on the eve of my 27th birthday.

Dear Loren,

You have no idea how much spending my birthday with you this year means to me. This past year has been such a whirlwind; filled with so many new experiences, new people, and new emotions. If you would have told me last year that I’d be spending my next birthday in the Philippines with you, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s crazy to think how much can change from year to year.

The last time I celebrated my birthday with you, you were still alive. It makes me sad to think that I actually can’t remember the exact details of where that was; most probably a birthday party at McDonald’s or something cause that’s what the cool kids in Al Ain did back then. LOL! It’s been so long since you left us, and yet I still remember so much about you as if it were only yesterday. For some reason, the older I get, the more profound the impact of your death has on me. It does make sense though. I think that as you grow older, you start to realize how short life is, and you pay closer attention to the “little things in life” that bring you happiness. Things like a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or being able to hear the sounds of the birds chirping. You also start to realize what is most important. And to me, that’s love above all else. Love for myself and love for each other.

The world is going through some dark times right now, Loren. Stories of pain and families being separated plague the news. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and I can feel the shifts in the energy around me. But I do have hope because I can also feel compassion growing among us. Now more than ever do we need to rise together. More and more people are no longer turning away from institutionalized forms of harm and dehumanization. The systems that cause hurt and place limits on groups of people are being more widely challenged and questioned. More and more are we starting to understand that the world we wish to live in is created by our collective voice and movements. Although it would probably break your heart too, to see what is happening in the world today, I think you would also be hopeful, and you would be a part of this collective movement as well. You were always so kind, and your heart so big. I like to think that I love as hard as I do because of you. Because of what your death represented: that time is so fleeting, and life is too short.

Well as for any updates, everyone in the family is doing well. The last time we were all together was December 2016; so yes, it’s been a while, but we’re all going to be reunited again this August so you know that I’m definitely excited for that. I wish you were joining us, physically at least, because I know your spirit is always with us regardless. In the mean time, we all seem to be meeting up in different parts of the world. Mom and Dad came to visit me in The Netherlands back in February and I’m now here with Mom in Cebu. I came to Manila about two months ago to see Kuya, and Kuya and Lorel saw each other last month when she went to go visit him in Montreal. I often wonder where you would be in the world at this time in your life. Europe? Asia? Canada? I guess I can only dream about visiting you in different parts of world, and it’s in those thoughts and dreams of where the memory of you will continue to live.

I love you so much Loren, and I miss you more than any words could ever describe.

“Happy birthday Loubelle” – words I can only imagine you saying to me on this day.

With so much love,

Your sister,





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