Temporary Goodbye

This is story 9 of 9 of my Tatay’s Series. This is my way of honoring Tatay’s life and legacy. It wouldn’t be right if I DIDN’T give him his own series and avoided writing about his passing all together. But I’m also aware that this is something I need to do for myself – to put my grief, anger, and emotions all out on the table, instead of distracting myself with work and other things to avoid the reality that he’s gone.” -Marinelle, LoveYourzStory

This is the last story of Tatay’s Series but I highly doubt this is the last time you’ll read about him. When I was planning out what each story would be about for Tatay’s Series, it really forced me to sit down and think about every idea, every memory, every feeling I wanted to express. I wanted to write about everything but at the same time drew blanks. It’s like that feeling when you know something so thoroughly, whether that be a show, book, subject, but when it comes to getting tested on that knowledge you question if you ever really knew all the answers, even though you know it’s there.

I arranged the stories in a way that I thought would benefit me most – let out all my anger in the beginning of the series so I could start to heal. I feel like all of that bottled up anger I have was blocking me from accepting Tatay’s passing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry and carry a lot of resentment, but it was a relief to get those feelings out into words and not just have them be thoughts in my head. As cliché as it sounds, I really felt my heart get lighter with each emotion I analyzed. I tried my best to have the stories somewhat come out in order, so you could follow along with me how fast, yet slow, his declining health was. I know this series has been 100% for me – giving my personal thoughts, first hand experiences, and memories with Tatay. But I hope whoever has been reading – especially my family – that this has helped you process your emotions around Tatay’s passing, even just a little.

Grief is very overwhelming. It’ll have you feeling a variety of emotions, then suddenly feel nothing at all. It’ll have you reminiscing about the past, hating the present, but trying to feel hopeful for the future. Grief will have you detach from the present day and desperately clinging onto memories. There are days where you want to be comforted, but would much rather be alone. You’ll start to panic at the fact that with time, there will be things that you will forget. It can be a lonely and exhausting process. Like me, grief will replay the same things in your head over and over again until you get it all out into words. And there are times where you purposely block out or avoid thinking of certain things because you know it’ll take you to a place that you’re not ready to face. That’s especially true for me, but when I close my eyes at night, I replay the same scenario. The day Tatay passed.

July 15, 2021 –

It was a Thursday night, and I was so relieved that the next day, Friday, would be the last day of work. This wasn’t just being excited for the weekend, but being excited for the long anticipated 2 week summer break. I was so excited to finally kick back, relax, sleep in, and do whatever I wanted for the next 2 weeks. The clock was winding down for summer break, but little did I know the clock was ticking for something else as well.

It was a typical Thursday night. I still had my hair wrapped up in a towel after getting out of the shower moments before. I went into my room and picked up my phone that was on the charger. I had left it charging during dinner time, even though I usually have it with me at the table. While it’s charging, I usually skim my notifications quickly to see if there’s anything I need to tend to as soon as possible. I saw a notification that I missed a call from my mom, and another notification saying my mom texted me.

“Tatay died @ 6:10 PM ,” the text read.

I stood there, staring at my phone. Kind of frozen. I didn’t cry. I didn’t react. I just stood there.

“Tatay died,” I told Christian.

I honestly don’t remember how he reacted or what his response was. I just said that I was going to call my mom. I stepped out of the room and dialed my mom’s number. She said that Tatay passed away about 30 minutes prior. I asked if I should make my way over to Tatay’s house, but my mom said that it was okay, there was no need to because he already passed away and my aunts, uncles, and dad were already headed over there. I asked if she was heading over, but she said she wasn’t. My dad is the only one who drives, and he was coming straight from work to Tatay’s house. We got off the phone, but I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t feel anything. I was in total shock, but not surprised at all. This was something we were prepared for.

It was really upsetting to me that I didn’t get a chance to sleep over Tatay’s house and help take care of him. All of the aunts and uncles were taking turns and having shifts to help care for Tatay. They finalized a tentative schedule during his 98th birthday, and they were going on week number 2 of the new routine. My dad and Auntie Salvie had the weekend shifts because they both worked throughout the week – the only 2 siblings that aren’t retired yet. My younger sister and I were trying to convince my younger cousins, Michael and Shawn, to sleep over with us while their mom and our dad did the weekend shift. We wanted to help care for Tatay, even if it was just letting my dad know that he needed something throughout the night. We had planned to sleep over Tatay’s house that upcoming Saturday, and I was excited. Not your typical excitement, since I knew that his health was declining, but excited in a sense that I would be useful in caring for him. It was just 2 days away. We never got the chance, and that really upset me.

I went to the bathroom just to sit down on the toilet and plan out my next move. I know my mom said there was no need to head over to Tatay’s house, but I knew in my heart that’s where I felt I needed to be. I opened the group chat with my sisters and Ate Nina. “Tatay died,” “I know, my mom told me,” I read on. I asked if anyone was planning to head to Tatay’s house because I really wanted to go but didn’t know if it was appropriate for me to go. Ate Nina said she was willing to go if we were going as well. Usually with us 4, it’s a group effort. My sisters quickly responded and said they wanted to go with her. Ate Nina let them know that she was going to start getting ready and pick them up. When my mom learned that Ate Nina was going to give a ride, she wanted to come as well. That was all the information I needed. I went to my room and told Christian that I was going to Uber to Tatay’s house.

Being that I live so deep in San Francisco, I knew I’d probably be the last one to arrive. So I quickly got dressed. I get pretty anal about my routine sometimes, and you’ll never catch me leaving the house after I’ve already showered and started my night routine. Of course, this was the exception to my rule. I threw on whatever was comfortable, and pulled my towel off my head, my hair still dripping wet. Christian was hosting his usual game night that night, so I let him know that it was okay to stay back and host it. I knew he was conflicted because he thought he should go with me for support, but I didn’t know what the tone would be like at Tatay’s house. I thought it was best if I go alone and report back on whatever was discussed. I just felt like I had to get out of the house as soon as possible. I needed to see Tatay, I had to be there.

I started to tear up as I waited outside for my Uber. It was cold, foggy, and my hair was still wet. Everything about the scenario fit the gloomy mood. I started to text my close friends that Tatay had passed, as I kept them in the loop throughout the last couple of months regarding Tatay’s health. I think typing out “My Tatay passed away,” made it feel more real. However, it still didn’t register completely. I was originally texting people that I was okay, that we as a family were expecting his passing. And at the time, I really meant it. I really felt “okay.” I wasn’t reacting the way I thought. I thought the moment I found out, I would be balling my eyes out. But that wasn’t the case. I feel like it took me a really long time to process everything. Everything that I prepared myself for went completely out the window. I would soon realize that as much as you prepare for the worst, you will never know for certain how you will take things until you’re actually living it. I thought I knew myself well enough to predict how I’d react, but that wasn’t the case.

My Uber finally came. I was fine the first couple of minutes, occasionally wiping my tears away, still really slick about it. The kind of tears that could be played off as something in your eye that you’re just wiping away. But then I started thinking about how things would be once I got to Tatay’s house. I was going to see his body. How would I react then? Would it be too much? Then I really thought about it. It dawned on me, holy shit, I’m going to see Tatay’s body! The tears started flowing uncontrollably. My nose started to drip under my mask, and there was no hiding my obvious discomfort anymore.

God bless my Uber driver’s heart, he didn’t ask if I was okay, he just rolled down the window for some fresh air, continued to drive, and tried his best not to look at me in the mirror. He probably thought that I got broken up with or something, and I felt a little embarrassed to the point where I wanted to call someone and be like, “Hey, Tatay died,” just so I didn’t look pathetic. But I thought, fuck it, Tatay’s dead, looking like a fool to a complete stranger is the least of my problems. I’m thankful that he didn’t try to talk to me because my Uber ride lasted about 30 – 35 minutes. It was a true 5 star experience because he minded his business and kept it moving. Literally.

During the Uber ride, I just kept mentally preparing myself to see Tatay’s body. I’ve only ever seen loved ones’ bodies during viewings and funerals. So this was something new to me. I’m also a huge scaredy cat and I get uncomfortable being in those settings. So I had no idea how I was going to process seeing Tatay lifeless in his bed, the same spot that I last seen him in. The same place where I saw him time and time again, week after week. I really had to process it and mentally prepare myself for what going to Tatay’s house really meant. Was I going to be hesitant to approach him? Was I going to be scared? Would I keep my distance? I didn’t know. But at the same time, my worst fear was that they would have Tatay’s body be removed from the house before I got there.

When I got to Tatay’s house I opened the door and said hello to everyone that was in the livingroom, but quickly went upstairs. I got upstairs and saw my Auntie Lilia and Auntie Luz in the hallway in front of Tatay’s room. I said hi, and kept it moving. In Tatay’s room stood my dad at Tatay’s bedside and Tita on the other side. My dad was holding a napkin or cloth under Tatay’s chin. When I asked what he was doing, he said that he was trying to have Tatay’s mouth be closed as much as possible because he didn’t want whoever would be handling his body after to force his jaw closed and break something. I walked over to Tita and blessed her.

I looked at Tatay laying down before me. It just looked like he was asleep, but I knew that he wasn’t going to wake up. I burst into tears and started wheeping audibly, holding onto Tatay’s arm. Tita hugged me and she started to cry as well. Together, we wailed over Tatay’s body as my dad’s eyes began to water. What made me even more sad was what Tita was saying to me as I cried. “Tatay’s gone now. No more Tatay. Now there’s no reason for you guys to visit on Sundays anymore,” she cried in Tagalog. That broke my heart. I’ve always prepared myself for what life would be like without Tatay, but I never really considered what it would be like from Tita’s point of view. It crushed me to hear that she feared that we wouldn’t visit her anymore because Tatay was gone.

I wasn’t scared to be in the same room as Tatay, I wasn’t afraid to hold him, I wasn’t distant at all. I wanted to be next to him, and I was sad that I didn’t get to see him one last time. I was miserable to know that in just 2 days, we planned to sleep over and keep him company. It finally hit me. He was really gone. I asked my dad if he was okay, and headed back downstairs to join my cousins. I’ll never forget the hug my Kuya Ryan gave me after I sat down teary eyed. He didn’t try to hide his pain, he didn’t try to “be strong,” he was feeling the same exact feelings I was. It was a silent comfort and a mutual understanding of shared grief.

We stayed at Tatay’s house for a couple of hours. Almost every immediate family member that lives in the Bay Area was there that night. At one point, the story of the blue bird was told to us. As Tatay took his last breath around 6:10 PM in South San Francisco, a blue bird entered his house in the Philippines around the same time. This bird was flying back and forth in the house – curiously observing its surroundings. What’s even more crazy is that the family members who are living in the house took a video, not even knowing that Tatay had passed away. We were all shocked to learn this information, but it brought peace to our hearts.

All Tatay ever wanted was to be back home in Batangas. It’s all he talked about – wanting to be back home in the Philippines and live out the remainder of his life there. It hurt me to see him in his bed during the pandemic basically pleading with anyone who would listen to let him go back. With our hearts heavy, hearing the story of the little blue bird who entered Tatay’s house in the Philippines brought us great comfort and peace. Tatay finally made it back home. Of course that’s the first place he would go to once his spirit left the physical world. That’s what you wanted all along, Tatay. And I’m glad you’re finally there.

Losing a loved one is never easy, and nothing about it is pleasant. What I will say though, is that in times of need and tragedy, the family came together. Family came from all over to grieve with us, to lay our Tatay to rest, and be there for us in our time of need. The Cabillo family leaned on each other for support, plunging ourselves into the thick of planning to make Tatay’s service one that he deserved. In Filipino families, when someone passes, the next couple of weeks are anything but lonely. It seemed like we were always together, always at Tatay’s house, always discussing what we needed to do next. Even though they were under these circumstances, it felt good to have the family be so united.

And I know that’s what Tatay would’ve wanted. A few years ago, after his 95th birthday, we all sat at Auntie Lilia’s dinning room – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, great grandchildren – and interviewed Tatay. We wanted to know what he was most grateful for, what he wanted to be remembered by, and any messages he had for his future generations to come. Tatay was a man of few words, but he did let us know that he just wants us to be happy, to enjoy the company of those we choose to be around, and be together as a family. He just wanted his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all the family that he will never get the chance to meet, to be happy, have good health, and be united.

Even though Tatay’s passing was “expected,” it didn’t lessen the pain of having someone you love be gone. It took me a really long time to process Tatay’s death. Even at his viewing and funeral I still felt like it was an out of body experience. I felt like I was watching a movie and no way was this real life. But it is. And I still find myself choking up at the thought of seeing Tatay on his bed, or how he looked during his viewing. Just when I thought I knew the meaning of life, reality threw me a curve ball. I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I really view life in a different way.

Tatay, this is my temporary goodbye, because I know I’ll see you again one day. This has been the hardest “see you later,” to date. Just know that your family is holding it down, and we’re trying to make you proud and live out your wish. Until then, you will find us at your grave every Sunday. Like old times, “Byeeee, Tataaaayyyy,” until we meet again…

Sundays at Tatay’s House

This is story 4 of 9 of my Tatay’s Series. This is my way of honoring Tatay’s life and legacy. It wouldn’t be right if I DIDN’T give him his own series and avoided writing about his passing all together. But I’m also aware that this is something I need to do for myself – to put my grief, anger, and emotions all out on the table, instead of distracting myself with work and other things to avoid the reality that he’s gone.” -Marinelle, LoveYourzStory

Ate and I teaching Tatay how to do a Boomerang

If my dad doesn’t see signs of my sisters and I motioning to get up by 5 PM on a Sunday evening, he starts up again. “LETS GO! GET READY NOW!” he says throughout the house. Whether someone is sleeping on the couch, going pee in the bathroom, or literally already about to head downstairs to get ready, they get the same reminder. It’s Sunday, so it’s time to go to dinner at Tatay’s house. We partially ignore my dad’s irritated orders because we know we’re still going to be the first ones to arrive anyways. Depending on my mom’s mood, she’s either making food to bring to Tatay’s, or we buy take out. It’s the last scramble to get your belongings, phone charger, water bottle, computer, any work that you’re “going to work on” while at Tatay’s, before we hear my dad again. “LETS GOOOO!!!” Depending on his mood there might be a honk or two while he’s in the car.

We make our way to Tatay’s house and make the same walk that we always do from the apartment parking lot to his front door. We doorbell, but end up opening the door anyways. We greet Tita and bless her, quickly trying to claim a spot on the couch. The smell of food is already in the air. One thing about Tatay’s house is that there’s never a time where you leave and don’t smell like food. Little by little everyone starts showing up with food in hand, going straight to the kitchen. Tatay makes his grand appearance down the stairs, his cane not even touching the ground. We all line up to bless Tatay and greet him. We all wait until everyone has arrived before we pray and start to eat.

At Tatay’s service, something that all my cousins brought up during their speech was the language barrier we all faced when trying to communicate with Tatay. Every Sunday that we were there for dinner, my sisters and I would struggle to try to attempt to say something in Tagalog. Sometimes it was successful and we could carry out a simple conversation, but other times he would look at us like “….?” We would burst out laughing in embarrassment that our Tagalog was not understandable. We could understand what he would say to us in Tagalog, but we would need some time to process how to say what we wanted to say from English to Tagalog. But when our Tagalog wasn’t successful, we would tell our dad to translate what we wanted to say. We would use my dad as the human translator to tell Tatay information or ask him something.

Regardless of the language barrier, we all still found ways to communicate with Tatay. It’s crazy because even though we couldn’t communicate smoothly, the bond was still there. Maybe it’s because he lived with my family and I until I was about 7 years old, or the fact that there was just a mutual love between grandfather and grandchildren. Whatever it was, I still felt very close to my Tatay. When we were little he would take bus all around the city and come home with random things for my sisters and I. We showed our love through food, acts of service, and trying to show him things through the TV, our phones, or pictures.

Tatay’s house doesn’t have cable, so we were always trying to look for shows about animals. Animal planet was Tatay’s channel. He has always been so entertained and intrigued by animals. Ever since we were little, it was Tatay’s staple in his personality. Anything that had to do with animals, he loved. For a period of time, we would enter Tatay’s house on Sunday and immediately put it On Demand – a show about animals that he couldn’t get to on his own. He would always ask how we got on that channel, probably so he could try to watch it himself when we left. But the remote control for a 90+ year old is like the smart phone for Boomers. We just let him know that we would put on the channel for him when we came. We would watch animal documentaries while eating food, everyone huddled around the TV. Tatay would be totally fascinated. I don’t know when the switch happened, but over time we moved on to America’s Funniest Home Videos, and it was a plus that there was an animal segment.

When everyone is done with eating dinner, we just chill and hangout. This is usually the time when Tita will take out and offer the ice cream. Not just any ice cream, Mitchell’s Ube and Mango. Whoever takes the offer of getting ice cream always ends up being the server for everyone else. On the sidelines you will find cousins who are typing hard away on their laptop, people doing homework, great grandkids screaming from the top of their lungs running throughout the house, for some reason wrestling always ends up happening in the middle of the livingroom floor, some chisme in the kitchen with the adults, and cousins chopping it up in the livingroom. It’s a small apartment, but we made it a home. All of us crammed in there every other week to just hangout and be together as a family. Tatay would be in his designated chair either watching TV, or just observing the beautiful Sunday chaos going on around him.

And then there’s the pictures. I feel like we bonded with Tatay through taking pictures together and showing him filters. I always wondered what he was thought of them. Imagine being in your mid 90’s, and a little screen is showing that there’s a cat on your head. At times he would laugh and make a surprised entertained noise, and other times his reaction was like what the hell is that?! Seeing his reaction to filters and seeing his face when he saw himself on camera was priceless. I have so many photos of Tatay with a filter on, and they all put a smile on my face because I know he was truly shook with every single one.

One Sunday Tatay took an interest in my phone. I was on it and he asked if it was mine. The curiosity in his eyes and in how he was asking led me to believe that he was interested in playing around with it. I was doing homework at the time, so I put in my password and handed it over to him. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing because I was focused on what I was working on. In less than 30 seconds Tatay quickly hands it back to me and says something along the lines of “Here, I’m done now, take it,” in Tagalog. He was a bit distraught and to be honest, a little frantic. I looked at my phone to see that a couple of my apps were open and moved around, my Amazon cart was was open in the process of adding something random to my cart, and so many things were rearranged and done in such a small amount of time that I couldn’t help but laugh.

That’s what I mean when I say that even though there was a language barrier, it didn’t get in the way of Tatay bonding and interacting with us. Especially the relationships he had with his great grandchildren. All the kids knew his house as “Tatay’s House.” To them, Tatay’s house is where you go to play with your cousins, scream and run all night, and get scolded for going on the stairs. Tatay’s house was a place that they looked forward to going to because they knew that all the family would be there. They knew that there would be pizza, puto, and cousins to play with. Tatay was very loving an affectionate to his great granddaughters. They would come up to give him kisses and hugs, sit on his lap, and eagerly greet him when they came in. He would use his cane to play with them, and even though he probably didn’t know who’s kid belonged to who, he was thoroughly amused by their rambunctious ways. I’d always hoped that Tatay would be around long enough to meet my children.

There would be many times where I found myself observing Tatay as he observed the room himself. When the kids were yelling and having a great time, he would smile to himself, not bothered by the high pitched screams of enjoyment. Tatay was always lingering around. He wouldn’t be in the main conversations, but more so chillin on the sidelines hanging out. When we had our first Sunday dinner after over a year of being apart, I saw the spark in Tatay’s eyes again. Seeing everyone together, being in the thick of the chaos to see great grandchildren reuniting after so long, the apartment that was so quiet throughout the entire pandemic finally got brought back to life. I’m glad we gave Tatay a few more Sunday dinners despite the pandemic.

Now, Sundays look a little different. We are continuing to go to “Tatay’s house,” – because it will always be “Tatay’s house” to me – every other Sunday to have family dinner. This time around, we visit the cemetery before heading over. My dad’s “LETS GOOO, GET READY NOW!” announcements are now a little earlier so we have time to swing by the cemetery before it closes. We still make it a point to see Tatay every Sunday. It’s only right that we drop by and say hello, even if it’s only for a quick 2 minutes like what we did throughout the pandemic. If I think about it for too long, I get sad knowing that Tatay’s house will never be the same. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that still thinks he’s going to walk down those 2 flights of stairs, cane in hand, making his grand appearance into the livingroom. As time goes on, I know things will continue to change, people will move away, and things won’t always be the same. But for the time being, while we are still resuming family gatherings, I’d like to think that Tatay’s watching over us. I hope he’s glad that we’re continuing to come together as a family at “Tatay’s house” for Sunday dinner while we all still can.

Congrats On Adulting

By now, I bet it’s safe to say that my consistent readers know how I feel about change and how I handle it. I’m so sentimental about everything. And the more I think about it, I’ve come to realize that the things that make me sad are just … a part of life. I get so sad over certain things – some might even say I can think myself into a deep depression. I get frustrated with myself at times because I feel everything so deeply, I analyze everything, and overthink myself to the point where I’m exhausted. But what exactly gets me so melancholy?

Change as a whole. I’ve written so many blog posts about different scenarios and topics. I put a lot of my fears and anxiety filled thoughts out there into the world, and a common factor is how stubborn I am with change. And it’s crazy, because I am all for growth and improvement. I’m completely aware that there’s no growth without change, and you can only excel so much in a certain environment. And up until recently, I would’ve described myself as a go with the flow laid back type of person. I believe it’s due to the fact that from preschool until you graduate college, it’s pretty much a set path. Of course, not everyone’s journey is the same, but education wise it’s kind’ve the same route. Once I graduated from the school environment, I felt lost, and change seemed scary.

And to some, I bet I sound mad childish and pathetic. Why is this bitch so sad about change? It’s normal… Trust me, sometimes after posting a blog post I wonder why I get overly emo about normal shit that people go through. But, I know I can’t be the only person in the world who feels an enormous sense of sadness, gets mad sentimental, and nostalgic when things begin to shift. That feeling of “nothing lasts forever,” gets me every time, and I feel myself desperately clinging onto the present day and not wanting things to change. I try to fight and resist it, even though deep down I know that this is just another part of growing up.

It’s funny because when I was younger all I wanted to do was be “grown.” I dreamed of my house, my future family, my life. The yearning to be an adult as a child is something we all go through. What’s even more cringe is the fact that I thought I was grown at 16 – 18 years old… L M F A O. At that age, I thought I could handle everything and anything. I was ballsy and would take the chance in any situation. What happened to that invincible feeling? I mean, I’m 25. I’m not that old, some might even say I’m not even “grown” yet. But somewhere along the line, that ballsy “I’ll do whatever I want, when I want, I can do anything and everything, don’t tell me otherwise,” feeling faded.

Well, maybe not faded, if you catch me in the right mood, probably after listening to my encouraging music – aka J.Cole’s The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights, you can find me with confidence and motivation. Which for the most part, I am. I’m a dreamer, and I have my ups and downs when it comes to achieving my goals and dreams. But then I have those days when I’m hesitant, anxious, and unmotivated. When did I become so calculated with my next move? What happened with going with the flow?

I guess a part of that can be because I’m an adult now. I realized that spontaneously doing whatever I want at the time can have consequences. I started to realize that some decisions are irreversible in this game called life, and I wasn’t about to make a foolish misguided calculation. And that’s kind’ve the position I’m in. I’m so focused on making the right “move” and right decision that making change to get to a better place is hard. I fear choosing the wrong path.

But I know being stubborn with change will only stunt my growth. Out of nowhere I went from a college student to a graduate who is now in the real world. And being in the “real world” is a little overwhelming. Now is the time to do all the things I’ve hoped to do, all the things I’ve dreamed of. Nobody talks about the hurt that comes along with growing up. People move away, people get busy, people start new lives, and suddenly, all the good memories are a thing of the past. I even catch myself living in the present moment and soaking in everything around me, and getting sad that it won’t “be like this” forever.

I think about how I grew up, being around my whole extended family from both my mom and dad’s side. I was telling my little sister how it’s crazy to think that I can remember being 3-4 years old, hanging out with my aunt and her now husband, thinking that they were grown as shit. Now, I’m that aunt with the boyfriend that kicks it with the nieces and nephews.

It’s all a part of growing up. And I’m not on some Peter Pan shit where I don’t want to grow up. But, I do get very nostalgic and sad when I think of things changing and never going back to how it “was.” Knowing that everyday, little changes happen, and then one day you wake up and realize shit is completely different. I guess the main thing about “growing up” and having things change is the fact that I know just like times and memories, people don’t last forever.

One day I was talking to one of my best friends about this concept. That I’m afraid to make moves and changes because I fear I’ll miss out on family events and I’ll feel guilty if someone passes away. “That’s such a toxic way of thinking,” he told me. He explained that of course we want to be there for big moments, and deep down we all know nobody lives forever, but that’s no way to live your life. And it’s true, and I’m aware of the fact that I get sad about things not being like how it was in the past, for example : meeting at my grandparents’ house every Sunday after church for lunch and hanging out with all of my cousins. They’re nice little reminiscent memories that make you feel like “awww, I miss those days.” But even in the present day I trip off things I can’t control. Like the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we haven’t hungout at our 97 year old Tatay’s place in months with the whole family…

As much as things and memories give me happy-sad memories, I know it’s all a part of adulting and going through life. This is literally nothing new, and I finally get the saying “that’s life.” When I vent to some friends and those close to me, sometimes I feel foolish because it’s like, dude… you’re just sad about “adulting.” It’s just the journey of life and becoming more independent. I never knew adulting could bring up so many emotions. For me, it’s anxiety, nostalgia, being sentimental, scared, with a hint of excitement. I know there are people out there that are the total opposite of me, and crave change and welcome the unknown with open arms. But this post is dedicated to the people who want that growth and want to charge forward with life, but still get sad and wrapped up in their feels. It’s okay to feel this way. Nobody really brings up the emotional side of growing up. It’s okay to want change but feel sad about it…

Wear a Mask, Asshole

It’s crazy to think that in mid-March we really thought that we’d only be Sheltering in Place for 3 weeks. Here we are over 4 months later, and things are actually worse than when we originally shut down. It’s nearing the end of July 2020, and 3-4 weeks ago businesses started opening back up in the Bay Area. Doing so caused a spike in COVID-19 cases, so some businesses are retracting and closing back down again. Was America really ready to enter phase 3?

Sheltering in Place, wearing masks, and social distancing is the new normal. But when I look back on the timeline, it wasn’t always like that. This new “normal” took some getting used to. It really does blow my mind how 2020 took such a turn so quickly. I started hearing about COVID-19 talk around December 2019. Of course I knew what was going on in China, but I never thought it would be as big as it is now.

As I mentioned in previous blog posts, it wasn’t until I came back from Massachusetts in late January that I started to see the severity of the situation at hand. I swear, I left for Boston on Thursday night, January 23, 2020, and returned back to San Francisco that Sunday afternoon, January 26, 2020. It was like I came back to a different world. In Massachusetts I heard side conversations of COVID-19 and people fearing that it will be a problem in the U.S. I was naive. I really didn’t think that COVID-19 would explode in America, or anywhere outside of China, to be honest. I thought maybe a couple hundred cases total worldwide aside from China, but this thing isn’t going to be a big deal. I couldn’t be more wrong.

When we stepped out of the plane at SFO, everything just felt different. There was news of planes coming in from China the same time we were at the airport. I started being aware of what I was touching, and avoiding touching anything at the airport. It’s like we left the Bay Area for less than 3 days, and came back to news of people panicking. One of the Ubers we got into, the driver was in a mask and wearing gloves. He was straight schooling us on facts about COVID-19 and how China basically fucked us all by trying to keep the outbreak hush hush. He explained how it’s going to come to the U.S. and how life for us is going to change. He told us to get masks and cleaning supplies while we can. I thought he was being overly paranoid. But what he was saying shook me up enough to think “…Maybe he’s right?” But I still had the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

It wasn’t until about mid-February that I realized, Yeeeeeah… that Uber driver that I thought was trippin’… what he was saying… he’s right, this virus is spreading around… And it started to get real. It’s like my eyes were glued to the news. Slowly, different states started reporting their first confirmed cases of COVID-19. I had constant anxiety knowing eventually it would make it’s way to California. All of a sudden I was slapped in the face with reality. What I thought was very unlikely – COVID-19 turning into a pandemic – was a hard pill to swallow. At the end of February and early March I would wake up everyday to get ready for work and think, I can’t believe this is for real. By this time the cruise ship with COVID-19 patients were docking in Oakland.

By March I was completely paranoid. I take public transportation to work everyday. I started fearing for my health and thinking everyone and anyone had it. Colleges, high schools, grade schools started to slowly shutdown in the Bay Area. Sports gatherings, events, concerts, started getting canceled. What the actual fuck was happening? I really couldn’t believe it. Everything was happening so fast but it was like I was experiencing everything in slow-mo. The 2nd week of March, my boss called it. Friday, March 13, 2020 would be our last day in session, then we would be shutting down for 3 weeks to be safe. I never thought that would happen. I really thought we’d be back after the 3 weeks. You’d think at this point my guessing would get better, and I’d realize that this was a big deal. Nope. Naive! I really thought 3 weeks we’d be back at work.

Those first couple of weeks of Shelter in Place were tough. I’m a home body, and I usually like staying home anyways. But it’s a different story when you’re told you can’t go outside. All of a sudden you get antsy, even though it’s something you would’ve preferred anyways. It’s all mental – wanting what you know you can’t have. After the 3 weeks, it was finally April, things were supposed to reopen after 21 days. Instead, the Shelter in Place got extended. By this time it was mandatory to wear a mask or face covering whenever going in public areas. It was like everyday was the same routine. I would wake up and think, holy shit, it’s really a pandemic right now, and go upstairs to watch Gov. Gavin Newsom give his daily speech and updates. I was hooked on the news. It’s all I wanted to watch, even though it was making me stressed.

New cases, hospitals overcrowding, not enough ventilators, New York getting hit the hardest, essential workers quarantining from their loved ones, people dying, people losing their jobs, unemployment sky rocketing, toilet paper and cleaning products clean off of the shelves, not making testing available to all, people refusing to wear masks, this was the new reality. Nobody would’ve expected 2020 to be like this. I felt like I was in an episode of Black Mirror.

Towards the end of April, everyone was antsy. Would the shutdown extend until May? Yes. And it did. And people were upset, refusing to wear face coverings and protesting. People wanted to go back to work, and they were upset that Newsom kept extending the order. But by this time, I was used to Sheltering in Place. In fact, I was scared of readjusting to life after the pandemic. I was getting used to the routine of working from home and straight chillin’. The first 3 weeks of Shelterting in Place and shutting down was the hard part. Everything after that just reminded me of my summers back in the day when I didn’t have a job and didn’t have anything to do. I enjoyed doing nothing.

But obviously this situation was a lot different than my lazy boring summers back in the 2000’s. People are dying. The world is battling something we can’t see or control. It’s a whole pandemic. I feared for those I know, but especially my Tatay who just turned 97 this July. We were extra cautious to not see him or come in contact with him. He doesn’t really understand what’s going on pandemic wise, and that makes it all the more sadder. Does he think we’re just not visiting him? Is he getting weaker? Will we get to celebrate his 97th birthday with the whole family? (We didn’t). What if we never get to see him again? Stop. I didn’t want to think of it anymore. Because it seems like these are all valid possibilities, especially with how long this pandemic is being dragged out.

Towards the end of May, Gov. Newsom revealed the “phases” California would take to slowly open back up the economy for Californians. June 1st I was back at work because I was part of phase 2 reopening. It felt weird being back at work and taking public transportation. My hands are cracked from how often we wash hands at work. We are working wearing masks our whole 8 hour shift. This is the new normal. Since I’ve been back at work for almost 2 months, sometimes I forget that we’re in a pandemic. I’m so used to wearing a mask now, that it’s almost second nature. When I take bus home is when I am reminded – we’re still in a pandemic. The MUNI buses are significantly less crowded, traffic is not as congested, the SamTrans buses’ fare is free because they aren’t letting passengers in through the front door, BART is a ghost town, and nobody sits next to you. I’ve gone back to a semi-normal routine again since being back at work, but I forget that majority of people are still working from home.

When California started its phase 3 – the opening of restaurants, gyms, malls, in mid-June, it didn’t take long for the stats to come in showing that the COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing again. Meaning, the 2 and a half month Shelter in Place order that started mid-March was basically for nothing since California reopened prematurely. California is in a shittier spot than when we originally shutdown. And I’m a little surprised that a second mandatory shutdown hasn’t happened yet.

It’s crazy to think that more than half of 2020 is already over. At the end of 2019, no one could have guessed that this would be our reality. With the pandemic, upcoming presidential election, and civil unrest, America is showing it’s true colors. When I go on social media and see videos of Karens and Kens being ultra mega racist, it makes my blood boil. But I know that these incidents been happening, and the only difference is people are starting to record. It’s crazy how Black Lives Matter and COVID-19 became political issues.

From the get, people believed COVID-19 was a hoax. And we have the idiot president to partially thank for that. He foolishly took the side of entitled Americans who put their own wants and needs over what is best for the country. All the while calling BLM supporters thugs. It’s disgusting. COVID-19 really brought to light everything that is wrong with America. People have to prove why others should care about black lives, we have to encourage others to care for their neighbors, we have to deal with idiots who don’t want to wear masks.

The people who don’t believe in wearing masks or COVID-19 as a whole are the same people that believe wearing a mask makes you a conformist. These are the same selfish people that believe that wearing a mask and Sheltering in Place is “taking away our freedom.” I can’t help but laugh. How fucking entitled and privileged is that 💀🥴?! These are the same people that talk down on the BLM movement and argue that if these “thugs” just comply with law enforcement, there wouldn’t be a problem. Yet here they are not complying with mask orders. Ok.

Selfish. That’s all I got to say. It’s frustrating because things aren’t getting better because people act as if there’s no pandemic – not wearing masks, not taking precautions, not getting tested- because they believe this is a joke. But at the same time they want to complain about not going back to work. This pandemic really put into perspective what this country values, and that is self.

It’s “please comply and follow the rules,” until it’s a minor inconvenience. Then it’s “well this is taking away my freedom and my rights.” Please have a thousand seats. People are so selfish and will only care if it’s someone they know. And that’s why America is taking so long to recover from COVID-19. We have a weak leader that refuses to see the weight of this issue. He turns a blind eye to the information, data, and experts. He refuses to comply because he doesn’t want to seem like he’s going back on his previous statements. So, some follow his lead.

I don’t care if you think COVID-19 is a crazy conspiracy theory. The truth of the matter is : REAL PEOPLE ARE DYING. Regardless of how COVID-19 came to be, people are losing their lives. And the fact that some people are refusing to wear masks in an act of defiance is truly pathetic. If wearing a piece of cloth over your mouth and nose is “taking away your freedom,” I’m not sorry to say that you’re privileged, selfish, and entitled. And describing wearing a mask as “taking away your freedom” is so insulting to those in this country whose freedom is actually in jeopardy.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for the day where I don’t have to wear a mask anymore! They can be uncomfortable, I can’t get fresh air, and it’s definitely hard to talk and teach to little ones. BUT they save lives. And no matter how uncomfortable it is, wearing a mask 46+ hours Monday to Friday (don’t forget that 1+ hour commute back home), I’ll continue to do it because I know this pandemic is real, I know people are dying, I know I’m doing my part. So, do your part and wear a mask, asshole.