(THIS IS A TRUE STORY)
“Life is like a roller coaster ride.” I couldn’t agree more to whoever said that.
Yesterday, you saw people beaming with so much happiness laughing so contagiously and shaking hands or exchanging high fives with everybody around them. Today, the same people maybe crying a river in a desolate room smarting from the pains inflicted by something or someone. Tomorrow, what will it be? Nobody knows! They would have licked their emotional wounds and will emerge from that desolate room, learn to smile again and gradually laugh their way out of whatever bad experiences they had. If not, then we could surmise that they may have decided to stay in the shell of their grief and to plummet deeper in the unfathomable depths of despair.
Perhaps everything may depend on whatever twists and turns that were laid down by the grand designer of the tracks where our personal roller coasters run. We may desire all that we want to alter the course of our roller coasters and wriggle out of the undesirable whirls in the switchbacking tracks. But that’s impossible.
Eventually at a certain age, whether we like it or not, we begin to take control of our lives. That’s when the ride starts. Choose a car in the coaster train. There’s no turning back. All that we can do is to make sure that we’re buckled up. Expect the turns, ups and downs. Be ready to be twizzled and twined. Accept that you could not avoid the spirals and the slammers.
Generally, the way my roller coaster zipped through the tracks have both enthralled and frightened me. There were times, when I was younger, that I wished the joy I was experiencing wouldn’t end. There were moments also when I thought I would not be able to wiggle out of the depths of despair and sadness but my faith in God (that I believe exists) and my unwillingness to succumb to challenges kept me afloat.
One of the most difficult parts of my journey in the tracks happened a few days ago. (I wrote this in 2009, just two weeks after IT happened.) Those days in my life were both exciting and frightening. Perhaps that stage of my ongoing roller coaster ride – that chapter in my life – could have been the most emotionally draining and exhilaratingly suspenseful.
It happened when an angel dropped from the clouds and gave me the privilege of becoming his father (and my wife his mother) for seven days. That’s right – seven days only. I wanted it longer. But from up there in the roller coaster tracks where my car was (and up there I felt enormous joy). I was pulled down. That was a very steep slope. Then I felt passing through a twist and a turn and when my roller coaster made a sudden stop – the angel was gone.
What happened in those seven days?
Let me share what happened in each day.
I attended mass by my lonesome. My wife had to stay home with Marc Andrei. The horizon looked gloomy, we were again facing uncertainties. My emotional rollercoaster have made a sudden stop at a certain angle in a spin not knowing if when its journey resumes I would be pulled up or rolled down.
I have discussed with my wife the previous night what might happen if it is true that Marc Andrei’s mom is that woman residing two houses away from us.
The family of that woman is known for their scheming ways. I should know, we live in the same neighborhood. With that, I could not afford to make it appear on paper that we are the real parents of Marc Andrei as suggested by the midwife in the lying-in clinic. I became afraid that in the future that may be used against us. How would Marc Andrei feel when finally we need to tell him of his being an adopted son and that his real mother lives only nearby? What emotional wound that would create in him. What about if seeing daily Marc Andrei just around the corner the real mother would develop fondness of the child then later on would demand that he be returned to her? Who would the court favor in case a case will be filed?
At the end of our conversation the previous night, my wife just said that not under any circumstances that she would surrender Marc Andrei to anyone – that she is comfortable coexisting with the real mother in the same neighborhood – that as Marc Andrei grows up she would constantly watch him and keep him out of the real mother’s reach.
As I waited for the mass to start, I recalled what transpired that Wednesday night when we went to the lying-in clinic. The midwife suggested that we would make it appear in the registration that we are the real parents of Marc Andrei. That she suggested because according to her, the real mother was apparently not willing to have herself appear on paper as Marc Andrei’s mother. Additionally, the real mother would not like to put her name on the dotted lines of any documents. The midwife said that even a simple deposition indicating that she was voluntarily giving us Marc Andrei could not be issued by the supposed “19-year old student” who gave birth to our son.
We consented with such a wrong scheme they perpetuated for we were so blinded with our longing for a baby, and for Marc Andrei’s sake.
Then I also recalled how vehemently she refused to help us in registering Marc Andrei because she did not intend to make it appear in the paper that it was in her lying-in clinic where the baby was born. It appeared to me that she did not like her name to appear in any document that will be created out of that scheme she herself was perpetuating.
Good that my wife’s cousin, who was with us when we went to the lying-in clinic that Wednesday night is also a midwife. For Marc Andrei’s sake, she volunteered to help in the registration and make herself appear as the one who assisted in our son’s birth.
I entered the church’s chapel of the saints and prayed to the Divine Mercy as I would always do after a Sunday mass. I fervently prayed for whatever is best for Marc Andrei – that may the truth come out – that may He guide me in the decision that I’ll have to make in case it is true that the real mother of Marc Andrei is that woman in our neighborhood. I resolved that the next decision we make about Andrei would come from me.
Before heading home I visited ate Claire, the midwife-cousin of my wife who’s a colleague and relative of the midwife who owns the lying-in clinic where Marc Andrei was born. I told her about the rumor circulating – that the real mother of our son was our neighbor which she happens to know also. Ate Claire could not believe what she heard. She promised to talk to the midwife.
When I returned home, I carried Marc Andrei while feeding him. On the daybed, I sat beside my wife who was blankly staring at the figure of angels she cross-stitched which was mounted on the wall. She took away Marc Andrei from my arms and warned me about giving up our son.
At around 4:00 P.M., the lay ministers my mother-in-law invited for Marc Andrei’s prebaptismal rite came. With two in-laws serving as god parents, our son was dedicated to the Lord. We planned to have the official baptismal of our son on December 5th, my wife’s birthday.
We did everything that we planned for Marc Andrei. Notwithstanding the specter of losing him again perilously hanging overhead like Damocle’s sword, we continued to essay passionately the role of parents.
Then night came. ate Claire arrived and broke to us the bad news rather gently. The midwife divulged to her that the mother of Marc Andrei is not a 19-year old student from Manila but that woman in our neighborhood. The story was concocted in cahoots with ate Baby and the grandmother of Marc Andrei – that ate Baby was there when Marc Andrei was born – that Marc Andrei was intended not to be kept by the family because it would create some undesirable complications for the mother and the family in general – that indeed, I and my wife were victims of a grand deception.
My emotional rollercoaster started to move again, yes in a downward sharp spiral. My wife cried while clutching Marc Andrei. She kept kissing our son while saying repeatedly “It’s not true.” I cried too. I tried to console my wife by running gently my hand in her back.
Then I recalled the person who said I must TRUST her… ate BABY.
DAY 5 (Saturday)
My car was right on top rollercoaster track and I know that soon, after a twist, or a bend, or a spin then down again I’ll go. But while my emotional rollercoaster was traversing a plane at the pinnacle I tried to enjoy the ride.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I took care of Marc Andrei, I allowed my wife to have a well-deserved sleep. It was a crash course I took up that time – Babysitting 101. I put milk on a dispenser reading carefully the instructions in the can (from the original milk given by ate Baby we decided to buy a better infant formula – SIMILAC – that was prescribed by the Pediatrician who checked Marc Andrei that day). I happily attended to Mark Andrei’s need that night. I hummed softly to his ears songs to put him to sleep (I think he liked best the “hummed” version of “NOBODY”). I clutched him gently in my arms whenever he would not stop crying. But when I felt that Marc Andrei’s back was wet, I was forced to wake my wife up to change our son’s diaper. Well, I have not tried changing Marc Andrei’s diaper yet, so I paid attention to what my wife was doing at that time because I wanted to do the honor of changing Marc Andrei’s diaper the next time around.
My wife went back to sleep, she had not had a good one in the past days, I followed shortly thereafter when I was sure that Marc Andrei was safe, secured, and comfortable.
I didn’t get much sleep that day but I worked all day inspired. There were no classes but I went to school to finish paperwork that piled up in the past three days. With so much enthusiasm, I recounted to some colleagues who were also in school our experiences the past days.
Then night came. While Marc Andrei was deep in slumber in the daybed, I and my wife had dinner. She was obviously perturbed, she was seemingly not minding what I was telling her about my plans regarding Marc Andrei’s papers. I sensed trouble. I was afraid my rollercoaster would soon hit another spin, another twist, another treacherous dive. I just hoped that it would not be so trenchant a fall that could throw me off my car in the rollercoaster.
After dinner, we sat separately at both ends of the daybed, March Andrei was between us.
Then I asked my wife to drop whatever bomb she wished to explode.
What she told me left me dumbfounded.
My wife told me that the mother of Marc Andrei is not a 19-year old student from Manila but rather a woman from Bulacan. And of all places, the mother is from our own community, right in the neighborhood where we are residing, and living just two houses away from us.
Down went my car in my emotional rollercoaster. How I had wished I was just dreaming at that point.
My wife told me that it was whispered to her by very reliable sources – by well-meaning people who thought we deserve to know the truth. But ate Baby is a woman not capable of DECEPTION. I know I could TRUST her. Like my mom, who was born in Lal-lo, Cagayan, ate Baby is an Ilocana. We would normally speak in Ilocano when there were no other people with us who could not understand the said dialect. We are both officers of our homeowners’ association, I was the President and she was the Vice-President. I had to give her the benefit of the doubt. I believe that she perfectly understood what I told her that Tuesday night when we had a serious talk about Marc Andrei.
But just the same, I have to act on the matter divulged by my wife. After dinner, I started piecing together things said by my wife and the information I gathered clandestinely from our neighbors, especially those who were residing nearest to the reported real mother of Marc Andrei. Then I talked to ate Susie, my confidante in our neighborhood, who, like me, can speak both Ilocano and Ibanag.
Ate Susie could not believe what she heard. She doubted that ate Babe would deceive me and my wife in that manner. I asked ate Susie (and she agreed) to drop by ate Baby’s house and see how the latter would react if she would tell her that we are again thinking of returning to her Marc Andrei because we already know who the real mother is.
Notwithstanding the situation that emerged, our love for Marc Andrei remained. My wife and I talked about all possible eventualities. She made it so clear to me that even if the real mother lives just nearby, she wouldn’t mine. Marc Andrei is hers and nobody could take him away from her.
Then at almost midnight, I received a text message from ate Susie saying that ate Baby denied knowing who the mother of Marc Andrei is.