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And I Don’t Even Know Your Name

Dear Charlie,

You don’t know me, but I love you. I’ve always been too scared, too much of a coward to ever come out and tell you, but I figured, at this point, I haven’t really got much to lose. We work in the same building on the same days and we have ridden in the same elevator about a hundred times in the past two years. I always get off before you, and I wonder how much longer you ride that little car after I get off on the sixteenth floor. How much higher does it take you? Are you an investment banker on the twenty-third floor? A lawyer on the forty-second? You always wear such nice tailored suits, I guess I always assumed that you must be a part of something important.

The crazy thing is, I don’t even know if your name is Charlie. I’ve always called you that, in my head, when I catch myself thinking about you. It’s the nickname I’ve given you for when I imagine all the years we could spend together, all the things we would do and see together. You look like a Charlie to me.

I know this sounds insane but, I think maybe I deserve a little crazy now. I went to the doctor about that bruise on my hip that won’t seem to go away and…well, I just decided if this is all the time I’ve got left, I’m going to live now. I mean really live. I’m going to take the leaps I was always too scared to jump, I’m going to try the things I’ve always been too shy to give a chance.

You’re one of those jumps Charlie. You’re one of those chances. I know it’s not fair, and I know it’s crazy and I’m sorry. But if you’re looking for some craziness in your life too, meet me in the lobby at five.

I’d love to learn your real name.

Hopefully yours,



Just Wanted You to Know

Dear Me,

You are going to die on a Thursday night in the middle of November. You will be thirty-three years old and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it will be too soon. I mean, thirty-three? Can you imagine? Your life isn’t even half over at thirty-three. You’re barely out of college and married and your wife has a kid on the way. I know you always thought you didn’t want kids but, let me tell you, when she walks into the bedroom holding that home pregnancy test and crying because she’s so impossibly happy…knowing you helped make her that happy and that the person growing inside her is half yours…you’ll change your mind.

At thirty-three you will have gone to the college your dad wanted you to and graduated with the grades your mom wanted you to. Your little sister will be going on her fifth wedding anniversary and she will have four dogs. No surprise right? Your life will be everything you expect it to be at this point.

Except over.

Because you never expected that. And why would you? At thirty-three, what could possibly happen? Well, let me tell you, drunk drivers don’t stop to ask how old you are and how much you’ve got to live for before they run a red light and t-bone you at two o’clock in the afternoon. They just don’t. If they did maybe you could talk them out of the driver’s seat and let them know that you’re on the way to the hospital because your wife just went into labor and you really really need to be there for her.

I’m just writing this because maybe if you know you’ll make some better choices (like pausing instead of slamming down on the gas the moment the light turns green). And maybe you’ll live past thirty-three and you won’t leave your wife and baby girl (you would have named her Olivia) alone to fend for themselves and your mom and dad wouldn’t be devastated and your little sister wouldn’t fall into such a deep depression without you that her marriage falls apart. I know you don’t want any of that.

Believe me, I know better than anyone.




What Am I Supposed to Do Now?

Dear Dave,

We talked about this. I was supposed to be prepared for this. You said this possibility was a part of the job. But your job, your main job was supposed to be making sure you made it home to me. You promised that was how it would be. You’ve never lied to me before today, Dave.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. I don’t know who I am now. Without you everything is confused and grey and it doesn’t make sense. How dare you do this to me. How dare you leave me here to fend for myself. How could you?

What am I supposed to tell Dave Jr and Brock? That protecting an entire city was more important to them than they were? Will they even understand the sense of duty that drove you every day on the force? The same one that made you pass up on the promotions to a desk job so many times because you believed it was a cop’s job to protect and serve out on the street? How do you explain to a five year old that his hero is never coming home? How do I console our seven year old when he wakes up in the middle of the night crying, wondering if the bad guys are coming for him too?

How could you do this to me Dave? How could you leave me here? How am I supposed to go one without you? Where do I start? What do I do? I can’t without you Dave, I just can’t.

I can’t go on without you, I don’t know how.

Missing you terribly,



Childhood Memories

Dear Ate Annie,

I’ve never expected to see you again in this situation and in this place. I’ve been places and done things and had so many different experiences over the years. But now, meeting again for the first time and perhaps the very last time, all my childhood memories come back of you, those many years ago.

As we enter school, my classmates and I, it was always a ritual for us to exchange handshakes with you, also exchanging “good mornings” as you help us descend from our bikes, cars, tricycles and motorcycles with heavy book-loaded bags in tow.

In a school where we learn and practice Christian Education you were always the one at the school gates beaming and smiling with your mantra: “Jesus loves you”, as fresh as the morning mist that takes over the campus on a bright, new day.

My memories of school will never be without a smiling, handshake-ready Ate Annie.

As I left school for other opportunities and tasks which included growing up, little will I know of the trials and challenges of life you will experience. In my university days, I heard that the school was on fire and you will lose most of your belongings, clothes and food. But you will never lose faith: faith in recovering, faith in friends, faith in family.

Of course you will never complain about any illness, because you always said you were strong. Like the time my dad forgot to fetch me from school until it was dark, and the mosquitoes were already feasting on my legs, you told me to be patient, and finally when there was no dad to pick me up from school, you had to drop me home.

This is the Ate Annie I know and will always remember. And even if you will be leaving this planet way before I will, it makes my childhood more memorable knowing that you were part of it.

In memory,



I Honestly Love You

Dear Amy,

You remember that time I got in a fight with my Dad and you were at your window and I was at mine and we whispered to each other across the dark all night long?

That was the moment I fell in love with you.

I love your red hair, I love your green eyes, I love the freckles you get when you spend too much time in the sun, I love how you hate your curls. I love the songs you love to sing on the radio, I even love the way you never realized how much I love you.

God, I’m starting to sound like lines from a teen flick aren’t I? I can’t really help it. Sorry. I’m writing you this because the doctors said it helps the healing process to get all your secrets out in the open and it stands a very marginal possibility of improving my chances for survival if this treatment works. And that’s a very big if. So I figured, what have I got to lose, right?

So, just so you know, I love you. And thanks for being my friend all these years. I know that sounds really dorky, but I mean it. You’ve been great. We’ve been partners in just about every assignment we’ve ever been given and if it weren’t for you my GPA would be a lot more of a problem, that’s for sure. And I always knew if I ever needed anything, you would be right there, standing at the ready to give it to me. And I hope you know I would do the same for you.

Don’t feel obligated to act on this letter at all, by the way. It’s just something I had to get out there. Don’t feel like you have to reciprocate. You can even pretend you never got this letter the next time you come to see me, if you want. I won’t call you on it. I just knew that if I die, which I hope I don’t, but if I do, I just knew I couldn’t die without having told you.

So now I have.

See you soon Amy,



Fruits and Vegetables Every Day

My Darling Melissa,

Always remember to plan out your fruits and vegetables every day.

By the time you read this, I have already gone.

But I am confident that by the time you read this, you know your way about the kitchen, how to prepare our secret paella recipe, your late mother’s brownies, even your grandfather’s goat papait and kaldereta in tomato sauce. I know your eating habits by heart, from the very first time you opened your eyes in your mother’s arms, to your teenage years with all sorts of sweet and junk food found in the refrigerator. But I was so grateful that you later on learned to plan your meals and be a healthy, responsible eater later on. Could you believe I was scared to death thinking of what preservative, sugar-loaded food you keep putting in your mouth during the time you went away for college? Those were some of my horrific times, thinking of how you were doing on your own, who you were with, if you had anything decent and home-cooked to eat.

You see sweetheart, all that completes a day is a good home-cooked meal to satisfy your daily needs and nutrition. It does not matter what you did your whole day, as long as you spend enough time in the kitchen to cook, and feed your tired body. Believe me sweetie, when you have a family of your own, you will be thinking and worrying like me, even sacrificing so much just to be able to put food on the table. At the end of the day, the kitchen is the place that is responsible for bringing all your family members together.

I know you prepare meals to a T, and your husband is very lucky to have you, just as I was with your mother. She made the best adobo in the city and you could imagine that we ate what we wanted to anytime we wanted to.

Just like how each meal takes time to be prepared, that is how relationships are with people around you, everything takes time, trust and you need the patience to see how it all turns out.

I know you will do well.




I’ll Take Care of Us

Dear Mom,

They say you’re holding on for something, like you don’t want to let go but you can’t handle coming all the way through. I know what you’re holding on for. You’re worried about me and Tiffany. You’re worried if you let go then there won’t be anything left for us. Don’t worry about that mom. I’m not a little kid anymore, I can take care of us. I would prefer you were here to do it, I know Tiffany does, but if you can’t be, just know that I can. I know Tiff and I will have to go live with Dad until I’m done with school at least, but that’s ok. He doesn’t live too far. Tiff won’t have to switch schools and I’ll make due, you know me.

Please mom, I just can’t stand looking at you like this anymore. The doctors say it doesn’t make any sense, you shouldn’t still be alive, and I can only imagine how much it must hurt you to be. I can’t stand to see you hurt. You’ve always been so strong. I’d rather remember you that way, strong and proud and the rock for Tiff and I to lean on…I’d rather remember you as our Mom than as some patient in a hospital bed.

All I’m saying is you don’t have to worry about us. If that’s the reason you’re still hanging on, don’t. I will make sure Tiff never forgets what an amazing person you are and I will make sure we live our lives just the way you planned. Happy and successful and full of joy. It’s hard to imagine right now mom, but I know it will happen. You always made things happen.

I love you mom. So much.




To The Best Dog I Ever Had


Just recently I still remember you playing with your tail and excited to see me whenever I come home tired and stressed from my duties in the hospital as a student nurse.

I am frustrated that I didn’t have a chance to see you again, as I was planning to after my finals. A month ago, you were given to another family, no one informed me nor did they ask for my approval that they would give you away.

Just today, mom shared with me that you died fifteen days ago, and kept me from knowing this on the day you passed away, with good intentions that it could have been bad for me if I knew beforehand.

The cause of death has two sides of the story are relayed to me:

First was because of jealousy, some people were apparently jealous of the new dog around the block and decided to intentionally kill you.

While the second assumption was that the dogs from the neighbourhood bit you to death.

I don’t know what to believe but I still consider the negligence on the part of your new owners.

I know that one day justice will come. With this, I offer my last tribute as a memory to our wonderful days when you were with our family.

Rest in peace Pichy, I will always remember you; to me you are the best dog I ever had.




The Last Time

Dear Dad,

This is probably the last time you will ever hear from me. It’s going to be strange, not going to see you every Sunday. But it’s probably for the best. Now I won’t have to endure questions about ‘what happened to your father’ anymore. I’ll just say you ‘passed’ and people won’t push it any further. Not like when I tell them you’re in jail and they want every gory little detail. Although, it actually didn’t happen as much when I said you were on ‘death row’ instead of just ‘jail’.

Did you get your pancakes and sausage and bacon and ice cream and jello (jello, really?) and pork ribs for your last meal like you always said? I can’t imagine they gave you all that, but maybe they did. Did you enjoy it they way you said you would?

I’m not going to the execution. So I guess last Sunday was probably the last time you’ll ever see me too. Maybe that’s a little selfish of me. But I just can’t go, Dad. I can’t watch them kill you. Whatever you’ve done in the past…you’re still my dad. I don’t know how to stop feeling guilty about loving you anyway, but I do. I guess I don’t know if I even should stop feeling that way.

I’m angry at you too Dad. You’ve spent my entire life in jail. You never denied anything they said you did. You never tried to explain it and I’ve never gotten to know you in anything other than an orange jumpsuit because of it. I didn’t get to do all the things fathers and daughters are supposed to get to do together. And now, you’re going to be gone.

What a waste.

Well, regardless and in spite of it all, I love you dad.




Of Robbers and Fathers

Dear Carol and Chad and Kyle,

Kids, Carol, I love you so much. I want to make sure you know that. I wish I had something better to give you than a short note scribbled on the back of a receipt I found in my wallet, but it’s all I’ve got and I figured it was better than nothing if I don’t make it out of this alive. I never thought I’d experience a bank robbery firsthand. It’s not exactly what I thought it would be. It’s not what the movies always show it being. These guys aren’t white collar criminals looking to make a big score. They’re just thugs who got their hands on some big guns. They’re desperate and wild, they keep waving their guns around and screaming and cursing at each other. It’s a wonder no one’s been shot yet. I don’t think it’s going to stay that way. That’s why I wanted to write you something, just so you know that, however these last few moments of my life go, know I spent them thinking of you.

I’m thinking of you, Carol, with your honey sweet laugh and ironing my jeans and singing with the radio when you cook breakfast on Sunday morning. I’m thinking of the way you kiss me if you wake up in the middle of the night and how I wouldn’t miss it even once even though it wakes me up and I can’t get back to sleep for hours. And I’m thinking of Chad, starting middle school in the fall and trying out for the soccer team for the first time and asking a girl out for the first time and how it seems like he’s grown up overnight. And Kyle, just learning to walk. I’m thinking of that high pitched giggle he makes when he sees me and how I hope he never stops laughing that way.

I hope I make it out of here alive, but if I don’t, you’ll have this note to know that my last thoughts were of you.


John (Dad)