“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?”
I don’t know if it is the same for all widows, but I find the second year as the hardest. First year is for putting your life back together, second year is for new beginnings. Somehow it is as difficult as the actual death of a loved one because in this case, you can’t just pick up where you left off and continue, wether you like it or not, you have to start anew. As I am going through it myself right now, I find that though it’s hard, harder than I thought in fact, it is possible. As much as you can, you have to let go of, not the wonderful memories, but the if-onlys and the could-have-beens that are attached to them. As much as you can, you have to stop holding on to your loved one who is long gone and start clinging to God who is very much present in your life. And as much as you can, you have to pray harder than you ever did in your life for Him to work in the areas of your life that need a fresh start, and trust with all your heart that He will do what He can only do to make you be alright. There’s no easy way in letting go but if you do it with God, it becomes a lot less painful.
“Have I not told you that, if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”
Reading how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in today’s gospel brings back the painful memory of Nan’s death and how I prayed, begged, and demanded for a miracle during the time that he was being revived in the ER. Looking back now, I think I got that miracle I prayed for. Though clearly not in the way that I would have wanted it that time but still, God granted me the miracle. The miracle of Nan’s swift and peaceful cross over from here to afterlife. Not everybody gets that chance to die painlessly and without hardship. And his death, I do believe now was for everyone’s good. Though it would appear difficult to understand at first especially when we are caught in a painful situation, it would do us well to remember all the time that God always has our best interest at heart.
“Give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”
I can still remember clearly the day the doctor called me to his office to break the news that Bianca’s lump was positive for malignancy. I was in daze the whole day. Later that night I found myself crying to the Lord not because I was scared that Bianca might die of cancer (because I know she will not) but because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able raise the money needed to put her in surgery asap as what the doctor advised. Our health insurance didn’t cover the cost of all the medical tests she had to do prior to surgery and this has left me financially drained. But of course the Lord, amazing that He is, responded instantly by sending forth His band of mighty angels in the form of friends and relatives to help me make sure Bianca receives the best medical care. In a span of five days I was able to raise more than enough money to cover not just the surgery but the radioactive treatment and all the others tests that folllowed as well. Relatives, close friends, and people I’ve met during the course of my work as a teacher in Woodrose generously offered their support and expert services. Though I know that God clearly had a hand in all this, I would still like to think that these people readily extended their help because at some point I have given them something of myself too, probably my time, attention, affection, or service and that they are simply returning back kindness for kindness. And as a recipient of such abundant generosity and blessings, this time around I will have to pay it forward too by doing the same good deeds to others so the cycle will continue.
Gospel Reflection:”Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you will find; knock,and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds: and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
When I became a widow, my greatest fear was how I will be able to raise Bianca singlehandedly and provide for all her needs. For months, I was at a complete loss but then eventually you get tired of being scared all the time and you start looking for someone or something to anchor yourself on. In my case, I turned to my faith. I turned to God. I just simply sought Him and asked for His help, and there was never a prayer that was left unanswered after that. Everything I ask for was given to me, sometimes with added bonuses and perks. I am truly beyond grateful. But then, though the Lord continue to bless me even up to this day, I am still far from living the charmed life that most of us likes to imagine having. It is because for every answered prayer comes with it a responsibility too. The Lord will not hand everything to us in a silver platter just because we ask, somehow we have to work at making sure all His blessings will not go to waste too. He will not also give us everything we ask, only the ones that will be good for us, what will bring us closer to Him. And the way the cycle of answered prayers go is this: first stage is when you pray, ask, and believe…second stage is when you trust, claim, and receive…third stage is when you value, nurture, and care for His gift. For the cycle to continue, we have to stay anchor to Him.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will raise you up.”
I remember clearly the day the Lord took Nan away. When I arrived at the emergency room in Asian and took one look at him, I knew in my heart that he’s not going to make it. But I was adamant then. In my mind I bargained, pleaded and demanded God for a mircale. I wanted Him to give me back my Nan. Told Him I wouldn’t want it any other way. But then as always love will always be greater than your fear and so even if it was hard, even if it was painful, I finally gave in and silently, fearfully prayed, thy will be done. Next thing I knew the doctor was beside me, telling me that we just lost Nan. That was the first time I humbled myself before the Lord. Second time was when I was seeking treatment for Bianca. The mother in me had a growing suspicion already that it was what I feared the most especially when all tests seemed to be pointing to it. But a lot of people were praying that it be otherwise, they were storming heavens with their prayers. But then, instead of asking Him what I think will be easy for me, for Bianca, for everyone, even if it was hard, even if it was again painful, I asked Him to give Bianca what He deemed best for her. Doctors later confirmed it to be cancer. Humbling ourselves before Lord can be really tough. It takes a lot from us to be humble especially in our prayers because sometimes it is not easy to understand God’s wisdom right away when He gives us His answers. But then I learned, based from all my experiences that, though humbling ourselves before the the Lord can leave us vulnerable and open to heartaches, we still shouldn’t be afraid to do so because it also make us ready for the outpouring of blessings and the avalanche of miracles from heaven that will surely come when we, with all humility, surrender to His will.
I am sending 2013 off to history with a twinge of sadness as with every ending as well as with quiet jubilation like most beginnings. Almost everyone I know can’t wait for it to end not because it has been so bad but because we all want a fresh start.
I have nothing but good memories and recollections of 2013. If there’s anything I learned from this year, it is that miracles do come true. This year, I had one too many, one of the most amazing of which was our surprise trip this year. Who would have thought that my daughter and I will be given a chance to go on an all expense paid trip for two with full accomodation and pocket money to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last February. And to top it all off, strut my stuff and walk the runaway like a supermodel for one night. To think that all I asked from the Lord was just a funny and happy Valentine? The Lord had given me that and a lot more. He showed me how He can bring me to places with the talent He has blessed me with. And He made me feel beautiful in the most cherished way.
2013 may be a year of challenges, the most trying of which for me was when my daughter was diagnosed with pappilary carcinoma. But, it is also a year where I witnessed how generosity sprang forth from the hearts of many, overflowing and amazing in its glory. The Yolanda victims can attest to this and would know from their hearts when I say that, God will indeed provide. I only asked for little but He gave me so much more. In the darkest time of our life, I saw Him clearly and brightly in the faces of the many friends, family, colleagues and even strangers who have supported us, spiritually, emotionally and financially, so my Bianca will be well again. I felt His guiding hand as He led me to the right places and the right people whom He had entrusted to perform His miracle. Even to this day, I still cannot believe that I was (and still am continuosly) blessed abundantly with the goodness of the Lord.
2013 opened my eyes to the reality also that angels do exist. Yes, they do. They take the form of friends, family, and strangers. They are everywhere, waiting for the perfect oppurtunity to extend help and to make us feel better with their presence. Most often, they don’t realize it but they have become God’s instrument to make us realize that despite what we are going through we are never ever alone. On our end, we should always allow them to do what they have been destined to do in our life.
Yearly, I would dictate my list to the Lord. The things I want to happen, things I plan to happen in my life. When Nan, my husband, died a year ago, I stopped doing that. It is because when he died, I felt so lost. For the first time I didn’t know what I want, I didn’t know where I want to go. I cannot see far into the future. I just simply followed where the Lord led me. And my God, He led me to places far beyond my wildest dreams. He gave me so many opportunities to grow in faith, grace, strength, and love. And I know that this 2014, I need not ask, for He would do the same. I trust that He knows exactly the desires of my heart and would work accordingly. But then, wether He give them or not doesn’t matter anymore, for I have learned to humbly submit myself to His Will. After everything that has happened, I believe with all my heart that His Will is always always what is best for us.
And so I end 2013, with joy and thanksgiving and welcome 2014 with great anticipation for what is to come. And as I await the coming year, I have only one thing to say to the Lord, it is that: Lord, surprise me. I am ready.
If you are going to ask me if its possible to have your whole world fall apart twice in a row, my answer is NO because second time around, you will know exactly how to keep it together. And you will be surprised that when you look behind your back, there are actually a lot of people embracing you and helping you hold your ground.
I thought losing my husband last year was the most difficult and painful thing that can ever happen to me. I thought wrong, learning that my only child has cancer is. My daughter was diagnosed with Papillary Carcinoma about two weeks ago, in layman’s term, thyroid cancer. Though it is a type of cancer that is very common in adults, easily manageable, curable and controllable, it is very very rare in children.
I remember how frightened I was the first time I saw the lump in my daughter’s neck. Ultrasound showed a thyroid nodule growing at about 4 cm. in a span of a month. Though there weren’t any physical manifestations of cancer yet at the time we sought medical opinion, all the lab tests showed that something amiss was going on inside my daughter’s body. The odds that it is malignant was high. Fine needle aspiration biopsy later confirmed my worst fear. A surgery was ordered as soon as possible as the doctors raced to arrest the further spread of the cancer cells.
The events following our first check up, which was around third week of October, was a blur. Everything happened so fast. But if there’s one thing that kept me focused, if there’s one thing that sustained me during this whole ordeal, it is my faith that God will see us through this. In a span of less than a month, God led us to the best doctors and the right medical institution. He sent his mighty angels–our friends, family members, and co-workers–to rally behind us with their words of love, encouragement, and support. Never once did we feel that we were alone in this. He provided me with financial provisions for all the tests and treatments that needed to be done.
The way God worked swiftly to make all things possible during our whole ordeal left me humbled. As I stood in awe, caught in the middle of an avalanche of miracles from heaven, there’s only one thing running through my mind. It is that, what have I done to deserve all these goodness. There was never a prayer that was left unanswered during the whole time I was seeking treatment for my daughter. I only ask for little from the Lord, but he gave me so much more.
My daughter had her surgery last Thursday, coincidentally, my husband’s birthday. I would like to think that he was busy moving heaven while I was busy moving earth that day just so our Bianca will be well. She is recovering beautifully now. We still have a long way to go in terms of treatment but if there’s one thing I learned from this experience, it is that everything is indeed ready in the plan of God. He has everything laid out in front of us, all we have to do is pray, believe, trust, and claim His will. For His will is always always what is best for us.
Today, my husband and I would have been 13 years married. I remember countless times how I would secretly wish for a big bouquet of flowers everytime we celebrate our anniversary or everytime I celebrate my birthday. Funny but for the longest time, he would shower me with wonderful gifts except that.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is the sweetest and most thoughtful guy in the world but when it comes to big birthday or anniversary surprise, well he was an epic fail. In fact, I have a lot of funny tales of how I would go to great lengths just to let him know exactly what I want for our anniversary or birthday. Had I known beforehand that Philflora.com, ManilaBlossoms.com, PHgifts.com offer gifts and flowers services, I would have saved ourselves a lot of time and trouble getting me what I want (*wink*wink). As crazy as it may sound, most often I had to prod, insist, or demand to jumpstart him on the idea. For a while there, I went by the matra, you create your own happiness.
With my husband’s track record in the gift giving department, it is no wonder then that I didn’t expect anything other than the usual from him last year on my birthday. But this I have to say with a voice full of pride, love, and affection that, though it was my last birthday spent with him, it was, the happiest and most memorable one. For for all his shortcomings in the gift giving department, his one final act of love more than made up fo it. On the way to work during my birthday last year, while I was sleeping soundly in the car, unmindful and unknowing of what was to transpire, he passed by a flower shop and picked up the most beautiful boquet of long stemmed roses I have ever seen. For the first time, I woke up to a surprise that I didn’t coin myself. After more than a decade of marriage, he finally gifted me with the bouquet of roses that I’ve secretly been dreaming to receive from him since the start of our relationship. It was the first and apparently the last bouquet of flowers from him because three weeks after, he died.
But then, love moves in mysterious ways as I’ve later learned following his death. And I believe that there really is some truth in the saying that love transcends because the few occassions when I wanted to feel his presence, he would send me a rose. Like on his 40th day of repose where I asked him in my prayer to send me one so I’ll know that he’s at peace with the Lord, our favorite little boy came up to me to give me this.
Or when I was feeling the blues on my birthday last August, an old friend of his sent this bouquet of roses because he dreamed of my husband the previous night and in his dream he was asking him to buy me one, which he did without realizing that it was my birthday.
Some may call it coincidence but to me flowers will always be more than just a bunch of blooms. They will always remind me of the special love and connection I shared with my husband. Eversince my husband died, one of my happy places has been the flower shop. Though it was a long time coming, my husband did indulge my one special wish before he died. I believe that it is my turn now to shower him with flowers.
If you want a hassle free flowers and gift delivery, check out Philflora.com, ManilaBlossoms.com, PHgifts.com.
And I wait here patiently Lord until it comes…until it happens. I trust and I believe.
“Wait on Me, My princess. My timing is always perfect. I know you’re anxious about many things and I see your passion for all the plans I have put in your heart. I know that you long to fly, and I see your enthusiasm. However, just as a vinedresser nurtures the vine and waits patiently for the right moment to harvest the grapes, so too am I working tirelessly to prepare you to bear much fruit. Don’t run ahead of Me or try to fly before My plans are complete. Your strength will fail you, and your dreams will wither away. Trust Me that My dreams for you are far greater than you can dream on your own. You will run farther and soar higher if you will patiently wait for the season of My blessing. Draw close to Me now, and I promise that this season of waiting will bring you the sweetest of rewards.
Your Kind and Lord of perfect timings”
(Taken from “His Princess: Love Letters from Your King” by Sheri Rose Shepherd)
I always prided myself for having the gift of foresight. Between my husband and I, I usually am the one who always had a clear vision of our future. In most cases, I managed to get us where I want us. I managed to make things happen for us. To me the future was so certain that absolutely nothing can mess it up…or so I thought.
The hardest part of losing my husband is losing sight of the future as well. After his death, I can’t seem to look forward into the future. No matter how desperately I try, I can’t seem to get a good grasp of it. And this has left me feeling scared.
That was a year ago. Fast forward to today, I am now living the future that I feared the most last year. Things surprisingly have been better. Yes there are still bad days but like always, the good far outweighs the bad.
It was when I allowed myself to live in complete abandon and to stop obessing about “tomorrow” that the future became less intimidating. Though it still appears vague most of the time in my mind, I don’t bend myself backwards trying to figure it out anymore.
After having been in the receiving end of God’s abundant grace, love, compassion and generosity the past year, I know for certain now that He will continue to walk me through it till the end. All I simply need to do is to continue to, with deep faith and trust, let go and let God take over.
Originally written for Eat and Cheat Cancer Book Project. Please support and like our page in facebook.