My dearest Andrea,
At this time, sixteen years ago, I was pacing the halls of Faith Hospital awaiting your birth.
It’s been sixteen years.
Time passed by so fast, I wasn’t even prepared for how swiftly you have grown.
I still remember all too well the moment of your birth; of how, after the indescribable pain of going into induced labor and childbirth, I couldn’t stop staring at you. But don’t flatter yourself, anak; you weren’t the most beautiful baby ever born, hehehe. You were a mix between gray and violet (as you so proudly proclaimed when you were yet a child). Your hair stood when dry. You wailed all the time and you were awake just when everyone else needed their precious sleep. It was a daily night time routine for us all to dance to the tune of “Dayang-dayang” just so you would fall asleep.
And if I remember right, I wasn’t the best mother at the onset. I wasn’t prepared to have you yet by then. I had unresolved emotional issues and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the responsibilities of motherhood. Your lola Ellen took my role for a time. You were lola’s girl. Somewhere into our lives, I grew better. I didn’t have much choice by then since lola had already left for the US. I became a better mother to you not because I relied on my own capacity and judgement but because I placed my faith in the One who gave you to me — GOD.
As you were growing up, I literally grasped at straws as to how I was going to raise you. I sometimes wished you came with a User’s Manual so I could easily scan through the pages in order to figure out what works for you and what things do not; how to make you become your best or how to fashion you into someone I wanted you to be. But it just wasn’t the case. If you were a thing, I wouldn’t be too concerned whether you’d break during the first few years because a thing can easily be replaced. I can always buy something new if finances would allow it. But you are a person — such a precious person to me to experiment with —-and there I was, not knowing how to do things right with you. And so I prayed harder. I prayed for Him to guide me each day because I felt it was the best thing to do.
The first day you wore your school uniform, I was crying as you excitedly walked to your first grade building while I watched through my classroom window. I knew then that those first few steps were the very same steps that would take you farther from me day by day. As you so excitedly savored your new experiences, I watched with awe, excitement, happiness and pride because I was looking at one of the masterpieces God entrusted to me becoming the vision of what God wanted her to be.
For the first sixteen years of your life, I had been the focal person. I had been the key character in the story that is your life. I really pray that despite my imperfections, my many flaws and the countless mistakes I made along the way, I had been able to guide you to become the person that God wants you to be — never into the pattern of what I wanted you to become. After all, I am but your caretaker. You aren’t mine. You are God’s masterpiece. You were sent to me to be cared for so He can fulfill His plan in your life and through your life. Nothing will make me happier than you becoming the person that God desires of you to become by making HIM your first priority and by considering what hurts Him in every decision that you make.
Day by day, you are eagerly exploring life. As I watch you, I know I had achieved one good thing as a mother: that of planting the seeds of faith into your heart. I now see the seeds sprouting as I see your faith growing stronger. You may have thought me a heretic while you were growing up because you seldom saw me go to church, yet all the while, you knew I was a person of faith — never of religion. You knew I was healed by faith; perhaps, that made an impact to you. I sowed the seeds of faith into you in the way I knew how with the sole reason of wanting you to freely find your own way straight to the Father without the biases of religion. I realized long ago, anak, that I cannot walk your journey to Him. You have to go seek Him yourself. I can only prepare you for the way, but I can never walk the way for you. I may have been wrong, but looking at you today, listening to you speak, reading the words you write, observing how you carry yourself — I am thankful at what God has done in your life and with your life.
Others might not understand the way I am dealing with you. I don’t care. I don’t care about them anyway. I only care about one thing: that you understand why I am doing these things. I know you by heart and I recognize what you need and whom you need it from. I recognized potentials in you needing to be exposed into the open with the right person tapping it and coaxing you to open up your shell a bit wider. I accepted the fact that the person who could coax you out of your hiding place is not me. It was not with resignation but with confidence in your judgement that I gambled with fate when I gave you my go signal to fall in love. I was apprehensive, to be honest, but all apprehension I felt slowly dissipated as I watched you and Dodo become better persons through the friendship and fraternal bond you established together. I pray for both of you to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we, your parents, guide you through every new experience so you can become good examples to other young people. To quote a dear friend, Janet Javier Atkins, “LET FELAINE BE STRONGER THAN YOUR FEARS. The Lord hears the prayer of a mother. You have showed her how to live, let her show you that she learned. Entrust her to the Lord; she is HIS.”
I know that you have realized this: that people could make or break you if you let them — and this is what I want you to learn well. Your life is yours to live. But you don’t have the liberty to destroy or mess up your life because how you live it is your responsibility to the ONE who gave it to you. Without you even realizing it, sometimes, your little acts influence the people around you — so live it well. As you once reflected in an essay you wrote, “Be careful how you live your life. You may be the only Bible some will ever read.”
Most of the parents you know create a gap between themselves and their children with the old-fashioned view of demanding respect. If you must have noticed, I bridged the gap with camaraderie and friendship because I realized that respect, although I am your mother, cannot be demanded; it must be earned. I have chosen to be friends with you knowing that if I were to guide you well, I have to be your friend. If I can be friends with other people, if I can throw away my mask and be playful with them, why can’t I do it with the people who mean the world to me— papa, yourself and Althea? I am glad of this decision, anak. Reflecting on the openness you show me, I know this is another milestone for me as a mother. I can only pray earnestly that through all the seasons of your life, you will never let go of God’s hands. Only with Him in your life can you ever be certain that you will never stray.
Medals and merits aren’t important to me. You are far more valuable than all the glory of your academic achievements. Your academic feats are but the icing on the cake that is your life. They add color, but they do not hold substance — for what would the entire icing amount to without the cake wrapped with it? The ultimate honor is for me to see you living your life in awe of the Father and living for Him day after day. I don’t dream of you to become rich or prestigious. I only pray of you to draw nearer to the Father everyday— trusting Him, believing in Him, never losing faith in Him. I pray that the Lord will give you peace, harmony, love and friendship, and just enough of everything to last you through this lifetime — yes, just enough— because anything in excess becomes a vice.
Ever so slowly, I ease the gates to your freedom open. My confidence in you will have to be tested but if I were to make sure your wings shall grow sturdy if you are to fly high one day, I need to do this. I may not have complete faith in you yet, but I have great faith in the One who gave you to me. You might outrun my protection, but you can never outrun His love because He wants you to fulfill His will in your life. Today, anak, I hand to you the key to your freedom… the freedom to make sound decisions and choices. In moments when you get confused and unsure, rest in the knowledge that I am right behind you to get you through it all.
The next 16 years and onward is a vast arena of possibilities and uncertainties. Like a rosebud slowly opening up to the sun, your life unfolds slowly yet ever so surely. There is no turning back for life isn’t meant to be lived backwards. Set your sights straight to your goal as you strive to envision what the unknown future holds. No one knows what tomorrow brings; but with your great faith in God, I know that you are more than eager to explore; safe in the knowledge that for as long as you entrust your future to the God who knows it all, you are in the safest of hands.
Where you and Althea are concerned, the phrase “I love you” is an understatement, anak, because I am bound to you both by something so much stronger. I am much more than a mother who loves and protects you because I intend to be so much more — I intend to be everything tangible that you need in your life: a friend, a confidante, a critic, a buddy, a mother, a teacher, a counselor— I can even be superwoman for you if need be. Until I breathe my last, I shall be hovering around you like a shadow — even when you will already be mothers yourselves — because that’s what mothers are good at, hehehe.
Your father and I have shown you what friendship is all about and why friendship should be the foundation in every relationship. We hope you have learned from us and through us. Despite our imperfections, know one thing, anak. We love you and will love you perfectly even in moments when you will fail us — as you inevitably will fail us —because the love we have for you knows no conditions — the way Jesus loved us even when we have sinned.
Dare to dream, chase your dreams and if you can, live your dreams. The three of us —Papa, myself and Althea—shall be right at the side lines to cheer you on.
Your life has been a blessing to us, anak. It is our fervent hope that we, too, have richly blessed your life for the simple reason that papa and I are your parents.
Happy birthday, Beatrix Isabella (this should have been your name if Lola Ellen didn’t insist on placing half her name into yours, hehehe)!
You are now sixteen! May God give you more and more years to explore the wonders of life with HIM and in HIM.
May your life be a testament of God’s love and presence.
God bless you and guide you always.
Regardless of what life may bring, let nothing and no one separate you from the love of God.
With my love and prayers,