Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Daily Reminder: Why I Must Live My Life

Even though you're no longer with us, I'm glad to have spent time with you Michelle (far left).
We get it: life is sooo damn short! One day, you may wake up and realize that your days are numbered. You may also realize that you may or may not have done everything that you have wanted to do with your life. Be it spend time with someone, fulfill your passion, or travel somewhere, or tell someone how much you love them. So when someone significant in your life passes away suddenly, it makes you contemplate with what you have done with your life. Have you done everything that you've wanted to do with your life? Have you traveled to the places you've wanted to go to? And if not yet, why not? What's stopping or hindering you from doing what you want with your life? Is it money or personal life problem? I recently heard a quote on Facebook: Travel. Money returns. Time DOESN'T.

Stop letting people manipulate where you should go and travel to, or what you do with your life career-wise. Even love life, you shouldn't let anyone control whom you should date or fall in love with. Don't let people telling you "Oh ang yaman mo, dami mong pera pang biyahe, etc." (Oh you're rich, you have a lot of money to travel, etc.) make you feel guilty about where you want to go to, even if they are close friends or relatives of yours! Your life, your choice as I would always say. If they hinder you from doing something that genuinely makes you happy, then they don't deserve to be part of your life.
Michelle going out with us in the streets of Barcelona, Spain! It was nice to go out with you!
Let me tell you about a close family friend of mine: Her name is Michelle. She may have had the privilege and opportunity to study at very good schools, and travel to many countries, but I have to say: she was nice, generous, giving, and very approachable. Her life may have been cut short, but I have to say: she lived her life very well for someone her age. She travelled to many countries that I can only imagine at such a young age and was very career-oriented. I completely idolize people who are able to travel to many countries and places because it shows how open-minded and fearless they are! I was glad to have experienced traveling with Michelle once in my life because that is a memory that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life, which was going to Europe for the first time ever!
We enjoyed food whenever we travelled. Food is such a big part of why we travel! Always different when you have it there!
Michelle was a close friend of my older brother and his wife (his high school girlfriend at that time). They were all classmates in high school. Growing up, I remembered Michelle spending LOTS of time with my brother and his wife. They would socialize, go out together, and talk about almost anything! I wish I had some people like that to spend time with growing up because most of the people I went to school with moved to another country, or I am not close to due to not sharing the same interests. I remembered getting many advices when I was younger from her such as "Screw those who think that you're weird. Don't be afraid to be yourself because it's your life."

So growing up with my siblings, I constantly saw her hanging out with us and listening to her stories. I was always the type of person that constantly met people from all around the world because they came to Philippines. This time however, I wanted to be the one to go to their countries and meet locals while actually immersing myself in the food and culture. I don't miss my childhood so much because I never had the opportunity to really go out there and explore by myself until my adult life! Right now is the time where I have more freedom and opportunity to explore than I can imagine. So after attempting to stay long term in Taiwan and Japan as well as living in US for 1 year, I decided to try out Europe for the first time ever! I went with family such as my sister, sister in law, and of course our close family friend: Michelle!
It seems like yesterday we were just enjoying ourselves on the streets of Paris, France!
We were all together throughout the whole process from booking the flights, to planning the itinerary, deciding which countries and cities to go to as well as the toughest part ever: fixing the visas and the interviews and submissions. So during this entire process, I got to see a big part of Michelle's life from her past and current problems to her dreams and aspirations as well. Who knew that just about two years later, we wouldn't have her around to chat about our precious memories. :'( Spending time with her that much not only in Philippines, but abroad as well made us feel closer to her than ever. Yes she may have just been a friend, but she was also family to us.

You knew how to live life, and I'm glad to have spent time with you because you showed me to live my life!
While we were in Europe, I got to see how well traveled Michelle was because of all the stamps she had on her passport. She loved shopping and spent a big chunk of her time shopping wherever we went especially in Paris! It's the life every girl can possibly dream of! So after spending several weeks with Michelle in Europe, and having an amazing time at that, we thought about when the next one will be! Who knew that Euro trip would be the last time that we would spent a significant amount of time with Michelle. My sis in law, Janee, along with her husband or my brother would still constantly see each other whenever they could before that tragic event happened.
Michelle with one of her adorable sons! She really did her best to be the mama that she was!
The very last time I ever saw Michelle was around August of 2017 at a hotel restaurant where my brother celebrated his birthday, as well as do a family photo shoot for my other sister's wedding at the start of the year. I only spoke to her briefly but at that time I got to meet her husband as well as her two sons who are only 4 and 7 years old at that time. As I feel the sudden hit of sadness and grief while writing this, I begin to look back into my life and see how little I have accomplished compared to Michelle. I saw the innocence in her kids who had smiles on their faces that could brighten up the sky. I'm sure Michelle never thought to leave them so soon. In fact, I don't think any one of us expected to witness what would happen to her later on. It just makes you realize how short and shocking life can be, and that you shouldn't take anything for granted.
Thank you for everything that you've done for everyone, Michelle. Someday, we will meet again!
So at the beginning of 2018, a week after my sister's wedding, my sis in law, Janee, got a sudden phone call alerting her that Michelle was in a coma! It shocked me because she didn't show any signs or symptoms that she had a bad feeling apparently. My brother and Janee rushed to the hospital where Michelle was checked in to see what exactly happened. Michelle's husband was there explaining that she all of a sudden didn't wake up and after several CT scans, they found out that she had a brain tumor, which infected her and caused her to go into a coma. As they were suggesting to have her operated on, they realized that it was too late, and she officially passed around 2 days later. I felt a huge amount of pain knowing that I spent so much time with her from doing photo shoots in London, Paris, and Barcelona to shopping with her for pans and other food to make paella, as well as accompanying her whenever there were people who couldn't speak English, and I could help translate when I had the chance. Those moments I appreciate even more now that she's no longer with us.

A couple weeks later, her wake began. I saw Michelle's husband, her grieving mother and other family members. I even got to see her oldest son sending out pamphlets to us during the eulogy and mass of the pastor. Her son was just smiling and looking all innocent, not being fully aware I guess of what was happening. I just felt so much heartache for him and his brother because of the fact that they lost their mama at such a young age. They probably couldn't fully grasp it at that age. I remembered Michelle telling us her struggle with having the kids, as well as feeding them when they were toddlers and taking care of them along with their yaya or helper. Though she wasn't perfect, she was genuine and lived life in the best possible way that she could. At the wake, I got to see some of my brother and sis in law's classmates from high school. It's been years since I saw any of them, and I hardly recognize them let alone remember their names. As we approached the coffin, I see her face all beautiful and gorgeous with a look of peace, love, and happiness.
I hope to explore and travel as much as you did. We enjoyed being with you!
I begin to reflect on my life, and how it pales in comparison to what she has achieved. She may not have lived that long, but let me tell you she probably lived her life as best as she could, and probably better than anyone else. She spent time traveling and exploring with the ones that she loved as well as did things that felt good for her. Her way of life is the epitome of what most of us should strive for: making the most out of our regular, everyday lives. That type of life motivates me to live a life like that as well. When someone meaningful like that passes away all of a sudden (such as my cousin Annika, who passed at just 13), it just reminds you from that point on just how fragile life is. The people whom you love may not be around here anymore, and also the opportunities to see and explore the world may not be there as well.

We will all age and leave this earth at some point in our lives. THAT'S A FACT OF LIFE. Make the most out of it! Tell the ones you love just how much you love them. Appreciate their time, care and effort. See and explore this world, and meet as much people as you possibly can because it just makes you a better person in the end. Material things come and go, but shared memories and experiences are things that you will appreciate and cherish for the rest of your life! Live your life everyday, and do more of what makes you happy. It may not be perfect, but at least you can say that it's that life that YOU wanted. And really with Michelle's life, living that type of life and surrounding herself with loving and caring people are what really mattered the most. I hope that someday, we will meet again. Thank you for all the beautiful and meaningful moments that you shared with us. And that shows just how fragile and delicate life is. Love your life and keep on living it!
One of Michelle's special moments on her birthday with her family. Your family and all of us love you!


  1. I can feel what you mean. Thats why I "left" everything behind me to come to rhis adventure. We never know whats gonna happen. Even if you will be alive for the next 5 minutes. So enjoy the life . Do what you want to do but respect others. Make your journey. ��

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post! I will post more soon. Just been busy exploring wherever like you. And I cannot wait to meet you again you amazing Brasileira!

  2. I did not know this story. Very exciting. You write very well. Congratulations. It made me think a lot about life and I see that sometimes we forget to enjoy the few moments we have with each other. I have been through a similar situation to myself and I know how difficult it is to follow after such a barrier. I see she did what life asks. Be remembered honorably after our passing.

    1. Hey dear thank you so much! I only saw your message now, but I am glad you were able to feel something with what I wrote. I hope to see you again sometime in the future! Muito obrigado!