Looking back: the best gift of 2015
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2014 was one of the worst years of my life, a year when I nearly died but survived through the help of God, good friends and family.
2015 was one of the saddest years, when I lost three special friends—Penny, Joey, and Chinky.

Penny, Joey, Chinky

We survived it too. I don’t really like December with all the traffic, hecticness and all the obligations. I merely go through it because I have to (no choice) and I have to do it well for my kids who deserve a happy childhood and Christmas, never mind me.
Although this new year I woke up with a lot of love in my heart. I experienced so much goodness this December—in Manila and in Tokyo—from God and other people. I am grateful for the love given to me—through the presents and well wishes.

As I look back to this holiday season, I think the best gift I received was a surprise visit from my brother whom I haven’t seen since 2014, when he decided to move his life to California.
My brother has always had an American dream and at the late age of 50, he decided to just go for it.
Win or fail, I fully support him, because I believe in dreams and buckets lists, no matter how late. Better late than never.

Me, Diday and Manolo at Manila Zoo
Me, my sister, and my brother at Manila Zoo

My brother and I were never close. We still aren’t. I was busy wrapping gifts in my pajamas when the doorbell rang and he came in unannounced. My husband was cooking my dinner and equally surprised.
In the Bible, there is the famous story of the Prodigal Son, who decided to leave home and go out on his own.
My brother is kind of like that because he decided to leave against others’ wishes. But he did it anyway. Now everything is OK.
But unlike the Prodigal Son, my brother has a good heart. Some people say he is the kindest sibling I have.
When my brother visited, it was as though he had died and come back to life. He only stayed for an hour and then he was gone.
I really want to visit him in the US maybe two summers from now, because this summer I really want to go to the Vatican with my boys.

Last night I dreamt of my brother, he had tears in his eyes. He was sad to leave.
When he left our house on December 22nd, it was the night before we left for Tokyo. I gave him a hug and told him I missed him. I actually cried when he left the house. So many things I wanted to say but couldn’t because we’re not close. But the love is there. I do love my brother and I know that God does too.
Among all the gifts, this means a lot to me because he gave me his time. How I wish I had one hour to spend with Penny, Chelo, my Lola. I’m just really glad my brother is alive.

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