Saturday, July 29, 2006
But towards the end and despite my inner fears about what I was going to pray for, I went ahead and asked God "please let my baby live... give her to me whatever her condition may be, no matter how IMPERFECT she may be... I will accept her any way she is... deformed, abnormal, retarded, mongoloid....."
I was scared while I prayed, knowing the difficulties that will lie ahead if God were to answer my prayers. But I still went on and prayed and prayed and prayed.....
But God did not want me to take that road. He was leading me to another.
Then I met Kate ... an imperfect baby. She has Down Syndrome and she has a very sick heart.
Had God answered my pleas, my baby could have been one much like Kate.
The struggles of Kate's mother and father, and their desperate efforts to find help inorder to save her life, would have been mine and Nonoy's struggles.
Is it still surprising why I want to help this baby?
I can help by giving financial aid. But I am not rich. If I were one, I would not be asking for aid from various people anymore. I would just say "schedule the surgery! I will take care of everything!"
Oh God! How I wish I could say that to Kate's mother and see joy and hope coming back into her eyes!
But I can only give what little I have, and it is but a drop, an insignificant addition that will not take us any nearer to the amount that is needed for the surgery!
So I got busy writing letters, particularly to MOTHERS who have lost their own children, and who have founded charitable foundations or who have embarked in worthy causes, in remembrance of their lost ones.
I am hoping that having known the pain that comes from losing a beloved child, they will be moved into helping Kate, not only because they are mothers themselves, but also because they will have compassion and will want to spare Kate's mother from the same pain... should God forbid, Kate be lost to her.
These mothers belong to a very select club. There are very strict requirements for membership. Not even the wealthiest will be accepted without the necessary qualifications!
I wish the members of this club will close ranks against Kate's mother ... ban her from the club at all cost ... DON'T EVER ACCEPT HER AS MEMBER! Do not let her in.....
You see, Kate's mother will have to lose Kate to become a member.
Qualification: know the excruciating pain of losing a beloved child. After that, you will qualify. No other requirements needed.
I hope with all my heart that no other mother, or father, or brother or sister will ever qualify again for such groups as the Compassionate Friends and INA (Inang Naulila sa Anak).
First, I wrote to Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, who lost her beautiful son Luijoe six years ago. Her pain led her into helping others. She co-founded Compassionate Friends Philippines, a grief support group for newly bereaved parents and siblings. She led me to Mrs. Gina de Venecia and Mrs. Cathy Guballa of Migi's Corner.
I wrote to Senator Pia Cayetano who founded Gabriel's Symphony in remembrance of her son. The Foundation helps children with cleft palate and also other children with special needs.
I also wrote to Cathy Guballa who lost her son, Migi, from the same ailment that Kate has - Tetralogy of Fallot. Migi succumbed due to complications during surgery.
This is the exactly the reason why Kate's need for surgery is EXTREMELY URGENT. The older she gets, the higher the pressures in her heart's arteries would become. Correspondingly, the risk that she would succumb to the same complications that Migi probably had, would also rise.
I sent a similar letter to Give a Life Foundation in the US. It is a long shot, but who knows?
Finally, I wrote to Mrs. Gina de Venecia. I was told that she is a philanthropist. She also lost a young daughter, KC. She founded INA (Inang Naulila sa Anak) Foundation, and like Compassionate Friends, they extend emotional support to grieving mothers.
All my hopes and everything that I feel for Kate are expressed in that letter. May I post a copy of that letter here:
Dear Ma’am Gina,
I am writing to you because I need to appeal to your heart as a mother. A baby will die if she does not get a much-needed surgery as soon as possible.
Your name was mentioned to me as somebody who will not turn your back on people who are in dire need of help, particularly a helpless baby. So I got in touched with Noemi Dado, hoping that she might know of a way to contact you. She gave me your office number and that was how I got your email address.
Please spare me a moment of your time. Let me tell you about a little baby named Kate.
She is 7 months old and she has a congenital heart disease known as Tetralogy of Fallot. It basically means that she 4 defects in her heart namely: pulmonary stenosis or atresia, dextroposition of the aorta, ventricular septal defect and right ventricular hypertrophy.
It is the same ailment Migi Guballa (Migi’s Corner) had. I understand he died due to complications while in the operating table.
In layman terms, it is a critical condition of the heart wherein not only one, but both valves of the chambers of the heart have defects which causes reduced oxygenation to the blood. This condition causes the heart to work harder, eventually and inevitably leading to heart failure and worse, death.
Kate was already seen by Dr. Amatong, a well-known Pediatric Cardiologist in Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City. The doctor advised immediate open heart surgery in order to save baby Kate's life.
Ideally, the defects should have been corrected right after she was born. The longer the surgery is delayed, the riskier it is for Kate. This is because arterial pressures (the pressures in the heart) continue to rise as time passes, and once it reaches a certain level, which is very high, it would be too late for the baby. Surgery would be impossible by then.
Her parents need to raise from P400,000.00 to P500,000.00 for the operation. They can raise that by saving up, but it might be too late by then. Baby Kate’s need for surgery is VERY URGENT.
They tried to enter her as a charity patient at the Philippine Heart Center but Baby Kate was rejected. Would you like to know why? She has Down syndrome. Kate is a mongoloid baby.
WE WERE APPALLED AT THE CRUELTY OF SUCH POLICY!
I lost a child too, and that was why I found the Compassionate Friends. I was revolted at the injustice that is being heaped upon this helpless child. She has been dealt with one cruel blow after another, and on top of that, to be rejected because she is not what is considered a “normal child”?
My heart is crying for her and that is the reason why I am writing to you now, in the hope that BY TELLING YOU ABOUT KATE, you might be able to help me help her.
I was given to understand that even with the surgery, Kate might still not live beyond the age of 15 years because of her special condition. This was probably the reason children like Kate are not accepted into the Philippine Heart Center’s charity program.
We have also heard of comments like letting nature take its course, about everything being part of God’s will.
I lost a much prayed-for child, so every life is precious to me, as I suppose, it is to you Ma’am. Kate’s life is precious, no matter how imperfect she may be. She has a family who loves her just as much as we love our own healthy, perfect and normal children!
Kate deserves to live, just like any human being … just like any of God’s creations!
Silliman University (in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental) High School Batch ‘84 is helping Kate because her mother, Dinnah Guevarra Lozada, was our former classmate. Collectively and individually, old classmates and batchmates (mostly US-based and Canada-based) have been donating and soliciting from friends, family and co-workers, but the money raised so far is still a long way from the amount needed. So far, we have only been able to raise P150,000.00.
The fund-raising campaign within SUHS Batch ’84 was initiated by our classmate, Dra. Joan Davis delos Santos. She is a pediatrician based in Quezon City.
Another classmate who has been of considerable help to Kate was Lily Anne Nichols. Single-handedly, she raised more than P35,000.00 from donations given by her friends, family and colleagues.
The baby’s local pediatrician, Dra. Glenda N. Nuico, has kindly consented to the mention of her name in my endeavors to find help for Kate. She will welcome your queries should you be interested to learn more. Her clinic is in Silliman University Medical Center, Dumaguete City. Her clinic hours are from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. She can be reached in this number: SUMC TRUNKLINE: (035) 225-0841 local 125.
Ma’am, should you find in your heart the desire to help this baby in any way you can, I beg you, please do! Should you be willing to give financial aid, here is the bank account that was opened for Kate:
Metrobank – Dgte. Branch
Account Name : Dinnah Guevarra Lozada in trust for KATE GUEVARRA LOZADA
Account Number: 110-311059581-7
However, our times now being fraught with unscrupulous people on constant look-out for quick money, may I humbly ask you to verify about Kate first. That is why I have furnished you with the names and means to contact credible people who will be able to tell you more about this baby.
Kate desperately needs help. I would hate to think that whatever potential aid coming from you would be lost because of suspicion that this letter could be just another elaborate scam.
PLEASE HELP US HELP KATE. Whatever little amount you can spare will help her get a chance to live longer. We cannot just abandon her and let nature take its course! She is a human being and she deserves to live as much as we do! She too has a family who loves her as much as we love our own children.
Please help us do something right for this helpless little child. One bad thing after another has been happening to her even before she was born. Let us do something right for her. Let her feel, somehow, that her life is not just one big tragedy for all.
Thank you so much. May God bless you and your family and all your endeavors always.
Very respectfully yours,
OLGA LUCIA A. UY (SUHS Class of 1984)
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
A REASON FOR EVERYTHING
For every pain that we much bear,
For every burden, every care,
There’s a reason.
For every grief, that bows the head,
For every tear drop that is shed,
There’s a reason.
For every hurt, for every plight,
For every lonely, pain-wracked night
There’s a reason.
BUT IF WE TRUST GOD, AS WE SHOULD,
IT WILL WORK OUT FOR OUR GOOD.
For only God knows the reason.
I had a miscarriage last May 9, 2006. I lost a much prayed-for baby and I was devastated. I did not merely lose an embryo. I lost my child, and that child was as real to me, and just as loved, as my daughter Abby. I even had a name already: Maria, for a girl. MAIA would have been her nickname.
I came into terms with my grief by hanging on to the message of that poem: that there is a reason for every bad thing that happens in our lives. I needed to believe that God did not make me go through that pain for no reason at all, that there is a purpose that is bigger than my puny self. He would not give a life and take it back so soon for no reason at all! God never plays games with us.
So I embarked on a journey of discovery, searching for the meaning and purpose behind my loss. I created a blog (www.losingmaia.blogspot.com) to remember Maia, my broken bird.
I also started an advocacy for compassionate medical professionals. It appeared in this blog: http://aboutmyrecovery.com/2006/05/30/compassionate-medical-professionals-wanted/. This is part of the bigger meaning that I am searching for and I am looking forward to joining forces with another grieving mother soon. She is a doctor, and she also wants to take up the same cause.
We have all been hurt, one way or another. In those dark times, have you ever asked God: “why?” I asked that question from Him too. He has not revealed the answer to me yet, but I find comfort in believing that whatever that reason may be, it has to be for something that is ultimately good for as many people as possible!
I lost my baby. Because of that, I started writing letters to everybody. I was told that I could “write”. MetroPost noticed and I was invited in. Can you see the connection? I got this column as a consequence of my loss!
So I embraced the opportunity to write for MetroPost as part of my ongoing search for the good that must come out in exchange for my pain. A plain housewife like myself can only hope to do it by sharing my life, and whatever lessons, insights and wisdom I might have gained along the way.
For instance, I revealed that I was molested to put a face to the “survivor” of child sexual abuse. I wanted to send across the message that “if it had happened to me, then it can happen to your children as well!” And if I saved one child from losing his/her innocence through that article, then I would say that my pain has found its worth.
There are so much more that I wanted to share with you, my dear reader. Let me take this final opportunity to tell you briefly about some of them because I think that they are very important to us:
Be warned against telephone callers. Tell your helpers again and again NEVER to give away ANY information about your family. I learned my lesson the hard way. That incident could break any marriage in half.
How about those of you who visit internet cafes? Be sure to sign off. I forgot to do it once. It almost broke MY own marriage in half.
Women who are finding it difficult to have babies – don’t lost hope. Medical science can help. I was able to have a baby despite my infertility. But it will cost you a lot of money, so start making sacrifices now. You can do that. A child is worth every sacrifice in this world.
Those of you who have lost children, especially very young ones: you are not alone in your pain. Let me introduce you to the Compassionate Friends Philippines, a grief support group for newly bereaved parents. (http://compassionatefriends.info/index.php). You will find friends who will understand you because each member has gone through the same pain that you may be going through right now. Call or text Noemi Lardizabal- Dado: 0917-810-1582, or visit her blogsite - http://aboutmyrecovery.com/, or email her: email@example.com. Believe me, she will help you as she helped me. No fees, nothing. Only friends who will understand your anguish.
Then there is this little 7-month old baby who desperately needs an open-heart surgery. Through this column, I had hoped that I could reach out to the hearts of every mother and father reading this now. Some members of the SUHS Batch ’84 are racing against time trying to raise enough money to help her. Please help us help this baby. It is not too late yet. If you need to know more, please contact me at this number: 0919-225-7170.
Finally, for the wonderful people behind the MetroPost….thank you for this opportunity to write for your paper. By giving me a voice, you helped ease my pain considerably.
Let me share the poem with you. I hope to share it with our readers as well.
Take heart from its message that there is a reason for everything, especially for the difficulties that you are facing now. Hang on to your faith and believe that God is orchestrating every event that happens, and that every little occurrence will fit like a piece of a puzzle in His grand plan for all of us. You may not know God’s reasons for your troubles now, but they will be revealed to you in time. I will look forward to that time when we all have our “Ah-now-I-know” moment.
I remember a line from the movie Jurassic Park: "life will find a way". Yes, that is also true for you. A great paper like MetroPost will also find a way to go on.
This is not goodbye Metropost. We all look forward to seeing you back in the stands once again. Until next…..
Friday, July 21, 2006
This is Baby Kate Guevarra Lozada.
Let me tell you about this little girl.
She is 7 months old and she has a congenital heart disease known as Tetralogy of Fallot. It basically means that she has 4 defects in her heart namely: pulmonary stenosis or atresia, dextroposition of the aorta, ventricular septal defect and right ventricular hypertrophy.
It is basically a critical condition of the heart wherein not only 1 but both valves of the chambers of the heart have defects which causes reduced oxygenation to the blood, causing the heart to work harder and eventually would lead to heart failure and worse, death.
Kate was seen by Dr. Amatong, a well-known Pediatric Cardiologist in Perpetual Succor Hospital, Cebu City. The doctor advised immediate open heart surgery in order to save baby Kate's life.
She has to be operated on as soon as possible because once the arterial pressures (the pressures in the heart) reach a certain level which is very high, it would be totally impossible to do the surgery.
Ideally, the defects should have been corrected after she was born. The longer the surgery is delayed, the riskier it is for Kate.
My old high school classmates and I are trying to help this baby because her mother was our batchmate: SUHS Class of 1984.
She is Dinnah Guevarra Lozada and she is a staff pharmacist in the Pharmacy of Silliman University Medical Center.
They need to raise from 400T to 500T for the operation but they do not have the means to do it in time for the surgery which is urgently needed.
The cost would have been less if Baby Kate could qualify as a charity case in the Phil. Heart Center, but you see, she was rejected because she has Down Syndrome.
Apparently, the policy is to reserve slots only for otherwise normal individuals whose quality of life would be improved after the operation. It looks like Baby Kate has been categorized as not worth helping, a hopeless case. How cruel is that? Cant you feel the injustice of this policy? How sad it is for Kate who has been having one hard blow after another even before she was born.
The surgery is riskier for Kate because she is a special child. And even after such surgery, her quality of life wont be improved because she is mongoloid. But we cannot just give up on her and just wait for her heart to give out! Even a child like Kate has a right to live!
So far, our batch has raised around 150T. These are mostly donations from classmates who are abroad.
This fund-raising was spearheaded by our classmate Dra. Joan Davis delos Santos, daughter of Dr. Davis, an anesthesiologist in Holy Child Hospital . She is one great lady!
There is also another great lady who is into helping Kate wholeheartedly. Her name is LilyAnne Nichols and she is the voice in the Lifestyle channel. She is also a DJ at 923 Joey in Makati. She circulated a letter around her friends and co-employees telling them about Kate and would you believe, she raised more than 30T!!!!
Anybody out there who may also want to help this poor baby? Please ..........
He was a trusted family friend, most welcomed in our home, Daddy’s drinking buddy.
For years, I did not know the significance of the fondling that I received from him. It was our big secret, like a game. But despite my innocence, I instinctively knew that he was not supposed to do what he did, so I never forgot. It was only when I was in my teens when I realized what it was all about.
I guess some of you will be shocked by this revelation. Olga’s hanging dirty laundry in public, how shameful! There are things best kept private. She should know that!
Yes, I know all that. But then, I have no qualms about revealing this to you. Actually, I don’t have any personal hang-ups. I rationalized early on that there is no shame at being victimized. After all, it was not my fault. I did not choose to be placed into that situation. I was a young, innocent child then, and consciously, I did not even realize what exactly was going on.
But it still left an effect on me. Call me praning, but that is how I am when it comes to protecting my own daughter. She is 6 years old, around my age when I was violated. When I look at her, I marvel at her innocence and the joy and excitement with which she lives her young life each day. And I am filled with resolve to protect that innocence at all cost and for as long as possible.
After all, if it happened to me, it can happen to my daughter too. And yes, my dear reader, it can happen to your child as well.
And that is exactly the reason why I decided to write about this topic today. I hope to create an awareness among the minds of the readers – most of whom are parents, or aunts and uncles, or sister and brothers to little boys and girls out there – that this menace is all around us. Things like this do not happen only in far off places. These are not merely news stories that we see on TV each evening. These things are happening, and yes, they have happened to people we see around everyday. But more often than not, these experiences are cloaked in secrecy, because of shame and fear of the social stigma that may attach.
Personally, I know of 2 or 3 people who have had similar experiences when they were children. I know of a friend whose 4-year daughter was molested by her teen-aged nephew who lived with them. She learned about it when pus started coming out from the child’s genitalia. She also developed UTI. A few months ago, a 6-year old girl from Siaton was violated by a 14-year old boy. I was told she had blood all over her. A few days ago, right here in Dumaguete, a 4-year old girl had a similar experience. A 9-year old boy did it to her.
The victims that I cited were all girls. But do not be lulled into believing that only the girls are vulnerable to sexual predation. Little boys can become victims too. I spoke with somebody who openly admitted his preference for young boys!
Then, there was this incident in Manila, in one of the big malls there. A little boy went to the men’s room while his mother waited outside. When she started wondering what took him so long, she followed him inside. She found her child in a state of shock, with seminal fluid dripping from his mouth.
These children are fortunate that they escaped with their lives. Others are not so lucky, like the 9-year old niece of my brother-in-law’s driver. She was raped and then stabbed repeatedly. Her mother chanced upon the assailant while he was still stabbing the dead girl. It happened in Sibulan.
We should not be too trusting nowadays. The statistics are staggering: one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims of some type of sexual abuse or assault by the time they reach age 18. There are many types of child sexual abuse, from inappropriate touching, fondling, exposure to pornography, to full forced intercourse and sadistic acts. Abuse may consist of a one-time incident or an ongoing perpetration, which continues throughout childhood into teen years.
Research studies conducted in schools show that for every 3 Filipino children, one child experiences abuse (Manila Bulletin, 11 February 1996). During the first semester of 1999 alone, there were 2,393 children who fell prey to rape, attempted rape, incest, acts of lasciviousness and prostitution (DSWD 1st semester, CY 1999 – Statistics are not from Dumaguete).
Most cases of child sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: a parent, a sibling, another relative, a family friend, a neighbor, a teacher, a member of the clergy.
Some victims still live under the dark cloud of secrecy, unable to reveal their painful experiences. Because of this, they may go through life carrying feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, anxiety, fear, or may have issues of trust, safety, and self-esteem. They may become angry, hostile, suicidal, may turn to drugs or alcohol, act out sexually, or engage in other high-risk behaviors.
So I am still praning? Ok, fine, call me praning. If fact, go ahead and call me neurotic, OA (over-acting) too, or overprotective, even hyper-protective! You're welcome to help me find more words to describe me, I cannot think of any more right now :-) I will accept any label on my person. If that’s what it takes to protect my child, then so be it.
So dear parents, do take a moment to reflect on how safe your children really are from these predators, be it in your homes, or in their schools, or even in friends' or relatives' houses. Are you too trusting? For instance, do you have a yayo rather than a yaya taking care of your young one? I remember a story a few years ago about a girl right here in Dumaguete City who was abused by her yayo. He used to watch pornographic films in their neighbors’ house.
Do you have male employees in your household? Are your children allowed to go outside your home unaccompanied by an adult?
My daughter has a yaya although she does not need one anymore. Her role is chiefly to keep her company, whether inside or outside our home. She is not required to do anything else while my daughter is with her. She has my orders, never leave Abby’s side, ever. I briefed her thoroughly about the reasons. Abby has strict instructions as well - never to leave our house unaccompanied. This is notwithstanding the fact that our home is surrounded by a high fence and the gates are always closed. You see, we have male workers and that is what’s freaking me out.
In her school, I insisted that the children should be accompanied by an adult whenever they had to leave their classroom to visit the restroom. Another parent suggested that all unused rooms should be kept locked.
That is not all. I told you, I am praning when it comes to this subject. But this article is becoming too long already.
We should be perpetually vigilant when it comes to protecting our children. Not only should we concern ourselves with their physical well-being, but more importantly perhaps, we should strive to keep their mental, emotional and psychological integrity intact.
After all, that oh-so-sweet and precious innocence will be theirs for so brief a time only. Once it is lost, it will stay lost forever. Let them enjoy that for as long as possible. We owe that to them.
Monday, July 17, 2006
But before leaving our home, I hurriedly keyed in the words “taking abby hospital admit said nuico” into the computer and sent the message via email to my husband’s ship.
I mentioned having sent that message because it sets the tone of my topic today: of me being an “OFW Wife” - a figurative single parent. My husband is a seafarer, and he is away from us ten months out of each year. Although he frequently calls us, and we keep in touch almost daily by email and SMS, his participation as father virtually boils down to one thing most of the time: getting informed of what has happened, what is happening, or what is about to happen.
Therefore, as both papa and mama to Abby, I am practically alone as I celebrate the joys of watching her grow and develop. Similarly, I am equally alone in my daily struggles of raising her, with all its accompanying pains, worries and difficulties. I am both mother and father in one package! The single parent.
At the hospital, while I waited for the doctors to attend to my sick child, a feeling of déjà vu came over me. Me, sick Abby, yaya …… Why! We’ve been in this exact same situation countless times before!! Just the three of us and always late at night.
I remembered those times when I used to watch with envy as other sick children came in lovingly attended to by both mother and father …
In moments such as those an intense yearning would come over me, a longing so fierce it would actually manifest itself as a physical pain on my chest, and I would find myself thinking, “how I wish Nonoy was here.”
If only I could find the words to convey my sense of utter helplessness and exhaustion then, when I longed for my husband’s presence, to have his shoulder to lean on … just to be able to worry only of what mamas usually worry about when their babies become sick … when I could just be the mama and not mama and papa rolled into one … when I could stop being the boss, manager, planner, organizer, CEO – and just let go of the rein and have my husband take control……
In the difficult days that followed, I mulled over my life as an “OFW wife”. I must admit that it has its benefits. My husband being a dollar earner, we are blessed in the sense that we do not have to worry over our daily financial needs. It has its rewards as well. I used to travel with Nonoy before our daughter came. Then, at the age of two, Abby became a seasoned world traveler and “seagirl”. There were summers when we joined her father on his ship and sailed with him for months, visiting various countries and having adventures that would not have been available to us, had our lives been different.
We do not have money in abundance, but we have enough to give us a very comfortable life. With the money that my husband is sending home, I can send my daughter to any school I deem best for her or allow her to travel around Dumaguete in ease and comfort, spared from the sun’s heat or the rain’s chill. With his earning capacity, we now have a home we can proudly call our own and within its walls, we enjoy all the physical comforts that his income brings.
Personally, I am enjoying all the benefits as well. For instance, I can have as many household helps as I want. I do not have to lift a finger when it comes to doing the daily chores. I can watch TV until dawn if I want to! That’s because I do not have to worry about getting up early for work! I love to bake and experiment with cooking. Thankfully, I have the means to pursue this hobby.
Basically, part of the benefits of the “OFW Wife” is to HAVE CHOICES. For instance, my being a HOUSEWIFE is a choice. My husband’s income being sufficient for our needs, I have the option whether to work or not. I can choose to pursue a career in law and live a life outside my home or just be a simple housewife and devote my time and attention to caring for my child. I can choose to be my child’s primary caregiver or entrust her to the care of some other woman. I can choose to have her driven around by other men whose physical, mental and psychological condition may be questionable, or drive her myself and thus maximize her safety. I can choose to have her eating cold lunch at school, or bring hot meals to her every time.
I am always thankful to God for giving me the luxury of choice. No day ever passes when I do not appreciate the life that has been given to me by the Lord Almighty. But the life of the “OFW wife” is not rosy at all. It has its downside, and the depth and magnitude of the emotional, psychological, mental and physical difficulties brought about by this “other side” far outweighs all the benefits, which at best, are merely material in character.
There is a flip side to every coin. In the same manner, the benefits that I am enjoying come with its particular brand of “curse”, if I may call it one. The fact that I am able to enjoy all these means that I have to enjoy them alone. Yes, I am literally alone as I live my life day after day.
There is this emptiness in our family that no amount of material benefits could ever fill in. Only women who are similarly situated as I am can empathize when I write about this enveloping sense of loneliness that follows me everywhere, perpetually present behind my smiles and laughter as I go about living my life. Way beyond the physical aspect of a married couple’s life, this aloneness manifests itself in ways as simple as not having Nonoy to talk with about everyday trivial matters, or share jokes and laugh with, or even quarrel with, or not having this loving father to share my amazement with, when our child would do an “Ahhh” moment.
There are so many things that married couples take for granted in each other, and more often than not, they get to realize this and appreciate its significance in their lives, only when one is absent. The fact alone that one has somebody to share life’s daily burdens with is a blessing that should be acknowledged by every husband and wife in each other.
But one learns to cope, as I learned to cope with my life as a “husbandless wife and mother”. I tried to be strong in my chosen role as “ma-pa”, and most times, I do rather well. But there would come times when my heart would crave for my husband’s strong and cheerful presence, when what I wanted more than anything else was to depend on someone else for a change, where I do not have to be the boss anymore.
This desire becomes more evident during difficult times, like when our daughter would become ill, when I have to be strong despite my inner turmoil, when I have nobody to share my fears and anxieties with, when I become exhausted and I do not even have a shoulder to lean my weary head on.
When people talk of one’s spouse being a partner, I would agree wholeheartedly. A husband is truly a partner in every sense of the word, to share everything with, in good times and in bad ……
One can’t help but ask: is all that money worth this lonely struggle? For myself, it is not. I know how to enjoy the benefits that money brings. I will not deny that. But honestly, I can do away with that and will happily choose to enter another struggle arena, but with my husband by my side.
But then, I would look at Abby and ask what about her? We owe her the best life possible. We owe her all the opportunities that we could make available to her. After all, she did not come to us by accident. We asked God for her and we solicited the aid of modern science to be able to have her. Without the dollars her father is earning, she will not be able to enjoy the same privileged life she is having now.
So this takes us back to where we started. About making choices. This time, Nonoy and I choose to go on with our lives as it is now, because we deal with the hard realities of life today, and we have Abby’s best interests in our hearts. In the meantime, we make sacrifices and try to be strong during difficult times.
And this is something that we share in common with all other OFW families – deal with the hard fact that a better life can be had only if one parent will leave for abroad, and for all the rest to make sacrifices, and accept that separation and loneliness are the price that have to be paid for the chance to have a better life and a better future.
We also share common goals, hopes and aspirations – finish constructing our homes, buy a car, save up enough to send the children to college, save up enough to start a business that can hopefully sustain us in the future, and then look forward to that time when Papa, or Mama for that matter, will not have to leave, and the family will be whole again.