Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Counting My Blessings

Today is my 43rd birthday.  And despite some mishaps that would normally ruin my day, i woke up this morning with an extremely grateful attitude towards everything.  So what if the desktop computer AND my laptop decided to malfunction on the same day.  So what if my son's pet fish chose this day to pass on - these were minor bumps compared to everything that i realized i had.

Every year, when we hear mass on my birthday, we are always lucky to attend the mass being officiated by Bishop Raul Martirez.  Hubs and I both love this priest because of his charisma and his love for Mama Mary.  He would often say mass at CTK and we always found his homilies interesting and practical.  Then he was invited to our Community mass at Serviam  and he won my heart and my respect all over again.  And because my birthday also happens to be the feast of his ordination as a priest (this year is his 53rd? year) he usually celebrates one of the morning masses to give thanks as well.  

I had actually wanted an all-in-one printer for a birthday gift but i also knew that it was out of the question since it was way beyond our budget.  I was happy hubs gave me a colorful bouquet of flowers, but when the kids gave me their card and the shirt that hubs picked out for me, i was genuinely appreciative of it.  It was at that moment when I realized that I actually had everything I could ever have hoped for in these three people - Jojo and the 2 kids.  No material possession could ever top that.

This morning after the mass, my kids went up to Bishop Raul for the customary "mano". But aside from that, hubs coached Nathan into asking the bishop to give me a special blessing since it was my birthday too.  That in itself made my day already.

Aside from that, there was a friendly lolo at church who came up to us during the part where you say peace to everyone and he shook hubs' hand.  Then out of his shirt pocket, he pulled out 2 lollipops and gave them to the kids.  I found that really endearing and silently told myself that i wanted to be like that when i become a senior citizen (that sweet to the kids, but as well dressed and elegant looking as the other lady sitting in a separate pew - i bet you, you would want to look like that as well when you get to that age range.)

When i got to the office, my office cubicle was decorated with colorful balls and swirls hanging from the ceiling and a colorful banner up on the side, all courtesy of my Mother in Law and our officemates.  Now who wouldn't be touched by that?

Then came the avalanche of gifts, greetings (an overwhelming number, thanks to Facebook) from friends many of whom I have not been able to speak to or seen in so many years.  I have yet to get to all of them as of this writing as i know, there are still some greetings that I have not yet been able to acknowledge.  And before my day ended, I was greeted with the news that one of my former staff had given birth and the other had passed the bar exams - my "kids" as I fondly call them, continue to make me proud even though we no longer work together.  

43 years is a long time and while I am guilty of knowing that i have much more to give, i have received so much over the past years - much more than i ever deserve.  And this year, i believe i have received the most important gift of all - the grace to realize and accept that yes, I have been blessed, that I have no reason to complain and that I have every reason to give back.

Thank you once again to all my family and friends for remembering me on this day.  Thank you to my family for making me feel very special and well loved.  And thank you Lord, for loving me, for creating me, for blessing me, and for making me realize all these.

I know that this will be a good year and that great things are in store for me this year.  I just know it. Happy birthday, me!  Make the most of everything okay and no slacking up this time, okay? ;-)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bound Together by Misspelled Genes

How can your heartbreak for a child you've never known?  How can you feel the sadness of someone whom you've not ever met?

We are all bridged together by a threads of commonality - a single gene that has allowed us to connect in one way or another.  That misspelled gene that brought about our children's condition, is the same thread that binds us all together.

I received a Facebook friend request today from someone I did not know.  As soon as i checked her profile, a familiar face greeted me - the face of a child with Apert Syndrome.  Perhaps because of my familiarity with Nina's case and the friends i have made both here and in other places has taught me to zero out on the Apert kid merely by their facial features.  Sometimes I check the hands just to make sure, but more often than not, there is no need to do so.

I saw that that she and I had common friends from the Cranio communities and i was pleased to see that she was based in the Philippines.  I approved the friend request and added her up to the Apert Manila page that I had created as well.  A few minutes after, she sent me a private message.  And so i came to know of this pretty little girl nicknamed Ramram and her strong-willed Mama Raquel even though it was too late.

They chanced upon Nina's video on you tube.  Seeing how well she had thrived after her own surgery, they decided to bring Ram to PGH for her craniotomy.  The procedure had gone well, or so it had appeared.  But in less than 24hours, her vital signs went down and then she was gone, all too soon.  Despite the fact that she was under the care of one of the best cranio teams here in Manila, the path which they had begun to create for her came to an abrupt end.  

My heart bleeds for the parents of Ramram.   My heart bleeds for Mommy Raquel who treated Ram like her own.  I couldn't help but cry at the idea of bringing in a well child to the hospital with hopes of even making her life even better only to end up not being able to bring her home anymore, or hug her, or kiss her evenf or one last time.  I scan through the pictures of her mom's facebook account and all I see is a beautiful and angelic face.  A face no different from Nina's.  I am told that the reason they had the courage to go through with the surgery was because of Nina.  I can't help but think if things would have been much better for her if they hadn't seen the video at all.  While it seems that the Lord had other plans for Ram, the loss of such a young life is disconcerting.  The thought pains me but I know that what I feel now cannot even match half of what her parents felt when they were told of the news.

I have always favored the saying that "everything happens for a reason" but when that 'everything' happens to you, no amount of reasoning will ever be enough.  When grief and sadness envelope your whole being, everything else will come up empty.  

I know very little about this family and yet my heart believes that no matter how short she had spent her life with them, the memories they have of her will always be special.  Her presence albeit short, will change them drastically but hopefully positively, in the same way that knowing of her story has changed me over the last 24 hours.

Everything happens for a reason.  Whatever the reason may be, I pray that Ram's sacrifice of having to give up her wonderful earthly family was not in vain.  I pray that all families who are experiencing or who have experienced their own losses will find the light at the end of the tunnel.  I pray that we all learn to appreciate everything that we have, regardless if these aren't what we had hoped for.  I pray that each parent will, at the end of the day, never forget to hug their children and tell them how much they are loved.  

And to you Ram, i wish I had met you.  i wish Nina had met you because you would have become such good buddies, I'm sure.  Thank you for blessing our lives even though you are no longer around.  Thank you little angel, thank you for giving us so much in the so little time that you had on earth.  Go ahead now, flap your wings - it's time for you to fly high.  Rest in peace sweetie, your task is completed and you have done it well.

Ramram and Mommy Raquel (photo used with permission from the owner)