Nature Essentials Elixir

1 Dec

I volunteered to do a review of Nature Essentials Elixir a month ago. In the interest of fairness, I will have to disclose that these products were given free of charge and specifically for this purpose but this review was not compensated for in any other way. While my blog niche is not that of a beauty blogger’s, my review will be based upon my experience as a potential consumer of this brand.

My regular brand of choice for skin care, as everyone who has ever browsed through this blog knows, requires a three-step skin care ritual which I have faithfully followed for many years. However, for this particular review, I stopped using all my regular cleansing products to allow my skin to reap the full benefits of this new brand. Before use, however, I did a patch test of each of these products in my arm. None of these products caused any visible adverse effect such as itching or redness.

I jumped into this review because I had started to notice small, very fine lines in my forehead in the last few months. My husband thinks I am exaggerating but I started seeing them more clearly after my dad passed away in July. Clearly, stress was a major factor in aging my skin. Then too, with the busy days and nights that went into Dad’s hospital stay and his wake, I was not as diligent as I should have been in taking care of my skin. Some days, I forgot my sunscreen; other days, I was too tired to do anything than to wipe my make-up off with make-up cleansing tissues.

Nature Essentials boasts of their products as “nature’s answer to Botox,” recommending their products as an alternative to those costly injections of the Botulinum toxin which paralyze the activity of facial muscles that cause frown lines and wrinkles. Aside from its anti-aging claim, it is also said to possess whitening and regenerating properties. Intrigued by these, I volunteered to do this review, stretching the period to three-and-a-half weeks.

Nature essentials

After a 48-hour rest from my regular products and with the patch test done and over with, I began to use Nature Essentials to replace the products I used daily. I began by using the Algae Elixir soap, which is sold as a small, translucent blue bar weighing 90grams. It is intended to cleanse your skin of make-up and other impurities, as well as aid in firming and tightening the skin.

The soap is rather easy to lather. It lasts quite long and the sample I received made it through more than three weeks of twice-daily washing. The soap isn’t granular so it is not harsh on the skin. It smells medicinal at first but the smell does not linger in the suds or on your face. To get a deeper cleanse especially on days when make-up was necessary, I massaged the lather and allowed it to stay on my face for a few minutes.

After a thorough rinsing with water, I followed it up with a layer of Elixir Mask. The mask comes in a dark blue flat jar with an inner cover. The smell is also faintly medicinal but not off-putting. The mask is a translucent light blue fluid with the consistency of liquid glue. It is thick and spreads with a little difficulty so a generous amount is needed to cover the entire face. To maximize use, however, I concentrated the mask on my forehead, making sure to cover the area well. The mask dries tight on the face but is easily removed by water. The recommended frequency of use is thrice a week but for this test, I used it every other day.

The Face Elixir is the last thing I put on at night. Compared to the mask, which is heavy and thick, the elixir serum is light, non-greasy, and gets absorbed quite readily so a little goes a long way. I did not notice a tingling or pricking sensation when I used it. I did notice that my face was oily when I woke up in the morning, but it also felt supple too.

I did not experience any breakouts during the more than three-week duration of product use. As mentioned above, there was a light oily sheen in the areas of concentrated use but there was no evidence of dryness or flaking even in the areas that are normally dry for me.

Visibly, however, I have to report that they did not seem to improve my wrinkles. Perhaps it is because it is not easy to undo weeks of damage, and if this is so, this hypothesis needs to be further tested and under better control conditions. But while I cannot prove or disprove these products’ anti-aging claims, I am quite happy with the way my skin feels, visible lines barring.

I am proud that a local product can replace more expensive, foreign imports when it comes to skin cleansing, allowing the local market more accessible options to choose from. For more on Nature Essentials, please visit their Facebook page here. Their products are available for purchase online and also in selected bazaars this season.

Self-Injury

25 Nov

head banging 02 copy

Originally published in HerWord.com on November 24, 2014, link here.

The first time it happened, Alphonse was barely two years old. Before that day, he had been a happy, if a little “distant,” toddler, and were it not for the diagnosis of classical autism a few months earlier, we could have happily gone on believing that the road to recovery would be a smooth and easy one. When you’re young and naive, I guess you can almost believe your own hype about being a supermom, the one who can fix anything, even autism.

That day, Alphonse was strapped to a hospital bed and tethered by an IV line. He had had an infection raging inside his lungs for days and forcing down oral and rectal medications had become a losing battle of wills. He screamed and shrieked like a howling banshee, only to withdraw and whimper pitifully when we touched him. He struggled and fought desperately, his eyes betraying that wounded animal look we would get to know so well over the years. But he was small, and just barely two, we had the edge when it came to strength and physical power. And so, I imagine, feeling helpless and wanting very much to escape, he did what his mind thought was the logical answer to his woes: he started to bang his head.

It started with one loud thud as the back of his head connected with the headboard of his hospital bed. We all turned around to look for the source of that alarming sound, and before we knew it, he had seized upon the idea of hitting his head with so much zeal that his eyeballs started rolling backwards in his head. We panicked.

The next few days became a whirlwind of anxious anticipation. Only one thing could happen at any one moment: he would hit his head on the walls or we would physically stop it. Most of the time, he won; he was that fast. The times we did, however, he started diving, head first, from the bed to the cold, hard floor. We hardly slept a wink then.

Self injury AlphonsePicture copy

That bruised cheek was the result of weeks of smashing his face- cheek first- against walls.

These self-injurious episodes would come and go over the years. The themes would vary- sometimes it would be head banging- hitting his head, face and ears against walls or his fists; other times it would be teeth-or cheek-bashing, the former the cause of his permanently chipped right incisor; or it would be scratching and gouging of his skin till he drew fresh blood. And although they were actually less common occurrences than the daily, gut-wrenching aggression we lived with for years, these episodes were so severe that it was, in fact, easier to bear with violence directed towards us than to see him beat himself repeatedly.

It is estimated that roughly a third of all individuals with autism and severe intellectual disabilities exhibit varying degrees and types of self-injurious behavior or SIB. The causes of this behavior may differ from person to person, but it is telling that this affects the more severely affected individuals in greater proportion than those who are able to function better socially and cognitively. This most devastating behavior is responsible for limiting the individual’s access to the world around him as the potential consequences include not only permanent injury or death, but isolation from the community, as well.

I write this today as we deal with the aftermath of his current self-injurious phase. After weeks of hitting his head, his right ear is swollen and infected. There is blood pooling in his outer ear, stretching it taut and deforming it. The doctor diagnosed it as perichondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage in the ear and a complication of perichondrial (ear cartilage) hematoma. Laymen know it as boxer’s ear or cauliflower ear and the condition is seen in prizefighters of wrestling, boxing, and full-contact body sports. While it is regarded as a badge of courage for these sportsmen, for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, it is a chilling reminder of the difficulties they face as they try to adjust and thrive in the world the rest of us live in.

Behaviorists teach us that behavior always has an antecedent and a consequence. When I reflect upon all the changes our family has been through these past months, I can understand how this particular behavior reappeared after years of being controlled. That these all started when my dad passed away is particularly significant in its proximity to the onset of these events. Then, our house was in shambles from my parents’ move and our routines were scuttled by the long, necessary days at the hospital and, thereafter, the funeral home. Even today, as we struggle to find normalcy in our post-Daddy lives, what we were before July has become vastly different from what and who we are now. Alphonse must be hurting and grieving, too, and unable to express these, he lashes at himself, perhaps to relieve his sorrow, perhaps to vent his rage. Moreover, it didn’t help our cause when his teacher of more than a year left to pursue other employment opportunities last month, leaving him feeling abandoned and more bereft in his sorrow.

Any change in our environment, family dynamics, schedules and routines can provoke a reaction, we know this only too well. Often, we are able to head off emotional distress successfully and he turns back into his happy self. Regrettably, this is one of those times when we have failed to protect him completely.

We’ve taken all necessary precautions for his protection as we work to redirect his self-injuring energy. Padded cushions of foam mats have been placed on the walls at (his) head level. Where he sits at the dinner table, a plastic corrugated board is duct taped at the edges of the table and glass top to prevent the sharp edges from cutting into his skin. (He has already sustained a laceration on his forehead from hitting it on this edge.) Comforters and other thick beddings cover hard spaces he could get into. Additional foam mats are mounted and spread all over the house- in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the bedroom- all designed to give him a safer space to move in. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we still cannot protect him from his own fists, and this is an egregious failing that continues to nag at our conscience.

It is extremely difficult to be calm when your child intentionally hurts himself. Still, in these many years, we have learned that it is best not to panic. In truth, we have only succeeded in masking our pain with a seemingly confident assurance that all will be well in the end. Left to our own thoughts late at night, we sublimate our sorrows, busy ourselves brainstorming more ways to keep him safe, and then get back to the real hard work of doing so.

Under “normal” circumstances, the treatment for his ear is simple and can be routinely done even in a doctor’s office. But given his history of aggression, his unusual strength, extraordinary reactions to stress and change, and aversion to medical treatment, this simple procedure of draining the ear will have to be done in an operating room and under general anesthesia. I wish we could spare him of all these troubles, but the option to continue conservative management has been lost. There is nothing else to be done but to stop him from inflicting more damage to himself.

Despite all these setbacks, we are confident we can hurdle these latest lows in our autism roller-coaster life. Although we have lost the sense of peace we value so much in our home, what we have in abundance balances this loss: the determination and vigilance to keep him safe at all costs. With your prayers, dear friends, we will overcome.

We did it before; we can do it again.

The Unusual Man

21 Nov

Originally published in BusinessWorld’s Weekender, November 20, 2014 (Link here.)

JANNE RAUDASKOSKI is a very unusual man. He dreams of talking phones and animated pictures, and while some of us may have had similar dreams in our subconscious, he takes it a step farther than most by turning these dreams into interactive children’s theater.Wally-Watthead-poster

As Wally Watthead, a charming lamp that has “lost his glow” (read: his light bulb is busted), Janne combines magic, clowning, and mime with theater and technology to bring common bedside objects to life. The stage becomes Polly’s nightstand and on it, there’s Simon, a curmudgeonly mobile phone SIM card that reminds us of our once-cherished Nokias, and there’s Polly, a beautiful redhead portrait that comes to life. Wally forms unlikely friendships with these different objects and resolves the problem of his lost glow with their help.

3 - WALLY WATTHEWAD AND POLLY

Things like moving pictures and talking phones do not seem out of place in Janne’s world. As a professional magician and a Finnish and Nordic champion in this field, he delights in bringing magic to everyday life, even if it means pulling money from a startled cashier’s ear at the supermarket takeout lanes. Thankfully, he confesses to having gotten rid of this habit, but this is reflective of the wonder and genuine pleasure he derives from the melding of enchantment and reality. Janne breathes and lives magic and theater, a not-undesirable quality in one on a personal crusade to open children’s minds to curiosity and marvel.

In Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow, Janne is technically a one-man show. He performs all magic and, yes, stunts (try levitating, shrinking, and even jumping into a screen), by himself, save for the ministrations and directions of Simon SIM card, voiced by Jonathan Hutchings, and Polly the Picture, played by Tuija Nuojua. He fumbles a bit — intentionally, of course — and he gains the trust of the little children in the audience with his shy, bumbling clowning. He squeaks and squeals in a funny voice, and even the cries of wee ones suddenly turn into peals of laughter. He swoons over Polly, and the kids whisper their highly audible oohs and ahhs.

5 - WALLY WATTHEAD AND CELL PHONEWally Watthead may be a giant lamp, but obviously, he is as much a child as the little ones in his audience. His feelings are transparent and easy to discern; his actions are honest and clear of intent. While Wally hardly has any spoken lines, he speaks to his viewers with his actions.

With a seemingly uncanny knack for understanding how a child thinks, Wally turns his young audience’s befuddlement into joy and uneasiness into comfort. Small wonder, then, that even a nine-month-old infant was able to sit through the intermission-free 50 minutes without fussing or crying.

Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow is brought to PETA Theater Center by Finland’s Amazing Magic Theater after astonishing audiences — young and not-so-young — in Finland, England, the US and China. This limited run is on its second and last weekend this Nov. 21 to 23. Stow those iPads and game consoles for a while and make sure to bring the family to experience the magic of Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow. -

22 Days

18 Nov

Three weeks before our anniversary last Friday, I had already been receiving presents daily from A♥.

My husband has always been a giver, and a very generous one at that. Days before a special occasion, like my birthday or our anniversary- and we celebrate three- big ones, that is: our official girlfriend/boyfriend anniversary, our civil wedding (23 years this year) and our church wedding (22 this year) – he hands me a present or two in preparation for the main event.

This year, the first presents came on October 24. Coming home from work that day, he handed me two large Rustan’s paper bags filled with 13 boxes in pink wrapper and pink, lavender, and gold ribbons. It took me days to finish unwrapping each and every one. Each box contained one of this year’s Kimmidolls line-up.

Nov14 06

The new ones are in boxes still, waiting to join their sisters on the staircase stands. :-)

I thanked him effusively but a I was a little flustered too. A♥ tends to go overboard with gifts for me- and I am not complaining, promise- but if I have a lone reservation about my husband, it is that he is an absolute miser when it comes to his own needs. He doesn’t like gifts and doesn’t enjoy opening his presents. He doesn’t even like shopping for his own things and many times, he would forgo his needs to give way to the kids’ or mine.

Now, I hadn’t caught on the present/s-a-day theme yet so when I asked him if I could purchase a pair of new rubber shoes, he smiled mysteriously at me and said “Sure, honey. Those will be my present for you today.”Nov14 15

“Today?” I scratched my head, thinking for a moment that he was pulling my leg. “What do I need a present for today?”

“For our anniversary, silly!” He looked at me funny.

“But our anniversary’s weeks away. What. Is. The. Present. For?” I insisted, my voice getting shriller than usual.

“Call it an advanced anniversary present,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Do you want those shoes or not?”

Ack, A♥ could be a little infuriating sometimes, the way he always pulls a fast one on me when it comes to gift-giving! I look back at all those years he had me secondguessing his moves and I could never match his zeal and dedication in giftgiving. I figured, this year, shoes would be a safe choice and once he declared those were my presents, he would not need to go through such trouble to give me more.

Of course, I had to test my theory.

“Uhm, honey…” I said (shyly). This was on the night after Day 2. I bought the shoes that morning, on sale, a pair of sleek black and pink Skechers Skech Air Inspire, with insides of pillowy memory foam. Ahhh, I was in podiatric heaven!

“Hmmm… Yes?…” I timed it so he was watching golf on video that night.

“I know I said the rubber shoes I got today would be my anniversary present, but uhm, ehm, ehrm, ehem, well…Crocshastheretrosneakersonsale!” I mumbled the last part in a hurry, wishing he would just nod absent-mindedly.

“On sale, you say… Uhm, okay, we’ll look at them together tomorrow. We have lunch with friends and we can check them out afterwards.” And then he went back to his watching.

Yes! He didn’t say “present” again! I heaved a smile of relief and went to bed.

Nov14 03

Nimes with Violetta and Bonnie ♥

The next day, after lunch with dear friends M and J, they handed me a large brown paper bag. I was expecting just one doll, a Blythe Ribbonneta Wish that J had purchased on A♥’s behalf, but the bag seemed heavy for just one doll. I looked at A♥ suspiciously. He acted nonchalantly and flashed his pearlies at me again but I held my tongue. Once home, he kissed me squarely on the mouth and said, “Happy anniversary, honey! These are all yours, my presents for you today!” And what a surprise it was!

Nov14 14Inside was Bonnie, my Ribbonneta Blythe, but there was also Violetta, the Hello Kitty Tokidoki x Pullip LE doll. There was a boxed Kindle Fire HD. A boxed Yoshi 3DS XL. Nintendo posters. A Hello Kitty 3DS game. I gave up all restraint, threw myself at him, and kissed him back.

The next day, when he bought me the Crocs retro-sneakers and said “my gift for you today, happy anniversary, love,” I didn’t even flinch. I just kissed him again.

So every day for the last three weeks, he gave me a present- or two or more- a day. Some of them were huge, jaw-dropping presents, like the professional series silver Kitchen Aid I had been eyeing for months, and a secret envelope with tickets to someplace special. Some  were thoughtful but simple gifts, like hot Ferrino bibingka (rice cakes) or turon (banana fritters or rolls) or even several packs of Megafiber (because he found out I was running low). He always seemed to know my cravings. :-)

Nov14 01

Time to make those ensaimadas!

On another day, I received a Sylvanian Families hospital set and the supermarket owners.

Nov14 02

Then came another 3DS XL (Mario white edition), a Nintendo load card so I could buy themes for my Animal Crossing unit, two more 3DS games, Pokemon Art Academy and Fantasy Life, and the DS game Ontamarama.

Nov14 13

Nearer the date, he gave me more Blythe sets- dress sets for 10 days running and three dolls in succession, as well as one I adopted from a friend with his permission. I was in dolly heaven!

Nov14 05

And then last Friday night, in what was supposed to be A♥’s turn to finally get something good (he was renewing his phone subscription and had availed of the iPhone 6 plus option), he managed to turn the tables on me again when I found out he was getting me one too!

I had come as his unwitting “plus one” because he didn’t want us to be apart on the first few hours of our anniversary. I agreed to accompany him, even if it meant staying up the night, because he always asks so little of me to be happy. And so, we spent the last three hours of Thursday night and the first three hours of Friday in a queue for the iPhone 6.

Nov14 04

Despite the exhausting experience, it was also one to remember. Wherever we went, from the long standing lines outside to the longer line of seats inside, we were met with gracious and heartfelt anniversary greetings and well wishes. We were even surprised in line with the most beautiful flowers and a luscious chocolate cake from Ms. Yoly Crisanto, head of Globe’s Corporate Communications, and her team. All these acts of unexpected kindness from A♥’s friends, acquaintances, and even strangers (thank you to the stranger behind me in line for worrying about me when I struggled making those flights of stairs) made those hours of waiting worthwhile.

Nov14 09

Ambushed with gifts! Photo credit: Earl Scott Advento

Thank you for these gracious gifts!

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Nov14 10

If you were to ask me what was my favorite gift in those 22 days of whirlwind giftgiving, I’d have to answer with “none.” Because far more than the value or joy of owning the newest, latest, most hyped gadgets or dolls or toys, I have already been gifted with something ultimately more precious: his love. It is my husband’s constant, generous, selfless sacrifice that I treasure beyond any gift he can ever give me. The lengths he goes to show me his love and devotion are truly astounding and 22 years into this lifetime, it seems he is still thinking of more ways to do just that.

Truly, twenty-two years with this man can never be enough. I’d give anything for 22 years more, and 22 more, and then, through the infinite mercy of our Lord, I can only ask for 22 again.

Thank you, A♥, for all the ways you show me you love me. I can only hope I am always worthy your love.

Nov14 12

 

Happiness is… The Princess In Me- Launching Day (xxi)

12 Nov

Barbie 29Two years ago, Hello Kitty took SM North EDSA by storm, with a whirlwind of activities, exhibits, and merchandise- all Hello Kitty-themed, of course. This year, another worldwide superstar takes the helm of SM Malls’ Christmas celebrations with the theme “The Princess in Me.” And though she is all of 55 years old, this superstar has conquered gender biases and aging with a lot of grace and grit. Yes, for SM City North EDSA, the royal ball will not be complete without the ultimate princess, Barbie. The Princess in Me Christmas campaign recreates a magical fantasy of princesses and royal balls for children and kids-at-heart. Decked in all fabulous pink, with pampering activities to treat guests and visitors throughout the holidays season, SM North EDSA was transformed into an enchanting wonderland and this magic will last throughout the holidays. Barbie invite The launch of the campaign, held last Friday, November 7, was a glamor and glitz event headed by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. President Hans Sy and  SM President of SM Supermalls, Annie Garcia. As expected, entertainment stars graced the event and rubbed elbows with the common folk. Most significant, however, was the attendance of some of the special beneficiaries of SM Prime Holdings’ charities, namely, the children of Child Haus, as they celebrated the start of this season of giving with their most ardent supporters.

SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy is always the most gracious host. He is also a tirelee philanthropist, as he and his family gifted Child Haus with a permanent home in Barangay Pinyanah, Quezon City in 2010.

Barbie 24

With an array of booths in the Holiday Barbie Lounge and the Royal Court, guests were treated to a royal pampering of their choice. Food and drinks were aplenty- and in pink! Older guests had their dreams of a model photoshoot fulfilled in the Barbie Photobox while younger princesses had their choice of glitzy stylings from hair, nail art, glitter tattoo and face painting stations.

Barbie layout

In keeping with the fabulous princess theme, guests were welcomed at this diamond ring arched entryway. You know what they say about girls and their diamonds (though I prefer pearls, myself).

Barbie 02

The “royal guards” stood at attention at the second foyer. Beyond that, lovely ladies-in-waiting greeted and courtseyed guests in.

Barbie 03

There can be no doubt, however, that the star of the show was the fabulous Ms. Barbara Millicent Roberts. It’s a girl’s world alright! Yeah!

Barbie 04

A large B loomed over guests; this is the iconic B that represents her name, style, and the billion-dollar industry she has generated.

Barbie 01

The Christmas Princess Tree, also known as the Couture Tree, stood magnificent upon the stage. This, along with the SM Bears of Joy Tree (see picture below), represented the advocacies of SM. I suddenly remembered that the real princess is one who loves herself and others too.  

Barbie 06

Just a note: The SM Bears of Joy Tree makes giving easy. Buy a pair of bears for only PhP200, one to keep, and the other to donate to the SM Cares Foundation.

Barbie 23

Friday’s event was a literal standing-room-only affair. Invited guests filled the lounge as early as two in the afternoon.

Barbie 07

Kids got dolled up through face painting-

Barbie 08

or having their hair done at the royal salon.

Barbie 09

Those who were feeling the Barbie vibe loved the photobox, and this mother and her daughter were no exception.

Barbie 10

An hour-long show hosted by Raymond Gutierrez and Denise Laurel started at a quarter past four in the afternoon. After a brief video  and some introductions, the ceremonial tree lighting was held.

Barbie 18

The Princess Tree was lit for the first time last Friday and its musical lights will greet mall shoppers every half hour from 11 am to 8 pm from then until January 4, 2015.

Barbie 19

SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia supervised the lighting ceremony.

Barbie 26 A twenty-five minute fashion show followed, with these pretty girls sashaying down the catwalk in pop, party, and fairytale Princesses fashions.

Barbie 20

These young ladies pulled off these Princess looks so well.

Barbie 21

Still, it was the little ones who captivated the audience’s hearts.

Barbie 25

 The event was a ball of mall proportions, and even the decorations were specially chosen to fit the theme.

Barbie 11

And did I say there was food? Pink food, of course!

Barbie 12

The royal cake was too pretty to eat.

Barbie 13

Cupcakes and hors d’oeuvres were aplenty, if the royal cake was too pretty to be sliced and eaten.

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Delightfully pink macarons with silver pearl beads made the table elegant (and the mouth watery).

Barbie 15

What’s a royal ball without a glass silver?

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Then again,  what’s a royal ball without a glass slipper and a prince?

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Truly, The Princess in Me brought out the princess in everyone who came. Even I was not immune to its charms. Long after the afternoon had come and gone, I held on the tiara I was given as a souvenir of my visit. It may have been plastic, but it made me feel like a real princess.

Thank you, SM, for making this experience royally unique.

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~0~ 

The Princess in Me- Barbie Collectors Hall will be featured in part two of this post.

For more holiday activities at SM North EDSA, visit their Facebook page here: SM North EDSA

Alphonse at 20

3 Nov

Alphonse newbornTwenty years ago, at six am on All Saints Day, I woke up to the feeling of wetness on my skin. I was hugely pregnant and bloated on my 37th week, but my delivery date, which was supposed to be a scheduled repeat Caesarean section, was still more than two weeks away. On that morning, however, as I dragged myself to the bathroom with fluid leaking between my legs,  I knew that this baby was not going to wait two more weeks.

Less than two hours later, I was in the labor room and my contractions were coming steady, strong, and in increasingly shorter intervals as the hours wore on. I never went into labor with my first son, so it was a novel experience, albeit an excruciating one. I remember looking at the clock very often, counting the minutes and hours till they could wheel me out to the delivery room, and trying to distract myself from screaming through the pain by watching television through squinted eyes. (I had no eyeglasses and the nurses made me take off my contact lenses; I was almost blind.)

At four in the afternoon, my labor was suddenly halted by tocolytics injected in my intravenous line. November 1 would not be my delivery date, my obstetrician had instructed in a phone call. My repeat C-section would take place two days later, on November 3.

And this was how Alphonse came into this world, two weeks early but also two days late. That his earliest days were marked by indecision and confusion seemed eerily appropriate as it foretold a lifetime of straddling worlds- his and ours.

Today, Alphonse turns twenty. This year is especially significant as he chucks off the last physical vestiges of childhood and adolescence and steps into adulthood. True, his cognition is still that of a young child, but the world sees him as a full-grown man now, and were he any other young man at the cusp of his life, we would be planning careers instead of carers.

Twenty years of Alphonse and twenty years of autism. That one cannot exist without the other is no longer a source of our grief or shame. We have moved beyond the sorrow, the guilt, and the blame, to a point where only Love exists. We have made peace with the fact that autism will be our constant companion for the rest of our days. While it has made our son’s life- and ours- difficult, it has also woven and bonded our family into a formidable force that protects and loves Alphonse unconditionally.

Indeed, we have lived through much. But our joys have also far exceeded our sorrows. We have learned to appreciate life more keenly, to value the seconds and treasure them as if they were our last. We have learned to be grateful for every little smile of our often long and tiring days. We have learned to work together, to trust and support each other, even when other families have been torn apart. And we have learned to accept and love each other for all our weaknesses and frailties, knowing that our strength as a family trumps any of our individual failings.

Today, on Alphonse’s 20th birthday, I must admit we still have many of the same questions we had when we first started our journey with him. Who is he? What does he really want? How will he be ten, twenty years, from now? The truth is, we don’t know the answers to these still. Just like any other child, his is an unwritten future and we can only guess at them for now.

The only difference between then and now is this: the certainty that whatever happens, we will go through them together. Alphonse will never walk alone.

Alphonse and mama 02

Happy birthday, dearest one! Mama, Papa and Kuya love you always!

 

Because We Miss You, Daddy

3 Nov

Fred's flowerbedFred’s flowerbed
Is not red
But white and yellow, instead
Mom planted on his head
Her love she spread
Even in death, never unsaid.

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