Book Review #01: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

2017 Book Log #01: The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
Rating: 3/5 stars


The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town, Coldwater, in Michigan that gets worldwide attention after seven people have claimed to be receiving phone calls from their departed loved ones giving them reassuring messages about the afterlife and giving them words of encouragement to go on living their lives. It is penned to be one of the greatest miracles that has ever happened in their town or perhaps the world. Is it real or is it a hoax? While everyone in town believes to have witnessed a rare miracle in town, Sully Harding, a grieving husband fresh out from jail for a crime he did not commit, thinks so otherwise. He believes that these miracles are just a fraud played by someone in town and tries to prove to his son (and more to himself) that miracles are not true and these phone calls from heaven are just man-made.

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How I Remember Us

I can no longer remember who fell asleep first. All I remember was how I laid there, burying my face into him, taking him in, everything about him— his warmth, his scent, the feel of his shirt on my face. I remember how he wrapped me in his arms, cautiously, as if I was a fragile butterfly which, in a way, I was. I remember his fingers gently stroking the back of my head, entangling with my hair that was beginning to feel sweaty.

“Everything’s going to be okay.” He whispered.

I didn’t say anything. I just stayed still, sobbing, my chest heaving with the effort of not letting a sound of hurt and despair out from my mouth. I just nestled into him, my tears flowing fast and silent, cascading in a perfect stealth. I clung into him in what seemed to be my last gesture of holding on, of fighting for us, for the love I had always believed to be true.

And with the last of my strength, I finally managed to say in a broken whisper, “Please, don’t leave me.”

He didn’t answer. But I knew he heard me because his stroking had stopped, and he held me into him closer, tighter, and by then he was crying, too.

We stayed like that for minutes, hours, I could not remember anymore. We were silent and just let the open air hung awkwardly around us because what else was there to say?

I can no longer remember who fell asleep first. All I remember was when I woke up, he was no longer there. I was left with a pillow wet from the tears we cried in the night, and a sheet that had turned cold in his absence.

And for all the memories we shared together, that was what lasted in my mind. That was how I remember us— two broken things, one was holding on, while the other was already letting go.

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An Open Letter to the Love I Let Go While I Am Still Madly in Love

Ours was a kind of love that many people will never understand. We did not fit with others’ definition of love. They might call us “crazy” and “delusional”, and maybe we really are, but what we shared was the realest and truest experience I ever had.
You were the reason why I stopped reading and chose to reside in the real world because it’s finally happier than in the books. You were the reason why I write even more because you filled me with so many beautiful words. You were the reason why I stayed up late at night because talking to you is far more desirable than getting enough sleep. You were the reason why I took all those risks because you’re worth it. You were always there for me. You became a friend. You were there to listen to all of my thoughts and to snap at me when I begin to overthink. You were always there to listen to me cry when I have problems. You were always there to remind me what’s the right thing to do whenever I got confused. You have accepted me, and loved me even in my difficult times. You were there in almost every moment of my life. You became a part of me.
You often told me how we would never really be together in the end. While that thought greatly distressed me, I know that it’s the truth. No matter what, there will come a time in the future when I am going to lose you. You have a whole beautiful life waiting ahead of you. You deserve more than what I can offer you. You deserve to have your own family which I cannot give you. I cannot take that away from you. I often imagine what kind of life would that be, and what I see deeply saddens me. Because no matter how many times I tell myself that we were never meant to be together, I still wished that it’s going to be me and you in the end.
Then came a time when you finally left me. I wasn’t prepared to let you go. Not yet. It sure feels like I was dying. And I couldn’t just die. Not yet. So I ran after you. I chase you. I practically begged you to come back. I pleaded to you. And sure enough, you did come back. But you weren’t the same anymore. We weren’t the same anymore. We were no longer the same people. You made me feel like you don’t want me anymore, that you don’t love me anymore. There was never a week that we weren’t fighting. There was never a week that I wasn’t crying. There was never a week that we won’t break up. Honestly, I lost count how many time we broke up with each other, and got back together.
I wondered what made you change. Was I not enough? Did I love you too much you were scared? My love for you was an ocean, and you never know how to swim. You were afraid of drowning in it. So you left and it is I who drowned in my own ocean of love for you. When you left, I was never the same. It feels like it’s not you I have said goodbye to, but a part of myself. You were a part of me. And without you, I am not me anymore. And that’s when I knew that I love you— truly, deeply, completely, honestly.
I still clung to that meager hope that someday, you will come back for me. I hope someday you will remember me, and the meaning I once held in your life. But right now, you were a poison to my heart, and I am chaos to your mind.
I have learned so much from us. I learned that love will never leave you hanging. Love will never make you feel inadequate. Love will never leave you doubting. Love will never have to come back for you because love will never leave you. Love will never ask you to beg for time or attention because love will give it to you freely and whole-heartedly because love knows that you deserve it and that you deserve nothing less.
I may not have enough courage to tell the whole world what I felt for you, how much I love you, but I can write how much you mean to me. You will always be the name I will whisper to the moon, as it reminds me of you— so beautiful and so far away. You will always be the love I will think of when I see a shooting star, and wishing that someday, when I see you again, my heart will finally learn how to love you even if you will not feel the same way for me again. Until then, I can only wish you happiness. I wish that you would always be happy wherever you are, my love, my king. I hope you are wishing the same for me, too.
I love you, and I am letting you go now. ☺️

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A Rose Pressed Between the Pages of a Book

I never thought I am capable of feeling this kind of pain. It seems like everything inside of me has been snapped broken, cut open, and I begin losing myself, bit by bit, pieces by pieces. I am not like this— a boy with a broken smile, a distant gaze, drowning in the cadence of his deep, muddled thoughts. No matter how I try to be my old self again, the kind of ‘me’ before you left, I just couldn’t make it. The mere act of smiling away the pain I am feeling inside is just awfully tiring. I am trying. I am honestly trying to be okay. But it isn’t just the truth. This is the truth: I am sad. I am not okay. I am dying. 


This must be how it feels like when you are dying. Everything around me passes in a blur, and is difficult to comprehend. It’s like they lost all their meaning. Or maybe my ability to see things clearly, to understand things deeply, has also left me like you did. 
I am dying. I am fading. Slowly, pieces by pieces, I am wilting, just like a rose plucked off from its stem for being so admiringly beautiful, only to be left pressed between the pages of the book, abandoned, forgotten, alone— I am withering. 
I hope someday you will remember me. When you do, open the book and find me between its pages. And when you find me, remember the scent I was once emanating, remember the color I was once glowing, remember all the reasons why you once adored me, why you once picked me. Remember who I was, and what was the meaning I once held in your life. Remember how, once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you plucked me off and took me, because you love me. 
Because you loved me. 
© Sage Brillantes, October 12, 2015, 8:10 pm


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The Last Kiss

           I first smelled his scent before I saw him. It was a scent that reminded me so much of winter—cold and unforgiving, but ruthlessly sweet. It was the same scent emanated by the shirt he left the night after we made love for the first time. And the last time. It was the scent from his shirt that had me holding on for so long a time, the only thing I had left of him. It was the same scent I breathe in as I cried and wondered where he was, and why he left without even saying goodbye. It was the same scent that taught me to let go, slowly, as it is also slowly wearing out.

          So when I smelled that same winterish scent one September night, emanated by the man who had just passed around me and took a seat on the next table to me inside McDonald’s, all of the memories that I had buried deep down came rushing to the surface. I watched him through the corners of my eyes, and through the blur I made out his familiar contour and self-possession—the way he sat haunch, like he was leaning in to listen. It was him. It was both overwhelmingly sad and relieving. After a long time, finally…

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