I met Cristina through Tita Aida, a very close friend of mine back in the Philippines. She and Tita Aida belonged to the same church and when Cristina and her husband, Walter, visited the Philippines, Tita Aida gave her our e-mail address.
Our friendship began with an email on October 10, 2007. I was then living in Hawaii and so were Cristina and Walter. We met for the first time on November 3, 2007 and instantly became good friends. Cristina and Walter were one of the nicest couples I have ever met. They easily made me feel at home, and on our first meeting, I felt like we've known each other for a long time.
Cristina was a Godly, soft-spoken, down-to-earth, refined lady. I consider her heaven-sent because she came into my life during one of my lowest moments. She was a friend who gave me spiritual and emotional strength.
My most memorable moments with Cristina were our afternoon walks at Kakaako Park in Honolulu where we would talk about our struggles and challenges in life and then pray together. I very much appreciated it when my friends Joehyda, Daisy and Marlene would pray for me and I was happy that I found a friend like Cristina who was a very prayerful person, too.
Cristina kept a prayer journal and she would constantly tell me that she was praying for me. That always gave me a feeling of reassurance.
I still vividly remember one of my afternoon visits to their boat. We were sitting together at the deck waiting for the sun to set and she asked me about my thoughts on dying and how we can explain to a dying person, one who is in pain, about why a merciful and loving God would allow this to happen. I would always tell her that even though there are things that we cannot explain or understand, we should trust in the Lord because He has a good reason for everything that happens to His children.
at the deck of Chaton de foi
Cristina had also her goofy side. One time we were at Macy's at Ala Moana Center looking for stuff to buy for our S.Os. While going around the store, I kept pulling the loose threads on my skirt until the hem totally unraveled. She came to my rescue with her huge safety pins and told me I could pass for a punk in a skirt.
Cristina and I shared a love for food. We would explore exotic restaurants and try new dishes. She was not a big eater so we would usually share a plate of pasta dish from one of those quaint restaurants we found near Ala Moana or a slice of chocolate cake. We liked going to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to try their flavored iced tea. I also loved the food she and Walter would prepare for us when we visit their boat, like the kebabs we had for dinner at the deck. She made even the simplest food delectable, although she claimed Walter makes the best pasta.
Cristina was a simple and humble Christian who wanted to serve in the hospice; she was also a well-travelled lady who spoke good French.
photo taken by Walter
One time I got a call from her and she told me about the pain she felt in her stomach. She was crying on the phone and I felt bad because I could not do anything much.
Sometime in March, 2008, she had to leave for New York for an emergency medical check up because of what they suspected to be stomach ulcer. She came back with bad news: she was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
A couple of days after they came back to Honolulu, we met again for dinner on July 12, 2008. A week or so after, she and Walter left Honolulu to continue her treatment in the mainland. That was the last time I saw my dear friend, Cristina.
our last dinner together
last photo I took of her inside Chaton de foi
On October 15, 2008, she passed away at the age of 47 at the Hospice of Dayton, Ohio.
photo taken at the hospice
Today, Cristina would have turned 48.
Thank you for the friendship, Cristina - my angel and my prayer warrior.