Friday, October 26, 2007

Parisian Life

"Ah, oui! La vie ça passe comme ça!"

Ah, yes! Life passes (through) that way. She knows exactly what she wants to say, my little four-year-old niece, Elisa. She’s not the usual kid. She loves bugs, spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, you name it. She would scoop them tenderly in her dainty hands… talk to them in her own language… then set them free. Other kids would either scream, cringe or run away in fear, while others would give them the smack a.k.a. cruel death sentence, or the usual life(less) imprisonment. I was guilty of all those when I was a kid who didn't know any better. But Elisa… she is something else.

She knows life is more than playing with Dora, Hello Kitty or Eloise. In fact, she doesn’t play much with her collection of toys. She would rather go out in the park, pick up stones to add to her collection, and run! Boy can she run like a bullet! And she has the perfect runner’s form! One time she ran (and didn’t stop) from her house to their car which was parked almost 2 kilometers away. She reached the car sweating like a pig, “Whew! I’m so tired but I feel good!”

Feeling good also involves doing... wild and dangerous things. Well.. just, as her mum would say, a tid bit. Like goin down the slide head first. That’s when you’re looking.
She loves laughing and goofing around. She makes you taste something that she thinks looks like sugar, and says IT IS sugar… but turns out to be salt. You play along and she bursts into that perfect hearty, kiddie, Elisa laughter. Ahh… salt is sweet!

But just as she is loko-loko, she is also reasonable. One night her dad gave her a toy catalogue so she could encircle the gifts she would want to receive for Christmas. One particular toy caught her eye and she asked her dad if it was expensive. It was 149 euros. Her dad reluctantly said yes. She immediately flipped the page and said, “Never mind!” That’s my girl!

Oh but she also has her bad moments, when she’s sleepy or when her 6 year old brother Nicolas teases her. But nothing like tantrums. Brother and sister are unbelievably good kids.

Of course the apple never falls far from the tree. Mom is a cool, sporty, intellectual activist turned full-time home-maker. She was a peace corps volunteer who's done tours of duty in places like Thailand, Africa and war-time Bosnia. Not to mention she’s a hell of a good cook. Gourmet, mind you.

Dad is a hotshot consultant in Paris -- but at home, he’s the coolest, funnest, most playful, laugh-out-loud dad. He would run with them, dance with them, bake with them, and at night, he would read them stories.

But while mom and dad share everything with the kids, the best part is that they also let them be. They let them laugh, run, explore, fall, get a "tid bit" of scrapes and bruises if they must. It’s all good!

Life is good, but when it all comes down to it, for Elisa, it’s not as simple as saying, “C’est la Vie!”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Leslie Cruz

Was it an accidental industrial explosion or a deliberate terrorist attack? While the debate goes on about what really happened that fateful Friday, October 19, 2007, at the Glorietta 2 mall, the fact remains -- 11 people died, 3 people are in critical condition and more than a hundred were injured.

I'm sharing with you an e-mail being passed around -- it is a letter written by Carlo Cruz, only 33 years old and now a widower. I do not know him, but those of us who watched TV or listened to the radio that day will never forget Carlo, the guy who was desperately looking for his wife. We were all hoping that he would find her, that she was ok and that they would finally go home together. The end. Happily ever after. Who would've thought that a simple decision like turning left or right could change someone's life forever.

His letter made me cry but I will never know how Carlo feels. A friend reminded me that death is a very personal thing. Just the same, Carlo wants to share his story, hoping that whoever reads it will learn something from his tragic loss.


Good day everyone,

I wish I were writing under different circumstances.

I would like to inform you that my wife Leslie Cruz was part of the casualties in the Glorietta 2 Mall bombing in Makati City, Philippines. She was supposed to have a minor out patient surgery at Makati Medical Center at 230pm.

I had taken a leave from work to accompany her there. We dropped off our daughter, Amber, at my parents place in QC to babysit at around 10am. We then proceeded to Makati and was there at 1230pm. Since she had been fasting in preparation for her procedure, she wanted to move around and listen to some music while I grabbed a bite to eat. We parked at the basement of Park Square 2, and headed for the Glorietta 2 entrance. We parted at the top of the escalator, she turned right towards Filbar's while I went left towards the restaurants. That was the last time I would see her.

Around 120pm, she had called me so that we can meet at the Glorietta 2 exit just in time to make her appointment. As I made my way there from Glorietta 1 through the connecting hallways, and was about to turn the corner, I heard 2 deep thumps and the shock-wave from the blast hit me. At that moment my heart dropped as I knew that the origin of the blast came from the same place where we were supposed to meet. I tried getting to where my wife was, but the dust was too much and it was as if I was staring at a white wall.

I still tried to convince myself that she was able to make it out, and that after ringing her mobile without a response only meant that she dropped it in the confusion. After 6 hours of searching from Makati Med. to Ospital ng Makati, the blast site, and back again to MMC - with the help of all the people I could get hold of, that I was able to get confirmation in what the state of my wife was.

My Dad and Uncle signaled me in from the ER of MMC. My Uncle (who's a doctor) asked me to describe Leslie's appearance to another group of doctors. I saw in the eyes of one that the description made sense. Instead of confirming it to me, they huddled together, then brought me to a small examination room. It was only through a digital camera that I was able to confirm (and deny) that she was indeed gone.

I have so many regrets. I should have met her sooner. I should have ran instead of a brisk walk. I should have not chose to park where I did. I should have braved the dust and went in the blast site. I should have ...

Today's the 4th day. It is still terribly difficult to breathe, let alone wake up realizing that your source of strength, your best friend doesn't lie beside you on your bed. That my deepest worry is when Amber starts asking for her Mama.

I am glad that Amber's too young to understand the loss and pain. In time I would like to tell her the details of how her mother died, but more importantly I would like to raise her as how her mother lived - a loving person, strong willed, decisive, caring, and nurturing. She has always cared for her family and friends, and sacrfied her career for being a full time mom and home maker.

As with all couples we had our ups and downs - none of which I regret not going through. The sweet is never as sweet without the sour. For almost 4 years of marriage, we've finally hit our balance in life only to be taken away in an instant. I have no regrets about our marriage. She has loved me and Amber beyond her capacity. I will always love her.

It is my first time to write to egroup as I've lurked and watched emails being sent to and fro. All I want now is that for each of the couples here is to cherish each moment that we spend with our loved ones. Pretty simple to say, very easy to take for granted.

Thank you all for the prayers. I would still like to ask you to please include Leslie in them until her 40th day so that the path to God's kingdom is well lit and she is no longer in the dark.


Carlo Cruz

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of GOD for you in Christ Jesus"