Saturday, May 12, 2012

She Dreams With Me

I was in seventh grade. Still the new girl at the new school. Still very uncertain, and still very unsure. While so much was a struggle for my awkward self... braces, hairstyling, and these terrible green overalls I loved for some reason... there was one thing I knew for certain:

I wanted to be a cheerleader...just like my older cousins I grew up admiring and wanting to follow in their footsteps. Just like the cousins my own age, the ones who were beautiful and all the boys loved.

And I worked hard, and I practiced, and I did everything right... everything I could.

I still remember when the list was posted. I was sitting in my seventh grade English class, and butterflies had been cycling their way through my system. The list would be posted at lunch, and I would know.

But I actually didn't have to wait until lunch. My friend in class... someone signaled to her from the door that she made it. And she began to jump up and down, squealing in excitement. I don't remember if I found out then, or if I found out when I walked to the lunchroom. I just remember seeing the list posted on the door, scanning the names, looking for mine.

It wasn't there.

The year before, I had tried out and made alternate.

This year... nothing.

And my twelve year old heart was broken.

I tried, but I couldn't make it through lunch. The butterflies in my stomach transformed themselves into a wave of nausea.

So I ran, as fast as I could to the office, to call the one person I knew could help me... my Mom.

There may have been a rule against calling parents, but the secretary had mercy on me, and she let me call her.

And thankfully, she answered.

"Mom," I whispered into the phone, trying to choke back tears... "I didn't make it".

I'll never forget what she said next.

"Do you want me to come get you?"

She was working that day, teaching. But she knew I was in pain, and she dropped everything to come and rescue me.

She picked me up from school and took me to my favorite restaurant where we had lunch and talked.

I'll also never forget what else she told me... That sometimes God has different plans for us that we can't see, but in His perfect will, He allows His beautiful plan to unfold in its own time.

The next year, when I tried out for cheerleading in high school and made it, she was the first person I found, rejoicing with me that a dream had finally come true.

I love that story because to me, it describes my mom perfectly.

In a moment of heartache, she was there to rescue, to hold me, to listen to me, to love me. She had work to do and could have just told me to hold on until school was over. But she didn't. She was there.

And that is my mom... she is present. She encourages me. She protects me.

One of the things I love most about her is that she doesn't dream for me. She dreams with me.

Pageants, cheerleading, dance recitals, quiz bowl, college, mission trips, moving to the other side of the world... even if my dreams meant a sacrifice for her, whether it be time, money, or a loss of presence.

She dreams with me, and when those dreams come true, she rejoices with me... sometimes louder than me.

She is my best friend, my heart. Talking to her always makes me feel better, and as cliche as it sounds, the older I get, the more I need her. She is the most beautiful woman I know, with a beauty that doesn't come from a bottle but instead comes from a heart that willingly pours into others.

In less than two months (Lord willing), I will have the chance to show her my dreams come true, introduce her to my babies, walk with her to my favorite places in the world. And we will dream together.

She has never asked for anything in return for her sacrifice. She has never made demands.

Instead, she loves. And I love her more every day. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If Anything but Death Should Separate...

 I want to be her. 

     At 8:05 pm last night, Vicente went to be with Jesus. it was a struggle... a week long struggle as his body prepared to breath its last.... months of fighting kidney disease. Over. The pain is gone. The ache is over. He is free now and more alive than he has ever been. 

     We prayed for healing and for miracles. But I am learning that sometimes the miracle looks different than my human eyes can understand. Today... the miracle was that my Kuya had a good 2 months with his family, lived longer than expected, and died surrounded by those who love him. What was God teaching us out of this? At this moment, I really don't know. 

     I don't feel anything, except sorrow for her. Dolly, his wife of 20 years, the mother of his 5 children. If I ever have the blessing of being a wife to someone, I want to be like her. From the day he arrived at our doorstep, she was right by his side, and she never left. In this past week, she rarely left her position by his bed. Even when she was obviously exhausted. Even when he became more and more difficult. She never complained. She just served. 

     To have and to hold, for better or for worse, sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. 

     She is my example of vows lived and breathed with conviction, with love, with mercy, with grace, with tenderness. Vows taken seriously. She could have just given him to us to take care of, walked away, and left him to begin a new life. But she didn't. She stayed through every difficult moment, every struggle, every fight. 

     Last night, as he was laying in bed, struggling to breathe, I watched as she sat beside him, took his hand in her own, and held it close to her cheek. She watched him, memorizing every part of his face. Holding on as long as she could. Her eyes were swollen, but tears didn't fall. They would fall later. Right now, in that moment, she only had a heart and mind for him, and she leaned down to kiss his forehead. I hope that picture never leaves my mind or my heart. 

     Even this morning as we waited for the funeral home to collect his body, she would walk by and touch his hair, his face. She is a beautiful example of grace. You know those people who just have that kind of presence... you just want to be near them because their spirit quiets your own? In their presence, you can relax... that is my Dolly. Her gentleness serves. It invites others to rest. I just want to sit beside her and be close to her.

     And as he died, he wanted her. Even in death, he only had eyes for her. She loved him until death, and, I can safely assume, will love him until she follows him home. 

     She has five children... Dave, Divine Grace, Diza, Dexter, and Dizon. She has to figure out life without him by her side. She has to figure out how to be two parents now. She is not alone... her heart belongs to the God who made her. But pray for her, remember her. 

     And may I love like that... with everything I have, asking nothing in return simply because I promised to. She chose love, and she honored her commitment until the end.