Saturday, January 30, 2010

Catarina never said a word, but she always spoke to us.

Over the past few days I have been mourning the loss of my 18 year-old niece, Catarina.

Zé spoke a few words at her funeral and I think they summarize the absolute love I, and everyone who knew her, felt for her.

"Thinking of what to say today

I began to get nervous,
Until I thought how silly that was.

After all Catarina never uttered a word, yet she spoke to all of us.

I ought to be able to manage.

But really, the problem is not what to say but rather

how to condense what Catarina spoke to us

so that I do not keep you here all day.

I remember the first signals Catarina gave us to let us know she was going to be different.

Going home yesterday Elsa recalled the day Joao and Duduca (Dom) came home after hearing from the doctors about the challenges Catarina was going to face in her life.

I think what they did after that brings us here today,
in full agreement that Catarina lived well, despite her challenges,

In great part because Duduca and Joao and Francisco made sure she did,

In great part because Catarina's hold showed Duduca and Joao how to be great parents, and Francisco how to be a great brother.

You all saw the pictures yesterday.
One particular one struck a chord with me.

It was the one of Francisco and Catarina in Chichen Itza.

I often hear parents say how hard it is to travel with kids.


That picture was Catarina's message to all.
Yes, traveling with kids maybe hard.
It may be hard, but not as much as it is worth it.

Catarina never uttered a word,
But she spoke well to all of us.

I remember when Elsa and I moved to Macau.
Filipa was two years old.
Someone gave her a set of dolls.
They were little short dolls,
And she named every one of them.

Uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins.
There was one with a crib.
She named that one Catarina.

We were far away
As far away as we can get in this earth, really.

But even in the mind of a two year old Filipa
Catarina was present.

And she is present today
As she will always be
in the minds of all of us.

And in the minds of Vovo Chico and Vovo Marlene
who could not be here today,

But who at this very moment have Catarina in their thoughts,

and she is also in Alex's thoughts,

who also could not be here today

But is thinking of Catarina

of that I am sure

She is also in the eyes of her Vovo Helder,
who passed away,
and I am sure will be looking after her,
until we all get to see her again

Catarina never said a word,
But she always spoke to us.

And I think that the most important thing she said to us
is that life is worth appreciating.

The pain we all feel today is her message

her way to let us know that we are alive
That life is here for us to live

So let us not forget that.

Yesterday I was not sure how my daughter Maya would react to seeing her cousin Catarina, that she loved.

At first she was not sure she wanted to go to the funeral home
But when she went and looked at her from afar, she asked to go closer and she cried and she touched Catarina but she was at peace.

When it was time for her to go home, I started taking her towards the exit, but she asked me to take her back to Catarina.

“I want to wave good bye to her one last time, even if she is not seeing me.”

So even though you cannot see us,
Let me say good bye to you Catarina.

Into our lives you came,
and forever shall remain.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

...and this is part of a "book" Maya wrote when I had surgery #7, two years ago.

I save everything my girls draw or write. Today we were looking through some of Filipa's drawings and found this one. On the back it reads: "Elsa no hospital - Macau 2000"
Filipa was only six years old and I was doing my first chemo. Hard to believe that almost 10 years have gone by...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lhasa's music

It was 21 months ago that I did my shaving-head video and used Lhasa's music. With the news of her premature death on New Year's Day, I found out that she was diagnosed with breast cancer exactly 21 months ago. It is a sad coincidence and I wish the end of her battle with cancer could have been different.

Gracias Lhasa. More about this great singer-songwriter here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a post for Rajiv

I don't know anyone else on R7112, so I am glad you found me through my blog. I just completed the fifth cycle. I take a daily dose of 1270mg for 10 days, and then rest for 18. Did you start the trial after me? My first cycle was terrible but the last one did not feel like torture. So the good news is that it eventually gets better.
I have the same side effects you talked about: GI track discomfort, nausea, lack of appetite and taste changes.
My secret weapon to fight nausea and taste changes is ginger (like the ginger slices served with sushi in Japanese restaurants). Got Hope, a friend I made through this blog, gave me this precious advice. I eat it with every meal and also in between meals.
The other trick is to avoid having an empty stomach. When I don't eat or drink not even the anti-nausea prescribed by my doctor (Decadron, Kytril and Ativan, half an hour before taking the drug) works.
On the last cycle I discovered the perfect snack: shrimp balls and squid balls. I buy them frozen in Asian supermarkets and boil them and eat them with soy sauce. It was more practical than the expensive sea-urchin sushi that I craved on the previous cycle. On another chemo, all I wanted to eat was anchovies...
Oh no, I am telling you to eat anchovies when I hate anchovies! What I am trying to say is that foods with a strong flavor work better for me, because at least I can have a taste sensation when everything else tastes bland.
Rajiv, Good Luck with the trial and keep in touch.

My Dad has a new Blog

Dear everybody, It is Maya reporting to you that my dad has a new blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is called:
The Intentional Sketcher. Enjoy it!
Adios Lhasa.

When my lifetime had just ended
And my death had just begun
I told you I’d never leave you
But I knew this day would come

-I'm going in, Lhasa