Frodo says to Gandalf, I wish the ring had not come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf replies,  " So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us."

Certainly, everyone has his own ring to carry around his neck. Looking back at the past year, I sometimes feel like Frodo, overwhelmed by what has transpired, uncertain of what is to come. I look at the small world that is my life and I see how the landscape have drastically changed in such a short period of time, how vast oceans have dried, how mountains have crumbled, how cracks have formed to reveal the darkness underneath. I look at the past year and I see all that I have lost, all that I have left, the people I had to say goodbye to. I see my mistakes, my sins, my weaknesses and I look to the earth in shame and disgust. I see my wounds and the brokenness inside and wonder how long before they heal,  or if they will ever heal.  I see death and the fragility of life. I see regret, the burden one must carry forever.

I long to go home to my own shire. There are times while showering that I allow the rushing water to envelope me so that all that I hear is the water running down from my head to toe and I am brought back to a day in my childhood, running under the rain, not caring about getting sick or dirty. I remember the purity of that joy and I long for it. The water stops and I know that there is no going home, there is no turning back.

I see all these things and feel the sadness creeping in, clawing its way into my heart.

In the midst of desolation I look around. And I see grace. Yes there is loss, there is death, goodbyes and sadness, there are mistakes and regrets. But there is also grace.

This year I came to New York, not knowing what to expect, only that I have every reason to be afraid and sad. But each moment that I was about to succumb to sadness was met with nothing but grace. There is my family here in New Jersey. Ate Caron and her family, the Lloyds,  whom I have not seen or talked to in more than a decade welcomed me with open arms and more. They did everything to make sure I was comfortable and adjusted well to the new country. They took care of me.

Then there are my Pinoy friends - Erika, Donna, Bea, Ramon, Anne, Noel, Franny, Mel, Mae, Steph and everyone else who have been nothing but kind and generous to me. Who else would best understand the natural Pinoy desire for videoke and Jollibee? Who else would understand what it means to be away from home.

And then there are the IPEEPS who I'm slowly getting to know and who've been nothing but nice and generous. 

This year, my 29th on this planet, will be a year of thanksgiving for all that has been and all that will be.


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