regensburg, Germany (2005)

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Hills of Edinburgh, Scotland (2006)

But joint birthdays are always fun!

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Foot of the Alps, Heidiland, Switzerland (2003)

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Who took my picture? — Brusells, Belgium (2004)

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Danube River, Germany (2005)

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The Modern Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh (2006)

Be Still

Kent

I’ve already mentioned a bit about the bumpy landing in Budapest. Most of the passengers were scared, cabin crew included, while the whole plane is experiencing so much turbulence for more than five minutes. My colleague and I were holding hands, we thought we were going to crash. The first song that came to mind was “Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here…”. Perfect song! (or not?) I stopped and prayed, “Lord, why am I singing this song when in fact, it is not still at all?”. But God is a God of peace.

A week after that turbulent flight, I experienced another turbulence of life. A very dear and close person to me was diagnosed with colon cancer. This news was like a big stone that fell and crushed my heart.

At work, I deal with cancer patients everyday. I know the pain, the fear, the uncertainty. But when it happens to your own family all the pain, fear and uncertainty are indescribable.

After yet another week, a stronger turbulence came. She had surgery but it was discovered that the cancer was so extensive. Despite having a big chunk of the area resected, the prognosis was poor. One year maximum. This is heartbreaking.

Strength, hope, peace, joy – this is what our family needs now. I am glad we have God by our side.

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While on the topic:

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Bitter-sweet

To guess the surprises that each day brings is something that I seldom think about. When I woke up this morning, I thought that it would just be another ordinary day. Little did I know that something bitter and sweet would dominate the starting day of my week.

On my way home from work, I planned to prepare a special dish for myself. Pinakbet is a native, Ilocano dish that I love. Ingredients include different local vegetables, cooked in fish sauce. Not all people would like it. Even A loathes the fishy smell of it. But I love this dish so much. It is a specialty that the old folks in my Dad’s barrio (where he grew up) would cook for us when we come and visit.

While cooking my little treat for the day, I received an overseas call from home. My Dad’s aunt passed away. She was 94.

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My Dad’s mom died at the age of 48 because of breast cancer. I was five then. So I have but a few special memories of my Lola Maria. I grew up looking up to her three surviving sisters, Macaria, Aurora and Concepcion, as grandmothers. Lola Macaria is a petite lady, very quiet and meek. She lived a very simple life. When I heard that she passed away, there is something in me that hurt even we were not that close. Maybe, because my very young heart considered her as a real grandmother. Maybe, I saw a piece of my Lola Maria in her. It is hard to explain, only me who can really understand why.

Then, I ate the Pinakbet that I cooked with nice memories of my Dad’s little barrio and his aunt.

* Lola — is a Filipino word meaning grandmother.