Hello! Happy Holidays to you from me and from the entire Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS) team. This December marks our 1 year of doing these blog tours. Our topic for this month is “Warmth” to commemorate the holiday season. If you haven’t done so yet, please check out Mel’s tour post “After the Rain Comes the Sun, Smiles That Warmth Everyone’s Heart” on her blog Mel in Anime Land.
“Warmth” December Blog Tour
It’s the season of joy, thankfulness, and love. This month’s topic is “Warmth.” Whether it is spending time with family members during the holiday season or with that special someone during New Year’s, we will discuss moments in anime and pop culture media that convey a feeling of happiness in our hearts. During times of struggles, we look towards the things that matter to us as a source of strength, hope, and happiness. We hope you enjoy this round of posts and that you will have a wonderful holiday season!
For my tour post this month, I’m not going to discuss a specific anime. Instead, I’ll focus on my gratitude to all of you my readers, my blogger friends, my awesome fellow OWLS members, and especially my family, friends and loved ones. This is a very personal post.
2017 has been an extremely difficult year for me. Just after the year began, my father underwent a major surgery. Afterwards, we were all horrified by the cancer diagnosis. Since I’m the only one in our immediate family who doesn’t faint or go hysterical inside hospitals, I was the one who always accompanied my father. We all learned our lesson when my step-mother fainted when she saw my father right after his surgery. I had to rush her to the Emergency. I felt cold with fear, but it still amazes me whenever I think about how calm and business-like I was during the entire affair. After that incident, I had to tell my step-mother not to go with us to the hospital anymore because I’ll just end up worrying for both of them. Besides, if something happens to her again, I had to care for two people instead of just one.
Months of chemotherapy treatment soon followed. After his first chemo, my father’s immune system weakened to the point that we had to rush him to the Emergency. They put him in isolation to protect him from outside exposure while he recovers enough to go home. I woke up early every day to visit him at the hospital and only went home when visitor hours ended at night. I don’t mind going to hospitals, but actually being there every single day and having an ill loved one and encountering other suffering patients just drains one’s spirits.
No matter how strong I wanted to be, seeing my healthy and fit father helpless, shrink to almost skin and bones, and walk like a 90-year old man just utterly broke my heart. I harshly scolded my father and wanted to punch him when he once said that if he dies, he’ll die and we can’t do anything about it. I angrily told him that he can’t die yet because my siblings are still young and if he does die, I’ll catch his soul and shove it right back into his body and force him to live. I was furious but he was laughing at my joke so I couldn’t help but laugh too, although I wasn’t really joking at that time. After that, he became optimistic and his former joker self returned despite undergoing chemo. He even likes joking about his newfound baldness. I was with him the entire time and made me love and treasure my father all the more.
Summer this year and on my father’s birthday to boot, my step-mother’s sister died. She was an important figure to all of us; very loving, caring, and generous. Even though I wasn’t blood-related to her, I love her. All of us were shocked. It was so sudden. We all cried at her funeral, but we also remembered and celebrated her life. We are still grieving and we’ll probably grieve for a long time, but we are all grateful that she was a part of our lives. Hers was not the only death that wracked us this year. My aunt who I consider one of my mothers and even call Mama to prove it; her niece-in-law died of breast cancer. She used to babysit me sometimes as a child. Another death which affected me deeply was my former tutor’s. I was very close to her. Her first child is my goddaughter. She even named her second daughter after me. Several other deaths saddened my family and friends this year. I may not know of these people personally, but my loved ones cared for them.
These tribulations stressed me greatly and I found myself almost plunging into depression. I already suffered depression before during my teenage years, resulting to months of therapy. I don’t want to go through that dark time again, so I really force myself to be strong, resilient, and even enthusiastic. I constantly catch myself in despair, so I escape by rewatching and rereading lots of my favourite anime and manga. Anime and manga really help get me through these tough times.
I also had a chance to go on an unplanned vacation to my mother country, the Philippines, during the summer break. My father was still undergoing chemo that time, so I really had no desire to leave and go on vacation abroad but my father was able to persuade me to go, telling me that he’d be just fine without me. So I flew from Canada and my mother flew from Guam with my youngest sister and step-father. I was reunited with my maternal side of the family in the Philippines, embracing and kissing them again for the first time in 10 years. It was a wonderful and happy occasion, a much-needed respite from all the stress back home in Canada.
During all of these, I obviously had to take long and frequent breaks from blogging. I wasn’t worried about Fujinsei at all since I had posts scheduled in advance. However, I’m also the Secretary of OWLS. I’m in-charge of scheduling blog tours, reminding and making sure that participating members publish their tour posts on time. Big thanks to Remy and Hazelyn for shouldering my secretarial responsibilities during the first two long breaks I took earlier this year. Recently I took a long break again—well, I’m still technically on break now because I just finished my jury duty for the Supreme Court of Canada. I would add the trial and the deliberation as my latest source of stress, but it’s over now so I’m doing my best to collect my wits and emotions back together. The OWLS PR team—Naja, Hazelyn, Lita, and the newest addition Miandro—really helped me out this time. This latest break has gone longer than I first expected, so I’m sorry to our PR team for dumping my responsibilities on your overworked shoulders but thank you very much for being understanding and patient with me, especially whenever I request something from you. You guys rock!
I also want to credit our monthly OWLS blog tours for giving me a reason to write blog posts. As you can probably tell from what I experienced so far this year, the constant stress and despair are draining my blogging drive. If it weren’t for the blog tours, my blog would probably cease pumping posts every month. Participating in the blog tours even when I don’t feel motivated has forced me to write and to post. And once I start writing, I feel this tickle of desire to blog again. I actually feel this way as I’m writing this post now. I still feel out of sorts, to be honest, but I hope that I’ll soon get my blogging mojo back before 2017 ends.
Huge thanks to YOU who are always reading my posts and commenting even when you are met with silence because of my frequent, unannounced breaks. My replies are long overdue, so I’m sorry. Thank you very much for being patient. I promise that I’ll reply to your comments and e-mails as soon as I’m able to. Another huge thanks to my blogger friends who messaged me, asking me how I am and sending feel-good words of warmth and friendship. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!
It’s not an exaggeration to say that if it weren’t for all of your support, especially from the OWLS team, I would probably have quit blogging this year. Perhaps not quit forever, but quit for the year 2017. I love being an otaku blogger, but 2017 has just been cruel to me. However, I realize that this is a turning point in my life, manhandling me into a higher level of emotional maturity. It also made me appreciate and treasure my loved ones more. I don’t want to take them for granted because I may wake up one day and they won’t be there anymore, not until we meet again in the next life. My faith in God also strengthened; in fact, our family’s faith is stronger now, bonding us more tightly than ever before.
As of now, I feel better. My father, thank the Lord, has finished his chemo treatment and is regaining his previous healthy and fit self. My family and I are still hurting because of the deaths of our loved ones, but we are closer now than ever as we cherish their memories together. Blogging-wise, I plan to gradually ease myself back to my regular schedule, thanks to all of your support and the warmth of your thoughts. Please continue to support me and my blog, and of course all of us OWLS as we continue running our monthly blog tours. This has been difficult for me to write and to post because I don’t like sharing too much of my personal life publicly. I also never treated Fujinsei as my personal diary. However, writing this extremely personal post has lifted such a big weight off my chest, so I’m glad I did it. Thank you again. I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Thank you for reading my tour post. After me is the ever wonderful Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe). I also invite you to check out all the other participants of this blog tour. For the full schedule of our December “Warmth” Blog Tour, click here.
If you have any questions about our group Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS) or are interested in joining us as a member, please visit our official blog. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook. We welcome new, committed members.
Free to be ME,
Arria (OWLS Secretary)
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