There are places I’ve been to that are forever etched in my heart. One of them is New Jersey. This is where it all started for me in my pursuit of my American dream, and also a place I once called home. This is where I transitioned from the streets of Manila to an idyllic town of Morristown, New Jersey (a town I aptly described as like living inside a Christmas card). I remember vividly the garden-like parkways, the 12 lanes turnpikes, the quaint small towns, the bustling cities, and especially the people there that I get to know and love.
Yesterday, me and my family have to make a hurried trip back to New Jersey. Not for a vacation, but to pay a final respect to a person I dearly love, and to be with a family that have adopted me as one of their own, in their time of mourning.
Ate Angie was just 57 years old, an age that many will consider is still in the peak of life, but only God knows why she was made to rest early (at least she was still 7 years older than when my father died). And this is all happening while my own mother in the Philippines is preparing to have surgery for her cancer, next week. Oh, the fragility of life. But in the end it is not how long we lived, but how we lived our life is what matters.
Today, in this cold and overcast day in New Jersey, somehow it feels different. It is not complete. I then realized that a place is just made more memorable and precious by the people we love that lives there. New Jersey will not be the same anymore, at least for me.
Goodbye Ate Angie. We are sorely missing you.