But noble souls, through dust and heat,
Rise from disaster and defeat
I woke up with a start at six in the morning that day, the sudden gush of a watery fluid from between my legs jolting me to wakefulness. I had been feeling unsettled the whole night, like I had a severe case of indigestion, with my belly throbbing and aching in turns. II was about three weeks from my expected date of delivery and a little more than two weeks from my scheduled Caesarian section. I hated having plans changed at the last minute, I grumbled irritably as I wobbled to the bathroom. Worse, it was All Saints’ Day.
I woke up A♥ and told him it was time to go to the hospital. So much for a late start to the day, I sighed. It was, after all, a holiday and we were all looking forward to sleeping in that day.
I took a quick bath and dressed quickly. I remembered to grab the bag I had packed a week earlier. I was not going to the hospital unprepared this time, like the time Alex was born and I hadn’t brought anything except for a small handbag (well, Alex came six and a half weeks early, so that was perfectly justifiable). A♥ got Alex ready for the drop-off at my mom’s. He hauled the car seat and Alex’s small suitcase to the car and then went back for Alex. Eighteen-month-old Alex was still half-asleep and offered no resistance to being carried or strapped to his car seat.
After the goodbye kisses to Alex and my parents, we went to the hospital, quite sure that that day was the day we were meeting our second son. A♥ and I looked at each other anxiously. We were both excited for the little one’s coming and yet, we couldn’t help but be nervous and worried. The long months of pregnancy hadn’t been exactly easy as we struggled with bleeding every few weeks. We hurriedly filled in paperwork and in no time at all, I was ushered to the labor room.
The long minutes of waiting turned excruciatingly into hours. By late afternoon, my contractions were coming one after another. My lower back was screaming in pain as I gritted my teeth in a false smile with each drawn-out wave of nauseating pain. I was not going to be one of those women who screamed in their labor, I promised myself, but the pain was getting more intense and more difficult to bear. Just a little bit more. I could hold out for just a little bit more, I breathed deeply in and exhaled loudly.
Just then, the resident who was monitoring my labor delivered the news. My obstetrician had called in to say he was postponing my delivery for a couple of days. By then, I was too exhausted to even ask why. After the tocolytics were given through my IV line, I felt the pain easing up slowly. A few more hours and I was transferred to my own room, to await delivery via C-section scheduled in two days.
And so it came to pass that 19 years ago, we met Alphonse for the first time on November 3. He was a big, robust baby, with round eyes and a shock of black hair. He cried easily and lustfully, with whooping squeals that deafened everyone around him. He was fussy and needy but sweet and beautiful the way only babies can be.
Today, Alphonse is no longer a little baby and yet, still not a man. He continues to straddle the world of adolescence and childhood. Physically, he is a healthy, strapping young man. Cognitively and emotionally, he is a little boy, innocent and often confused of the world around him. He is still fussy and needy but sweet and beautiful the way only he can be.
We live a life challenged by autism but never lacking in love. And we look back at the past 19 years with gratitude and awe, sometimes with tears, but more often with joy, for all the years our life have been blessed and bewildered by Alphonse’s presence in our lives.
Happy 19th birthday, sweetest one! Papa, Mama and Kuya love you always!
Some days, I can almost pretend we are no different from the family next door. We wake up, eat breakfast, spend our separate days at school or work, go home, have a family dinner, discuss the day’s events while watching tv, and then go to bed. The next day, we wake up and we do the same things over again, one day no more or no less than the others that followed or passed.
We get lulled in the predictability of it all. We put our guard down. We relax and revel in the absolute safety of our unexciting days. After all, tomorrow will be just another day in a safe, happily boring life, and one more day when everything just seems, ahhh, well … normal.
But one day it hits you like a well timed punch in the solar plexus. The brick in your gut is back. The absolute predictability of your ‘normal’ day is gone, and even if only momentarily, you are taken for a spin again in this rollercoaster life called Autism. Never mind the late nights or the early morning awakenings, those are the easy stuff. I can even deal with the bed wetting and laugh it all off. But the anger that comes without warning, the distant look in those eyes that do not hold a glimmer of recognition for anyone, the quick lightning pulls of hair here and there- those wear me down. They make me crumble and weep.
Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, I prayed for even just a single moment of clarity for my son. I prayed that today, I be given the opportunity to reach out to him and be seen, heard, and recognized. I wanted him to call me by name and know who I am.
This morning, Alphonse woke up at seven. After helping him to the bathroom, he lingered unexpectedly beside me, lying down with his head on my shoulder. I held his hand and sang to him songs I made up in my head, songs that told of how loved, wanted, and needed he is by his family. I poured my heart in those crazy snippets of rhymed melodies that I didn’t even notice the wetness in my cheeks. I looked at him, half-expecting him to say something, but he was so still I couldn’t tell if he had fallen asleep again.
Half an hour into my crazy songs, he opened his eyes and pushed off the covers I had put around him. He stood up, bowing a bit so that our foreheads touched briefly. He gave me the smallest hint of a smile.
And then our eyes met for the first time in so many days, those fleeting seconds seeming like they were meant to last forever.
Rollercoaster highs can be just as unexpected as the lows.
It’s no secret that I am a trying hard, desperate crafter-wannabe and that hasn’t changed at all in all these years. I think the desire to create, to embellish, and to bling has gotten even worse as my mind conjures more DIY possibilities for the things around me.
Take the case of my beloved Pikachu 3DS xl. It’s lovely as it is and terribly cute. And since this limited edition sold out on its release early this year, you’d see its price already horribly inflated in the market.
As such. the thought of “skinning” it gives me the heebie jeebies (okay, worse than that, actually). No one in his/her right mind would dare tamper with the original design for fear of ruining its value. And yet, my itchy fingers are nagging at me to do something.
Something to personalize it and yet won’t be irreversible in nature.
Hmmm… Something like this.
Can you recognize who they are?
Of course, once you start on this path of craziness, it’s bound to get worse. *cackles maniacally* Some days, Pikachu just has an identity crisis on his hands, never knowing which superhero he wants to really be.
And then there’s this, an homage to one of my favorite modern literary characters (I made this for my friend Laser), here’s a truly confounding sight. Confundo!
Is this Harrychu or Pikatter?
Now, should I being doing “Chu Chang” next?
This post should have been up weeks ago but was delayed because of a very nasty bout of the flu. We even scrapped our anniversary weekend plans because of my sickness, boohoo. Still, I say that it’s better late than never. I loved Bangkok so much that the memories remain as fresh as the day we made them. I really do look forward to going back again.
Three weeks ago, on a rainy, late Thursday night, my husband and I left Manila and touched down at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand three hours later. It was two in the morning by the time our tour shuttle let us off at our hotel. Still, we managed to shrug off our day-long fatigue when met with the warm smiles of the people who welcomed us to the city.
It was meant to be a short weekend trip, far enough from the boys to get some real respite time, yet near enough to be able to get back home should they need us. It didn’t matter to us, really, that Bangkok is Asia’s number one choice for tourists and still holds the distinction of hosting the most number of visitors per year. A♥ and I chose Bangkok as a destination based entirely on one cosideration: my wish to meet in person one of my dearest Sylvanian friends, Pornphan.
I have known Pornphan through the Sylvanian Families forum since 2009 but had never met her in person. Ours is a friendship based on shared interests and forged through messages on Facebook or on the forum. As such, days before leaving, A♥ and I really didn’t have a fixed itinerary for our trip. All I really looked forward to was meeting her,
And what a meeting it was!
Meeting Pornphan has turned out to be one of the best blessings of our short stay. If we could have extended our vacation longer to enjoy the city more with her, we really would have. Pornphan patiently helped us and guided us to different places throughout the few days we were there. She willingly gave up a weekend of rest and recreation just to keep us company and show us her lovely city.
That’s Kittymama and Pornphan below. Yeah, we have Sylvanian counterparts. *snickers*
We enjoyed a Thai meal with her, with oh-so-yummy pad Thai, and fresh, succulent prawns and crab legs that were to die for! (Sorry, I have no pictures as we gobbled everything up before I remembered that I had a camera, heehee.) Being the loyal McDonald’s patrons that we were, we also made sure to try Bangkok’s McDonald’s and enjoyed our triple cheeseburgers! I ate too much, as usual.
We rode river boats- that’s Pornphan right below,
We made our way to the amazing Grand Palace and soaked in the sights of those centuries old marvels.
We shared a tuktuk ride and walked our soles off around the city.
Pornphan generously spared time to go with us as we looked for Silkstone Barbie dolls. She took this photo of my husband and me in Ae’s and Timmy’s wonderful doll shop at MBK.
Why, we even attended a Sylvanian Day together!
What’s a Sylvanian Day without a photo op with Freya?
Three short days were all we had and truth to tell, it didn’t really seem enough. All too soon, it was time to go back to the kids. And while the sounds and sights of Bangkok filled my heart with a longing for home, it also made me realize that Bangkok and Manila are two places with the same heart- its people.
I’ve been to different cities in search of Sylvanian Families. In each of these places, I found more than what I was looking for. I found Jonathan and Hai Yen in Singapore, Karen and Vicky in Hong Kong, and Pornphan in Bangkok. In each of these wonderful places, I found good friends. The kind of friends you would wish for and choose as family.
My Facebook status says it best:
They say that “home is people, not a place,” and this holds true for me. Wherever I go, I find a new home in the hearts of the wonderful friends I meet. More than the awesome sights, the great food, or new experiences, it is the coming together of friends that make traveling really worthwhile. I am a really, really lucky gal.
I found this tucked beneath one of A♥’s gifts today. As many of you know, I cry a lot and I often cry for no reason at all. Still, you all would have to agree with me when I say that this was a perfect time for tears- happy, happy tears.
Beyond the gifts that he showered me today and the past days so generously, I feel so much love in these words. For one who has always been verbose and loquacious, I find myself lacking in words to say exactly how much these 22 years mean to me. I am speechless.
Thank you, A♥, for all these years of love, friendship, and faith. Thank you for all the ways you show me you love me. And thank you for always holding my hand as we make our way through life. I hope you never, ever let me go.
I love you always.
Originally posted in HerWord on September 12, 2013
Alphonse woke up close to two in the morning. He tried to rouse his dad to go to the bathroom with him but this time, I was ready for him. I woke up as soon as he had gotten out of his bed so I was able to head him off right away. I took him to the bathroom to pee and brought him back inside the room. Despite my entreaties, however, he didn’t want to go back to his bed so he ended up right smack in the middle again, the three of us sharing a rather cramped king-sized bed. I turned off the night light, tucked him with an extra comforter, and hummed lullabies. He closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Or at least, he tried to. He closed his eyes and nothing happened. He couldn’t sleep. He yawned so often that I knew he was still sleepy, but judging by the way he fidgeted like crazy, it was easy enough to deduce that the Sandman wasn’t going to come back without a little help. Thirty minutes of having him toss and turn every which way and scratching his head and ears silly, I knew I needed to do something or else we would be awake the whole night.
I opened my arms to him and whispered his name. With the ease of partners of a lifetime journey, he laid his head in the crook of my arms. I ran my fingers over his hair, over and over and over again, humming wordless lullabies. Long minutes later, I heard his deep contented snoring. It was three in the morning when he finally went to sleep.
I laid awake in the dark after that. A stray thought clung to my mind and nagged at me. Years from now, when my husband and I are gone, Alphonse will wake up to another night like this, and who will help him sleep then? Who will reassure him that he is always loved and wanted? Who will patiently change him when he wets his bed and himself? And then the enormity of this future suddenly enveloped me, this crushing weight of uncertainty. This long dark look at those years in the future when Alphonse will be an old adult stared right at me in the face. I felt helpless. I felt angry. And before I knew it, I was sobbing, crying for a lost future of bright possibilities for the son I love more than my own life.
This morning, we woke up at six, wet from urine. Alphonse had wet the bed again, drenching our mattress, pillows, and sheets. The darkness of those early morning hours was gone. All that was left was this ache in my heart, so easily filled by the apologetic kisses of an embarrassed young man.
I don’t know what the future holds for us. All I know is what is here and now. And for now, we are all he needs. We are all he has.
Indulge this mother her tears. Sometimes all I really need is a good cry.