Thoughts, What Dreams May Come

I Need Annie

New Year. New Feels. New Chances. Same Dreams. Fresh Start.

I started 2017 with hope in my heart.  Hope for an easier year. Hope for lesser tears. I want to be optimistic. I NEED TO BE OPTISMISTIC. When you’re surrounded by death, sickness, heartaches; hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear. I reflect on the previous year with a heavy and bitter heart. It started off with me spending New Year’s eve 13,206 kilometers away from my husband and 10 year old son, with my very sick older brother in the hospital.

Alex and his Mama falling asleep together on facetime

Alexander and I would often fall asleep together on facetime

At that time, he’d been in the hospital for 6 days. During this time, I’d been away from my husband and son for two months; having missed my son’s 10th birthday and Christmas. Six days in the hospital especially over the holidays is a very desolate, distressing experience. Those six days changed my life forever.My brother had AIDS. He doesn’t anymore.

Early afternoon on Christmas day, when I checked on him, he sounded like he had a cold. In his state a common cold was extremely dangerous so I asked him how he was feeling. He said he was having difficulty breathing.  I calmly instructed Manang Cita, my brother’s caregiver, to pack his stuff and get us a cab. It wasn’t the first time we rushed him to the hospital, but looking back on it now, I think I knew it’d be the last. That’s probably why I was able to stay so calm even though I usually don’t do calm. I’m a worrier and I panic, a lot. But, I learned to be calm for him.

When we got to the hospital, it was packed.

Everyone seemed to be waiting for a bed in the emergency room. Fortunately, we were blessed with interns and resident doctors who constantly checked on my brother. We discussed his condition in private and they were all so respectful. Our first blessing was an available ER bed. There were so many tests and they took an exhausting amount of blood.

After a few hours, they concluded my brother was suffering from pneumonia and tuberculosis. Not very long after that his doctor moved us to an isolated room. I bowed my head to thank God and everyone else watching over us. My brother was too sick and weak to stay in the ER. Those last two months, earnest prayer helped me quiet myself. In all that turmoil, at least I stumbled upon new skills.

When I wrote down my 2017 goals, the first word that came to mind was hope. Hope in tagalog is “pagasa“. “Pagasa” was the name of the street I moved to after my first marriage dissolved. Maybe I was just searching for signs but it sure felt like a fortunate coincidence. It was a constant reminder that I may be hurt and broken today, but tomorrow will be always be new. As Annie would say…

I’ve had hope in my heart…

…after my mother passed away, after my dad started dating again, teenage pregnancy, broken marriage, new love, moving to the other side of the world, new marriage.  Now it is my hope that I get to share my brother’s story. It won’t be in chronological order but it is my goal to share as much as my brain and my heart want to remember. In between tears, I bake a lot and occasionally crochet and make hair bows and cards. I also love Pinterest.

I get a lot of hugs from my husband and my children are an endless source of real joy. The best lessons I’ve learned in life have come from the worst feelings I’ve felt in life. Sometimes that feeling is unfair and almost cruel but most times it is pure and empowering.

When your most crippling heartbreak is born of a grand love, getting back up is only a matter of time.

I hope that this helps those who are going through what I went through as a sister. I pray that someone whose heart is as heavy as mine, finds a speck of hope in theirs to see the beauty of life.


  1. Cathy Shaw

    January 13, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Wow! Galing Pla…this made me cry & at the same time proud that you’re letting the world know what you’ve been through…you are an inspiration to me my BFF…love & miss u❤️Lotz…keep writing & I’ll keep reading!

    1. Ailene Carluen

      January 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks Manang. Your support means a lot to me.

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