The Sepia Brooch

I’m on my way home from my cousin’s wedding. Though we are not close or even talk anymore, I still felt emotional because I did spend some of my childhood with her and her siblings.

My cousin’s bouquet was made up of intricately folded, pastel colored, felt fabrics. The bundle was held together with a white rope wound around the “stems” that also served as the handle. Below the flowers was a brooch with a sepia photo of her dad in his younger years – my uncle, my mom’s second oldest brother.

My uncle died in 2007 after battling lung cancer for around 5 years. Two weeks before his death, my mom and another aunt went to the province to spend time with him in his last days. It was also during this time that my dad suddenly passed away.

My mom was just talking to my dad a few minutes ago. He hasn’t even finished sending his text, “Goodnight, I lo” to her. I remember this distinctly on his P800 phone. I remember looking at the clock, 11:30pm on a Saturday night. And now I’m calling her. She knew when her phone rang that something terrible had happened.

My mom told my uncle she loved him and kissed him. My uncle gave her permission to go. After learning of my father’s death, my uncle went through further emotional pain or in Chinese, “ko sim” — a feeling of heavy burden or pain. She and my aunt immediately rode the longest eight hours of their lives to Manila. Two weeks after, just a week after burying my dad, my uncle passed away. We didn’t have time or energy to go to the province and attend his wake. After all, we were working through our own grief. We weren’t prepared for my dad’s death.

My cousin’s thank you speech was addressed to her dad and mom, thanking them for all the lessons they’ve taught their children, for raising them up to excel in whatever they chose to do, believing in them. She told her siblings, “I will always treasure our childhood memories. I will always be your achi.” Her husband’s speech was a promise to my uncle to take care of his wife. They have, after all, been together for ten years, so he knew my uncle and honored him tonight. Our entire table composed of aunts and cousins we’re teary eyed after hearing their speeches.

Tonight’s wedding reminded me of what my sisters and I, and some of my cousins who have also lost their dads, will also never have – our dads walking us down the aisle, our dads giving us away to our grooms, and the father and daughter dance.

Everything on earth is temporary, including the best human relationships. Parents leave their children, siblings separate, friends fall out, all by choice or circumstance. While everything around us crumbles, our hope in God remains to be our anchor ⚓

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. Hebrews 6:19-20

He is our rock and salvation.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:2.

He is the only constant thing in this temporal life.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. Hebrews 6:17.

It also reminded me that God is still with us and able to carry us through grief. He can still do something beautiful in our lives. And as Job says said:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21.

Some people live once and die twice. But we die once and live twice. Because of this, there is this hope that I’ll see my dad and uncle again someday in heaven. The sepia brooch with my uncle’s photo reminded me of this.


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