A Glimpse Into Life As I See It

Letter to a friend…

Posted in Life,Nostalgia by tommy on January 6, 2009
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In remembrance.

I wrote this June 12th, 2006–I’m posting it here now.

Paul…I still can’t believe you’re gone. When I found out what had happened, I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t understand. I talked to your cousin and asked what was going on. Reading your families myspace headlines, i wasn’t able to put 2 and 2 together but when she told me about your funeral service and interment, reality started setting in. It hit even harder when she explained to me what had happened. Suddenly, all those moments that I had spent with you seemed inadequate; seem like I wasn’t able to be the friend that you were to me.

You were the first person to talk to me when I moved down from Canada. Since I had come late and wasn’t able to join in on marching band that fall, you tried your best to make me feel welcome. I stood behind you during lunch and I remember that first joke you cracked to “break the ice.” From that moment on, we developed a friendship that would last all throughout high school and even after graduation. We shared so many memories and now that you’re gone, everything is more vivid in my head. I remember those times we walked home from school. You would come over for a bit and we would head out to Barnes & Noble till your dad came to pick you up at 5. Those were the days when Korn and Limp Bizkit ruled the airwaves and being the metalhead you are, you always made sure to play the music loudly whenever the opportunity was shown. You showed your appreciation for this music in the form of sticks plastered all over the back of your dad’s red CRV.

I never told you this but I considered you one of my best friends. While we, at first, didn’t share the same mutual friends, you didn’t treat me any differently than your other friends. I know that I was one to you as well and at times, you could even say we were inseperable. After graduation, i remember those times where you would just call me up to hang out or you would just randomly show up at my place. That one Halloween where you spent 15 minutes at my house trying to convince me to go to that party up the El Cajon pass. Laughing at that night now, I remember you ended up not going to it and we shared some laughs afterwards at the methods you used to try and get me to go. How I wish that you were able to just randomly call me or show up at my door, just like old times sake. It’s hard knowing your screen name will never pop up, my phone will never ring with your name on the caller ID, my door will never be knocked by your hand. My sister remembers that day during our junior year when you walked home with me only to have my sister shut the door on you. Haha, everytime you’d get mad, you’d always bring it up! “Uh oh, can’t get Tom made because his sister will come and defend him!” It meant alot to have one of my friends there with me watching her Tae Kwon Do promotion. My brother remembers the final time he saw you that one day in the Target parking lot. Needless to say, he feels the same about you not being here also.

Today at your funeral, I went up to your dad and he immediately stretched out his arms. As I was hugging him, he told me that he knew what I had meant to you. He told me that we had a strong friendship and he realizes that this was as tough on me as any one of your family members. I witnessed your uncles, your cousins, your aunts, your brother, your sister, your friends, your co-workers all show a deep sense of sorrow with your death. As they each shed a tear, i shed 10. I can’t begin to tell you how I broke down and couldn’t handle seeing you laying in that coffin in front of me. I know that if you were there sitting next to me, you would have started to laugh and joke around at me crying. Haha, we would have both started to crack up and I couldn’t help but want you to just sit up and say “i’m fine, it’s really me. i’m really here!” I went with Alejandra and Arnulfo and she was crying for you as well. It was especially tough walking up and standing next to you, seeing you laying there in peace. I stood to the side and witnessed your girlfriend, Roxy, stroking your hair as her parents tried to comfort her. I can’t even begin to imagine how she’s feeling. I saw your brother, his gf, and his beautiful baby. I couldn’t help but remember back to a few days ago when you told me that you were excited to be an uncle. My heart dropped as I saw Mike holding his kid. I went up to Mike and he said it was good to see me, that it’s been a long time. That’s one thing I would have liked to change; that everything has been a long time. Crystal, Angel, Melissa, Brandon were all talking together afterwards and no one could believe you were really gone. It’s just something we weren’t prepared to deal with. So young, so tragic, this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Your parents should ever have to bury their son. At the cemetary, they released your favourite bird…the Dove. First one and then 5 others to join up with the lone bird. How they were able to join in sync and so harmoniously with the others was amazing. It reminded me of how you were able to get along with everyone and be such an amazing friend to each. After your casket had been blessed and everyone started leaving, i went up to your dad and your brother one last time. I told him to be strong and he let me know that his faith was strong and that he loved you very much. With a tear rolling down his face, I said goodbye. I turned to your bro and extended my hand. He immediately opened his arm and hugged me in a way that only my own brother has done. He told it meant alot to him that I had showed up. I told him i was glad to have been a part of everything and that you had affected my life as well. You molded him well, Paul. I couldn’t imagine how I’d be if I lost my brother or likewise, if my brother lost me. I doubt i’d be able to stand as strong as Mike did but this does teach me to not take those moments for granted.

Your friendship meant alot to me. More than you’ll ever know. You were the longest running friend that i’ve had and one of the closest. You knew my parents, they knew you. I can’t believe that I won’t ever see you again on this earth but I am glad to have known someone like you. No matter how strong ones beliefs are with their faith, nothing can prepare you for losing a friend, a brother, an uncle, a father, a grandfather–any death. It’s how we deal with everything that allows us to keep your memory alive in our minds and in our hearts.

Rest In Peace, Paul Garcia.


character defined

Posted in Life,Nostalgia,Pensive by tommy on November 17, 2008
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I remember it well. My childhood, that time in my life where ‘life’ wasn’t about doing the right thing but rather just doing. It was about not knowing what was going to happen but wise enough to realize that anything that did happen was going to happen for a reason.

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. A smaller major city, a city that can be classified as being isolated and close knit (as close-knit a city that you can possibly get for a city that size). My neighbors knew who I was; i knew who i was. I suppose that is good enough, i hadn’t even reached my teen years yet. I was an exploratory kid, someone who strived for not being home in the afternoon. My bike was my best friend. The summer days were long and mild. Being so far north, the sun won’t come down until near-midnight and the sun was up and shining at 4:30AM. Ah, that was the life in living so far north, living in the northernmost major city in Canada. I remember back to the days when I would spend all afternoon at our local convenience store. The funny part is, this convenience store would contribute to my ‘striving to not be home’ by enticing me with its arcade games. There was Mortal Kombat, there was also a Street Fighter II: Turbo. We gathered up coins and rolled them up. Around the house, we gathered nearly $25 simply in quarters. Little did I know (or did I?) that at the time, i would spend nearly $17 of those $25 dollars throughout the course of a summer just playing these arcade games. My time wasn’t entirely spent at our local convenience store as I would also go and explore other stores with different arcade games! This contributed, i believe, to my independence. Since i was so keen on just getting on my bike and riding, many hours were spent underneath the warm Alberta summer. Don’t get me wrong, my time wasn’t spent playing arcade games most of the time. This is memorable given the circumstances of using up all those quarter rolls. It was definitely some fun times.

Throughout various summers, my dad–a civil engineer–would take me out into the field to just observe & watch what he was doing. Highway rock songs, songs such as Bryan Adams–Sumer of ’69, as well as oldies, created the perfect playlist for those trips all over Alberta. The sun was warm but not hot and the rays radiated with as much power as you would find elsewhere in the world. This was different, though. I was with my dad, my hero. I remember the distinct smell of asphalt being laid. I remember the smell of grain as we worked in the prairies. Seeing as far as the eye could see was normal. The clean air allowed that; being in flat, ol’ Alberta allowed that as well. Sometimes we would go as far as the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and other times, the distance travelled would seem long. In retrospect, the distances travelled weren’t nearly as long as the distance I would travel every day when i was older. The smell of the pine trees, the crisp smell of not having any smog around. These are smells that I won’t forget and when i encounter them again, nostalgia comes hitting back. I guess scent truly is the strongest sense, it is tied to memories.

My family was very close. My little brother was too young to be hanging out with me during those dog days of summer. We bought a family fun pass, a pass similar to an annual pass at an amusement park, for West Edmonton Mall. Ah, the mall-The worlds biggest mall complete with a full mini-golf course, full-size replica of a spanish ship, as well as a world water park and a full size amusement park. These trips were highlighted weekly, with Fridays being the designated day for hanging out at the mall. Mini-golf were always such memories. As is the case with having a younger sibling, he always tries to one-up me in everything I do. It is built into them and as such, he would always compete for trying to get the lowest handicap. Some things never change! Being in a city like Edmonton definitely wasn’t for everyone. It gets cold and there’s not much to do. But i was content and most importantly, we were. I wish my sister was born a little earlier for her to know Canada and to know where it is we come from. 

All these situations, whether it was those long days during the summer or the except about what we did as a family, define me who I am now. I’ve been through it all, i’ve been alone. They make me stronger and they give me a stronger sense of who I am as a person. As you would say, they allow me to grow but more importantly, they make me grow. I have a strong sense of nationalism, and i believe that’s tied in to how I was raised and all those things that we would do as little kids.