Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’m the bomb!

Doctor X: You’ve got aneurysm.

Me: a new what?

Aneurysm. Defined by Wikipedia as a localized, blood-filled balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel, they can commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain and an aortic aneurysm occurs in the main artery carrying blood from the left ventricle of the heart.

Doctor X: When its size increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, resulting in severe hemorrhage, other complications or death. Aneurysms can be hereditary or caused by disease, both of which cause the wall of the blood vessel to weaken....

I was swiftly brought back to four years ago when they said I had a tumor in my brain that they had to take out. Surreal. I did not know how to channel my reactions – these things only happen in movies. Since when did I get on the Truman Show?

Avant art? No. This is a CT Angiogram of my cerebral arteries.
Doctor X: You have a 2% risk of rupture and it will increase at that rate every year that you leave it alone…

A quick recount of what happened since then came in a blur: my only son then was just about to turn 3. I cried every night in Max’s arms thinking he was too young to be left alone without a Mom. My husband, who was not a very prayerful person, could be found sleeping with a rosary in his hands. My sister did all she could to give my husband much needed assistance in keeping watch in the hospital. I knew she still went to work in the mornings. My bestfriend Carmie's dream of sharing her blood with me almost materialized, except that our blood types don't match. Nevertheless, she went through with it -- her first and last blood donation, as it turned out -- and nearly passed out. My parents were the last to know, but they kept my son company for a week while Max shuttled back and forth to the hospital.

Doctor X: Your options will be to either do a CT angiogram, which is the best non-invasive method to obtain a complete comprehensive evaluation of the walls ….

One officemate dubbed me as a walking miracle when I went back to work three weeks after the surgery – much faster than when I had my recovery period for my CS operation for Malakai. But heck, when you think about it, yes, they opened up no less than my head, took out something and stitched me up again. That’s like one of the more delicate parts of the human body.

I cringed before at the thought of getting ripped open to get a baby out. But heck, I bet millions go through this everyday (especially in China), but women wake up and walk out carrying their little bundles after a couple of days in the hospital. But how many people do you know had their heads cracked open and shut close? Masakit yun ha! And I’m cringing just thinking about it now.

Doctor Y: I can't tell you what we can do just yet until we do one more test – one that’s more reliable…

Me (thinking): Another one?!?!!! Jesus Lord!

Every doctor I spoke to unanimously agreed on what my source of stress was. It was over a decade of eating deadlines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is years upon years of managing the universe even if things are beyond my control. It is the long thread of happy clients I have serviced, and the equally long string of colleagues I’ve had mental jousts with. It’s the roller coaster ride on loop mode that I’ve been on since the magic of advertising lured me into its realm. 

I remember being pregnant with Malakai and wondering at an hour past midnight where I’m supposed to get tables and chairs for a shoot happening the very next day. And how I’ve conducted media meetings with a male planner while breastfeeding the little one (of course, he didn’t know). Or how, way after my officemates have retired for the night, I am still on calls with my regional counterparts to sit through an offline material. I’ve given up countless Holy Weeks and Christmases, holidays and special occasions to meet the same demands of my clients.

Aren’t I the masochist? I guess. But who cares? My advertising life was my choice and I loved every minute of it.

I met several great minds and wonderful souls in this business: my best friend of 17 years; my husband of 7 years; people I’ve fought badly and won over through 8 agencies, big and small; first loves and last loves; officemates who have become part of must-have-lunches every year. And I’ve been privileged to have worked with the movers and shakers in the industry – sadly, to the newbies, they are legends, destined for the advertising history books. Its an intricate tapestry, but I can die a thousand deaths and I’d still choose this stressful world in a heartbeat.

Yet, this is what I get for my dedication for the life I chose – two high risk pregnancies, a meningioma that was successfully obliterated a few years back (at least, up until it grows again)…and a new hurdle to triumph over.

So I’m a ticking what? Every night that I lay down to rest, I am enveloped by two men who love me for everything that I am, and I am comforted by the thought of great friends (most of whom are from this crazy industry) who are likewise looking out for me.

I may be the bomb, but I’ve been there… I’ve done that…

Here and now is a new reason for living.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Chronicles of Zak: my little rock

photo by: Carmie B. Dulguime
And it hit me like a boulder tonight...

In the darkness of my room, I weep a year's worth of emptiness and sadness. I fall into an ocean of regrets at what could have been and what I should have done in the first place to keep him safe. My loathe to self heightens and my endless 'why's' resurface. And with the sound of deep sleep to keep me company, I can only shake my head and sob some more. 

I thought I was okay already. Work keeps me occupied. And in idle time, I take refuge in baking fruit pies which I give away if the sweetness at home goes beyond acceptable levels. I focus on Malakai's needs in school and I am more visible inside Dasma these days. It seems to motivate Kuya to study harder, which is a good thing. And on days that I feel like waking up earlier than Daddy, an interesting feast graces our breakfast table. 

I've fallen into a routine of visiting bunso on weekends at the Shrine...and towards end October, I bring home what's left of my little one to keep company through Christmas and New Year. At this time, our family's complete -- I have all three boys in the room: two of them keeps me warm in an embrace that locks and lulls me to sleep at night, but the other one sits cold on top of the dresser...staring...watching...but never judging.

There isn't a single moment in my year that passes by that I don't get reminded of you, bunso. Every visit to the hospital, every image of a new born, every child at play, or a picture of an expectant Mom brings in bittersweet memories of you in me and our journey on the night of November 25th, and your downhill trek to that fleeting 15 minutes of being able to hold you. Now that was priceless! 

I carry with me an invisible candle to light your path, anak, while I grope my way around in darkness and sadness. And if I can pool together all the wishes that I'm entitled to in this lifetime, my wish will still be the same -- to have you grow up to be as healthy as Kuya and Mommy can watch over and get spoiled rotten by three great-looking fellas.

In two days, you would've been three years old. A fine age to be running around and hanging on to Mommy's legs to keep me from leaving in the morning as Kuya had done four years ago. How can anyone keep from being sad at the thought?

I think maybe I'd take the pain of being crushed by a boulder any day than walk around for the rest of my life with this gaping hole you left in me, Zak. Because one...can ever fill it in.

photo by: Carmie B. Dulguime

Ang liit-liit mong tao, pero ang laki laking butas ang iniwan mo. I miss you, bunso!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Judas Asparagus (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

A child was asked to write a summary of The Holy Bible. This is what he came up with. It’s hilarious, especially near the end…
And I can so imagine Kai coming up with a similar, if not a worse version than this one…enjoy! (I did!) XD
The Children’s Bible in a Nutshell
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas.  The Bible says,‘The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.
Anyway, God said, ‘Give me a light!’ and someone did.
Then God made the world.
He split the Adam and made Eve.  Adam and Eve were naked,but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t beeninvented yet.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one badapple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden…..Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.
Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as longas he was Abel.
Pretty soon all of the early people diedoff, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.
One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy,but one of his kids was kind of a Ham.  Noah built alarge boat and put his family and some animals on it. He askedsome other people to join him, but they said they wouldhave to take a rain check.
After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Jacob was morefamous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob hisbirthmark in exchange for some pot roast.  Jacob had a sonnamed Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.
Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name wasCharlton Heston.  Moses led the Israel Lights out of  Egyptand away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues onPharaoh’s people.  These plagues included frogs, mice, lice,bowels, and no cable.God fed the Israel Lights every daywith manicotti.  Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet yourneighbor’s stuff.
Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more:Humor thy father and thy mother.
One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the firstBible guy to use spies.  Joshua fought the battle of Geritol andthe fence fell over on the town.
After Joshua came David.  He got to be king by killing agiant with a slingshot.  He had a son named Solomon who hadabout 300 wives and 500 porcupines.  My teacher says he was wise,but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.
After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets.  One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and thenbarfed up on the shore.
There were also some minor leagueprophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.
After the Old Testament came the New Testament.  Jesus is thestar of The New.  He was born in  Bethlehem  in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, ‘Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’ It wouldbe nice to say, ‘As a matter of fact, I was.’)
During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners likethe Pharisees and the Republicans.  Jesus also had twelve opossums.
The worst one was Judas Asparagus.  Judas was so evil that theynamed a terrible vegetable after him.
Jesus was a great man.  He healed many leopards and evenpreached to some Germans on the Mount.
But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot.  Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus.  He just washed his hands instead.
Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again.  He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of theAluminum..  His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

The Chronicles of Zak: When Big Boys Cry... (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 – I was told people who experience loss cope with the loss in different ways: some eat, others sleep…still others want to be a recluse, and yet there are some who need company and would not want to be left alone.
I simply wanted life to continue, like there was never a disruption in our lives, no respite in the day to day activities. I wallowed in my own misery and loss whenever I can – in the car, alone and in traffic, in the middle of the night when my sleep would be disrupted by a bathroom break and thereafter I’d have a hard time going back to sleep, in the bathroom where the shower muffles my sobs and rinses my tears away. There is no definition for this ache and I doubt that anyone who gets to experience what we’ve gone through can find a suitable definition for it in time. It’s the kind of pain that wants to drive you to death, where death becomes the sweetest escape possible. Perhaps that’s why bereaved individuals shout “…bakit mo ko iniwan?!?… Isama mo na kooooo” when it’s time to lay their loved ones to their final resting places. (Buti na lang uso na cremation ngayon!)
Its only now that I can write about Zak’s “inurnment”…and why did I take time? I was healing … wallowing … going with the flow … denying the loss … wishing for a rewind … but in the end, I was simply being forced to accept the hard truth that there’s no more going back, and I was just detaching, isolating, and taking a back seat so that I can see the bigger picture.
How many times have I read “I love you bunso…”? And in re-living the final moments of Zak, I would die with him. Yet, people still ask me how I am … and I’d say I’m good but the reality is, I can no longer be 100%ok…
Thinking back now, I marvel at the way I contained all emotions from when our last visitors left the night of his wake, to the final moment when his urn was finally sealed in our vault. It gave me a headache. It made me dizzy. It made me numb. It made me feel an emptiness that’s bigger than the universe and all these, and I felt it all at the same time.
I thank all those who mourned with us and wished us well in spite of. Thank you for going with our shower idea for the wake; I feel like a little girl asking all to go with my little game…but your toys and books are now being played with by other little kids from Cribs Foundation in Marikina. I saw a thousand different smiles that could have been Zak’s when Max, Kai and I went to give Zak’s toys to them last February 3 and 7.
I may not have spent more than a smile, a hug, a nod, a little less than 5 minutes with you that night, but we, Zak’s family, are engulfed by the love, concern and sympathy everyone has shown: from my P&G family (Singapore included) to the entire Leo Burnett, to my friends from past agencies (McCann, Adformatix, Taipan and Crown); from family from my side and Max’s to our extended family in CFC; from Max’s On Demand family, to his friends from the old, old days, thank you, thank you, form the bottom of our hearts (cheeeeeezeeeeee!)
As I sat in the back pew of the shrine on the day we brought Zak to his new home, emotions and thoughts in my heart and mind abound. I had a conflict going on about pamahiins, and another spat about lack of respect. But I am oblivious to all, save for the little, black marble jar I held in my arms. I was empty and hollow, and was hearing only the silence all around.
More friends came by to offer hugs and comfort, but I was in an altogether different zone. I struggled through the last mass offered for Zak; went through the motions of blessing the urn with Max, Kai and the grandparents. Through it all, I was just watching the angelic face of Zak from the blown up picture my sister prepared the night before his cremation. Anticipation was welling up within me. Pretty soon, the parade to his final resting place would start. I thought it would be easier…
But it was obviously not!
They gave Kai and his cousin Kyle a candle each to light our way as we started our parade from the shrine to the columbarium. To Max, they gave Zak’s framed photo and in my arms, Zak’s urn came back, feeling heavier than it felt the day before.
Surely Kai felt important – he knew he was the leader of the pack because he was put in front of everybody else and his concern was to not let people go ahead of him; and yet, he was intently minding the candle wax that dripped into his hands.
Soon Lana Beeson’s innocent voice filled the air as she sang the special music that I shared with Zak – soon you’ll come home from the movie, All Dogs Go To Heaven. There came another catch in my throat (if I’d be paid a thousand for each catch in the throat since Zak’s birh, I’d be a millionaire by now…) and pretty soon the tears were threatening to fall once again. Light blinded my brimming eyes as soon as we reached the shrine’s entrance. Images of Zak’s eyes rolling everytime he heard this song flashed before my eyes; his fingers tightening its grip over my index finger. It seemed like he knew when I was there or was not with him.
Then they handed us blue and white balloons that had “I love you bunso” written across it. Since it was only a few, I had to share mine with Kai, whose wrist and candle and balloon I was already holding with my left hand, and Zak cradled in my right arm. On our way down the slope, they told us to release the balloons. I don’t know if it was me or Kai that was keeping the string in between our entwined hands, but it took us a couple of minutes to let go…maybe more.
It was the hardest thing: my knees gave way and my tears threatened to flow. I watched his balloon rise. It was terribly hard to breath. But as I exhaled, I almost called out, “Zak, don’t leave Mommy, please!!!”
But I did no such thing. By this time, I was crying like I did the night that he left. I almost felt my body fly after the balloon as I lost consciousness only to get it back again after a split second. Max was right beside me, holding much of my weight again. I groped for Kai, but could not find him. It was a hard task, putting one heavy foot in front of another as we started marching down the slope again.
Zak’s little “ceremony” in front of his vault was set up – his balloons from the wake were all there, his picture on a small table was flanked by the two candles that Kai and Kyle brought down. His urn…his urn sat in the middle of it all.
By this time, I knew without looking behind me that some people were also in tears as we are. Through mine, I caught a glimpse of Kai in the corner, front row along with a few of his cousins his age from both sides. His Ninang Carmie gave him a hanky which he used to wipe his tears with. I wanted to take him in my arms and cradle him and make his tears go away as all Moms would do. But like a little man, he was crying, and taking his hanky and wiping his tears on his own, and then putting the hanky back into the front pockets of his jeans and doing this routine again when the tears would fall again. I caught him do this a couple more times.
I tried to catch his eyes, but he never looked my way. I was thinking I’m embarrassing him with my bawling, but a lot later, he reiterated what he told me in December – that boys cant cry, only girls – so I was the only one allowed to weep and he’s ashamed to show me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m teaching him the right things…
Soon, we were asked to make our final send off to Zak – Max and Kai did, but I couldn’t. I sat there frozen and soon, I was sobbing uncontrollably again. My sister gave me medicine to calm me down; and then everything was a blur. The sound of the drill that sealed the vault off was like daggers in my ears and reached the very core of my heart. In my mind, I was shouting, this was supposed to be easier; I don’t see him anymore!!!This should be easier!!!
But there’s a finality to the sound of that drill – a finality that our separation is as real and final as it could get… that Zak was really, reallygone.
In another corner of the columbarium, another boy was crying his heart out – his body bent, his limp arms lay dangling on his sides. This is déjà vu for my 70-year old father, who lost his first born son 33 years ago to cardiac arrest also. My younger brother was just a year and ten months old then — a mongoloid son, who at nearly two, could still not walk nor sit nor crawl. One day when I was six and getting ready to go to school for the first time (it was early June I remember), my mom brought my brother to the hospital with me in tow. He was very, very sick. Not two hours after, my mom hailed a cab outside the hospital to bring us home – my brother lay very, very still in a bluish bundle while my mom wept silently.
In the days that followed, it was like a party in our apartment: lights never went off for days on end whether it was daytime or nightime, the visitors (some I knew, the others I didn’t) poured, food overflowed. And some guys would visit my brother who lay in a rectangular box then every other day – from the top of the stairs, I would watch their backs as they hovered over my lying brother and leave after a while. My mother never explained the concept of death to me then. All I could remember was that she was pregnant and crying all the time (and then, I thought her pregnancy made her cry all the time!)
Fourteen days later, my father arrived in a cab one evening and seeing the festive mood within our compound, he made his way to our door, passing through the “party” with his luggage. He just came from an inter-island trip.
Seeing the bright candle-looking lights that flanked my brothers white casket, my Dad froze…I remembered him sucking his breath in and going straight to our upstairs bedroom where he wept in the very same way except he was seated at the corner of their big bed, his head cradled on one hand. For someone I looked up to with “hero” status, seeing my Dad’s weak side was devastating for me then. Had I seen him weeping this time with Zak, I probably would be completely wrecked.
All this time, Max has remained my rock. Along with all my closest friends and family, who have generously offered a loving circle of comfort through this lowest point of my life, Max has been a sturdy pillar for me to lean on and he’s never wavered through my wailings and grief. In fact, he’s acting like he’s not going through the very same things I am. But he chose to put my welfare before his.
Lots of our old friends commented on how much weight Max has lost since my giving birth to Zak. He has gotten smaller…all around I think. I mean, I can clasp my hands when I put my arms around him these days. Lots of his shirts don’t fit as well around the shoulders anymore. These days, many things no longer fit.
Like I never knew Max to have shed a tear or two for any of our fights, big or small, in the past. Not even when Kai and I spent consecutive summers away from him. But the night Zak left, Max slept a little differently – watching him sleep, the sides of his closed eyes glistened in the dark room where we slept in my parents house. Weeping in his sleep, it seemed to me like that was the only time he could shed some tears for his lost son…
Last night, the impact of Zak’s passing on his older brother was revealed to me: for several weeks now, Kai has been extra attentive to my needs – greeting me at the door when I come home, bringing me out when I leave, getting my drink form downstairs when I’m already ready for bed, checking on me when I’m the shower, and most importantly, he makes sure I hear him say “I love you, Mommy” as soon as I get pensive. At one point, he has been saying “I’m still here” as well but has dropped that recently.
Often, he’d catch me staring at his brothers “angel” picture (c/o lovable Robby from our office) … and then he’d just go right ahead and chant “I love you, Mommy…”
But late last night, in the darkness of his little corner in our room, Kai was fidgeting like crazy under his sheets. I asked him to sleep as he still had to go to school today – nicely in the beginning, until it progressed to a high pitched nagging, which he has grown accustomed to over the years. Eventually, the movement under the sheets stopped nearing midnight. All was quiet. Everyone slept.
This morning when I was getting ready to leave, my little Kai was still fast asleep, but because the aircon has automatically turned off, I pulled on the sheets that covered him so that he wont feel the heat as he slept a little longer. As I pulled, Zak’s photo, torn on the corner and a little crumpled, flew as the covers moved. And out family photo taken two Christmases ago dropped from the side of his bed. It dawned on me that what he was frantically trying to do was paste in the picture of his little brother into our family photo.
I validated my little theory when he woke up, and indeed, he was going to give me the framed copy of our family photo – take note, the frame’s c/o his old photo from when he was 4 months old and trying to lift his head while I sat through a pre prod meeting at McCann 4 years ago.
“Mommy, you said you wanted three boys. I was making space for Zak so that you can have your three boys….”
That was a real ache…an honest-to-goodness painful pinch in the heart that I carried through my day.
Indeed, people cope in different ways when they encounter loss. And I’m seeing death in a new light after Zak: because this is a first-hand experience, the pain is real and deep and will probably last a lifetime – something I took for granted in the past when we would just visit wakes and funerals.
As silly as I looked to friends who offered consolation in the last two months as I recounted the tragedy of Zak, I’ve seen my three big boys cry like little boys too. I’ve just been oblivious to it all.
I refuse to forget Zak. That’s why I’m having a hard time moving forward. But as had so lovingly demonstrated last night, we only need to make space for them in our lives, in our memories, in everything to make everything complete still.
It won’t fill the void. But it will make the picture seem complete for now.

The Chronicles of Zak: My Mornings are Different Now (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

Friday, March 6, 2009 – For forty days now, my mornings have not been the same: it is empty and its emptiness is beyond description.
I don’t like waking up knowing my only destination was going to be just my office; I’ve been so used to making multiple stops between leaving in the morning and going home at night.
I don’t like brushing my teeth, because doing so makes me remember that the time I used to gag when I would brush my teeth some seven months ago, Kai would slightly punch my bulging belly, blaming his poor little brother for making Mommy sick.
I don’t like the way the morning sun hits my eyes everytime I’d leave our village to go to work; it seems brighter thus more hurtful to the naked eye. Perhaps I need a new pair of shades. Plus, Kai never seems to want to bring me to the village gate anymore these days…
I don’t like having soup with my meals anymore – I never liked it in the first place anyway but I had to prepare myself for when Zak comes home and will need nourishment from me. If Kai and I made it to the recommended 2-year breastfeeding stage, I’d need to double that feat for Zak this time around.
I don’t like to have pansit for my afternoon snacks these days; it serves as my reminder that I’m just taking a break from caressing my little Zak and that I’ll come back to him when I’m done.
I don’t like seeing the roads that lead to UERM, whether it’s from our Merville house in Paranaque, or my parent’s house in Antipolo. It stirs up memories that for a time, I’d forgotten that I had a very pleasant office to go to everyday, which Kai adored beyond his wildest dreams (as in after his school ends this March, our deal was that he’ll go straight to working for our agency…sadly, Kai our office is on freeze hire mode these days), and that I opted to come here religiously instead for two whole months.
I don’t like going to hospitals – whether for myself or to visit someone else. I have unfinished business with my son’s hospital and I don’t mean finances. It amazes me how the very people you entrust cure and care of your loved ones can be as vile as the people who subjected us under extreme duress at the lowest point of our lives (read: pay some amount tomorrow morning at 8am or we’ll pull out your son’s oximeter!). It is sad that I considered them supreme beings who can do wonders for my little Zak. In the end, it is only His will that matters. Not mine…not the doctor’s…and definitely not the hospital’s.
I don’t like talking to doctors…I have three cousins who vowed to make my loved ones well…and they let me down. Maybe someday I’ll learn to trust in them again.
I don’t like going to the Xerox machines in the office…I dread falling in line for our annual physical exam…I hate passing by or even going into Pancake House…I would look for an alternative Unionbank because I cant go to the Perea branch where Zak and I last went before my confinement. All of them remind me of Zak.
I don’t like seeing pregnant women if only because my last pregnancy was too short for me to have savored: I missed the first trimester and never made it to my last. I had maternity outfits I bought for when I’m too big to fit through our front door. I’ve prepared much better for Zak’s coming home – his shirts are washed, his diapers abound, and essentially his place in our home is being set up, organized, primed for his coming home. I loved being pregnant! It was never difficult for me, though I know I made it difficult for people around me – beginning with my OB, my husband, and yes, even my AE! I felt extremely nurtured, protected and loved. More than that, I felt sexier despite the size.
I don’t like seeing babies, especially newborns. Its still terribly difficult to breathe when I see one and images of my struggling Zak flash before my eyes. One day not so long ago when Max and I visited a cousin’s 3-month old baby, he broached the subject of us potentially adopting. My initial, private reaction was to be revolted by it. But when you think about it, he must have been thinking I so badly to have one it wouldn’t matter if it was ours or not.
But it mattered. It matters now that my mornings aren’t the same. I looked forward to my days beyond delivery to look after three boys and to be cared by three of the most compassionate men I know.
It has been forty days since I lost my little Zak. To this day, I still wonder why he had to be subjected to so much to deliver a message to me. It’s harder to take it, but at least this time, I’m taking it more seriously.
#   #   #

The Chronicles of Zak: An Angel on Loan (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

What’s in a name?
With my two boys, it says a lot obviously. Choosing names for our children was something I took seriously – as in, career!
Let’s see, Kai, who has always been “Kai” to me even when he was still in my tummy, was born barely three months after Max and I got married. When he came out, I was working on the pre-production requirements of Project Jerry for Greenwich. I’ve had time to surf the net for baby names then because I was going in and out of St. Luke’s beginning end July. Back then, Max wanted to be surprised if the baby in my tummy was a boy or a girl so I kept everything to myself, and “Kai,” pronounced kye, is both used to name boys and girls.
So where did “Kai” and “Malakai Rei” really come from?
I think maybe I still had a hangover from the wedding because Kai stayed faithful to our wedding theme then: water. Kai is Hawaiian for “sea,” where both Max’s and my Dad worked/still works. It is also of Welsh, Scandinavian and Greek origin, which means “keeper of the keys; earth”. In South Africa, Kai means “beautiful”.
How “kai” morphed into “Malakai” was really his mom’s silliness at work – I thought he’d be the only baby Max and I will ever have so I also tried going to a mini-Max meaning and Max, in Tagalog, is “malaki;” put “Kai” in there somewhere and you end up with “Malakai,” which sits well with me (hindi jologs, hindi TH, but very memorable). Oh yea, and he’s also a prophet (which makes his parents seem like Bible experts when they’re actually not) – a Hebrew name, which means, “messenger of God.” His second name is “Rei,” which simply rhymes with “Grace,” and by definition in some other language, is “king.” Now, put them all together and you get a definition that goes: “king of the big ocean, keeper of the earth and messenger of God.”
Now, choosing a name for our second son was tougher than I thought it would be. I had to be equally creative if not more playful than Malakai Rei. So I sent out a brief for name studies to some friends as soon as we found out Kai’s sibling was going to be another baby boy.
It’s a bit easier only because Max knew the gender ahead of time and I was no longer keeping things from him. We agreed it had to be related somehow to “Malakai,” so some mandatories in the brief came out: it had to be biblical too.
Ultimately I had to clear the name studies with Kai. I went to him one day with more than three Biblical names with matching nicknames: Kiel, short for Ezekiel; Ez, short for Ezra, Zak, short for Zachary and a few more.Zak was approved almost immediately, not because Kai was a big fan of the High School Musical, but because he had a classmate named Jac (Jaques Pierre) and Zak sounded like Jac (seems almost everyday that he’d bring home stories about Jaques Pierre).
So “Rafi Zakkari” became Zak’s full name.The AE that I am had to look for justification for each syllable. “Zachary,” pronounced ZAK er ee, is an English form of the Hebrew name “Zechariah,” which means “remembered by God.” It puts me at peace knowing that the entire 61 days that Zak has fought for his life, he was not forgotten.
And “Rafi,” whilst it was a struggle to look for a second name that approximated Max’s Dad’s name (in essence Lolo Simo’s name was already in Kai’s anyway…), Rafi was an effort to seek help from St Raphael, the Archangel, who is deemed to be God’s healing archangel. With holy oils and a special novena given to me by Monette, we peppered Zak’s feet and hands whenever possible (and there were days where there’s nowhere to dab our healing oil because Zak is punctured and bruised all over). I brought all kinds of prayer books and recited them to Zak everyday after I tell him, “Zakiboo, yoohoo…Mommy’s here!” His Dad prayed the Hail Mary to him when he visits. Most of all, Zak had a legion of hopefuls praying for his recovery both here and abroad.
On days when I would sit alone inside the hospital chapel, tired from sounding happy for Zak, I would call on all the saints and angels I know to intercede for us. It was the worst predicament ever, but through all the tears and lumps swallowed, it was sheer faith that carried me through.
And now, Zak himself is an angel in heaven. His purpose is served (heard this lots of times and yes, there were moments I’d cringe at the thought of Zak seen as a thing that simply expired and that’s it. He was my son, the very core of everything I did for 7 months! And now that he’s gone, the greatest loss of all falls on me. How can I expect anyone to grasp exactly how painful it is when I can’t even begin to describe the loss…the pain…the grief…).
He was a life on loan for two short months to bring his family a little closer, a lot more matured, more praying than we ever were…and extra hugging and kissing bunch because it was in the hugging and kissing the we made the pain of the loss more bearable.
Now his name sits on one of the walls of the columbarium at the Shrine of St. Therese. But his struggles and pain and love will resonate among all the people who knew him, visited us, prayed for us, and shared in our despair.
Now it seems easier to let go knowing he was really just on loan…and that he was never mine to keep.
I’ll be missing you for the rest of my life, bunso.
Zak has been gone 25 days today. Please continue to utter a little prayer for him so that his way to heaven will be well lit.

The Chronicles of Zak: I love you, Bunso... (a very important re-post from Malakai's Pages)

(Note: this is not to re-live the nightmare. On the contrary, it is to preserve my memory of my little angel. I’m still in a state where anyone, please, anyone, pinch me so i wake up from this bad dream and I can go back to visiting Zak at the ICU….please….)
I grew up thinking its just an urban legend when they say “Moms know best” or “mother’s instinct yan…” When I had Zak, I had three episodes of my heart literally jumping into my throat and an ominous feeling swallowing me: the first, which I thought did not count, was when they said Zak had pneumonia day after his birth – I remember noting when the LRT stopped and started operations (10 pm and 430 am respectively). But the real first fear was on the day of Kai’s Christmas program – Max and I went to NICU right after lunch and left earlier than usual at 230 because we had to get Kai to school by 4pm. When we got home, I asked Max to call the hospital to check on Zak and true enough, his levels were going down which warranted a text asking us to come to NICU early the next day. The second was when I asked permission from Zak one Friday afternoon if I could go home early so that I could have a much deserved pedicure. He called for me very early the following day, levels down again. The third was today – his 61st day alive and his 2nd month birthday. I left him this afternoon fully cared for with a resident, a senior intern, a junior intern and 2 very competent nurses. And the consultant neonatal was just a phone call away. But you know what they say when you make a third strike…
I didn’t think, there was something different about today – we do three main things on Sundays: visit Zak at the hospital, do groceries and hear Mass. I woke up with a skip to my usual walk, a jolly disposition to even my new yaya who tests my patience 24/7 and essentially a good feeling because Zak was getting better and better everyday especially this last week. It is his 2nd month’s birthday; I had cake waiting at home (if for some miraculous turn, they’d let us bring him home, I was ready with a welcome feast) and I brought the traditional pansit, which when left uncut can help (like, uh huh) make the celebrant live longer. I was in high spirits. I dressed up a little better than the usual, I tried on a mini skirt which now fit, and I took extra effort to make my make up look nicer than usual (all this time, I never visited Zak looking like a depressed mom – I want to look good for him all the time).
I did our routine after the usual sanitation before I get to Zak: checked his weight and stats (all good…), played his mp3 loaded with kiddie songs, prayed his healing prayer from Fr. Suarez and I cap this routine by singing (actually, singing along a tune from my phone) “soon you’ll come home.” Like I said, its all good…
Everyday, I’d talk to Zak – I tell him things that happened to Mommy in the day (if I visit late) or what I’m planning to do (if I visit earlier in the day). Lately, I give him stories from work because I went back 4 weeks before my scheduled return and Kuya’s school – how he’s gotten great grades from the meeting with his teacher last Friday morning. Sometimes I tell him things I plan to do when he gets to go home with us – family vacations in Baguio, park sessions and potentially a beach getaway if Kuya’s brave enough to have his ears cured. But I never end my visits with good byes (I didn’t want him thinking I’ve been leaving him behind in the hospital for 2 months now). I always tell him since he’s still sick, I’ll just “bring him home tomorrow…” And I end our sessions with what I thought was an endearing, “I love you bunso…”
Tonight, all these routine activities would come to a halt. Lets not talk clinical complications because I’m at this point, organizing where to direct my anger at how this could have ended in the way that it did. But long and short of it, Zak’s pneumonia progressed and he had a cardiac arrest nearing midnight today, January 25th.
We were getting ready to go back to our Merville home tonight at about 930 when Max got a call…and I got a chill run down my spine. I was still ranting about the latest Fanny stories and it was cut short when Max’s face sobered following this phone call.
“We’re being asked to go to the hospital, but they did not say why…”
Creepy feeling number 3 crawling all over my body at this point, ominous and nightmare-ish like a dream sequence but we went with the flow. On the way to the hospital, I was texting Dr. Joey how things are and that I was scared. He just said Zak’s condition had worsened today. I answered back with the obvious – that they’re asking us to go to the hospital and reiterated that I was scared. The response took a little time. A feeling of dread gripped and choked me and I was crying nearing the hospital. We went straight to the ward only to find out the door was locked. Max rang the doorbell but they only politely asked us to wait outside.
Frantic, I scrambled to see what’s inside through the closed pink venetian blinds: more people scrambling around Zak’s incubator. The text from the doctor came at this point saying Zak was in very critical state. A big part of me was relieved – Zak was still alive as evidenced by the commotion inside, but I could not shrug the sinister feeling weighing me down.
After what seemed like a century, they asked us to come in. The interns watching by the window near Zak’s resting place parted like the Red Sea to let us pass. They gave me a seat but I only craned my neck further to get a glimpse of him the way my visitors do when they come visit me and Zak.
Then I knew, without them telling me that I’d lost him. Someone on his right was pumping his bag, and someone else on his left side was pumping his chest. He was turning dark, although there was still a bit of color on him. And his chest was moving up and down but I don’t see his own effort in it, it felt like it was all machines now.
I couldn’t bear it…its not just that he left…but he left without saying goodbye. Max told me earlier that evening that his line for the transfusion was located on his forehead. Hearing that I dreaded seeing him the following day … but he crept out quietly tonight, not wanting me to see his final suffering…
A mother does not have to bury her child, Lord! He was just 61 days old!
I ran out side and cried for the whole second floor corridor on my own, the pain in my chest was excruciating. I felt my heart crumbling into a million pieces. I don’t remember crying this much for a long time but I did. I gasped for air and then I cried all the more. I knew I had lots of questions for The Maker but none were articulated. Soon there were hands stroking my back, comforting me it seems, but it felt more like a thousand needles piercing my back.
I wanted to hurt somebody, pass on the hurt inflicted on Zak but all I could do was lean on Max and cry, bawl even. I was no longer thinking poise but really picturing how it must have been for Zak’s last hours and he was still alone, like I was never on his bedside long enough to catch a glimpse of a smile or spot that milestone “pupu” look of babies…I wasn’t there to change his diapers, nor give him a massage when he gets turned on his bed. I sang him lullabyes, but not to lull him to sleep, but really just to spend some singing the short time that I’m with him.
How can you not make a scene with residents telling you “we had to call it off because he has not been responding for one hour of pumping already”? Who the hell was she to “call it off”? I wanted to wring her neck and squeeze the life out of her as well. If it required a week to resuscitate him, then so be it! Teach me and I will do the pumping until I can bring him back. But I did nothing of that sort, said nothing, so I just cried some more until my eyes hurt.
They made us go back again when I had collected myself. I forced placing one foot in front of the other until I reached the swinging doors that I had gone through for the last two weeks to get by his bedside. I saw them cleaning up Zak’s little corner in NCHA: his incubator was empty, tubes were being pulled and rolled back along with the machines, machines were being rolled out of the ward, bandages and bottles were being thrown in the garbage.
A little further into the room, someone else was holding out a small bundle wrapped in light yellow blanket to us. At this point, I didn’t care that I was crying and screaming alternately, shaking my head and drenching Max’s shirt with my tears and pulling it in all directions, a crazy, crazy time indeed.
Max had to force me to look in the direction of Zak and I bawled all over when I saw his little round head peeking out from the sea of yellow blanket. There were no more tubes sticking out, no more plaster pulling his face o one side, no bandages – he was all cleaned up and normal looking and I should be happy, right? But without the machines, he was no longer breathing. In my mind I was screaming at them to bring him back. His eyes were still half open – I’ve seen this look so many times in the past when I know he wants to sleep. I wanted to shake him to keep his eyes open and never sleep. I was bordering on crazy I know.
It took me some time to get the bundle and when I did I kissed him all over the face like Kai always peppers my face with little kisses when he wakes up ahead of me. I think I was asking him disjointed questions:
Walang iwanan dib a? Bakit mo ko iniwan? Bakit di mo ko hinintay? Zak, baby, come back, uwi na tayo….(kulang na lang, humiyaw na ko ng “Zaaaaaaaaaak!!!!!”)
They interrupted my crazy kissing with the nurse aid putting a plaster on Zak’s forehead. Max had said he had it put there so I wont be turned off that blood was still oozing out of the last IV insertion they made on him. Funny thing is, I never saw blood. Not even before they put the bandage, not when they gave him to me in a bundle. He was clean. He was beautiful. He was at peace.
Zak felt like a bunch of broken bones underneath. So I opened him up and saw he was still intact – thin and small but intact. I started kissing his hands and head alternately, still crying and gasping for breath in between. I saw color literally drain from his extremities the entire hour that we were holding lifeless Zak. His head was a blend of brown and blue, his hands and feet were ghastly white, and the red veins on his tummy turned from red to pink to white. Zak will now be sleeping for a long time.
Yes, he does not feel pain anymore…but selfish as it may seem, papano naman kame?
I loved rubbing the part of his face where the bridge of his nose meets his forehead. Zak feels calm and sleepy with me doing this. He stops crying and gets soothed by it. And I miss doing it now.
In fact, this is something I like doing to my boys – it’s a treat massage for Max when he’s had a long, tiring day; and I begin and end my day doing this to little Kai. I was pleased one day when in the early days of my visiting Zak, I did this to him also and he liked it a lot. See, there’s very little space you can touch on his body and that became our bonding touch ever since.
I can’t imagine how many needles went through Zak’s small frame in the 61 days he stayed in the hospital. I recently had an MRI to check if the tumor they took out of my brain two years ago progressed (yes, laman din si Mommy ng ICU!). They had to put contrast in me to get a clearer picture so they put a needle through one of my veins on my right hand. I’ve had too many needles stuck in me as well since having Kuya Kai that I never minded having them stuck to me left and right. But this one was different. I was concentrating on the exact moment the needle went in, how it went in and the feeling it gave me. There was definite pain and perhaps more painful this time, but my mind was wandering off to how it must be for Zak, when there’s no longer a living vein that they have not put a needle into.
My son is such a super hero. But its time to rest now.
How many times have I heard it? Zak is now no longer in pain, he is in a special place now. His suffering has ended finally and he is in a happy place.
I agree Zak’s purpose has been served. In the short time that he has been in our family, Kai has found a reason to act older and wiser and be more protective. He looked forward to being Kuya so bad, he gave me deadlines as to when I need to bring Zak home…
Mommy, paguwi ko later, Zak will have to be here, ha? Bring him home na. Ang laki na ng babayarin sa hospital…
In the short time that he was with us, he brightened Max’s and my day everytime he bounced back from being so unhealthy. He gave Daddy and I more time and reason to talk to each other, what with the traffic that we have to go through everyday that we shuttle to Sta Mesa and back to Paranaque. I think maybe we’ve done more talking in these 61 days that ever in our entire marriage.
Finally, in the short time that Zak was with me, I have learned to put trust in other people and ultimately in God for things that I have no control over. The brat in me which can’t have her way relied on other’s capabilities. It is a humbling experience to be begging for everything: mercy, blood, even money. I’ve sought healing in more ways than one – healing from past hurt and anger, which included forgiving those who wronged me and vice versa (there’s essence to The Lord’s Prayer which was revealed to me at this time). But Zak’s passing is our family’s ultimate healing – for Zak, who is obedient enough to have obeyed Jesus when He called for him last night…and for Max, Kai and myself, who will have to pick up the pieces henceforth and start re-building our lives.
After Zak, there will no longer be another angel in our family and we don’t want a new one.
Zak, you will always have a big brother…you will always have Mommy…you will always have Daddy…and we will always love you.
I miss you so much Zak. If I can turn back the time and start over, Mommy would have taken care of herself and you much better. They would have to tie me up before I let them open me up so early. I would have not agreed to get you out of NICU where better care is assured. There are so many things that I would do over. But the love I have for you will always be overflowing and I will remember you in your last days, when you are able to lift your IV-free hand and arms to wave at Mommy.
I have a big void in my heart for you, baby. Funny how its such a big void that can only be filled up by someone as small as you.
Sleep tight now, Zaki-boo. You’re now home.
I love you bunso…
All I have is a picture in my mind how it would be if we were together
Lets pretend that your far away lets say you write to me
And you promise in your letter that you’ll come home..
Come home to my heart..
When you come home we’ll never be apart
If I keep dreaming of you start believing its true
Soon you’ll come home..
Soon you’ll come home..
Soon you’ll come home to my heart..
Soon you’ll come home..home to my heart
Soon you’ll come home..home to my heart
If I believe

The Chronicles of Zak: A One-Sided Conversation (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

Saturday, December 13, 2008 – Kuya meets bunso in the flesh for the very first time this afternoon. Until today, Kai has only heard stories of his kid brother lying with needles in the hospital ICU, seen only glimpses of his smaller version from three feet away, and in fact, has seen only captured images of Zak from Mommy’s camera phone. He wasn’t prepared to be given his ticket to see his brother today, but he was ecstatic just the same.
Excitedly, Kai put on the smallest breastfeeding gown available (of course the gown still reached the floor, but I knew he felt so grown up in it); slipped into the oversized rubber slippers that can be worn inside the ICU, and ran to the sink (gown in tow) to wash his hands. He knew my routine by heart. Then very slowly, he made his way (a little too awkwardly though) to where his brother lay.
I sat on the tall stool by Zak’s bed and Kai climbed his way up on my lap. Kai will see Zak for the first time today – the realization of it was so overwhelming that I did not notice I was sucking the air in and never letting it out. I closely watched Kai who was also intently watching Zak, his eyes slowly moving over his brother’s frail, little naked body. He snuggled further into my embrace as he continued to survey the condition of the sleeping baby Zak (he later admitted to me that the sight of Zak scared him because his brother was just skin and bones L ).
I urged him to say something to his brother and so he did:
Hello Zak (emphasis on the Z, please)! I am your Kuya Kai.
And then he turns to me with a look that says there’s about 20 Why?-questions coming up.
Mommy, bakit payat si Baby Zak? Hindi ba sha kumakain? (picture this: I answer one question, lets say “Kasi di pa sha marunong ngumuya.” Next question is, “E bakit?” Next answer: “May tubes pa sha sa bibig.” Again, “E bakit?”and so on…)
He turns to Zak again, of course, this is not exactly a monologue because he’d always turn to me to clarify and ask, but take my spiel out of the conversation and this is what he said:
Baby Zak, we always pray for you before we go to sleep – ako, sasa (translation: at saka) si Mommy, sasa si Daddy. We want you to come home so we can be happy. I will teach you how to ride a bike and play with many, many cars. We will ride Sam to go to Kingsville and we will go to the mall, I show you my favorite toys! We’ll watch Iron Man, sasa Incredibles, sasa Lightning McQueen…
Kai was holding Zak’s delicate hand while doing so when all of a sudden, Zak cried his silent cries, his lips quivering, his chest heaving. Kai was alarmed and he looked at me with frightened eyes. I only shrugged to see how he’d resolve the issue so he turned back to Zak and started whispering:
Shh, baby Zak, don’t cry. You shouldn’t cry. We’re boys so we have to be Iron Man strong. Only girls cry. Like Mommy is a girl and Mommy cries all the time but you cant cry and can’t make Mommy cry or I’ll get mad at you, Sige ka.
Here I intervened because I couldn’t bear letting Zak hear anything negative. I love my two boys and I want to bring them home soon so Kai’s one-sided conversation ended with him playing baby tunes from the Playskool musical doll he chose for Zak the week prior.
Hush little baby don’t say a word
Mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
If that mocking bird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.

If that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat.

If that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and bull.

If that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

If that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and cart.

If that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest babe in

The Chronicles of Zak: My Two Boys (a re-post from Malakai's Pages)

How do you choose between two beautiful boys?
All my life, I have loved one man at a time: growing up, no one measured up to my Dad’s dedication and unconditional love – and that hasn’t ebbed – more so now, that love is cemented by immense respect for the sacrifice he continues to pour into his family. Then came crushes and boyfriends, which, of course, came one at a time and ended in matrimony with Max.
Then came Malakai Rei, absolute center of my life for the last four years, so when news came that I was pregnant again this year, I fervently prayed for a girl, but Kai was destined to have the brother he so wanted since news of my pregnancy came out, little Zakkari.
Both born on a Tuesday, 4 years and 107 days apart, my two boys look exactly the same – came out small like the both can fit in the middle of your palm, no more no less, same facial features, similar skinny structure, same amount of hair on their bodies and head…the list can go on.
The big difference was, one was at ease and cared for immediately after birth and more than happy to be out (though still a bit too excited as Kai was born 4 weeks earlier than due date), but the latter is constantly facing pain and struggle every single day of his 6 days thus far. Every time I look at Zak encased in an acrylic plastic box (he’s the only one in his batch to have such special treatment), with tubes leading inward or outward from his body, I swallow a sob (after the nth time, it gets easier…). The way he’s pinned down makes me think of the Chemistry experiments we used to have with frogs in high school (with the frog, I was already feeling a sense of compassion for but with Zak, the sympathy shoots through the roof!)
So here’s my dilemma – I make room 427 at UERM my address for more than a week with fluctuating blood pressure scores and I am naturally frustrated to be holed up in my small space but am powerless to say “I want to leave Now! (so I could be with Kai too, because this is the longest that I have been away from him since birth)” like the brat that I am until my BP stabilizes, which could be in a million years…and yet, I feel bound to stay for anything that Zak might need from me (to date, he’s still at a 60% risk while he’s intubated and incubated), in which case, I really feel awful having to leave him behind, and dread further the thought of leaving him for another two months at the worst scenario.
Am I a bad Mom for wanting, no, needing to go home to be with my other son even for just one night?
Already, I am thinking of potentially working at the newborn ICU to care for the babies there just so I could see Zak legitimately and for longer hours every single day.
Quite a mouthful but in a nutshell, how do you choose whom to prefer between these two precious boys?
Ngayon lang ako mamamangka sa dalawang ilog…and it’s such an arduous thing to do!

The Chronicles of Zak: All I Want For Christmas (A re-post from Malakai's Pages)

I thought that November 25th 2008 was just going to be another day at the hospital, where I’ve been secluded since the Saturday weekend when Max and I checked in with my OB for routine check — but it turned out to be the most special day of the year for me.
I’ve already spent four days of solace and frustration from a monster complication called preeclampsia (my OB told me not to research in full on this so that I do not get dejected, which, of course, I will later on) before then. My condition was so severe that the swelling reached my face and the balls of my eyes, my back, my legs, and my face, literally got squared! And yet, I accepted visitors, which, of course aggravated my blood pressure. By the end of the day, I wasn’t going down 200 over 120. And protein was dangerously spilling over my urine – a verification of a bigger problem that the condition may be damaging my liver and whatever else inside (these are things I remember my OB tells me at pre op).
At 4pm, they wheeled me out of my room on to the delivery room for the nth stress test on the baby. I had a feeling time was up for me and Zak. My good doctor was going to open me up right there and then.
When I saw her, she was in scrubs (another indication that, yes, this is it!). She did the test on me herself, trying to get Zak to react to noise and outside movement. But none came. So the agonizing 6-hour pre-operation wait began for me. In between gasps for air through an oxygen tube in my nose and tiredness beckoning me to sleep, I fervently prayed like I’ve never prayed before.
Nearing ten in the evening, they pried me from Max in the DR and wheeled me into one of the operating chambers. Three doctors were explaining things to me one after the other and obviously I said “yes” to all of them like we’d stumbled upon the perfect, least painful option. What broke through my reverie was something they said Zak should do (which normal newborns do anyways) – cry like there’s no tomorrow because then he’ll have better chances for survival. And with a silent message to Zak, I begged them to tune me out.
“Zak, baby, just like the deal kuya and I had before, walang iwanan din tayo. I’ll be waiting for you at the end of this all so stay strong and stay with Mommy!”
I was in and out of sleep, but at 10:31pm, Zak let out a yelp and with him, a longer one from my OB and everyone else cheered. I couldn’t be any happier.
But as they had explained, Zak was still two months short of his lodging in my tummy and as such, he went straight into an incubator that should simulate Mommy’s tummy. His first 24 hours were great – good scores for the initial tests. I envisioned Zak getting stronger by the minute for it was the first 24 hours after my operation that I could not move from my bed.
The next day was an altogether different picture – Zak needed reinforcements – blood, more medicines…and more prayers. It was this time I decided it was time to see him whether I was ready or not.
I wept the moment I saw him. He was so small and fragile…and so much in pain it seemed. I wanted to take him back into my womb again. I touched him ever so lightly through the glass that encased him, and I would pull out my hand whenever I sobbed (which was often in the beginning). I see and feel his pain when I run my fingers through his entire body.I half wish I can take it all back because somewhere in the back of my mind, there is remorse that won’t go away.
Zak was just like Kai when he was born, though Kai was snug in the yellow receiving blankets we bought excitedly then – but a small bundle he was…like the bigger kind of rat that got drenched, he was covered in tiny hairs all over his head and body. Only, Zak was much smaller (barely over a kilo when he came out – para kong bumili ng pang nilaga!), but equally covered with tiny hairs, his little frame already charting the bumps and muscles that are supposed to grow on his arms and legs. From the side, I can see his lashes creeping from under his closed lids. He is such a beautiful little boy.
The next time I visited, I was more ready with positive thoughts. One time, I caressed the length of his shoulders, traced the length of his arms and legs, memorizing each and every contour of his little body and he let out a hint of a smile. Max saw it too and we were both amazed by the connection.
Right now, my hand (Shrek-y as it may seem at the moment), can cover the entire chest of Zak, and I gave him warmth and reassurance several times yesterday, urging him to fight not only for his life but for us to be a family.
“Little Zak, remember me? Mommy is here with Daddy. I wish I can watch you sleep and wake up and grow in our own little house, but for the moment, I can only see glimpses of these because you are not well…Remember our pact? Nobody gets left behind and I’m not about to so I’m here, and Kuya also wants to be here with Daddy and me to cheer you on. …Please fight with all you have – I know you have so much more to give because you are my son…I wish I could wrap you up in a pretty box right now and give you as a gift to Kuya…or better yet, can you just be my Christmas present?