Here is the heartrending and inspiring story of a mother whose life’s journey with her family, of losing a son, finding a cure for a daughter’s illness, and her very own medical challenges finds comfort and solace in her increasing faith in God in spite of her insurmountable sorrow.
PUBLISHED ONJan 2019
Faith and trust! These words are often said when one succumbs to the trials and tribulations. It is the only thing we can do and it gives one a reason to live and continue with life, going through the unknown, through the fears and tears.
I grew up in a family that put God as a priority. Being exposed to people who were religious with a strong Catholic faith, it helped mold my inner being.
Going to mass was a priority, rosaries, Angelus, novenas, etc. were common in our household.
Mind you, I will not say I am a saint nor would I say I am not a sinner. But what would illumine more, is my constant fear of God and my belief of life after. Heaven is where we all hope to be, where there is complete peace and joy, where we will be with our Creator eternally! If we fall short of expectations, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to put us back in track together with the other sacraments.
I married in my early twenties and had three children, two boys (Martin Gabriel “Jibby” and Jose Miguel “Miguel”) and a girl (Camille Marie Anne “Camille”). We were happy together in our home as they were all growing up. They were my pride and joy.
Pain In Life
Life did not spare me from pain. After my third child, I lost the fourth, a four month old fetus in my womb. But by God’s design I became pregnant again after six years.
That fateful day seemed like a normal family Sunday. We all went to mass and had Sunday lunch together. After tutoring Miguel, my second son, my husband, Nardy and I, left to visit my late mother-in-law at Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina, where she was laid to rest.
We offered flowers, prayers and supplications for all our pending concerns, asking for answers. After our errands were done, we arrived at home in time for dinner. As we alighted from the car we heard something burst and it seemed quite eerie. We checked around the car and found nothing. Inside the house, after a while, as it took me longer to go in as I was five months with child, I heard my husband in a loud moaning shout which I never heard before, “Miguel, Miguel!”
I found my son Miguel lifeless in a pool of blood! We immediately rushed him to the hospital! By the grace of God, I was able to coordinate everyone in the family to assist in any way, in the hospital, and at home to take care of my elderly parents and my daughter Camille.
Losing A Son
We asked for answers for our pending problems but this was not the answer we were expecting at all.
Miguel survived four days in a coma but on the fourth day he succumbed to an irreversible coma. We donated his kidneys to a nurse and a policeman. But now when I think of it, given a different scenario of what could have been, and God asked me, “If not Miguel, which of your two remaining children would you choose?” None of course! Would we have preferred a financial problem, and our family will still be whole? If Miguel stayed on, could I promise the Lord that he will be a good son, sibling or friend, and not turn into an addict or a wayward child? Or if God takes me or my husband, how would our children survive without us?
We then try to learn to accept what the Lord allows to happen in our lives and learn the lesson He is trying to convey. It is difficult to comprehend, how much more to accept. It is like water without a container, one has no control as it has no knowledgeable direction of flow, like a wind that could be felt but not seen yet one knows it is there.
When and if you know that the end of life is finite, an appointed time, I am pretty sure you will wallow in material wealth, drink to your hearts' content, binge or whatever. I learned to be compassionate and love everyone as it if was the last day every day, so when the Lord decides to take us, there are no regrets. We need to learn to accept any trial that comes our way, but preferably to gain more merit, accept it with joy in our heart.
The void and emptiness can be temporarily filled with family and friends. But there is that longing deep within that only God can fill and give us peace. To ease my pain, I united my heart with that of the Blessed Mother Mary for she knows the pain of losing a son which was ripping my heart. I know her pain is much greater than mine. It was constant prayer, constant soaking in the Adoration Chapel, sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament that lightened the burden. I cried and cried, and they say tears remove the toxins in our bodies and helps us heal.
There is a tinge of envy when I see families whole, and happily bonding together. How would our family be if Miguel was still here? By now, will he have a wife and children of his own like my other children? Reality sets in and you know that it isn’t so, and that where he is, is a better place, none of us will ever know, none of us can perceive it to be, till we are called.
It was a hard climb. When I see places Miguel has been to, I cry. I see his favorite food, I cry. I see his friends, I cry. As the days turned to months and months to years, the void was still there and the feeling got heavier. The vacuum he left was tough to fill. I tried to be busy taking care of the family, my little food business and attending church activities. I always remind my family, I can withhold my passions but not my service to the church, as it gives me consolation. It gives me relief in serving the Lord. It helps me heal.
Our journey of twenty-four years was a series of spiral movements of daily life. After Miguel’s demise, four months after, I delivered a beautiful angelic baby girl we call Ma. Andrea Ysabel “Andrea.”
But soon after, about two weeks, we found out she has two congenital heart defects, ASD (Atrial Septal Defect) and PS (Pulmonary Stenosis). I had thought we had gone through the worst of losing a child, thinking that it will be a continuous climb to happiness. I had just lost one child, I cannot afford to lose another! So I asked for more strength and courage to face the inconceivable reality of a child going ahead of a parent!
When Miguel died, God closed the door and when Andrea was born He opened a window. But when she was found to have heart defects, that same window closed! We may lose another child in her! Everything was new to us and we had to learn how to deal with Andrea.
We rarely brought her out for fear of contracting even the simple cough and cold because it can affect her heart condition. We bathed her with mineral water, air conditioning 24 hours a day, sterilized everything that came in contact with her. In short we were paranoid! But God was good. He tore down the roof to get to us and we had a successful Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery for Andrea at age six.
Those early years of Miguel’s demise were the darkest moments in our lives. The light beyond the tunnel seemed to move away. It was like being inside a sphere and one is shaken, left, right, up and down, no direction and there seemed no way out! How I cried and no one heard me. No one knew of my pain, as the pain was so immense I could not shake it, not even let anyone have a share of it, for they might not be able to take it, not even to wish it to one’s enemy. So I held back and left it within the confines of my heart. I was broken deep within my soul!
We moved South, to free us of some reminders of Miguel in our home then. So we could move on, so to speak. My husband said he found the place of my dream, a long driveway with trees along the way until our house. That was at Hillsborough Alabang Village. Yes there were trees that lined the main roads, (Hahaha! It did not belong to us but the subdivision). So, we built our Camelot. This was the only house Andrea knew, since she was barely a year old when we moved. It was a blessed, happy home.
My husband and I had just moved to Hillsborough, about two weeks, when we were asked by a neighbor if we were willing to be part of the Chapel Committee, together with eight other couples, in creating a House of Prayer for Hillsborough which later became the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel to Chaplaincy to a Quasi-Parish.
Now it is the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A new church was built to accommodate the growing parishioners. Our little church was reverted to a chapel, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which gave birth to our parish church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus! We continued our lives with our growing family, with the neighborhood and serving in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Church, me as Lector and Commentator, Nardy as Eucharistic Minister of Holy Communion.
A Trauma Revisited
The latest journey of our lives happened early this year. On Easter Sunday, I was found on the floor unconscious, in a pool of blood. I passed out and fell just outside the guest bathroom of my son’s house, just like how my husband and daughter saw Miguel. A trauma revisited!
I was hospitalized and was found out I had an 80% blockage of my main coronary artery. The doctors needed to do an angioplasty and one stent was placed in the main artery of my heart. Now, after the stent, I have a new lease in life! I am good as new! And God allowed me to fall for a reason, for me to have myself checked up by the doctor. That led to the doctors checking on what caused me to fall and that was another story. When I thought all was taken cared off, it wasn’t.
A day after I was discharged from the hospital, I was brought back to the emergency room. I lost about 750cc of blood as it gushed out from the pinprick on my stomach. I had to see a hematologist who told me I had a blood disease called polycythemia vera, an oversupply of red blood cells. So I had to undergo phlebotomy (blood-letting) weekly in order to remove 500 cc of excess blood to normalize my hematocrit and hemoglobin. So the 750cc of blood I lost was a blessing in disguise! The Lord took care of blood-letting as I did not know then that I had a blood disease, which was the culprit for my 80% blockage. How the Lord works in mysterious ways.
There is no cure but there is a solution! Thankful to the Lord for all the blessings He has given, big or small. One may not understand what the Lord does, but it is always for a reason. They say I have a mission to fulfill for the second lease in life afforded me by God. So I am waiting and open to God’s direction.
With my condition, a new journey was embarked. My husband decided to sell the house. The reason was to downsize as we are nearing to be empty nesters, we do not need a big house! Back to basics, simple living.
I cried as I have never cried before because our happy home was up for sale. The Hillsborough home I referred to as my Camelot, my Shangri-la, where I found new peace in my heart after Miguel’s demise, will soon be gone. One will understand the pain of my not wanting to leave. The home which nursed my wounds, the friends and neighbors that brought back laughter in my heart, and the Church which gave me strength, I now will have to leave behind!
One thing I have always done, in all the trials and tribulations, I never, even in my wildest dream or even a second in my life, turned my back on God! I always asked Him to give me double the strength, the courage, the understanding, the wisdom, and the discernment and the knowledge, so my puny mind may come to know and understand His divine will. I constantly fuse with Him that we may be one, that in everything I do, I am doing everything in His holy will. Sometimes I say “Bring it on but be with me Lord!”
But life has to go on, saying good-bye to what has been and saying hello to a new life in a new environment in the future. At this point, we still do not know where the Lord is taking us. But I know it will be a place God has appointed for us and we will come to love it as we make it a new home.
In my visit to the Adoration Chapel, as I sat before the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord said to me, “Do not be sad leaving your home, this is where your home is, where My Heart is, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus! All for the Glory of God!”