about Oma

Oma is a name i call my grandmum with.

Oma lived in Bandung, and that had always been our holiday destination from as long as i can remember, whether it be the school holidays (June-July) or the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. she lived alone, since my granddad had long gone, when my mum was still in her twenties. but she didn’t really live alone, because she actually leased some rooms in her house to college girls. i guess i meant that none of our other family members live in Bandung, so she was practically alone.

Oma was a great cook. her specialty was egg salad, but i also loved her pastel tutup (kind of like a pie), hutspot (hotchpot), and pea soup (much better than the canned pea soup, for sure!).

Oma loved monkeys (at least i believe so!). i remember when we were kids, as my sister & i, along with our 2 cousins, arrived at her house for the holidays, my grandmum happily greeted us and exclaimed, “i thought i saw 2 monkeys, but it turned out there’s 4 arriving at the same time!” later on, when she went to the states to go to one of our cousins’ wedding, she came home with a monkey stuffed toy for herself, the kind with a spot on its tummy that you can push, and you can hear the monkey sound. she loved this particular stuffed toy so much, and whenever we went there to her house, she would ask one of us to take it out from her glass shelf and push the tummy. together we would enjoy the monkey sound & laugh.

Oma loved making handcrafts. she started making all sorts of knitted animals (bears, mostly) when i was around 12 or 13. she would make these knitted animals as house or car decorations, and she would also make things like toilet paper holders and attach the knitted bear heads (or whatever else) on them. she sold these things in her own house, to people from her church, friends of the girls who rented her extra rooms, and even family members (like me). 😀

Oma loved Coca Cola so much, the doctor had to tell her to stop drinking it, otherwise her spine would get too weak from her osteoporosis. she became addicted to teh kotak ever since (a cold tea drink with jasmine flavour). she was also addicted to Pizza Hut, McD’s spaghetti, and all kinds of chocolate. i guess that was her secret recipe for her long life.

as she grew older, it was plain to see that she couldn’t live alone anymore. so we moved her to Jakarta, where she would live with my mum’s sister & her husband. gradually it became harder for her to walk, and her hearing also weakened.

but she still loved sewing. she would make dozens of fabric bags, that she would then sell to people at the hairdresser she always went to, friends and relatives of my mum’s sister. she said she couldn’t stand not doing anything, and sewing was the only thing she could still do & enjoyed doing, too.

Oma inspired most of my works. i was the number one fan of her handmade bags, i kept buying her latest “bag collection” that in the end she would give me the bags for free. 😀 when i started my own business, Ame No Machi boutique, she supported it by ordering some clothes from us. she gave me her old sewing magazines, the ones she managed to save from her old house in Bandung, even though i couldn’t sew yet that time. when i moved here, and finally learned to sew, she gave me her old sewing machine.

it’s not only my sewing works that she inspired me with. for some reason, whenever i write a story (the longer ones that i hope to one day be published), i would always have a “grandmum” character to accompany the main female character.

Oma had lived a long life of 98 years. this April she was supposed to turn 99. but for the past few months her health dropped down. she no longer sew bags, and earlier this week she was admitted to the hospital. last night she slipped into unconsciousness, but still i called my mum and asked her to put the mobile phone to Oma’s ear, so i could still tell her how much i love her.

today she was finally lost to us. i’d like to think that she lived a happy life, full of contentment & joy. i’d like to think she’s in a much better place now, together again with her beloved husband, my granddad whom i never met.

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this picture is special to me, since it was taken by my sister’s late husband, Victor, in 2010. i hadn’t met Oma (or my other relatives, for that matter) for 3,5 years at that time, and this occasion where the picture was taken was the first time i met her again. she was wearing the blouse she ordered from my boutique, and i had chosen that fabric for her myself.

now i’d also like to think that Oma is together with Victor, too.

yes, i can see them all now in my head. maybe even together with Romppu. 🙂 may you rest in peace, Oma. thank you for all the beautiful memories, the laughter that we’ve shared, and for inspiring me. we will meet again one day.

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pictures of you

some weeks ago, i dreamt. as i’ve written before, dreaming is like a daily hobby for me, and i can even sometimes get 2 or 3 dreams in one single night’s sleep. but this dream was one of those that stayed in my mind for some time, even long after i woke up.

now i don’t remember the whole dream anymore, but i remember the feeling. it’s the feeling of missing someone so much, and a devastated one when i realized in my waking moment that this someone is no longer with us in this life. and these feelings were caused because of someone i saw in my dream at that time.

i dreamt of my sister’s late husband, Victor.

he passed away last year in May back in my home country, while i was here, in Finland, working. it was a sudden one, not of some accident or cancer or any other sickness that has a long process. he was still in his 30s.

i’ve never had a brother, and as i’ve also written before, for me there’s always only been my sister and i, no other sibling. so when he came into the picture and started dating my sister back then, i began to know & treat him as a brother i never had. of course we didn’t get to be as close as a  brother and sister would be (how close could a brother and sister be anyway? even my husband isn’t that close with his sister :p), but we laughed at the same jokes, discussed the same absurd things, and had the same appetite for weird and bizarre foods. of all the times he was there for my sister, i never doubted his love for her even once. when they got married, it felt so natural to welcome him as a family member.

about half a year before i moved to Finland, my sister and her husband moved back to live with my parents and me. two weeks before moving here, my sister gave birth to my lovely niece, and so i also witnessed it firsthand, even if only for a few days, how my brother-in-law turned into a father.

while i started my new life here, he started to take on a new hobby: photography. just like how he was in real life, his photos were simple, modest, and nothing “fancy”, but so true and heart-warming. he mainly took pictures using analog cameras and black & white films, which i suppose inspired the name of his Multiply account, Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen. (he’s 100% Indonesian, but one time he heard about a Finnish band who sang a song about beers, and became a fan of Finland from then on :D. that was why he named his Multiply account in Finnish language.)

he also developed his own negatives, which to me set him aside from other hobby-photographers i knew (and know). he was a street-photographer, though not for fashion… far from it, in fact. he took pictures of the true life on the streets of Jakarta, my home city, and sometimes of the nature just outside of Jakarta, too. he mostly took pictures just as they were, and most of the time he would actually spend time to talk and get to know his (living) objects, such as the street vendors, the lady at the wet market, the balloon man. this was also what made his photos special: there’s always a story in it. sometimes, it even depicts someone’s whole life. someone, who would otherwise never cross your mind, who would otherwise never make you stop to think about. he made THOSE people’s lives special in a way, and in the most honest way.

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needless to say, i was a big fan of his photos. i always looked forward to seeing his new photo albums, and looking at them would make me feel like i was missing nothing from my home city. seeing the people and scenes through his lens felt almost the same as if seeing those objects with my very own eyes, even when they were in black & white.

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his daughter (=my cute niece) with her friend at their holiday home just outside Jakarta

it took 4 years until i finally had the chance to go to my home country again after moving here, and during my stay for 3.5 weeks there, i could count my meetings with my brother-in-law with one hand, due to his busy work life. on the last night though, before i went back to Finland, i still got to meet him. we talked about how we MUST go to this small island (can’t remember the name now) together one day to take pictures together, since my husband was also interested in photography. my husband and i said that we would surely do that next time we went to Indonesia.

little did we know that it was our last meeting with him, ever. he passed away two weeks before i & my husband were supposed to go to my home country again for the second time.

it’s been 1.5 years now after he’s gone, and i still miss him, and his photos. i still can’t understand why he had to go so soon, i still dream of him, and cry about it.

but seeing his old photos helps. seeing things through his eyes makes me again laugh at the same jokes as what he must’ve had in his mind when he took some funny pictures, and think about the same absurd things that must’ve crossed his mind when he took pictures of some uncommon objects. in a sense, it makes me feel as if these pictures are pieces of him. they don’t move, but they have stories. HIS stories. these are pictures of him. he was, and will always be, alive in these pictures, even if we can’t really see him in them.

to put the whole him in one post would be too long and probably take forever, so i invite you all to see his pictures instead.

and why today, of all days? because today is his birthday.

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the photographer himself

my sister had worked for weeks or even months to prepare the pictures he had taken, and now, finally, right on his birthday, they are to be seen in his old WordPress blog:  Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen (Expose for the Shadows; Develop for the Highlights).

so happy birthday, Victor! thank you for leaving behind your “eyes” and “stories”. we miss you, and will always remember you.

PS. all pictures shown here in this post are taken by Victor Lumunon, and used by permission from my sister, aka the photographer’s wife.

i (c)am(e) here

oh dear, i’m afraid i’m losing my interest in blog writing. before i came to WordPress, i used to write on my Multiply page like once every 2  months (except in the summer when i sew lots of clothes :p), but for some reason after i moved here, i write at least once a week. last week though, i fell ill, and since i couldn’t think of anything else to do (let alone write), i indulged myself to watching TV series. i become hooked to Fringe series, and have ever since used my free time to watch more episodes of the series. so that’s the reason why i haven’t been writing lately (like anyone cares?). watching TV is much easier than writing a blogpost, LOL.

but anyway, something came to my mind last night that i just had to write it down.

a memory of watching myself on a videotape from when i was 4 or 5 years old.

before you assume i’m a narcissist, let me finish (or start) the story.

for as long as i’ve lived, there’s always only been me and my older sister. i don’t have any other sibling, it’s always been the two of us.

but for my parents and my sister, there was a short time when there was another family member. my other older sister, who was in my mum’s womb for some time. my sister was probably around 3 years old at that time, and my parents were expecting their second daughter, when suddenly something happened to her, the unborn child.

i think she was already 6 or 7 months inside my mum’s womb when they realize that she hadn’t moved for a while. they checked on her, and it turned out that she didn’t make it. she was gone, before anyone had the chance to welcome her properly, physically. they had to take her out of my mum’s tummy, and of course, my parents, especially my mum, was crushed from the whole experience.

for 2 years, i was told, my mum was depressed, until suddenly i came to her. this time, of course, everything was okay, and i managed to come out just fine. 😀 i became the second daughter, when in fact, i was the third. would i even be here if my parents had their second daughter? i don’t know.

i don’t really remember how i was told about this middle sister, the one who was a stillborn. i don’t remember when exactly i was told about her either. but i remember distinctly this videotape that came to my mind last night.

i remember that my dad took the video, and he told me to just play normally as he recorded it. on the video, i was playing on one of my parents’ working desks (they had their office in our own house), and talking to myself, and occasionally, my dad would ask me things like what am i playing, stuffs like that. i think i said something like making a present, and my dad then asked, for who? i then answered, for my second sister. he knew that i was talking about the other sister, the one who didn’t make it, so he asked me what her name was. for some bizarre reason, i said, “Veni.” FYI, we never named her, and still haven’t to this date. i have no idea how that name came to my 4-year-old mind.

another thing i remembered afterwards was that when my sister heard that i named our second sister “Veni”, she protested. LOL. 😀 why in the world would her name be “Veni”, when our own names are intricate & oh-so-Javanese (thanks to our dearest dad)?? well, i didn’t know what to say to her back then.

but last night, it came to me. it’s strange, since i couldn’t have possibly known it back when i was 4 or 5, not having been going to school at all, how could i have possibly known that “Veni” would mean something in another language?

but it does. at least in Latin, it means something. something that is surprisingly relevant to my second sister’s experience. i’m sure you know what i’m talking about. 🙂

Veni, vidi, vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. “Veni” means “I came”.

she did come, even if only for a short while. and though i never even met her physically, maybe when i was 4 or 5, when i was playing as if i made her a present, she whispered those words to me, so i knew that she was there, that she came to us.

i’m writing this down now, before i forget about it in the future. because, dear second sister, we’ll never forget about you, no matter what your name is. you came to us, and though it was brief, you will always be a part of us. 🙂

the dreamer

well, that was a quick weekend.

i did manage to sleep at nights, maybe the song helped after all. :p but even when i managed to sleep, they’re mostly restless sleeps. i would wake up several times at night, around every 2 hours, and i always, ALWAYS dream. even when i only sleep for 15 minutes, i see a dream.

sometimes my sleeps are so restless that the only way i could tell if i have actually slept at all is by remembering if i dreamt or not. i honestly can’t remember the last time i had a long dreamless sleep.

i tried to keep a dream journal once, because i was (and still am) a bit superstitious. but then when i realized that i dream everyday, and sometimes more than just once, i stopped recording them in the journal. i couldn’t keep track of my multiple dreams anymore.

there are times when i try to find meanings to my dreams, was it my higher consciousness trying to tell me something, perhaps?

and then some other times i knew that my dreams meant nothing, just leftovers of whatever image was conjured up in my head before my sleep.

but then there are those dreams that are so deeply emotional, that even when i wake up, the feeling or emotion lingers in me. the most common strong emotion i feel in my dreams are sadness (crying so hard, i almost can’t breathe) and anger (yelling and shouting angrily that my throat feels sore). waking up after these kinds of dreams, i would actually feel like crying or tired of shouting, even though i have no reason to feel any of those emotions in real life.

another kind that can be just as emotional to me, even without any extreme emotion in the dream itself, is when i meet the people who have long gone away from life. people who have passed away. i can sometimes understand it when i dream them when i have been thinking about them. but sometimes, or most of the time, the dreams happen when i haven’t even been thinking about them at all.

this morning, for example, i dreamt of my first ex-boyfriend’s late grandmum. she was as lively as she had always been in her life, kind and warm. i woke up feeling sad as i realized that it was only a dream, and that in reality she’s already gone for years. but i can’t understand why i suddenly saw her in my dream, even when i haven’t thought about her, or even thought about her grandson. :p and then, of course, i got reminded of her last few days.

she had an eye tumor that quickly became cancer and spread to her brain. i remember visiting her in the hospital with her grandson (no longer my boyfriend at the time) and our mutual friend who also knew her for almost as long as i did. we, that is, i and this mutual friend of ours, had planned to visit her for a few days, but for some reason, we couldn’t make the time until this one day. when we went there, she was already unconscious, her mouth was covered with gauze fabric but in an opened position because that was how she breathed. she was much thinner than when i saw her the previous time, but she was deep in her sleep and looked peaceful.

we were awkward at first, not really knowing what to do or say in a situation like this (we were around 20, i believe). it was at least my first time of being so close to (someone else’s) death. so we tried to talk casually, as if she was there with us, and then in no time at all, we could actually feel that she was indeed there with us. we started joking around like in the old days when we would joke around with her, and finally, before we left, we said to her, “get well soon, Oma… so we can talk and laugh together again.” i pressed her hand, and silently bid my goodbye.

i didn’t see any dream that night. or at least, nothing worth remembering. but the next night, my ex-boyfriend called me, and said that she passed away.

i couldn’t help but feel the shivers down my spine when i heard the news. it was almost as if she waited for us to say goodbye to her, not a moment too soon did she leave us.

back to the dream… it’s certainly not my first time dreaming of people who have passed away. and while i may never know the reason why, i would automatically think of this person i dreamt of. maybe that is all the meaning there is. for us to remember them who had gone away before us. have we really let them go?

i still don’t know what the meaning of my dream this morning is, if there is any meaning to it at all. but whatever it is, and whoever it was who gives us dreams, i thank you for reminding me of her. hope she’s in peace.

sometimes i envy people who can sleep without seeing any dreams. i want to be able to do that, to sleep uninterrupted. but then again, tired as i am for having endless nights of restless sleeps, these kind of dreams are something i’m thankful for (in the end), because i would get reminded of the person that i haven’t seen for some time, and can’t see for God knows how long. even if i would wake up feeling sad for realizing that this person has passed away, seeing her/him in the dream is enough for me to feel like i’ve just met her/him.

so yes, dream giver, keep sending me those dreams. 🙂

letting go

once upon a time, there’s a very sweet dog named Romppu.

he’s my husband’s uncle’s dog, but he sometimes came over to our place and let us take care of him for a while when his owners were going out of town.

his favourite past times were sleeping, smacking his tongue quietly (so that he wouldn’t disturb others nor drool to the floor), and looking out the window to see the sceneries.

he was a quiet dog, and he’s always excited whenever we came back from going somewhere outside the house. he even got so excited to see me coming back from doing our laundry downstairs.

he was never interested in any other dog. whenever we went to take him out, if we met some other dog, he was more interested in the owner (especially little kids) than the dog.

he was always hopeful to get a few extra bites. whenever someone opened the fridge door, no matter how deep his sleep was, he would get up and start walking towards the fridge.

he was old.

and as years went by, he became more and more ill, the kind of illness that came with getting old. he became slower, a bit blind, and could no longer do much of anything else but sleep.

three weeks ago, we were told to be prepared to lose him. he had quite a painful tooth infection that needed to be operated, and yet because of his heart problem and old factor, it’s almost sure that when he’s put to sleep for the operation, he wouldn’t be able to wake up anymore. so the option was between the operation or putting him to sleep for good.

that night, as i was lying in my bed, my husband sleeping beside me, i suddenly heard the familiar dog-nails-on-the-floor sound from our kitchen, tip-tip-tip-tip, coming closer to our bedroom. i was surprised to hear it, i didn’t remember having Romppu at our house. my husband also woke up and heard his footsteps. and then Romppu appeared in our bedroom, excitedly running to my side of the bed, and i happily brushed his head and said “moi moi, Romppu!” (which could mean “hello” or “goodbye” in Finnish).

and then he ran again to the other side of the bed, where my husband was, and my husband petted his head as he also said “no moi, Romppu!”.

and then i got up from the bed, and felt like i knew what to do next. i went through the bathroom that connected our bedroom to the area of our apartment’s entrance door, knowing that Romppu would follow me. as i reached our apartment’s entrance door, i opened the door and said to Romppu, “you’re free to go now, Romppu. i’ll miss you, but just go now.”

he looked at me and then at the open door, and ran out a few meters… but then he turned around and looked back at me again. i kept saying, “bye bye, Romppu,” but he started running back towards me.

finally i knelt down and hugged him, and told him, “i love you, Romppu.” i stood up afterwards, and again said goodbye to him.

this time, he walked away and didn’t come back.

it was just a dream, but a very realistic one, that when i woke up, i knew it was my heart saying goodbye to him, and who knows… maybe it was also Romppu saying goodbye to both of us.

Romppu passed away last Thursday.

goodbye, Romppu. i hope you are at peace now, with no more pain.

i miss you already.

Victor

there are some days you want to remember for the rest of your life.

there are some days that you don’t want to remember at all.
there are some days that will just stay in your head no matter how much you want to forget it.
May 17, 2011 is the third kind for me. it’s the day when my sister’s husband passed away.
i’m not my sister, and i now live miles away from them, but the impact is just the same.
i want to forget this ever happened.
at the same time, i want to remember it. remember it well.
i want to wake myself up and tell myself it’s just a horrible nightmare.
at the same time, i want to sleep through all this and not having to face the world that will never be the same anymore.
i want to fast forward the time to the far future, when all this healing process is done.
at the same time, i want to rewind the time back to when everything was okay.
but i can’t do all those things. all i can do is go through it, step by step, just like everyone else in this life. we can’t cheat life, there’s no walkthrough nor cheat codes.
for 2 days i feel like i’ve been riding the biggest rollercoaster in life. i’ve cried, shouted in anger (to no one in particular), felt numb and out of tune with the rest of the world, and back to crying again. i’ve tried talking with my loved ones, and just being quiet with my loved ones.
now i’ll try to write it down. again, i have to say that i’m not my sister, who probably got the greatest impact of this all, and if you’re reading this & actually feel sad/the need to give your moral support, please, give them to her instead. she needs it more than i do.
the first time i met Victor, i thought he looked like a quiet penguin: white, with his beige ‘kupluk’ cap on all the time. one time (afterwards) when i & my sister went to some mall, we accidentally found a penguin toy with a yellow ‘kupluk’ cap, and it looked just like him!
as i got to know him, he wasn’t that quiet afterall. and when he did speak, he would let out the most meaningless jokes, that actually DID make me laugh.
…and how i remember his look to my sister on the day they got married. it must’ve taken a lot of love for a rocker guy to say “cheesy” vows to a woman in front of the whole church. but he did it. and even sang for her on the dinner reception too, even though (according to himself) he couldn’t sing.
when i just broke up with my last ex, i felt the need of a change of scenery. a place that i didn’t share with him. so my sister offered me to stay over at her place. her husband looked a bit surprised when he came home to their house and found me, but didn’t even ask questions, and i really appreciated that.
one time, one night, we got news from my sister that he had a motorbike accident. he was conscious almost the whole time, and i remember when they stitched his eyebrow, i took a picture of it, thinking that i would show it to him when it was all over since i knew he’d like that. i also still laugh sometimes when i remember that night when they were cleaning his wounds and he was in such pain, but instead of screaming & swearing he just made drumming sounds like “dududududuk tak dududuk tak!”. to this date, he’s the only person i know that can make a scary & sad moment like that so funny instead.
one day, when they were already living with my parents and me, he came home bringing some foods from his grandmum’s restaurant (i think). one of them was the infamous paniki. yes, bats. i was one of the few in our house who dared to try it (the other one was my dad. other than my sister’s husband himself of course). let me tell you, it’s one of the most delicious foods i’ve ever tasted in my whole life!
one of the last memories i have of him was when my sister was giving birth to Freya. my sister already broke her water early in the morning, but Freya wasn’t ready to come out yet. so they still had to wait for around 14 hours or so till the labouring process began. during that time, my sister was shouting out loud in pain, and once, i saw outside of the room that her husband hit the wall in anger, because there’s no one that could take the pain away from her beloved wife. i had no doubt in my mind that if he could, he would’ve gone through the labouring process himself instead of watching his wife being in pain like that. i don’t think i ever told this to my sister. well, sis, now you know.
after moving out from my parents’ place, miles away to the other side of the world, i only heard stories of him and them. sometimes i saw him through Skype when i talked to my mum and sister, and of course i met him too when i went to Indonesia last year.
i saw his works from the internet, photographs taken by him, and most of the time they touched me so that i started crying. pictures of kids living on the street, pictures of old men & women selling radios, chickens, sandals, everything, anything, to make a living. not many people take pictures of those kinds of things. simple, sad, but true things that are more often “meaningless” to people with cameras. he saw beauty in those things. and thanks to him, we saw beauty in those things too, through his pictures.
if i could defy the Almighty, i would say that he still has so much to give to us. to the whole world. he still has lots of things to show us, great things that he can do.
but none of us can defy Him. none of us know better than Him.
so with this writing, i will try to let him go.
on May 18, 2011, with the kind understanding of our apartment building’s master, a Finnish flag was raised half staff in front of our apartment. it is equivalent to the yellow flag in Indonesia.

when the flag was raised, first to the full height and then dropped to the middle part of the staff, the wind blew so that the flag waved beautifully. the sun shone from behind the grey clouds. my husband walked out to take pictures of the flag, because that’s what my sister’s husband would’ve done too: take pictures.

at the same time when the funeral began in Jakarta, we bid our goodbyes and prayed at the local church. the sun shone again from behind the windows of the church, and the candles were still & upright as if to lift his soul to the heavens.

i don’t know how long it will take for us to truly accept & believe the fact that he’s gone. i don’t know how to.

but i believe he is peaceful now up there.

we miss you already, Victor. really really miss you, and always will. till we meet again, keep making those meaningless jokes, eating those panikis, singing out of tune, taking pictures of simple things for the whole crowd of heaven.

saying goodbye.

i first heard the news on Sunday, and somehow i still believed that it was a lie or misunderstanding.
but when i heard the confirmation on Sunday night, i had to believe that it’s true.
you‘ve really left us and gone to the afterlife world.

3 days went for my brain to comprehend the news.
reading the story of your last few days here on earth didn’t help.
seeing other people’s comments and last messages to you also didn’t help.

i tried to remember all the conversations we had. it’s not much, and mostly only by Facebook messages, but you were there.
now, the messages are still there in my inbox. but you’re not here anymore.

i flew your VF account on Saturday night. the time when, in real life, you struggled with your life.
i didn’t even know what you were going through.
and hours after that, i got the news that you’re gone.

Avi, it didn’t seem right for me to write my goodbye to you through a thread on my Facebook inbox.
it also didn’t seem right for me to write it on the wall of your Facebook.
so i decided to write it here instead.

though we’re never physically met in real life, i do feel like i know you physically. how can i not? sometimes we are one in Virtual Flights world. you taught me almost everything i know in that game.

and through the Facebook notes (in which you’d usually tag me to also fill in), i’ve come to know more about you & your life.

from now on, whenever i fly in VF, i always feel like there’s an empty seat there next to me. a silent you, there, flying with us around the world.

because you are still silently there, in all of us.

rest in peace, Avi. have fun flying with your baby up there.
i will miss you a lot.