It’s time to move out and move on…

Have you ever been living in a place where more bad experiences happen than good? I am not superstitious, but I do believe that some places harbor more bad people than others, and therefore, more bad incidents and unpleasant experiences. I also believe that if the intentions for every action are not pure, then bad things can only follow them.

I just came from walking our two well-behaved dogs, as I do every morning. This particular time was the worst yet. I make sure they do their “business” in areas that are relatively accepted as “business areas”, and not on people’s front yards. If the dogs do have their occasional “accidents”, I do pick up the mess. Without elaborating on it, I had a confrontation with a selfish and boorish man who didn’t even have the right to claim a space that belonged to a school. It was a very unpleasant, to say the least, experience. I can hardly wait to move out! Thankfully, it is just a matter of weeks. This is not a good place for pets.

And this is not the first time. The people in this neighborhood are mostly selfish, boorish and uncouth. Stray dogs abound because the owners just let them be. These dogs chase people and other dogs, bark incessantly, especially at night, and harass our dogs. If not for the many lessons I learned from Cesar Milan, I would have had several anxiety attacks.

This is the place where we experienced the most stress. The noise level is unacceptable. All types of vehicles pass in front of the place (the road has become a bypass road for buses, trucks, loud tricycles and motorcycles, and even heavy equipment!). Smog levels are high.

People still burn their trash regularly here which means our clothes and just about everything else smell like smoke. Our lungs don’t fare well either. People blatantly throw trash on the streets and even right on the driveway. The whole place smells of putrid trash most days of the week, especially before trash pick-up. I literally wake up from the stench in the middle of the night.

Neighbors on the left, right, front and back of this place blare out their bad singing with their videoke machines quite frequently in a month. They don’t care that they keep us awake ‘til the wee hours of the night, as long as they are entertained. There is no care or regard for others anymore.

The neighbors behind us have about six children who scream and play at around 6-7 am – while we are still asleep. We stay up pretty late because it is simply difficult to fall asleep in this place. You can imagine what I’ll say next.

There have been robberies here as well – in this apartment and the next. We have never felt safe here.

And then there are the many unpleasant personal experiences related to this place – the pain, death, loss, betrayal, abuse. Again, if the intentions are not pure, bad things will surely follow. We moved here not of our own volition. And now we are being driven away with very little time to prepare for another move.

Yes, it’s time to go. It was time to go the day we moved here, because we moved very reluctantly from a place we were happy living in for eight years. I always knew this was very temporary, and I’m grateful it is. In fact, I never fully unpacked. This is the first time. I did not place all my magnets on the fridge because I did not want to stay long. The term “I never felt at home here” certainly applies. There are no good associations or memories here – quite the opposite, in fact. I pray this nightmare of a place will end soon. I have been praying this the past two years we stayed here. It is finally answered.

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What Dreams May Come

This is the title of a movie I’ve seen many years ago starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra. The movie, What Dreams May Come, came out in 1998 and described its plot this way: After life there is more. The end is just the beginning. I distinctly remember feeling very sad yet slightly bewildered after seeing it. It is definitely not a popcorn-and-soda movie and one needs to dig deeply and somewhat uncomfortably into oneself to be able to appreciate it. It makes the viewer ask the age old question, “Is there life after death?”

It has been almost ten years since my mother passed away. I never thought I would lose her so soon and just when I turned thirty. She passed away two days after my birthday, and barely five months into my marriage.

It is understandable, I guess, for me to dream of her every single day since she passed. This went on for many years since but, for some unexplainable reason, I couldn’t reach her – even in my dreams. I would always wake up frustrated, depressed and in tears because my mother would be so close to me in my dreams, almost touching me, and then she would either fade away or refuse to be touched. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why. I remember asking her why she wouldn’t hug me and she would always have some vague reason that she had to go to a place where I couldn’t follow. I suppose dreams are vague, unless they are used to give us a specific message, the way they happened in biblical times.

It did happen to me, though. I believe with all my heart that God sent my mother to deliver a message to me when I needed to hear it most. For the first time, the scenario of the dream was very accurate – from my bed and overhead lamp in the dorm where our church was having a weekend retreat, to the green trash bin at the narrow hallway to the left of our door. Every detail was accurate and current.

I needed to know so badly that my mother was not alone and that she was at peace when she passed on. My sister, husband and I were not with her in the hospital when she died because of several complicated situations that were beyond our control. She was already gone and the respiratory machines were already silent when we reached her bedside. I remember looking up into the ceiling lights, not really seeing them, hoping that her spirit was still inside the room, hovering above us and hearing our farewells.

As I go back to that lonely dorm only two months after she passed, I remember being awakened by something – or someone. It seemed like it was 3 AM and everyone was asleep. As I tentatively opened the door of our room, I saw my mother standing just a few inches from me, radiant and smiling. She wanted to tell me something and I remember sobbing in my sleep and wanting to just run to her and put my arms tightly around her. She took my arm and led me just outside the door, next to the green trash bin. What she told me changed my whole perspective of the day she passed and took away the guilt I carried with me.

The first thing she told me was, “I’m alright, don’t worry about me.” And my tears flowed. She then gave me the hug I had always longed for as she kept saying, “I’m alright.” That was all I needed to hear. I woke up that instant, back inside the room, on my bed with the overhead lamp, sobbing uncontrollably. I thanked God for sending her to me and giving me the assurance I needed so badly. And to this day, ten years later, I look back at that time and know that God had answered my deepest prayer.

At the start of this year, I began dreaming of my mother in a whole new place. I still dream of her at least three times a week and this time, I am able to touch, hug and kiss her. We are able to talk about everything the way we used to when she was still around, and there is much hope and happiness. In fact, I dream of her, my father (who passed away twenty years ago) and my sister, together again as one family – but this time, with my husband and with my sister’s kid.

I would tell my husband how, this time, I no longer feel that my parents are far away from me. In fact, they are very much alive in me, in my heart and in my whole being. I no longer feel lost and disconnected. And I find myself praying and asking God to tell my mother and father that I miss them, and that I want them to see how happy I am with my husband, and how great a mother my sister has turned out to be. I know they know!

For those of us who have lost our loved ones, we can take comfort and hope in God’s promise to all of us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, New Living Translation:

“And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.

I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”