Linda’s Sunset Part III – 40 Days Later

It has been 40 days since Mommy passed away. That sentence says it all and encompasses my grief. As per Filipino tradition my period of deep mourning ends today, but quiet frankly I am not sure I will ever stop grieving the loss of my parents. Life goes on and I celebrate the years I had with them and the fact that they had each other.

Walking Into The Sunset ©MT Herzog

In the past two years I have somehow ended up at the ocean for any milestone associated with my parents, particularly Mommy, hence the series of Linda’s Sunset photographs. I decided against having a large event to mark this day, as is usually called for here. Not one to really follow tradition, I suspect Mommy would have done the same and preferred a more intimate honoring of the date.

The controversial burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) has sparked a series of protest marches around the city, creating monstrous traffic jams. I had a strong urge to photograph a sunset but didn’t want to venture to Manila Bay knowing the traffic situation. So in a fit of rebellion and a strong need to escape my l little flat, I packed the cat and the camera into the car and off we went (with my two angels as well). Destination unknown, but general direction was South of Manila along the coastal road. It was a little past 14:00 when we left and by 14:45 I figured out that I wanted to head towards Ternate Beach. I haven’t been there in decades and had no idea where to begin, but thanks to Wayz, the trusty GPS app, we figured out the time and destination. Champagne wondered what great adventure she was in for this time, but took it all in stride. She knows that car plus body harness do not mean a trip to the vet, but something big, so she made herself quite comfortable and dozed off.

Reaching Ternate by 16:45, I stopped at a bridge, as is my habit these days, jumped out and soaked in the view. Gone was the stifling and toxic Manila air and in its place was the ocean, clean air, and fishing boats. I could feel the heaviness that had hovered over me begin to dissipate ever so slightly. There is something incredibly calming about the sea for me, and each time I have to deal with sorrow I make my way to the ocean, so perhaps it was fate that allowed me to live in Thailand and now the Philippines the last two and a half years where I could be closer to the the ocean.

I Caught A Wave ©MT Herzog

It was perfect timing when we arrived at the little beach resort tucked away in a cove. Champagne emerged from her carrier and surveyed the surroundings with huge eyes from the safety of our bamboo beach hut while I set up my gear. When I moved closer to the water, she was reluctant to follow, but when I carried her and plopped her down on the sand next to me she settled down and looked around. All eyes were on her, a. because she was a cat or b. they couldn’t figure out what animal she was. So this was my first experience of holding the tripod steady, adjusting the camera and setting the timer while Champagne’s leash was attached to my wrist. It got tricky once the waves came and she wasn’t sure what to do. In spite of the multitasking, I did manage a few decent shots.

Then I moved the tripod and camera into the water and was a little over ankle deep. Champagne was still with me, not saying a word, not running away, and not clinging either. She was a brave adventure cat, and even when she got her first taste of being washed over by a wave and her little flat face emerged looking absolutely stunned, she took it all in stride and still didn’t run away. I had to laugh at myself and hoped Mommy and Daddy were looking down at me as well, since they so loved Champagne. Drenched cat on one arm and steadying the tripod with another and attempting to document it as well was quite the experience!

Would you believe though, that the first time Champagne kicked up a fuss was when she was being toweled down and dried. One of my angels had the presence of mind to give her a quick shower with fresh water to wash off the salt and sand, and we bought a towel from the resort, and only then did Madam complain.

Back in the car we decided to drive back another route and have dinner in Tagaytay instead. Sticking to the theme of bamboo huts, we stopped at a place with rows of bahay kubo (nipa huts) that served bulalo soup, a specialty of the region consisting of beef, bone marrow and vegetables. Since we had a hut to ourselves, Champagne came out of her carrier and sat with us, wondering why it was suddenly so chilly. From the hot and humid beach at 27C we were suddenly back down to 20C with wind factor. I know, those of you in North America and Europe are scoffing at these temperatures, but for Philippine standards, this is winter!

It was a tired FrodDiva and CatDiva that returned home that evening. I honored my mother’s memory in the best way that I knew how, doing something I knew she would have absolutely enjoyed if she had been with me. Mommy loved road trips, she enjoyed eating out, and she treasured time with me and Champagne.

And as a perfect postscript to celebrate the day: The birds are back and have accepted the birdseed! Mommy sent me another love note.

I blub you Mommy.

Click here for the full version with the photographs

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