A Burial with Full Military Honors Was An Absolutely Beautiful Way To Say Goodbye

But the highlight of my father-in-law's burial was the miracle of Jamie.

Our nephew Jamie has autism.
He has an incredible memory.
He remembers faces, names, streets and maps.
He can tell you when a Disney movie was released. When he was three he could identify every car he saw.
Well now Jamie is twelve years old.
His autism is noticeable because he has certain impulses that can attract attention.
He utters words like "cutie" or "stupid" or a hybrid of both when he meets people.
Then he bursts out in laughter.
Sometimes he has the urge to topple over chairs, or fling things.
Because of his condition, he was the only grandson that was unable to be a pall bearer.

I think he gets an idea in his head of how something should look.
So, he closes things that are ajar or opens things that are shut.
Needless to say, I was nervous about how Jamie would react when he saw his grandfather laid out in a casket.

Jamie's parents are very admirable.
They calmly manage their son with consistency, patience, and good old screen time. (Jamie loves his Ipad)
It is clear that they prepared their son extremely well for what to expect because Jamie (and his two younger siblings) were composed throughout both days of the viewing.

The funeral mass though, I thought would pose a different challenge.
Due to the assigned order of processing into church, Jamie  became separated from both his mom and his dad.
He somehow ended up in a pew in between Gabi and me.
When I saw what had happened, I felt an internal panic.
I did not know how to "manage" him.
I feared a scene or an outburst of some sort.
I think I uttered a "Oh Lord" under my breath--but I don't think I was praying.

The mass was beautifully concelebrated by two priests that knew my father-in-law.
I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Jamie was sitting without fidgeting.
I thought, it was odd and so I wondered if he had his Ipad.  I saw that he was empty handed.
I quickly looked away for fear of jinxing the serenity.
I closed my eyes and this time said a prayer of thanks and urged God to keep doing whatever it was He was doing.
The liturgical service was not short, yet through it all, Jamie remained still and appropriately responsive.
In all my years of knowing Jamie, I had never heard him respond properly nor sit quietly for church.
At the end of the mass, everyone processed out in the same order,  and I was expecting Jamie to break lose to try to join either his mom or dad.
He did not.
He walked out solemnly in between Gabi and me with his arms linked through ours,  escorting us.

At the grave site, the Honor guard was waiting motionless.
With very sharp, crisp and precise movements,
they carried my father-in-law's casket draped in the flag of the United States.
They performed a march and a salute.
I was absolutely mesmerized by the flag folding.
It was a sight to behold.
The playing of Taps and the three volley salute took the sting out of having to say good bye to a great man.
The folded flag and three shell casings, for Duty, Honor and Country--were presented to my mother-in-law with a steadfast and unflinching gaze.
You had to be there.
It was one of the most solemn and beautiful ceremonies I have ever witnessed in my life.
And, through it all--yes even with the succession of shots fired--Jamie too, remained steadfast and unflinching.
A burial with full military honors is  a perfect send off.
And so is Jamie.
Despite how "wild" and locked into his own world Jamie usually is, (and was right after we left the cemetery)  I can see how he is thriving because of his parents' love.

There are two things that I am sure happened during my father-in-law's funeral last March 13th.
The first is, I know without a doubt that a Jamie miracle happened, and the second is,
I know that he made his Papa proud.


Gabi's Second High School Musical (In The Heights)

My mother-in-law, less than a month after the passing of her husband--comes to support Gabi. 
She is incredible.


Early Detection Is Key

I had some pre-cancerous cells removed today.


For Steve and his dad.

Shifting the Sun

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses. May you inherit
his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.
"Shifting the Sun" by Diana Der-Hovanessian, from Selected Poems. © Sheep Meadow Press, 1994. Reprinted with permission.
(Thanks Paddy)


Twisting and Pondering Thomas Merton

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. "-Thomas Merton


ShivashaktiShape Challenge Collage (because I loved this Challenge) plus the backstory to two of these pictures ....

Early this morning I received a text.

Friend: "Do you want to run with me?"

Me: "If I say yes, can we run to a church with a steeple so you can take my picture outside of it?"

Friend: "Okay. Will do."

Me: "It's a yoga pose. You won't be embarrassed?

Friend: "I figured."

It's low 30 degree type of winter weather. Windy and cloudy in Pittsburgh.
I put on four layers. Jogging pants, gloves and a hat.
We run.
We get to the spot.
As I start stripping off all my clothes she says:
"Now Chesca, today is the day I don't ever want to hear you complaining about the cold....and that as a Filipino you are not used to the harsh winters....blah blah blah. This is it. You taking off your clothes right now, out here ends all future complaining."

Me: "I promise."

I strip down to a layer of yoga shorts, a tank and I keep my striped socks on which trust me, I know I look ridiculous as I stood on Fifth Ave prepping for the shot
She is very patient.
She takes a fabulous shot.
I get dressed again and then we keep running. -
"The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends."-John 15:13
Or in this case to allow yourself to get embarrassed for the sake of your friend's IG yoga project.
Thank you DZ!


"The ostriches' wings flap joyously With the pinion and plumage of love..."-Job 39:13
"You are wearing that?" -- My husband Steve questioned AFTER he had already agreed to take my photo. 
I had asked him to photograph me at a location where I could "soar."
He inquired, "Why what's your theme?"
"FLIGHT," I answered. 
He said okay. "But I am only doing this because I love you." --
He does not really enjoy taking my yoga pictures and hates it even more when the poses are done in public. He abhors unnecessary attention and gets embarrassed easily.
When he saw me grab my plastic tutu and my roll of tape, he looked as if he was changing his mind.
So I offered to just pose in the privacy of our backyard.
But he took a deep breath and said, "No let's just do it."
And off we went.