A week has passed and the dust is slowly settling in. Each day is the same, I wake up and I see an image of her in my mind immediately. I dwell on the pain less and I cry less.
I know a lot of people would ask questions because they want to prevent it for their own child. But I realize that each person’s story has been carefully written already even when we were born.
I breastfed Caitie until 1 yr and 3 months, practiced baby led weaning at 7 months wherein you allow the baby to learn and eat with her fingers. She loved eating vegetables and fish. She learned sign language, the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, writing, reading really fast! She had great memory, good manners, great motor skills and a cheerful heart. I would say that she was beyond her age in IQ and EQ. Though I had issues with her eating so slow. It would take us 2 hours just to finish her food but thankfully she would eat neatly. She was what people would say, very demure but with the family, very jolly.
I allowed her very very minimal sweets almost close to zero. Sometimes even just a taste or lick of it and she would be fine. She had a great sense of self control. She ate healthy food and snacks. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks were carefully thought and prepared. A little of cheat food once in a while but generally ok.
She loved reading books, cutting, doing arts and crafts, dancing and simply learning.
I may be biased but she was simply perfect for me. The kind of daughter that I would dream of. Independent but would ask for help when needed. Obedience but would speak her mind. She wasn’t a robot who did everything we tell her, she would ask, negotiate and appeal but at the end of the conversation, submit to her parents and agree that it’s the best decision.
As for me, I believe I was obedient to the Lord. A little rebellious and sinned a couple and a lot of times but I would repent and come back to him every single time. I served in ministry and loved Him with all my heart. I did all of these things with the goal of just pleasing Him and not for anything else. I grew up in a broken family, a daughter from outside marriage, emotionally and physically hurt by my mother, grew up independent and sought ways to earn my allowance. I grew up with a lot of pain and when I got married, i had an ideal image of joy.
When I had my firstborn; Caitlin, I wanted to pour out so much love and be the best mom I could be. I tried to be the best wife as well.
Jayjay and I do have our marital issues and concerns and even fights. There was even a time that we always got separated. I had that tendency to leave when things don’t go well. Maybe because of my past but by God’s grace, Jayjay did not stop to pursue. Well there was a time he almost did and when he did, I was the one who realized that I need to make this right. That the enemy wants us separated and I shouldn’t allow him to win.
I did have those, I don’t think God is real moment; maybe people are simply just good, God could have prevented it in the first place. Wasn’t I obedient? Didn’t I love Him so much? Am I not His child that He should protect me from pain? Can He not tell the enemy… Ok do whatever you want but don’t lay a finger on their life. If I’m His child, shouldn’t I experience abundant life? Where is the great miracle? He can if He wanted to. If He is so powerful then she can do it. So many righteous people are pleading and praying fervently and unceasingly. Didn’t He say that ask and it will be given? I know I can change His mind if I just continue to be obedient, of people pray and if I surrender to Him, I know He will rescue us and make a bad ass miracle that people would be so amazed and believe in God. I even asked, what good will it be if she dies? None! Because people won’t believe in God that He answers prayers. People won’t believe that He is powerful. I deserve this. I have been obedient and sacrificial. I always gave my tithe, I gave. I even gave so much to people that I was taken for granted. I deserve this. She is the one that gives me joy. Do not take the joy. You already took away my mother in law last December and now my daughter? In just 3 months?!
But God answered NO.
During Caitie’s last few hours of breathing, I knew among everyone in the room it was Jesus who wanted her to be healed the most. I can imagine Him crying and screaming and His heart being shattered because I knew this one was special. This little girl’s heart belonged to Him.
I could hear God say. ” I know. I know the pain. Someone so innocent. Who simply loved, who has been so obedient and cheerful be taken by death. Of all things, a rare disease that doesn’t have a known protocol of treatment or cure. I know because my only son, much like your little Caitie died willingly and went through so much pain of difficulty breathing, of water retention, of SO many whips and piercings and blood shed, of blood stain eyes, of enlarged spleen, of enlarged liver or zero platelet that would cause Him to bleed profusely and who couldn’t even have a decent toilet break because He was being beaten and hanged on the cross. I know what you’re feeling I know the pain”
And I cried so much and told God that “but isn’t Jesus enough to go through all those pain? Didn’t He die on the cross to save us from our sin? From sickness? From disease? From death?”.
I was in the worst battle pit. I didn’t know how to get out of it. I was struggling so hard with God.
And then I remembered the moment in church and I stood up and said “jesus I love you more. I choose to love you more than Caitie. It’s so hard but ok, yes.” I wanted to take it back. I wanted God to do something.
Then I remembered that Hannah in the bible and how similarly I decided back then to dedicate Caitie’s life for God’s purpose. I remembered nick vujicic, the guy without limbs speak in church and I remembered crying bec I said “Lord, use Caitie like Nick too. I know her deformed ears and her life will be used to bring so many people to you and know how much you love each of us that despite not having a perfect life or what we want, you are gracious and you give in abundance but not in the way we understand it. lord just like the surfer girl who lost her arm from a shark attack and bec of that attack, more people came to know you as compared to when her limbs was whole, ok Lord I surrender Caitie’s deformed ears and may you use it for your glory”.
I then realized that surrendering Caitie when she was alive is the same as surrendering my heart now that she’s gone.
At the end of it all, I need to say that “I love you Jesus more than most”
Media would always ask us if she was still alive, what would we want for her to be. I really didn’t have an occupation in mind. All I wanted was that she be the best she can be so that she can fulfil the occupation that God wanted her to be.
A week has passed and a lot of things go through my mind. I realized it is indeed true… You shouldn’t live with a goal of studying, working, getting married and having a family… Because you can leave this earth and be so empty. I saw a wake when we left Loyola Columbarium and I saw a grand casket, a bunch of body guards but the room was empty. It was 5pm and at this time you expect a dozen of people already.
Then I realize that my daughter lived a life so full. She was like a 40 yr old soul in a 3 yr old body. During her wake, her line reached from Arlington to the corner SM sta Mesa. We embraced so many people from 9:30 to 1:00 am without pausing. It was a brief “congratulations” and a quick embrace. So many tears have been shed. I’ve never felt so comforted in my life.
I would always say that a life lived at 3 years is better than 60 and you were filled with anger, bitterness, resentment, selfishness and personal satisfaction because at the end of it it’s going to be empty.
Caitie’s mission on earth is finish. She reached her perfect state. Meaning there was no need to add another hour or day anymore. I still have the “God could’ve done something in the first place” I would be left videos and photos of a 3 year old and everyone else’s kid would grow up.
It’s so painful but at the end of every emotion, I still choose to love God still. Because looking back, He has indeed been faithful. We are living in a fallen world and this is not home. I always think of it that I am an overseas foreign worker and I shouldn’t settle in this world because this is not home.
My perspective of living and of life after death has changed. I no longer fear death and no longer wish the grandest of life. Because there is abundance of life but not in the way I understand it.
Caitie’s mission is done but ours is not yet. I’ve encountered people who has lost a loved one, who has grown in so much debt, who has lost their limbs, who has an incurable sickness, who is still single, who still doesn’t have a job, who isn’t as rich as she wanted to me, who isn’t as beautiful as the way she wanted to be, who has a broken family, who is an illegitimate child, who is abandoned, neglected.
We all want perfection and the best. Who doesn’t. But I realized that in these imperfections, we change our perspective and be the best version of ourselves with the goal that in the life after this world, it would be perfect. With Jesus in heaven it will be.
So yes it’s not perfect. So yes there’s a lot of pain and “I deserve it” but that’s not the goal of living on earth. Caitie deserved to have a lollipop as a prize, she deserved every toy for everything she went through… she deserved to live.
But it’s not about what we deserve. It not even about being thankful with what we have now.
The lesson Caitie imparted is that it’s not about what we deserve or not about us just being thankful for our family, of good health or good things our way. It’s not about just being selfless, being courageous, or becoming the good persons we could possibly be.
No, the lesson I continue to learn is that it is better to choose Jesus than do things on my own strength. because in Him there is hope.
And with Jesus, we need to be the best of what we were designed to be. Our experiences, our past, our present shape who we will be. If we become the best of what we are called to be, then that’s how we become good, selfless, brave and courageous.
At the end of it all, it’s really all about Jesus.
Weather you think He’s the most cosmic KJ, I would rather still put my trust, faith and grow in Him and have hope than loose myself in my own strength. He has been tried and tested by so many people and even in my own life. And yeah, looking back, the things that happened made sense. The enemy may intend it to harm me but God intended it for good. Because of sins consequences and that I was born and lived in a broken family, with family financial problems Coz of mismanagement, with relationship heartaches because of stubbornness…
The things I tried to “manage” and fix with my own strength didn’t turn out quite nicely. But when I chose Jesus and be the best of what He wanted me to be and be rooted in His word and promises from the bible, I understood what grace is; i have a wonderful relationship now with my family, financially smart, and wonderful relationship with diff people.
At every small or big turn, there are indeed 2 things I need to grasp. And these are the 2 things that kept Caitie going and be the best version God intended her to be.
1. Delight in your parent
2. Seek the reward
With Caitie, the only thing that mattered was that we her parents was with her and that we were pleased with her and she was ok. the same way, I need to make sure that only Jesus mattered and that He is pleased with us.
Because we were pleased with her, she got her reward. She enjoyed the reward but she loved us more than the reward. The same is with me and God. I may enjoy the rewards but keeping God pleased is a reward in itself.
A parent-child is such a wonderful representation of God-child.
In these 2 things, there is abundance in lifeand I can move forward joyfully with a smile for tomorrow because in Jesus, there is hope.
Jesus indeed loves me more than most.