The Ring (with Update)

lost and found 02I lost one of my weddings ring yesterday, I don’t know exactly when or where. I wore it yesterday morning when I left the house; when I took off my jewelry later in the afternoon, it was no longer in my right hand. I’ve been trying to think of where or when I might have lost it, but nothing comes to mind.

I’m not much of a jewelry person but I do have a few favorites. This is one of them. A♥ and I bought our first pair of rings- a pair of plain white gold bands- from a roving “Manang alahera” at the Philippine General Hospital. We paid for the rings in installments over six months, well, because we didn’t have much money of our own back then. (I was a junior clerk in medical school and he had been working just a little over a year.) They were cheap compared to the ones we got for our church wedding much later, but for both of us, they were worth so much more than gold and diamonds. The rings reaffirmed our desire to be together, back when it seemed impossible. They reminded us of how much our friendship and love endured over the years. And for a young couple with little money at the start of their marriage, those rings represented a commitment to build a life together, for better or worse.

It feels a little worrisome that I lost a wedding ring on our 25th year. But I don’t want to read anything more into it than what it was, a lousy accident in an otherwise okay day, and so I pray that it brings love to whomever finds it. My ring may have been lost, but I have years of memories to cherish and appreciate. Then again, perhaps it’s time to get a new ring to commemorate moving forward to the next 25 years. Let’s go find “Manang alahera” again, A♥.

lost and found 01

P.S. That’s my ring there. How I miss it. 😞


UPDATE: The Ring

Last night, I went to bed thinking of all the things I did yesterday and retracing my steps. This morning, I woke up with a heavy sense of loss. I posted my ring story here on Facebook and then went about our day.

On Mondays, I try to clean our bedroom more thoroughly than other days and this afternoon was no exception. Against the odds, I hoped that my ring was just somewhere in our room, that it rolled off to some dusty corner waiting for me to find it again. As I often do on Mondays, I started my cleaning by stripping the bed off its sheets. Just for good measure, I whispered a prayer to St. Anthony again. I took off the sheets, brought them to the bathroom, and shook them there. Nothing. I strained to hear a clink against the tiles but none came. I did the same with each pillow, fluffing them at the same time. Disappointed, I placed the sheets and all eight pillows back. Afterwards, I took my sturdy pink broom (instead of the usual, the vacuum cleaner) and swept every corner. I even crawled under the bed to reach some hidden dust bunnies. Still not a sign of the ring. I finished by wiping down our things.

By then, I had given up; the ring was not in the room. I would have to move to another part of the house to look later. I had already been through the bathroom, even the trash cans, but the ring was nowhere. The kitchen would be my next stop.

I was mentally going through the list of things I would have to check when a wave of exhaustion swept over me. I sat down on the bed, forlorn and a wee bit bitter. Remember I had just made the bed- removed the sheets, shook them in the air, and put them back- AND then I saw the ring.

In the middle of our bed.

I still have goosebumps over it.



Originally published in on January 23, 2013.

beginning copyA couple of weeks ago, I paid my last respects to a woman I hardly knew. We had never met, our lives had never crossed, and I knew of her only through the narrative of her last weeks and days. I had stumbled upon it quite unexpectedly, on a day when I was busy ruminating on my own problems. I had been wallowing in self pity and despair, and oblivious to all around me, I was sick with worry.

I followed her story, went back over older posts, and read from where I could, months from where I first heard of her. There were plenty of days of sorrow, when her life hung in the balance and her sickness overwhelmed her frail body. But as equally important — or perhaps more — there were more days of joy and hope, when her spirit never wavered and when the strength of her will overcame the onslaught of a terrible disease. When she lost her final battle, I felt deeply compelled to say goodbye. It was as if I had already known her, even during those short months.

I often think of her these days, as I wonder and pray for the family she left behind. I am amazed at the resilience and calm she displayed even during the most turbulent days of her life. And I think of her faith, marveling at the strength of it that she rejoiced daily in her Lord even in the midst of pain and sickness.

I think of her often because unlike her, I did not learn faith so easily.

I have always been a worrier. For as long as I remember, I have always been a bundle of raw nerves wrapped in a seemingly imperturbable layer of good cheer. I remember long nights of sleeplessness even as a child, as I pondered heavily over the fears I faced daily. Rejection. Bullying. Failure. I was determined to master myself and show no fear. For a long, long time, I hid the scars of my hurt behind sunny smiles, my chewed off, often bleeding nails the only outward sign of my despondence.

When I look back now, I know why. In my clumsy attempts to control my unwieldy life, I had never allowed myself to trust anything or anyone completely. I grew up believing that I could only trust in myself to follow the trails I had made in the world. I was meant to be self-sufficient, I always thought. And while I knew of a greater power that held sway over all our lives, I always stood far from Him, my shame and despair all mine to carry.

Even in the moments when true love came into my life, I was hesitant to yield control and let go. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the goodbyes that were surely meant to come, for the dark days that would unquestionably loom ahead. I never allowed myself to experience happiness without the caution of a broken heart. I always lived in fear.

My deliverance came many years later, at a time of crisis. For close to a year, while I made war with the demons of my son’s illness, I was stuck in the pit of darkness, fear, and desolation. In truth, I still don’t know how to tell this story without continuing to be amazed at the events that brought me here and now. For when I was almost at the end of my rope, I heard Him calling out to me. In those days and nights when all I could do was pour my heart’s grief in a long litany of tears, I finally learned to trust in someone other than myself. I had to be broken to be healed.

And so, I think of that woman whose childlike faith inspires me to open my heart to trust and faith and and I envy her. She was light years ahead of me in wisdom and grace. They say that “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” This is the one lesson I gratefully accept from her.  Even close to death, she celebrated her life always as a beginning, as a chance to be reborn daily in love and spirit. I have only begun to understand.


The days run on one after the other in our household, each one almost the same as the last. Days of tedium and monotony, days that would drive many men to tears from boredom, are periods of welcome bliss for us. We have had much too much unpredictability in the last six months, what we crave most is peace. By  God’s mercy, it has finally come.

I can hear Alphonse running downstairs, his shouts echoing throughout the house. And yet, they are no longer shouts of anger and despair, of fear and anxiety; these days, he shouts in glee, his squeals and laughter music to our ears. He has been angry and afraid for far too long that the sounds of his laughter now make us weep with joy.  These days, everything is wondrous to him, it seems, as he savors with delight the pleasures denied him all these months.

And me, I am braver. Stronger. Whole. My heart no longer lurches inside my chest in constant dread. My hands no longer shake in trepidation. For the first time in a long time, I am quiet and still, the nagging voices inside my head gone silent.  I no longer ask; I listen.

Thank you, Lord, for the wonders of Your mercy.

A Mother’s Prayer

20110419-101156.jpgTonight, as I wait for Alphonse to go to bed, I sit in a darkened room, away from him. My heart still longs for those nights when my husband and I would put him to bed and he would sleep, his hands in our hands, secure in the comfort of our constancy. These days, as our presence continues to cause him anxiety and difficulty, we are forced to withdraw to give him calm and peace. In these moments of separation, I reach out to the heavens in prayer, imploring Him who listens to hear our pleas for mercy and healing.

I found this beautiful prayer online, written by a mother whose son has schizophrenia. I was moved to tears by the sincerity of her prayer and how her prayers echoed mine in many ways. As we struggle to make sense of our son’s sudden descent into neuropsychiatric hell, prayer has been my refuge and solace. Allow me to share this with you, from the blog Politipidity  and pray with us, please.

A Mother’s Prayer for Mental Illness

As I stumble from my bed this morning, help me to remember to be gentle and kind.
My child’s mind is shredding into a million pieces. He lives in a constant state of atrocious fear. I can see it in his eyes. Give him peace.

Guide me as I hold him in my arms. Help me to know what to say. What to do. Fill my heart with healing love, understanding, and empathy.

Give me the strength of a thousand angels to hold back my tears. My heart is broken and a tidal wave of grief is overwhelming me with the need to cry. Give me the strength to bear it long enough to keep it from disturbing my child. Help me find someone I can safely bring it to.

Help me answer my family’s questions with the same amount of compassion I would want for my self. Help me remember they are hurting too. This is an unwelcomed assault on an entire family. My heart is not the only heart that is broken. We all need time and each other to heal.

As my journey becomes more and more isolative and lonely, remind me that the lack of involvement on the part of family and friends is not always because of the stigma and the ignorance. For many, it is because they are hurting too. They have the privelege of turning to their own lives. This is my family’s life now. I must deal with it whether I am hurting or not.

Send me your best physicians and healers. Give me presence of mind, as I walk through the exhaustion of my grief to not settle for just any one no matter how tiresome the journey becomes.

Help me adjust to the idea, that although it appears my son is gone, there will be no goodbye. And that he is still inside somewhere waiting for us to find him.

Infuse the creative part of my mind with solution oriented thinking. Give me hope. Even if it is just a glimmer of hope. A mother can go for miles on just one tiny glimmer. Let me see just a flicker of the sparkle of joy in his eyes.

Guide my hands, calm my mind, as I fill out the multitude of forms for services. Then help me do it again over and over.

Provide me with the knowledge. Lead me to the books I need to read, the organizations I need to connect with. As you work though the people in my life, help me to recognize those that are here to help. Help me trust the right ones. Shine a light upon the right path.

Give me the courage to speak my truth; to know my son’s truth. And to speak for him when he is unable to do it for himself. Show me when to do for him what he is not capable of doing for himself. Help me to recognize the difference.

Help me to stand tall in the face of the stigma; to battle the discrimination with the mighty sword of a spiritual warrior. And to deflect the sting of blame and faultfinding from the ignorant and the cruel.

Preserve my love for my family. Shield my marriage with the wisdom of the love that brought us together.

Protect him from homelessness, loneliness, victimization, poverty, hunger, hopelessness, relapse, drugs, alcohol, suicide, cruelty and obscurity.

Lead us to the miracles of better medications, better funding, better services, safe and plentiful housing, meaningful employment, communities who care, enlightenment. Help us to find some way to replace all the greed with humanitarian work and intrinsic reward again.

Most of all, give me the strength to deliver whatever I can to the work of unmasking the man made ugliness of this disease and revealing the human and all of it’s suffering beneath.

Finally, when it is my time to leave my son behind, send a thousand angels to take my place.


Just Believe

This morning, I woke up my husband and kids to some good news from Jude’s mom.

Jude’s Mom’s FB Update: The doctor came by to tell us they found no traces of leukemia. Although he only has 400 marrow cells present (and wants to see at least 10,000) and cannot be “officially” in remission. Jude will be retested in two weeks. It’s still good news because if there had been any cancer, they would’ve started him again with chemo tonight. Thank you God!!!

Thank you to all who prayed with us yesterday. Jude’s fight is not over yet and we ask you for more prayers for the coming weeks so God will work more miracles in Jude’s life. Right now, it’s hard to wipe these silly grins off our faces as we savor and relish this piece of good news.

I believe in miracles and let me tell you why.

In 2003, my dad had two consecutive hemorrhagic strokes, his sixth and seventh in ten years. Inside the Intensive Care Unit weeks after his initial confinement, his stats suddenly plummeted. When they worked him up, they found a leaking aortic aneurysm. Because he was very unstable, they worked on him medically for days before finally scheduling him for surgery. During those days, he hovered between life and death, between long bouts of sleep and brief moments of consciousness. Dad’s surgeons were not hopeful but were willing to brave the odds. When the surgeons opened him up, they found out the aneurysm had not leaked. It had burst, and by their estimation, it had happened days earlier. The doctors also found a fistula on a large leg vein which siphoned off the blood spilling from his aorta. Without this anomaly, my dad would have died on February 9, 2003, my son’s tenth birthday.

I believe in miracles.

It happened to us and it can happen to you.

Just believe.


Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

In August of 2008, my husband, son Alex, and I watched a concert. As is our tradition, I kept the tickets as souvenirs of the night. I left them on my bedside table and kept a mental note to remember to store them in the family memory box. A few days later, however, I noticed the tickets were damp; one was completely wet. I had inadvertently left a glass of water unattended. The condensation had dripped off the chilled glass and onto the things I had on the table. Not wanting to throw the tickets out, I left them face up to dry.

The next day, I found this.

What do you see?

I got goose pimples when I first saw this. I am not a superstitious person and somewhere in the back of my rational mind, I believe that the figure I see in this scrap of paper was created by nothing more than happenstance or coincidence. And yet, my heart believes otherwise.

What do I see, you ask? I see a man, with his head slightly bowed, his arms stretched upwards.  In my heart, I believe the man to be Jesus, as He was on the cross.

I will not try to convince anyone else of what I see or what I believe. I show this only as a reminder that even in this most ordinary world, some things still cannot be explained except by faith.

To the Man who died on the cross for us, may we always be worthy of Your sacrifice, Lord.

Have a blessed Holy Week, everyone, and see you next week!

The Gift

the-gift-01Two weeks ago, I was absolutely strapped for cash. For the first time in a really long time, I lost track of all my spending and ended up not having a lot to spare. Yes, it would have been very easy to ask my husband for more money, and I know he would have found a way to give it too, even if it hurts (he is that kind, thank You, Lord), BUT having just a smidgen of pride left, I decided not to. I thought that since I created this problem, I ought to learn from it. For the next two weeks, I decided, I would have to be content with having less than P300 in my pocket, and I would have to tighten my finances and curb any impulse to buy anything.

It sounds rather silly, thinking about my predicament, especially since so many people in our country actually do subsist on so much less. I think that was what put it in perspective for me. And so, while this little worrying thought (the persistent what-if?) nagged at the back of my head, I was able to put it aside and not dwell too much on it.

One Friday, as I did my normal thrice-weekly run, I was drawn to a chapel along my route. I heard voices singing and I felt compelled to come in to listen to mass. When Offertory came, I got what I was carrying on me (PhP200) and dropped half in the collections basket. “God, please, just take care of me,” I whispered a silent prayer. As mass ended, I felt incredibly lighter and worry-free. For the first time in days, I could even smile about my last P100 bill.

When I got home that day, my inbox was filled with news of sales and new items for Hello Kitty collectors. I enjoyed looking at them as I browsed through pictures. I opened my network accounts, reading through news of friends and relatives. One item caught my eye and I hurriedly clicked on the link. One of my generous friends, Sonia, had held a special raffle of Hello Kitty items in honor of her birthday, and to my surprise, I had won! First prize, can you imagine that!


I’ve never really been lucky in games of chance and  raffles; I’ve never won anything remotely interesting in my life from any of them (well, except for a golf cap I got as 15th consolation prize  from a Tropical Hut promo when I was 13), so this was both a blessing and a surprise. I was so giddy  with excitement that I called everyone in the house and showed them the lovely HK cosmetic carry case I had won. We jumped up and down and shrieked and laughed. Judging from our reactions, you’d think I’d have won the lotto.

That night, before I went to bed, I thought about how God really took care of me that day. Of how he gave me a gift to remind me that His love heals all worries. My troubles seem silly and petty when seen against the backdrop of the world’s greater problems, but I think of this incident as a little nudge from God, reminding me to be faithful.

So thank you, dear Sonia, for your generous gesture of sharing. And thank you, dear Lord, always, for Your gifts of friends and love in my life always.