Day 57 – Happy birthday, ma

Life isn’t always perfect but with you by my side, it has been nothing but a joyride filled with highest of highs despite the lowest of lows. You make us feel so safe and grounded, even if that means pushing yourself an extra mile or sacrificing your own wants and needs. I have never fully understood putting someone else’s before your own. I have never fully understood the grace of being selfless. You are.

From visiting the grave everyday after daddy passed away, to being our fortress and starting a new chapter for us and yourself on your own, you have come a long way. People have seen your smiles but we have seen the tears and the fight. I am so grateful to have been a part of your journey. A journey of transformation; a journey of strength and love. A journey of a woman so fearless. A journey of a woman who always believed in kindness and in love.

Happy birthday mum. You are and will always be the love of my life.

PS. Funny, the day is also your age.

Today’s tune: The Power of Love by Céline Dion.

Day 57 – 11 October 2017.
309 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

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Day 45 – You’ve got a friend

Three months to being in the comfort of home and within the embrace of my family and friends in Bombay. I cannot wait.

That said, I’ve had that comfort of home all those miles away too. Friends are the family you choose, and this couldn’t be truer with how I feel about my home away from home in Melbourne. I’m on my way to a party with these people I call home. No thoughts to share, just some lyrics to leave you with and a wish for you to find love like this. The kind that says…

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, running, yeah, yeah, yeah, to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend

Today’s tune: You’ve Got A Friend by Carole King.

Day 45 – 29 September 2017.
321 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Photo by Leon Christopher on Unsplash

Days 39 – Good or bad, time will tell

I thought I always knew better. I thought laying out all those options and opinions meant picking out what was best for me. Maybe not.

Maybe I don’t know better. I’m constantly comparing myself to fellow friends and acquaintances, and all their achievements. A relative term by the way. Who decides what an achievement is? You? Me? Some people know who they’re meant to be at 19, some are still figuring it out at 40. I’m at a stage where I know whatever I will be, I will be passionate. I try.

We’re constantly laying out plans and dates for ourselves. I know I have and with only a few months to 25, and I’m way off the timeline I set for myself 10 years ago. What if life as we know it is meant to be incidental? I don’t know if what I do today is good or bad. This Master’s degree, cross-country adventures, my career, my relationships.

Good or bad? Time will tell.

Sometimes, you just wait it out to find out. This is isn’t about latching on the possibility of a bigger and better future. What is bigger and better? Another relative idea really. Everything happens for a reason. The people I’ve known have led me to become the person I am. The homes I left, led to the home I’m now making. It took me a while but I now understand that every step we take is just a piece of the puzzle laid out for us by God, for the bigger picture. And it is so easy to lose sight of that big picture when you’re rushing to get things done. When you’re rushing to hang your “achievements” across that white picket fence you always dreamed of.

Don’t. Don’t rush.

We are not running out of time. Our journeys will pan out as they must eventually anyway. So it is okay not knowing once in a way. It’s okay to keep putting your building blocks together, bit by bit. It’s okay to feel confused. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s okay to feel everything all at once.

It’s okay!

Today’s tune: Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong Worship.

Day 39 – 23 September 2017.
327 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Day 36 – (not so) small wonders

I hate that I sound like a nag on loop but bear with me. I can’t remember the last time I slept without worrying about the next day or the day before. Or since I walked out with no map or agenda for the day. It has been a while since I really laughed. It’s really been a while!

Despite this and being away from the comfort of home, for all the days that I’ve felt worn and torn, I am grateful for all those calls, hugs and affirmations. All the days that I didn’t want to get out of bed or dragged myself from work to school and home, I am grateful for those companions who’ve shown so much love and understanding. Thank you for bearing with my lack of enthusiasm and poor communication.

It has been a while since I’ve had some good things going. More to do with how I feel mentally than the physical evidence of things going well. Yes, there is a lot to be grateful for but it’s difficult when you mind gives up on you. It’s difficult when you often see the darkness of the tunnel instead of the ray of light at the end of it. Tonight, however, does feel good knowing that I’m surrounded by the kind of family that isn’t bound by blood alone but by choice too.

Oh life, thank you for your small wonders.

Today’s tune: Sham – Aisha Soundtrack.

Day 36 – 20 September 2017.
330 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Day 31 – 22 June 2008

We got in the elevator and he wrapped his arm around me to try and comfort me. Comfort is a funny thing. Most other times it’s just awkward. I mean what do you tell your niece who understands nothing about death? I feel my uncle’s hand trembling against my arm. I know he’s trying to be strong and comfort me but seeing how shaken he is, makes me a lot more anxious and nervous.

It was only earlier this morning when mum rushed dad to the hospital. He was getting better, they said. A while later, the phone rang and I saw my aunt quiver as she listened silently to the person on the other end. It was my uncle. It wasn’t good news. It never is when there’s silence on one end of the conversation. The look in her eyes changed from concern to shock and pain. That gave it away. Looks were exchanged across the room and everyone was different now. For a while, I was excluded from this “sensitive” conversation. How do you tell a fifteen year old that she just lost her father? The man who was sitting on the same dining table as her two nights before he fell cold to a heart attack? Comfort, my awkward companion, they didn’t know how.

I was finally sat down and told that my dad didn’t survive his second heart attack. I don’t know if I was even listening to them in that moment, let alone grieving. I started making calls to extended family and friends to let them know.

Ring, talk, cut.
Ring, talk, cut.
Ring, talk, cut.

People were crying at the unexpected news but I responded with nothing more than a cold thank you. How could I be so cold? How could I be so clueless? Was anything sinking in?

The elevator opens and we’re almost at the ICU. I can feel this lump growing in my stomach but I’m moving mechanically. I feel cold and jaded. Have you ever dreamt of death? I have, far too many times. I’ve woken up in cold sweats and filled with guilt because the people in my dreams are my family and people I care too much about. They say dreams are often alternate realities of your sub-conscience. But I didn’t want him to die, I would never want him to die, how could he die? Two weeks before this horrific day, I dreamt that my father was dying. Two weeks later, it’s not a dream anymore. This was death in all its realness closing in on us, on me.

We walk down this corridor that smelt of that familiar disinfectant. As we reached the ICU, I could see beds of patients weak under their sheets, attached to monitors and drips. Some breathing by choice, some because of a simple switch. It’s ironic how peaceful the ICU seems to a lay person, only to be a sanctuary to fate of the very ill patients, tired medics and grieving families.

I see my mother from a distance. Her body is pale and her eyes are sore from crying endlessly. She’s repeating these words filled with regret, pain, anger and confusion. I can tell she’s been saying this all day. She is in denial. Her body is cold and she’s lost. Through those tears, I see pain and guilt all at once. I see how much she tried. I see how much she wished it was her instead of him. I see a part of her has died with him. I watched her age before my eyes in just a few minutes. Despite that, she’s trying to comfort me but I can feel her bones quiver beneath her body trying to stay strong for me.

We drew the curtain and there he was. The man I once knew to be fit and a champion of life, lying wrapped in a thin white cloth in nothing but his bare skin. He lay there in that hospital bed, naked and vulnerable. His body small, cold and helpless. A man once resounding with humour and candour, now silent and lifeless.

We stood by that ICU bed, holding each other and broke into hard sobs.

You tell me I’m strong. You tell me how proud he must feel to see me now. But really, I’m not. How would you know when you haven’t lived a day in our lives or walked in my shoes? How would you ever know what it’s like? How can you know what he thinks of me or my way of life? You don’t, I don’t. I lost a part of my mother too that day. A part I haven’t seen in nine years. A part you and I will never see again. She’s a strong new woman and yet nothing like she used to be before. How do you know everything is going to be okay?

22 June 2008.

On my way to work this morning, I felt that hand around me again. I was back in that damned elevator reliving a day I wished never happened.
It was every minute of a man once full of life lying cold in cloth.
It was every minute of a five year old boy never having the chance to get to know his father.
It was every minute a wife losing her best friend and companion, and herself.
It was every minute of me losing my childhood and father.
It wasn’t one person we lost nine years ago, it was our way of life and love.

Mum messaged me this afternoon telling me how she couldn’t stop crying because she missed him. For forty-five minutes on my bus this morning, I couldn’t stop crying because of how much I missed him. I cried again then because of how much I missed her. I couldn’t stop crying because for the first time in a long time I felt lonely. And like every other year since 2008, I was back in the ICU lost and alone.

This isn’t a cry for help. It’s the only way I know to cope, so bear with me.

It’s been a long day but maybe we could end it with one of our favourite songs and go back to a day that had more smiles than tears.

Today’s tune: Walk of Life by Dire Straits.

It’s time we moved on.

Day 31 – 22 June 2017.
335 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Photo by Greg Ortega on Unsplash

Day 14 – Motherhood V

There is no right time or right age. Motherhood sometimes is the beautiful after you experience because you’re in the right place at the right time with the person you can call your own. There are no ties, bloodlines or obligations, you’re simply brought together by fate to complete each other. In our case, I thank my stars and your gut. Continue reading “Day 14 – Motherhood V”

Day 13 – Motherhood IV

Over the last few months, I have been so lucky to foster and share a beautiful relationship with one of my mum’s friends. Thirty five years of friendship, and one year of unbiased and unconditional motherhood. If anything, this special relationship has taught me that family is not always blood related.

Over the years, I have heard so many stories about Christine (and mum’s other catering college friends). Mum always praised her ambition and dedication to her family and work, and how it was something to strive for. Even though we hadn’t met until last year, I knew enough to know that she was special. Today, I know with certainty, she is more than special.

Part IV: Chris Sr aka Mama Fernandes aka Nan

She exclaims with pride, “I was married at 22, had my first child at 23.” We were watching tv the other day when I asked her if she would’ve done things differently had she been in a similar situation today. Would it be mind over heart? Work over family? I explained how most of my friends today want to wait and would think 23 is too young. At 23, we barely know ourselves. How do you know you’re ready for marriage or children? She didn’t pause, she didn’t think, she just said, “We knew when it was right and saw no point in waiting. I don’t see why anyone would. And even today, I don’t see why one should because you can always have the best of both worlds.”

This is Christine. My foster mom, guide and source of inspiration. My home away from home.

Christine opened her arms, home and heart to me when I first moved to Australia. What at the time was a short-term plan suddenly turned into home (even Christmas apart wasn’t too easy). I have watched family turn on their own so often. Here, I watched a lady who hadn’t even met me, open her doors and trust me. She didn’t have to but she did anyway with no filters or expectations. If this isn’t motherhood, what is?

Christine is a pocketful of sunshine – full of love, light and laughter. Each day in the Fernandes household is a treat – especially watching her go from being hangry to happy, or gutted to giggly (no Xav?). I feel to grateful to have these days and dreams.

I am a strong believer of fate. I believe that everything in our lives happens for a reason. I was meant to meet you and now you’re never allowed to leave. Thank you for sharing even a little bit of your life with me.

Our special relationship has taught me that you can choose your family, and you’re mine.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama (Nan) Fernandes!

Thank you Mama Correia, for your friends who are now family.

Today’s tune: I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.

Day 13 – 16 May 2017.
353 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Day 12 – Motherhood III

In our culture, when a child is baptised he/she has godparents chosen by their parents. Their purpose is to support the child, and be that unconventional guiding force and friend. When my mum chose my godmother, I wasn’t given someone to be my guardian. My godmother has been my second mother, sister, and girlfriend all wrapped in one.

Part III: Mama Jr aka Fairy Godmother

With Michelle, it wasn’t an obligation but compatibility that made our relationship work so well. She is a lot of things my mother isn’t and that completed us as a family. The three of us bonded like sisters from different generations. And our differences only strengthened our bond and love for each other. My mother is really sensitive and emotional, and I get that from her. My godmother, on the other hand, is the practical one always encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone. While my mum would be protective, my aunt would challenge me to take the leap. Today, this love from two very different yet similar strong women has shaped me.

Thank you for teaching me tough love and responsibility, Mama Jr. You’re the perfect example of how motherhood isn’t something you juggle with other responsibilities, it isn’t a responsibility by birth, and it isn’t something you measure but treasure. Thank you for always loving me as your own (and first baby). I really am the lucky one.

Happy Mother’s Day Michelle. You are my strength and pride.

We all have lessons to learn, people to watch, memories to make, love to share. I have the Noronha sisters, my all in all.

Today’s tune: Everything by Michael Bublé.

Day 12 – 15 May 2017.
354 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

Day 11 – Motherhood II

Today, I kept looking at everyone share so many beautiful thoughts and messages for their mums. Some in spirit and some in the flesh. My heart has been filled with so much love and gratitude. I haven’t felt this happy in a while. Reading every post only made me realise how much unconditional love still exists in the world. There is no love like that of a mother’s. Yet, it felt like I didn’t have the right words to express how I felt.

Part II: Mama Correia aka Supermom aka Best Friend

After my father died, my mother chose to continue living, and with strength and love. She didn’t want to, she didn’t have to, but she chose to. My mother chose my brother and me over grieving and losing her all. Some would say motherhood is a struggle, but I’ve watched my mother embrace it as a privilege. My brother and I could only be ever so lucky − we are the privileged ones.

We celebrated Easter a few weeks ago. A feast where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ and his sacrifice so we can live. The priest spoke about Jesus’ suffering, and how he became divine so we could be human. He talked about his unconditional and everlasting love for us. Through the Holy Week services, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to actually meet Jesus and experience that kind of love in person. To embrace it in the flesh. The kind of love that is patient, kind, forgiving and powerful. What I didn’t realise then and felt today was that I have had that kind of love with me all along.

My mother is patient, kind, powerful. Her love never fails.

My mother is my faith in the world and everything it holds. She is my strength, grace and guiding force through the good and bad times. She is my good times. She is my mum and my dad. She is my everything. She is my best best friend. Her love is mine and nothing compares.

Happy Mother’s Day mum. Thank you for doing your best.

Your love is like the wildest ocean
Oh nothing else compares
Your love never fails

Today’s tune(s):
Love So Great by Hillsong Worship
Broken Vessels by Hillsong Worship

You’re My Best Friend by Queen

Day 11 – 14 May 2017.
355 days to go.

Thanks for listening and if you relate, say hello, please and thank you.

 

Day 10 – Motherhood I

Tomorrow we all celebrate Mother’s Day to honour that constant force that has been with us since our first heartbeat. What is motherhood to you? For me, motherhood isn’t just a relationship between a mother and her child. It is a way of life, sometimes beyond bloodlines.

This is a series to honour the women that have been an influence in my life. To the women that have taught me how to live, love and laugh.

Part I: Nana Noronha aka Peggy

Mother of six (and two dogs), grandmother of eleven. She was a woman of steel. As the eldest granddaughter, I was lucky to have spent my childhood with her.

Her day always started with mass and a walk around the block. Followed by a trip to the local market, negotiating with the fisher mongers and showering the stray dogs with love (and Parle-G). She powdered daily and wore her dresses without a crease. Her shoulders always sharp and straight, she was always full of energy. She loved to cook but loved to feed us even more. She made a mean Eggflip and her Goan curries were to die for. Her Christmas cake was a family tradition that started months before with the ingredients soaked in rum and ready to be relished come December. She loved her late night Hindi soap operas, and cried for the actors like they were her own. Feni on the rocks was her poison. Her grandkids’ chubby cheeks her pride.

She was one of a kind.

Nana Noronha was strong, through the ups and downs of life. And she had many. She was a self-made woman and taught us all to be no different. No matter the storm, she taught her children to hold on to their faith and fight. Today, I see a little of her in all of them. I see her in and with us. The Noronha siblings are like all five fingers, each different but together form one solid fist.

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Motherhood, for me, is my grandmother.

Hi Peggy,

Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for raising such amazing children. They miss you, I do too. We know you are with us and are always watching over us. You must feel so proud so see how well we all are doing, and how we all take after our grandmother.

Until we meet again.

You’re once
Twice
Three times a lady
And I love you

Today’s tune – Three Times a Lady by Lionel Richie.

Day 10 – 13 May 2017.
356 days to go.