Thoughts on mourning, a month after

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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.

Where are you now? Are you okay?

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.

Thank you

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.

One month of using the Apple Watch

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.

My Breast Pump Story

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.)