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Dearest God,

Thank you for creating such a wonderful human being in Jim.

He would help anyone, even those he remotely knew, whether they were students, Uber drivers, budding developers, aspiring musicians, members of the press, presidents or CEOs.

And he would help them with anything — whether they merely wanted help with their thesis, his opinion on the current state of the Philippine internet, to look for a job, to fix their phones, or advice on which Mac to get.

Thank you God for creating someone who showed us the value of sharing his talents and knowledge selflessly.

He brought people together and created communities — whether they are for Filipino musicians, for his classmates, for startups, or for the internet community in general.

You also made him so honest and so innocent.

He never knew how to lie. I would always say that all I had to do was stare at him, and he would admit he ate lechon.

He would wonder why people would act meanly towards another. He could never understand office politics. He hated gossip, and would make me sermon whenever i would participate in such.

Thank you God for creating someone so intelligent and yet so humble.

Whenever he will be on TV, he wouldn’t tell a single soul. People will just find out and tell him about it.

And he would always be so shy to ask favors, even from his classmates. “Baka I don’t matter to them …” he once said.

At work, he would usually be one of the smartest and the most logical. But like in a typical office setting, there would be obstacles and debates. He would say his mind, and if his opinion is rejected, he would leave it at that.

He valued peace and harmony over anything else. He would simply resume whatever he is working on like a dutiful soldier.

Thank for for making Jim show everyone how to be curious.

He loved seeing the world. I was the opposite. I was contented to stay home, clean the house, take care of the household. Him, on the other hand, would always want go everywhere, even if it’s just a walk in the neighborhood.

He would take pictures of his mini adventures, and share them to me (and social media) as soon as he gets home.

Thank you for making Jim show me how to love like a child.

He was always insecure on how to show people he cared. “I don’t know how,” he would always say. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”

He would ask me the weirdest questions “What does an uncle usually give to nephews and nieces for Christmas? Do you think Byng and Jojo will go if I invite them to lunch?”

The same with his team. Years ago, I asked if he would give pasalubongs to his team in Smart. He got rattled. “Oh I’m supposed to give pasalubongs!” From that point onwards, he would make giving pasalubongs a project.

Once he even got hurt because I got the chocolates that he was supposed to give Vida and Nim. I thought he wouldn’t mind, because they looked like cheap chocolates. I only knew later on that he actually gave a lot of thought into choosing them.

When we first got Booger, he would watch a lot of Ceasar Millan videos. And when he found out that we were supposed to walk a dog every single day, that’s what he did. Even in the pouring rain.

Months before Gabby was born, he would read books and take down notes. He wanted to be the best father in the world. He read about the benefits of breastfeeding, and did everything in his power to make sure that I breastfeed, even driving for hours to look for donor milk when my milk ran low.

He would wake up in the middle of the night for Gabby. He would feed her, change her diapers, read her books.

And he became the person who could always make Gabby laugh. For some reason, Gabby reacted so naturally to his childlike innocence. Gabby would coo, would smile, and would copy him. He was her playmate and her teacher.

He also loved me with the same childlike innocence. He would accompany me anywhere, because as he said, “I heard that’s what husbands do.”

He would give me flowers even if I repeatedly said it was a waste of money. He would drag me to our anniversary dinner, open the doors, hold my hand, and have someone take our picture.

He would always be rattled if there’s anything which made me sad or angry. He would do anything and everything to make it up to me. And more.

Whenever I say he was the perfect husband, I say it with no exaggeration. He truly was.

Dearest God, I also want to ask for your mercy. Jim would always say I was a better wife to him than he was a husband.

That’s not true. He actually was the better spouse.

I was too busy worrying about our daughter’s future, about myself, about my own health, about ticking off our todo list, about making things clean and organized.

He was the one who did it right. He was the one who loved us wholeheartedly, without the need to plan, without any todo list, without any hang ups — the way he knew how. And, he was not only there for us, he was there for others too.

His health was already failing. Why didn’t I recognize or acknowldege the signs? I left everything up to him and his doctors. I could’ve screamed foul, I could’ve demanded more, I could’ve fixed his diet better, I could’ve objected, I could’ve made him live …

I didn’t do things to my expectations. And I’m sure not to Yours.

Please forgive me. My heart is full of regret. We’ve been together for 16 years, and for some reason, the only things that I remember are all the things I should’ve done for him.

I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Only then can I forgive myself.

Is Jim in heaven with you?

If not, once again, I’m begging for your mercy. I beg of you to cleanse him of his sins bring him to heaven with you.

Please let him be with Toni, with his parents, and all the people he loved who have passed before him.

Could you tell him I love him? I would always say it. But now I wish I said it more.

Jim always said he was so lucky to have me. I’ve would always retort that it wasn’t true — that I was the lucky one to have him.

And for that, dear God, I want to thank you. I was a sinner, and yet you loved me so much that you made someone like Jim enter my life.

Those were the best 16 years of my life. God, if 16 years is all you can give me in a lifetime, that’s more than what I deserve.

Amen.

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Mahirap pala mawalan ng asawa.

The heavy physical feeling is still there. It hits the moment I wake up. Now it’s a mixture of extreme sadness & fear. Fear of what, I still have no idea. I dread waking up in the middle of the night bec of this.

They say focusing on the baby will lessen the pain. At first, it was actually the opposite. She reminded me so much of him. It got better after a couple of weeks when I allowed her to make me smile again.

Jim hasn’t visited me in my dreams. Maybe my subconscious doesn’t want to give me false hopes.

It’s still hard to attend to things by myself. I wish I can just call someone, anyone, to accompany me to certain things. Going alone just emphasizes his absence.

I still long to spend time with people who knew Jim — his family, his classmates, people he worked with.

A precious few have kept in touch. They took me out, let me talk, kept me company. I wonder if they knew how much they’ve done for me.

I’ve begun to reach out to other widows. “How long will I mourn this way?” Two years, they all said.

It’s still painful to see pictures of daughters with their fathers, or wives with their husbands.

The other week, I let myself cry. Really really cry. It was in the most embarrassing places — at the lobby of our condo. Jim would’ve been mortified. He used to chide me that I didn’t know how to cry.

Everyone tells me I need to be closer to God. I’ve always believed in him, even feared him … but I wonder what “close” means?

I developed a sudden love of the outdoors. I would sit in the park just to stare at my surroundings.

I stopped craving for good food. I can now last an entire day with the cheapest hamburger in Jollibee.

I treasure the few photos we have together. We were smiling so happily in each and everyone of them.

“Internet pioneer.” If he were alive, he would’ve blushed. I would’ve teased him, and he would’ve retorted something intellectual to cover his embarrassment.

I wished I just lost an internet pioneer. But I lost a most extraordinary husband. He was perfect in every way — he was so kind, so loving, so thoughtful.

He loved me even when it wasn’t easy to.

Seems like a cruel joke, to finally find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, and not being able to.

I wish I could turn back the clock. I wish I could’ve done more. A lot more. I still punish myself for it. Is this a phase? Or something I will carry as long as I live?

I still whisper his name every chance I get.

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Today, we put up photos of Jim in the condo. I was surprised with the baby’s reaction. She smiled, screamed in delight, and wanted to touch all the photos.

I said “Daddy” and she laughed again.

Maybe she knows, maybe she doesn’t.

But I know. And it’s oh-so-painful. I miss you babe. So so much.

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This morning while we were in Burgos Circle, I prayed for a sign that Jim was okay, that he truly is in a better place.

Later in the day, we went to Fully Booked for Gabby’s birthday. Gabby grabbed a book at random and handed it to me. The title was “Heaven Is Real.”

Maybe that was it.

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What haunts me most is the thought that Jim is not okay. How can I know? Is he feeling sadness? Is he really in a better place?

I googled “proof of after life” to get some sort of reassurance.

Visiting the office was hard. Memories of Jim is very strong there. But friends and officemates were around, and they did their best. On a weak moment, alone in my cube, I sobbed.

I didn’t know mourning is a physical pain. That your entire body would feel weak, cold, and heavy.

I long for that broken hard drive to be repaired, photos when it was just the two of us. This year, I was too preoccupied on documenting the baby’s life that I failed to document his.

Just a couple of months ago, I remember blurting out to Jim: “I”m actually happy. It’s as if I have everything I ever wanted.” He teased me for being cheesy, and I teased him back.

And now, “a part of me has died.” I never really understood what this meant until now.

To our dearest friends, thank you for your messages and SMS. I read and re-read them when alone … and it has helped me more than you know.

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For carrying my bags
For buying me food whenever I’m hungry
For driving for me, anywhere
For listening to me
For making my mango shake
For accompanying me when I don’t have anyone to eat with
For hugging me when I ask you to
For feeding the baby so I’ll get some sleep
For doing your best for me all the time
For saying sorry even if I’m at fault
For helping me pick out my clothes
For helping me take care of Gabby
For going with me anywhere I wanted to go
For being there whenever I ask you to
For being there even if I don’t ask you to
For not blaming me for my faults
For making me feel I’m perfect

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Thank you for your visits, the flowers, mass cards, your messages, your kind words, your hugs …

There are no words to express our gratitude.

Thank you to our friends, relatives, former classmates, and officemates who were all there to comfort us in our time of grief, to the class of 83 who shared stories of his stint in college, to his beloved 4B classmates whose antics Jim would gleefully share with me, his former bandmates, the PhilMusic community, the musicians, the neighbors he grew up with, Hackathon peeps, online friends (BBS, soc.culture, FB, Twitter), even those who have never met him personally but took the time to pay us a visit.

Most of all, thank you Jim Ayson. Your death has finally sunk in and is giving me the biggest heart ache.

Babe, I whispered words of strength on your deathbed. But if I have to be honest, as of this moment, I have no idea how I could do it.

But I will. I will do my best. And I promise to do everything in my power to give Gabby a good life.

I will love you forever.

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Apple Watch

Not as bad as I thought. That basically sums up my experience with the Apple Watch.

When I first got it, I wasn’t excited about it. But it was a gift from my husband, and so I had to at least try use it. Actually, I was surprised he got me another watch, especially since I only wore the last watch he gave me like three times.

But again, it’s not as bad as I thought. As the British would say, it’s actually quite pleasant.

For one thing, I hardly notice I’m wearing it. And that’s saying a lot from someone who thinks watches are just too damn heavy. The 38mm sports watch is very light, and the straps feel like I have nothing on my wrist.

And look! No eczema! None of the redness or irritation that I experience with my other watches.

I still haven’t grasped the concept of the Activity app though. I appreciate the intent of tracking the “overall well being.” However, as a former Fitbit user, I still wish it highlighted steps more instead of calories.

One unexpected benefit of the Apple Watch is that I am more “present” because I tend to look at my phone less. I can actually focus on the people I’m with or with whatever else I’m doing. Why? Because the Apple Watch gives a subtle vibration whenever there are notifications on my iPhone. No vibration means no notification, ergo no need to look at my phone.

If you have the disposable income to buy an Apple Watch, then by all means get one. I’ve lasted decades not wearing a watch. Now I wonder how I could’ve lived without it.

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An entire shelf in our condo is dedicated to Medela. I practically got its entire line: the Pump In Style Advanced, all the flange sizes, extra membranes and tubings, sets of bottles (in all sizes), micro-steam bags, accessory wipes, softfeeder, Calma bottles … You name it, I probably got it.

Yes, I got sucked in Medela’s monstrous marketing and distribution machinery.

But I hated it.

Medela made me hate pumping. It was so painful, it took so long to get a letdown, and it couldn’t remove any of my clogged ducts.

But I was afraid to try anything else. After all, it’s Medela — the giantess in the breast pump industry.

However, a few weeks ago, there were two incidents which just made me want give up all the money I invested in Medela and try something else:

  1. I had my nth clogged duct which, again, I couldn’t seem to pump out using my Medela PISA; and
  2. My supply started dropping considerably

I started to panic. I went back to my breastfeeding supplements and ate more oatmeal than ever. I replaced all my pump parts, tested the results in another PISA that a friend lent me, cleaned the tubings, and used all the flange sizes available on the market.

Nothing worked.

It was time to change my pump.

I started researching on the other brands available — Lansinoh, Ameda, etc. And then I vaguely remembered a friend telling me that she knew someone who had a good output using an unknown brand called the Spectra. This was information I scoffed at at that time, but I have to admit I became intrigued later on.

After reading hundreds of reviews on the Spectra, I knew I had to try it. But where to buy? I had two choices — Amazon (where it was P5,000 cheaper), or a local supplier. I rarely buy from local suppliers since I subscribe to a reliable and inexpensive forwarding service. But this time, it’s different. The pump is practically my life. I needed to talk to someone, to help me, to convince me that this is the right pump for me.

I called the local supplier to ask for more information, and I was relieved. The girl I talked to was so helpful and so kind. It’s as if she could hear the desperation in my voice. She gently urged me to pass by their office in Tektite in order to try out the different pumps they have available.

The very next day, I went to their office (with a very lovely and quaint interior, by the way). I was immediately escorted to a private room where I was able to try out the pump I had in mind — the Spectra S1. As soon as I tried it, I was sold.

To make the long story short, I am now a proud owner of the Spectra S1. And I love it.

And that’s my breastpump story.

So far, so good. Finally.

(I will be posting a separate review of the Spectra S1 soon. It’s probably not the first pump that working moms would initially consider, but I promise that if I get my hands on the more portable Spectra 9 Plus Advanced, I would also post a review.)

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