“I had lots of work to do, had a not-so-open-minded boss, had no money, just can’t simply leave for a week untraced”; “I’m busy” and many other excuses resonating on my mind are making me hesitate to push through with going to this trip. Although I badly wanted to go, there’s a huge need for… Read More »BATAAN, Philippines: Traveled for HEALING and FINDING MYSELF
Christmas just came last Monday and the start of another year is fast approaching. For Filipinos like my wife and I, it’s like the longest season of the year.
As soon as what we call the “Ber” months starts (September, October, November, December), we start counting the days before Christmas. Buildings and houses are decorated with dazzling lights and colorful lanterns; various parties are being organized and; sumptuous feasts are being prepared at every place where it is being celebrated. Gifts are also being given and like the usual, my wife and I received only few clothes given by some of our relatives. Adulting huh? LOL!
Well, it doesn’t end on the 25th of December. After it, fireworks are starting to be lit on different places to celebrate the coming of another year. Indeed, it could be the most wonderful time of the year.
I would honestly say yes… and no at the same time. While it was indeed my favorite time of the year, this year’s holiday season will never be the same as before. For two different reasons: a great and a not-so-great one.
It’s already been a year since my wife and I got married. But it’s the first time that we’ll be spending the Christmas and New Year together so it’s somehow special for us. The magic of excitement is there. Lots of plans are already in our minds months back: the Christmas parties that we’ll be attending, the foods that we’ll be preparing, gifts, decorations for the place that we currently live, etc.
Surprisingly, here’s the plot twist:
There’s supposed to be the three of us spending the days of this season: attending our extended families’ holiday reunions and posing ourselves in front of the lens for our mandatory annual Christmas and New Year photo shoots. But because of what happened to our family, things were changed and some plans were cancelled. We honestly even lost our motivation to attend events involving our relatives: weddings, birthdays, and even organized reunions knowing that there are lots of things that remind us of our loss (either pregnant women or children who share the same age as our daughter).
Also, we wanted to shut ourselves off for a while from people whom instead of helping us recover from our loss, would inflict more of their toxicity on us. Those unsolicited, selfish, and unsympathetic advises. I’m honestly disappointed hearing those things especially from people we expect to understand us. I have some receipts (screenshots) yet for their sake, I decided to set them aside and to not disclose any names. Here are some their statements thrown at us upon being honest about the pain that we’re going through since day one. Non-verbatim:
- “Just move on.”
- “Are you saying you’re envious?”
- “I respect that you lost your baby. But why do you shut yourselves off from other people?”
- “Do you expect the other people to be always grieving with you?”
- “Reality check, you’re not the only people in this world”
- “What you’re doing is wrong.”
- And the list goes on…
I honestly thought that I’m done writing something about our dear Zane given that I wasn’t able to write something about her last month. But the holiday season suddenly hit me like a fast-approaching truck. I learned from reading some blogs that holidays, parties, dates, anniversaries are huge grief triggers and I was able to confirm it.
It was never my intention to write rants with my daughter’s name as a title. In fact, I’m looking forward for the day that I’ll be able to write something that says how joyful we are, some positivity, some praises to God, and the like.
Honestly, I still can’t… for now
It’s hard to fool myself… or other people that I’m already positive about it when in fact we’re still crying each time we remember her, the painful hospital days, the what-ifs, etc. I decided to not provide full details on it especially I’ve been writing about these on my previous blog posts. But I think there’s something that we realized in which all people around us needs to know:
There’s definitely a new set of “normal” for us.
I will reiterate what I said above that “our view of holidays were different from before.” Another similar but much more significant statement would be “our lives were never the same as before.” We’re trying to figure out how to adapt and overcome this new “normal” in our daily lives: the scar, the triggers, the cries, even the difficulty in interacting with people. Like what I usually say, it’s honestly easier said than done.
I think I can compare our lives now to a ceramic plate that broke but glued altogether. We know that we somehow managed to fix it. Still, the cracks and the marks will always be there.
Even visiting graves, particularly our daughter’s grave this holiday season, became a new normal for us. My wife and I visited it twice and might be going thrice this season; to think that we’re not even used to visiting our late relatives’ grave except during All Saints’ Day. Most people will never understand why except those who lost their loved ones or immediate relatives. But for those who did understood us, I’m grateful.
Up to date, we’re still broken.
Our lives were still broken. But, I know it will still be beautiful. I just can’t say now. Eventually, we can say it soon enough. Going back to the broken plates, I suddenly remember way back 2015 when Filipina actress Jodi Sta. Maria spoke to our church and opened up something about Kintsugi, a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with adhesive mixed with gold or silver. This kind of art also had a philosophy of making the ugly cracks part of its history rather than trying to hide it. Overall, the broken was in due time, turned into beauty.
Similarly, we can’t hide our scars; but God can still make it beautiful.
One more thing.
We’re not able to attend one of the two planned extended family reunion this month out of necessity to attend a friend’s wedding in Pampanga. Although on the back of our minds, we’re not really sure if we wanted to go there. Another thing was, we arrived back home at 11 PM and we need to sleep early to serve at church the next day. Thus, causing rift with some of our relatives.
But despite of much larger hesitation, much more triggers, and the like; my wife and I we’re able to make it to the other one. Albeit we’re not as happy, not as interactive, nor cooperative as before; and there are some people that were still careless on what they’re saying, I think this can be a little great improvement for us.
Well, as the year end, there are things that were beautiful and things that… were not. If there is one thing that could describe this year for us, that would be bittersweet. But I’m trying to teach ourselves that every thing will hopefully get better next year.
Belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Advanced Happy New Year for EVERY ONE!
Most of our thoughts revolved around these phrases each day:
“She’s supposed to be born this month.”
Yes. Apparently, October is her supposedly due month. But this marks the 3rd month of our daughter being born… in heaven.
Anytime now, we’re supposed to go home from the hospital carrying our bundle of joy in our arms. Instead, we go home empty-handed and feels defeated in life. My wife being back to work instead of this month just being the start of her maternity leave. Also, instead of buying cute dresses and onesies like what usual parents do, we’re buying flowers and candles then visit the place where she was buried. That it’s us who ended up crying instead of just hearing her cry.
If Marvel Zane would’ve lived 3 months ago, maybe we’ll see her grow up. We’ll know whom she really looked like (I can say she got my good looks… LOL!). Also, maybe she can see and recognize us already. If she wants to be snuggled, she’ll start looking for her dada; and if she needs food, she’ll look for her momma (LOL!). After that, she may also know how to smile and laugh or start learning how to crawl. Now I wonder how it feels like seeing her that way?
Sad to say that I’ll never know it.
That I’m going to live the rest of my life wondering about these “what-ifs” and will never know the answer. That life of asking the question “of all people, why us?” or even “did we do something wrong?” while desperately wanting to know the answer right away. I know that it’s wrong to think this way, but I sometimes wonder if God is really there for us?
I know that I’ve been oversharing a lot about it on this blog.
Now, this is the third installment of how we’re going through this loss. There are times wherein I’m already out of words to say. But for me, writing here is the only way to document “where we are right now” in this aspect of our lives (my wife and I) in similar manner as when we’re travelling.
If you’d read all my (our) travel adventures, you know that I also include all our misadventures along the way. That’s how honest I am when writing. It’s a little absurd actually, but hey! It works.
I’ve actually read a blog post from Pam Marasigan about living the life after a child loss. Imagine a horizontal line being drawn going to the right. This is us trying to live our “normal lives” as other people sees us. But suddenly triggered and reminded of our loss then the line goes down to the lowest point possible yet still going to the right. We try putting our lives back on track then suddenly go down because we remembered it again.
To describe how it is, it is worse… but life still goes on.
Some people usually sees us and is expecting us to get back to that horizontal and normal life.
Yet, it seemed like it’s getting worse each day.
There are days wherein we get triggered by insensitive people at our respective workplaces. Some talk about their living children around us (or myself) when it feels like they’re just rubbing our loss on our faces. Others are also being reckless about what they’re saying to us: emphasized that we don’t have our child at home like what happened to us was a great thing in the first place.
I fully understand that the only people who really cared about our Marvel Zane are us. That at the end of the day, only us, her parents had connection to her. My wife in much more particular given that she carried our daughter for six (6) months. But what’s making me cringe more is the fact that we had to grieve faster as what they expect of us given that “life goes on.”
Thus, giving us thoughts of leaving this place for good.
There are days wherein we just want to migrate to another country to start a new life and leave all toxic people here. To go at a place where people seemed to not know us. Or maybe we need a new environment to grow. We’re longing for a moment wherein a country will offer my wife and I opportunities to work and live there. Sometimes we just want to go back to Sydney and stay there for good. Maybe not Sydney, as long as far away from here; we’re good.
Needless to say, we’re fully aware that no matter place we go, if we have this wounds, then we’ll still feel the same way. So we’re just doing our best to commit ourselves in staying on this place with the same people we want to leave. In case that we’re destined to go to another country, then we’ll take our peace with us.
Still, we decided to never back down.
Although honestly, our child loss also starting to take toll on our marriage. It started to affect all plans that we had in our minds. Also, my wife and I started fighting and quarreling against each other when in fact, it’s us who should be contending for each other. Each day is becoming much more complicated that it affected our intimacy with each other.
After all these bone-wrecking moments, we’re still standing and surviving.
In the past, we had much worse quarrels which almost lead to break-up. But, we decided to keep it going like our usual choice through the years of being together.
We believe that we’ll get through this.
As what Pastor Chad Veach said during the Saturday worship service we attended in Hillsong Sydney, “We need to be committed on staying rather than leaving.” Also, as what my Pastor Nolan said last Sunday on our evening service, “If everything seems to not going right, we need to keep going.”
So it’s really a huge help that my wife and I had dinner with our pastors: Nolan and Jay to talk about us attending some counselling sessions. Also, we look forward on the day that there would be less crying for us; less fear and anxiety.
That all these shall be replaced by joy.
Days have passed since my wife Quennie and I came home from our holiday trip to Taiwan (technically not a holiday) and poof… we’re already in Sydney, Australia. Our few days in Manila were dedicated to packing up for an 8-day trip and myself working again (for two days.. LOL). I thank the LORD that we’ll spend less here especially that our finances kinda ran out during our previous trip. It was my parents and my youngest sister whom are originally planning to go here but decided to tag us along. Even though I’m not fond of depending on my parents especially that I’m married, for the love of travelling, I gave it a yes for me and my wife. Anyway, my sister whom is based in Auckland, New Zealand will also come in Sydney with her partner. So this trip will also serve as a mini-reunion. On the other hand, Quennie shall be reporting back to work as soon as 2nd week of October so why not enjoy the rest of her leave.
I know some people will tell us that we’re “living the life” or “enjoying.” Who would’ve thought that we’re going to have a back-to-back overseas trip including our recent Palawan trip (which is intended for work actually)? Even I never thought about it myself. They might also conclude that we’re “moving on with our lives” or will say that they envy us. Some people are even mocking my wife just using her maternity leave “for fun and leisure.”
But in all honesty, I feel bittersweet about it.
Yes, it may be true that in a certain way, we’re indeed… “living and enjoying” our lives. That our life right now may be what other people are dreaming of. Still, there’s much more than what they see us posting on our (my wife and I) respective facebook and instagram accounts. More than us booking tickets and flying (or driving) to different places.
Our hearts are still hollow and wounded.
Apparently, our feeling of being at an abyss after losing Marvel Zane is still there. Our series of crying, frustrations, anger, sadness, and sometimes sleepless nights seemed so endless. The feeling that we envy other parents whom also just gave birth, heard their respective children cry, and took them home; same with parents who just conceived and having a seemingly normal and enjoyable pregnancy. Starting from celebrities and public figures up to our relatives and friends. Seeing them go to their homes happy with their respective children while my wife and I go home, robbed and left with nothing but…
Quennie’s physical scars
Stretch marks, post-partum bleeding, post-partum depression, auto lactation (I don’t know if this is the right term), and others are the usual symptoms that manifests on pregnant women after giving birth which lasts for up to more than six weeks. These things are going worse if you don’t have your child with you. Kindly include the elders who believes in set of rules and superstitions for pregnant women to avoid a sickness which is called “binat” in Filipino. We comply out of respect but believes that no matter how many of these superstitions we happily follow, it will not bring our child back.
My permanent tattoo
I heard someone from a certain movie saying “tattoos are like scars.” Indeed it is.
Immediately after Quennie was discharged from the hospital, the first thing that I did was to get inked. My original plan was to only have a large Q on my ring finger since my wedding ring is too loose on my pinky and too tight on my ring finger. But after my child died, I have her name and her birthday inked underneath my collarbone. She may be nameless in the eyes of the other people, but for my wife and I, she’ll always be Marvel Zane. This also served as my visible scar after I lost her. The process was indeed painful but nothing compared to when that unfortunate happened.
Set of hospital bills
Quennie and I lost a huge fraction of our savings to pay her hospital bills, follow-up check ups, and her prescribed medicines. All our joint bank accounts went lower than its maintaining balance. We’re pressured trying to return the money on its amount before all this happened. I thought: “It would be more worth it if we have our daughter with us.” There are also instances wherein I wonder if did we missed our tithe even just once that these things would happened to us. Indeed, the famous saying “when it rains, it pours” were proven.
Pulled-out wisdom tooth and its after-pains
I have impacted wisdom tooth located both the leftmost and the rightmost part of my jaw. Even before my baby died, my dentist is already asking me to have it removed through surgery but to no avail. My hard-headed self doesn’t want to do it. Why? First, it involves money. Second, I’m so busy and I don’t have time.
This went on until just earlier last month when my toothache starting to attack more often. After experiencing a lot of my wife’s scolding, I hesitantly agreed to have it removed. We hired her dentist friend to perform the surgery. After two long hours of trying, the left tooth was indeed successfully removed. But the pain after the anesthesia was removed is indeed unbearable along with the hassle of swelling cheek and frequent changing of tissue to clot the blood on my mouth. Thinking that the pain should’ve stopped already after the operation, I constantly tell my wife during those time of pain “Dying would be much easier” which angers her. Pain lasted for more than a week. We decided to schedule the removal of the other tooth after our trip.
Days after I booked our Taiwan stay thru AirBnB and weeks before our trip, I lost my wallet. I can’t find it at home so probably it got lost somewhere when we went out. There’s no money inside but all my IDs (Driver’s License, Supermarket ID, etc.) and credit cards were. The frustration of experiencing the hassle of reapplying for all my IDs and credit cards suddenly shot up. The pain of trying to find it knowing that it won’t show up anymore. I started venting out to God: “I lost my child, now I just lost my wallet.” That time, I don’t know what to do. We don’t know what to do.
Permanent life of longing for our child
Amy Elzy of facebook page Never Forget Lily Grace said that “Once you lose a child, there are constant reminders that they are not here.” These constant reminders are like salt placed on our bleeding wounds. Starting from seeing kids particularly infants until birthdays, anniversaries, or any other memorable dates which seemed to be never-ending. Many instances, we thought we already got over it; until something trigger us again.
That feeling of being isolated
My wife and I, being both introverts, are sometimes feeling alone on this battle. Despite our church giving us the assurance that we have them; and even our respective families, there are times that we just don’t want to show up. We’re always thinking “they don’t understand our pain” or sometimes “they’ll just remind us of our loss.”
Whenever the family conversation goes to my cousins’ living children, I get silent then slowly walk out of the conversation. I even don’t want to show up on family gatherings given that their children will just trigger my senses. Seeing other kids at our church and even on other places sometimes made me feel a little bitter. Knowing that others are pregnant and they didn’t even want that pregnancy made me cringe all the time. Worse, if that child out of unwanted pregnancy lived healthy and normal. Inside my head I say “We may not be prepared when she came, but we wanted her in our lives. Why did you took her away? What about others who don’t even want to get pregnant but their child lived?”
Fear and anxiety
After losing our child, my wife and I are in fear of losing another. Even the fact that pre-eclampsia might happen again on her next pregnancy. We don’t want these things to happen again in our lives. Who would want to lose another child? Who would be happily accepting that they’ll be losing another child? Who would want to have another complications? I think no one wanted to. Attacks are becoming more often despite the fact that we’re trying to fight it. I know that we should be in faith that these things will not happen again by God’s grace. Still, the trauma was left in us.
And many more…
I hope you don’t mistake me of being ungrateful.
I know still that there are things to be thankful for despite of these things that happened to us. One of them is that my wife was saved and is still living with me. Worst case scenario would be me losing her too and I honestly don’t know what to do if that happened. Her blood pressure upon admission to the hospital is 240/160 mmhg which may lead to seizure. That my wife is physically recovering and that we can travel now. And of course, I wouldn’t be writing here in our flat in Sydney if not of the grace of God amidst the storm.
“If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and adore.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Still, I would be honestly telling you that applying these things to ourselves are much easier said than done. But I know that time will come when I’ll be able to tell you that we did it and keep on doing it.
One of the things that we did during our trip in Taiwan was light a lantern at Shifen Old Street. Well, I fully understand that I don’t have to light a lantern for God to hear what we pray or hope for. We just did symbolically. We wrote everything that we’re hoping for. Trying to hold on in faith that God will graciously give these to us. We’re fully aware that our daughter wasn’t named Marvel Zane for nothing. She’s Marvel Zane to remind us that (1) God is a god of miracles and (2) God is gracious.
PS: Here are just the snippet of it. The rest I’ll be posting on another blog post.
Another thing, we also bought a keychain that reminded us of her. We’re supposed to buy the July 21 keychain which pertains to her birthday but the vendor said that it’s sold out already. So instead, we bought July 18, the day that she died. Coincidentally, September 21 is the date when we went to Shifen Old Street; her second month already. I felt a little guilty when I just found out.
I would like to be honest with you that we have a desire to conceive for another child. But knowing this isn’t the right time as Quennie still needed to recover physically and both of us spiritually and emotionally, we’re trying to not be pressured and frustrated by everything around us. We have to trust the process and the timing.
Anyway, we’re back in serving on our ministries in our home church this October. Quennie in praise and worship. Myself both in production and praise and worship (music). The following week upon returning to Manila, Quennie will be coming back to work. I just don’t have an idea for how long. I’ll also be trying to do a thesis proposal for my graduate studies in this season.
Despite doing the things we usually do before, we’re fully aware that our lives will never be the same. Most of all, we’re hoping to have joy in us again in the days to come. It’s not that we’re unhappy with our lives. It’s just that the damage of losing a child is devastating and somehow left a permanent mark in us. The reason why we decided to seek counsel to our Pastors starting when we return home.
“Restore to me the joy of YOUR salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” – Psalm 51:12 (NIV)
So far, I know that there’s still a long way to go before we can say that we’re fully healed. But my wife and I can say that we’re one step ahead that where we are before. Who knows? I may be telling you in my next post that we’re completely moved on.
Or maybe not. But I’ll keep you posted.
Instead of hitting the roads and just go somewhere this long weekend, my wife Quennie and I decided to stay at home. Slept at more than half of our Saturday and Sunday, we can’t figure out where to go. We’re originally planning to visit Quennie’s hometown in Lobo, Batangas but the pain from my surgery to remove my impacted wisdom tooth last Friday seems to be taking toll on me. Also, the dentist who performed the surgery advised that I should avoid doing long drives as the open wound needs time for healing. There’s also a battle if we should be going to church or not. So here I am; sitting at our dining table, sipping the ice-cold coffee my beautiful wife prepared, and trying to eat all the remaining macaroni and cheese that I just cooked one night (which my wife said too salty *laughs*).
Who knows? We may be able to figure out later where to spend the remaining day of this long weekend. We may follow our original plan of driving to Batangas or just go somewhere else. Regardless of where we’ll be going, a certain name kept on flashing on my mind:
Strange. I’m trying to know why in the world I suddenly remembered her name. You heard it right. Marvel Zane is a girl; and I just realized that it’s her birthday. Although not exactly, how special of her that I somehow find her day close to my heart. I don’t know if she knows that I think of her. I don’t even know if she’ll be reading this, but anyway, I still try to write something for her; words that just overflows from my heart.
My Dearest Marvel Zane,
I wonder how you looked like already. I think you became more beautiful than ever. I even wonder how it was on your current place. Also if you’re still aware that I’m writing this to you. We’re supposed to be celebrating your special day together and I miss you so much. It seems like it’s been years already.
But it’s just a month. One month to be exact.
There’s a cake with your name on it along with a home-cooked pasta for a meal despite knowing that you can’t even eat all of those. But despite that, we’ll just have fun and sing “Happy Birthday” together: You, your mom, and I; along with some of your aunties, uncles, and your friends-to-be. Nevertheless, I’ll be buying that same cake; and try to cook something. Maybe not pasta. But honestly, everything is different now from what it’s supposed to be.
You’re not with us anymore.
No matter how we cry, or how liters of tears we shed. No matter how often we pray or how loud we shout. No matter how much we want to turn back time to make everything different; and no matter how much we want you back, it cannot be.
I know that you’re in a much better place now. It’s just that we’re missing you so bad. It feels like we’re robbed that fateful day we lost you. The wound on our heart from a month ago still seemed so fresh whenever we remember you. We’re still wondering why did it happened to us or even what have we done wrong for this to happen? Most of the time I want to get mad. Of all the pain I’ve experienced, losing you is the most unbearable up to now.
But I know the LORD is still good.
That I know you’re up there and celebrating with Him.
There are many times I want to forget about you or the pain of losing you. But the more I try, the more I realize that I can’t. I may not be able to fully move on in this lifetime, but in the LORD’s right time, we will.
Always remember that we’ll always love you… your mom and I. That you’ll always be our princess, our angel, and our child that got away.
You got it right. Marvel Zane is the name of our unborn daughter. Marvel is a French word that means “miracle” and Zane is a Hebrew name that means “God is gracious.” She died a day after my wife was admitted to the hospital due to pre-eclampsia. But officially came out of her mom’s womb three days later which is exactly a month ago. I may still feel relieved that my wife didn’t suffered with much more complications, but there are much more wound in us that needs more healing. Something not seen on the outside.
We’re trying to put our life back on-track. I’m already back at work while Quennie is still on-leave good for two months. Honestly, we still don’t know what our next big step is. Yet, within the frame of my wife’s leave, we’re planning to somehow go from one place to another. From time to time, I’m taking her to my field works and dates to some places around Manila to help her (and me) cope up and to avoid isolating herself. I also re-enrolled back to graduate school and decided to try doing my thesis to graduate. So one at a time, we’re taking our small steps to moving on. As much as we want to rush it like what people around us are expecting, I honestly cannot give a definite timeline on when will we be fully recovered from this pain. Only God knows.
By the way, I never expected that losing my child will lead me in writing my very first blog post here. Well, as my dear Pastor Nolan is saying to me, “This is a time for growth.”
So soon enough, we will.
Let this very first post be the start of it.