Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Life Story: turning curse to blessings!



Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.



That is self-explanatory. I definitely understand each word but I just don't want to believe it… why? because I feel so unfortunate, so unlucky.. so miserable.

I apologize for the negative adjectives but that was what I was when I did not know God - I mean the real God. 

before I skip and jump to my realizations and the new me.. Let me just tell you the story of my life.

It was 8:24pm of  April 18, 2014 in the ICU of Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu City.

My mom was lying in room 5, intubated, suffering from  IntraHepatic Cholangio Carcinoma. It has been two days when she was diagnosed with this disease and never did she know that this was the final stage of her life. 

Ten days ago, we were admitted in the same hospital for complete laboratory exams and everything seemed positive with my mom that she was permitted to go home. But not until this admission that she had her CT scan after she rushed herself to the hospital due to difficulty in breathing that the doctor advances their tests.

The results came from St. Lukes - Manila and blatantly it stated the real condition of my mom. Stage 4, Liver Cancer.

The door suddenly opens, my dad enters the room with tears slowly rolling from his eyes.. he held my mom's hands and in quivering voice he utters, "I love you still…please live. Live for me and for your children."

I was shocked! I could not believe what I am witnessing.. Why do dad had to wait for mom to be in this situation before he would confess his feelings to her; but on the brighter side, I was praying for this to happen. In my yearly journal, this prayer always was on the top of my list. I want to see my dad and mom together - for good old friendship's sake. And I see this happening today, right in front of me.

Mom raised her hands when she saw my dad then they hold hands -  then my dad asked for forgiveness.

That was a precious scene in my mind and forever, I am thankful for that treasured moment.

FLASHBACK

I grew up with my dad as my parents separated when I was one year old and my brother was a few months old too. My dad had a business and he always travels to Baguio and Manila. We, on the other hand, were left in the care of our Lolo and Lola (the parents of my dad).

We did not have any mother to look up to. Our grandparents used to tell us that our mom drowned in a bowl of soup and died  (In my innocence, I used to believe them as I really thought that was possible).

Not until I was grade 1, my dad had a girlfriend and we call her mommy. My brother and I were excited to know that we have a new mom. We loved her and we respected her as our mom, she was the one who taught me values to become a modest and disciplined teenager. She bore a child and we had a new brother. We were happy back then. We were on the verge of creating a new family too.

Five years have passed, dad and mommy separated. Surprisingly, the reason was mommy saw dad and my biological mom secretly meeting and dating. I used to hate my real mom because she destroyed the ideal family I once known. I hate her for that!

From that time on, my mommy and daddy separated ways and we she took our half-brother away from us. So, the three of us, we were left again (dad, me and my brother)

Every year, dad had a new fad, he always brings home a new mommy, bears a child and leave us. That has always been the case every year and this history repeats all over again up until I had six more stepmoms, 5 half brothers and 1 half sister. One child per stepmom.

On the other hand, same goes with my mom, every single year, she bears a child with different dads.

So in total, we are twelve siblings with different moms and dads, with my brother and I as the common denominator.

GROWING UP

Growing up for me has been a struggle. Why? because I've been dealing with insecurity and self-pity. No one goes to my school to get my grades and I have to borrow parents from friends for my teachers to give me my report card. At times, my teacher would just allow me to get my card since they already know my background.

A few of my teachers left a footprint in my heart as they helped me survive my elementary and high school years by giving me assistance in understanding my situation. I see them as gifts from God - since they became my guardian and really went beyond what they can offer to mold me into someone I am today. I will forever be grateful to them.

One day, my real mom visited me in school. At that time, I didn't have any idea who she was. All I remembered was she was the same woman who smiles at me every Sunday when I go to hear mass, she would stand near the door and hug me so close that It felt really awkward being held by a stranger.  This is the same woman asking my teacher to allow her to talk to me.

She brought with her a box of munchkins of Dunkin Donuts which was my favorite but since my grandparents told me to never accept anything from a stranger, I gave it away to my classmates when she left.

In school, I was really confused on whose name to put under mother's name because every year, the name changes and in reality, no one had really assumed to be a real mom to me and my brother, we were left confused and rejected.

MY BITTERNESS

Yes, I became bitter! I blamed my real mom for leaving us. I hate her for choosing her happiness instead of being contented to be just our mom. I want her to stay and to settle with us. But instead, she created a new family. 

I never had any tutor in school, no one to talk to me about how I feel. My aunts and uncles and even my dad thought I was okay all along. They believed that because dad supported us financially, that suffice everything we need. There has been a piece that's missing since then. 

I always feel empty, insecure and rejected.

MY DAD

My dad was a loving father. He took care of us. He carried both roles of being our mom and dad at the same time. But of course, nobody's perfect, he also has his bad side. He is a drunkard and a war freak. I grew up with this behavior, seeing him physically hurting my stepmoms. I grew up with this traumatic experience.

To cite a specific example, when my dad and my stepmom had a fight, my dad put a gun on her head. I hurriedly ran to her and grab the gun and put it in front of my forehead to let my stepmom run. I was crying telling my dad to shoot me instead of my stepmom. In some instances, when my dad's drunk, me and my brother would hide and would not sleep up until everything would be peaceful again.

This has been our life since childhood up until today.

MY SIBLINGS

My siblings are all gifted with looks as what I see and what other people say. They were always the favorite of the crowd, the campus crush and the famous ones. I, on the other hand was the opposite. I blend with the crowd, unappreciated and left out. Always, I treated myself as a loser -  the unwanted. I struggled to fight this enemy in me but I kept on losing. I almost believed I was born with no purpose.

HIGH SCHOOL YEARS

No one had been attending my parents-teachers meeting. Much more, no one is getting my cards except for parents who would grant my request to act as my guardian for my teachers to release my card.

On my senior year, I was the second honor of our class, one of my best friends, whose mom always agreed to act as my guardian, refused of allowing her mom to do the usual thing of getting my report card. Because for her, I deserve something more. She said, she wants to find my mom and to tell her how lucky she is to have a daughter like me, despite of having a dysfunctional family, I was doing great at school.

Together with my other friends, they were able to find my mom and they were successful in making my mom go to my school and get my report card.

It was Saturday morning and  it's the getting of our report cards. I was very nervous but at the same time excited to see my real mom. 

She came - together with my stepdad. She went straight to my classroom and talked to my teacher. My teacher was surprised to finally be able to see my parent getting my card for the first time. 

I was silently sitting at one corner of our room, trying to observe what my mom and my teacher were talking about. My class adviser waived at me and asked me to come forward. She then told my mom, congratulations! Your daughter is our second honor and extended her hands to congratulate my mom. 

My mom reached out to me and held my hand. At that very moment, I felt her - "lukso ng dugo" as what they termed it.


COLLEGE YEARS

I came to love reading books including the Bible, as that made me escape my real world. With the help of my grandmother too, who was very religious, I wanted to become a nun.

But as the years gone by, I was introduced to literature. I love writing what I feel. I used this to express my feelings. It serves as a relief for me to bring out to writing the struggle within.

My last year in college was the most difficult year. Dad brought me to Baguio to study at Saint Louis University. He decided to transfer me there to protect me leaving him to go to my dad, just like what my brother did.

 In the process of having a seventh stepmom, It drew me farther from my dad.

My stepmom and my dad had their child and made a family of their own that made my dad forget about us. Though we are living in one house, they would go on a family outing together, having family time together leaving me alone at home.

That made me think of wanting to get to know my mom. 

I always have this principle in life to always seize the day and avoid regrets.  All I want at that time was to spend time with my real mom to get to know her.

In the Christmas break of 2001, Unexpectedly, my mom's sister requested my dad to allow me to spend Christmas with them for the first time - I did not think that was possible, but dad agreed.

That was the first Christmas spent with my mom's family. I was enjoying every moment of it that I lost track of time - that made me sleep in my mom's house - beside her and my sister for the first time. I was not able to sleep, instead, I kept on watching both of them sleep. At that time, my mom was pregnant with our youngest brother. She was silently sleeping on my right side while my little sister on my left. It felt so good being with them.. watching them sleep for the first time. I wanted more nights with them - that extended for three more nights.

Now, my worse nightmare came true. When I went home to my dad's house, my dad was drunk and was very angry seeing me happy. He scolded me and accused me of being irresponsible. He said he wants me to go back to Baguio City the next day. I cried and I begged him to give me this chance to bond with my siblings and my mom. He got really angry and slapped me hard more than ten times. He got a knife and put it on my throat when I replied to allow me to know my mom. He dragged me by just holding strands of my hair to my room on the second floor. While this was happening, my stepmom was just having fun singing her heart out in the videoke.

I got my both eyes with blood clot and bruises all over my body. But still, I sought for dad's approval to allow me to spend time with my mom. He never agreed.

The next day, with body pains and feverish feeling, I  crawled to get a mirror to check myself.  I was not able to recognize myself anymore. I looked like a survivor of a car crash.

I could not believe it. I didn't even think my dad is capable of hurting me this way. What did I do? I was just asking for my right to know my mom which I believe is a need for me as their child.

He did not grant me my request, instead, he sent me back to Baguio on New Year's Eve.
I hated my dad from that time on until I graduated April of 2002. I called my mom and ask her to be at my graduation. I even gave her the condition that if she comes, I will go with her to Cebu and will leave my dad.



MY GRADUATION DAY!

I was number five on the dean's list but I was not able to get my Cum Laude award because I was a transferee. That did not matter though because my mom and sister were there to attend my graduation rites. My dad and my stepmom were sitting beside me at the ceremony but my mom and sister were on the second floor. When I turned to check my mom, she was crying but smiling. I am complete! I've got both of my parents on my graduation. I felt lucky during that day!

I had lunch with my dad after the ceremony and I left for Cebu with mom. That started my life knowing my mom.

LIFE WITH MY MOM

I finally got the chance to experience life with a mother. For two months, I felt her. but after that little time together. I saw the other side of my mother. I was already working in a hotel when I came to know that my mom had a boyfriend. Aside from my sister's dad living with us, she had a boyfriend whom she allows to visit her at home. And I strongly disagree with this.

I saw my siblings confused with this set-up. They would often ask me, "Ate, who is your father?" And I would mention my dad's name. They would answer me, " So we have different dads? Does that mean mom has a lot of boyfriends? Does that explain why you have fair skin and I'm dark?" I would secretly cry because of this. I love my siblings so much that I would rather suffer for them. I would rather save their relationship than losing my relationship with my mom. I have to fight for them. I have to tell my mom that what she is doing is hurting us.

I thought my mom will change. I thought she would soon realize that we are far more important than her boyfriends - I consulted this matter to her and asked her, "why do you keep looking for a man to love you, when in fact we are already here?" And I promised to love her and not leave her. Her response was, "I would rather make you leave than stand against with what I am doing."

She asked me to leave their house. - so, I left. 

I hugged my siblings and asked my sister to take care of our little brothers. I told her I will go back to Baguio to look for a job. My sister cried and asked me to promise her that I will stay in Cebu for her. She said. She would prefer for me to work in Cebu so we can still see each other than me going back to Baguio. So, I worked here in Cebu, up until today.

I have been dreaming and hoping for the best for my siblings. My ultimate goal was really to gather all of us. That even if we don't have the best parents, we can still be together. That for me is my life's goal.

I worked, I live independently and looked for belongingness wherever I am - but continued to fail. Failed relationship here and there, stumbled, bruised, fell but I continued to stand to achieve my goal.

Life was unfair to me. Life was never a friend  Life's struggles made me what I am now. But I always believed that there is a God who sees my heart's desire. A God who will make a wonderful story out of the bad things. And that continued to be my hope.

Two years of no communication with my mom after she asked me to leave her house, she called. I was at my office then and I answered her call through a speakerphone, as I felt awkward, talking to her after what happened.

"Hello?" I answered while waiting for mom's voice. She was sobbing. She finally replied,"Hello, Glyth, I am in the hospital now. I have a brain tumor and I am scheduled to be operated two days from now. Please pray - pray that God will give me more time. If I survive this, I promise to spend all my time with you, my children." 

I could not talk, tears rolled from my eyes. I was nervous, sad but happy to hear that she realized our worth. Without any doubt, I went to see her.

I took care of her, bathe her before her operation and fed her. Despite my fear being in a hospital, I conquered it just for me to be with her during the downiest moment of her life.

After the successful operation, unknowingly, her boyfriend came to visit her. My mom asked my cousin to tell me to leave as she wants her boyfriend to take care of her. I was hurt, disappointed and abandoned. I left again.

But I texted her to express my frustration:
This was what I texted her, "I thought you already knew who were those people who genuinely care about you, but I guess not. Be well."

Her reply, " Don't you ever let me choose between you and Edmond, because I will never choose you."

That was a slap in the face. So I let her go… and again I lived on my own.


MY STRUGGLES

I hate holidays especially Christmas. Why? because I am always alone. I did not have any family to be with. I always volunteered to work on holidays for double pay and for me to avoid being alone.

I keep on seeking for someone to accept and love me but it always ends with goodbyes. It ends up with me fighting for depression again and again.

With me, searching for a strong foundation, for a real center of my life, I sought for GOD.
I found Him in a Christian church. I found him in a village of Christian people. Though not perfect, I found my purpose.

I now see things differently, With my insecurities and self-pity, I now understood that it was God all along holding me and leading me to where I am today. He let me go through the dark valley but carries me to soar high amidst the sad and unkind experiences I have been through.

In my search of family, He gave me a church who supported me - especially during my mom's death.

MOM's DEATH (April 2014)

Mom's oncologist asked me if it's okay to inform my mom of her real condition - the result of her CT- scan. I told her not yet as she's not ready for this. So she called me together with my two younger brothers and informed us that my mom has a terminal liver cancer. I was shocked! I asked the doctor if she can promise to extend mom's life for six months. And she said she may not survive in this admission. Hearing those words from her doctor was the most excruciating words I have ever heard in my entire life. My brother who was close to my mom ran to her and hugged my mom and he was crying asking her not to leave him. While my other brother hid in the restroom crying. I was calling up my life coach, telling her I don't know what to do and where to go from here. She just told me to go through the pain and let God reveal Himself to us. That was a tough thing to do but I decided to be strong for my siblings.

I took care of my mom. We had the whole night talking about just anything. I asked her if she remembered us watching the movie, "Passion of Christ" when she strongly said why does Jesus have to die if He is God. He should not die.

I smiled at her and said," Mom, I want to answer that question of yours, Jesus has to die to save us. His blood has to shed to wash away our sins, He is the lamb who worthy to wash away our sins." She smiled at me and said, " aaah, so that's the reason."

Then I played the song, "We are the reason" from the group, Avalon. And even if she has a face oxygen mask, she tried to sing along to the chorus of the song that goes like this:

We are the reason that He gave his life
We are the reason Jesus suffered and died

I read to her Psalms 23 and she smiled at me .." ooh what a wonderful God, he is"
I whispered in her ear, "Can I pray for you, mom?" and she nods her head.

She then told me to promise her that after I will talk to her doctor tomorrow, she wants me to tell her what her condition is. And I asked her, "Do you really want to know?"
She answered, "Yes"

Morning came, the doctors asked me to gather all my siblings as five doctors will be talking to us. 

I indeed assembled my siblings, we were in a conference room when five of mom's doctors were slowly explaining to us the real condition of my mom.

One of the doctors said, "I just want to be straight, we are not talking about any possible survival rate here. What we are meeting about is whether to intubate or not. To let her go naturally or extend her life with life support."

Another doctor asked, "Does your father know of your mom's condition? By the way, where is he?" We were looking at each other as we were confused on who will answer the question. Of who's dad were the doctors referring. I answered, "NO.' We don't have fathers. The doctor then said, "In the absence of the father, the eldest child will decide."

Eldest? then that's me! what should I decide? I am torn into pieces.

In that conference room, all the doctors, including my siblings and my aunt were looking at me. I silently and slowly opened my mouth " Give my mom the best care there is, I don't want to see her gasping for air. Please tell her her real condition and let her decide, whatever her decision is, we will support her"

The silence was disturbed with an alarm -  from mom's room.. we hurriedly rushed to go to her room. Her blood pressure raised and she was having a cardiac arrest. The doctor immediately went to mom and told her everything. My mom decided to be intubated. We were asked to leave the room. With all of us crying as we heard mom shouting in pain, I asked my sister to buy her a cake, party hats, and an ice cream. We will celebrate her birthday today as she may not be alive on her birthday. 


After the intubation, we surprised mom with a birthday song, a cake and with us wearing party hats. She smiled at us and cried.


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