The sky above SoCo

Floating above the clouds, somewhere between southern California and my next destination. I like it up here. It’s peaceful, serene, and I feel closer to you. Every so often, my hand travels up toward my collarbone, my fingers grazing the diamond pendant, and I feel safe. 

I know you’re here with me. Even now.  

You were amazing, Dad, to put it simply. A man of few words and humble beginnings, you were also a man of great courage and vision. Emigrating from the Philippines to the United States, we started with nothing. And yet, you and Mom worked tirelessly to create a beautiful life for our family. You sacrificed a lot, so that we could live the American dream. 

You loved me in your own quiet way. Sometimes it was hard to tell what you were thinking, but when I became the first in our family to graduate college, you changed your Facebook profile photo to a picture of you and me at graduation. I knew, then, that I’d made you proud. 

The love that you and Mom shared is lyrical and legendary. You were both so in sync with each other, never missing a beat. It’s something I hope to have in my own marriage, when I say “I do” in July. We planned a destination wedding in Europe, because that was where our next family trip was going to be. It will be beautiful and bittersweet. You won’t be there to walk me down the aisle like I had hoped, and yet… you will be, again, in your own quiet way. 

While I’d set out to create just one diamond from your ashes, you gave me two—you knew Mom would want her own. Although there were impurities in the first stone, it’s still beautiful and breathtaking, and it’s you. After a second round of growth, I ended up with two amazing diamonds. Mom had the first one set in a necklace. You’re her diamond in the rough. Honoring you in this way feels right. I love that your diamonds will now forever be in the family. 

My own necklace is classic and timeless. And your diamond shines so bright, just like your cheesy smile. You were always cracking jokes. I know that you're probably enjoying yourself in heaven, bopping around between Monterey, San Diego and the Philippines; fishing to your heart's content, and watching the Lakers while eating Little Caesar’s Pizza, of course. But wearing your diamond close to my heart makes me feel protected, like everywhere I travel, you’re exploring these places with me.

I miss you terribly, but I feel so lucky that you’re my dad. You were an incredible role model, and I hope to make you proud every day. I promise to wear your diamond and keep your memory alive, wherever I go.

Give Mama Carmen and Papa Tomas a hug from me,