(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.
Day 7 (Monday)
Plain and simple, we were deceived by the midwife, by the (un)real mother and (un)loving grandmother of Marc Andrei, and by (of all people) ate Baby. Never mind the first two… but my oh my, not sister Baby.
Not her, not ate Baby, I have respected her tremendously. I admired her courage as a leader and integrity as a person. I was hoping that what my wife’s cousin had confirmed was not true. Ate Baby would not allow herself to be a part of such a deception. She would not do that to me. We’re friends. We’re both officers of the homeowners’ association. We’re both Ilocanos.
The MIDWIFE? What wrong have we done to her? HELPING MOTHERS GIVE BIRTH is what she does, not ACTING. I believed her story. Yes, her story. I forgot that a story could either be real or just fabricated – factual or fictitious. Yeah… fiction. Fiction is a product of the imagination. The TRUTH, indeed, is stranger than FICTION. In the lying-in clinic that Wednesday evening, in her own turf, she was the most credible person. I know that every professional is bound by ethical standards. I wondered what ethical standards a midwife like her follows. Was she not taught that it isn’t RIGHT to DECEIVE a CHILDLESS COUPLE so that the BABY of a HEARTLESS MOTHER will have security? Or could it be that the midwife has a problem with SEMANTICS. She probably thought that the word LYING in her LYING-IN CLINIC means telling something that misleads or deceives.
The (un)real MOTHER and (un)loving GRANDMOTHER. Well, what they did to Marc Andrei speaks volumes of what kind of people are they? They are like moon jellies – BONELESS, BRAINLESS & HEARTLESS.
I recalled that my wife told me that the grandmother kept batting in when she and ate Baby were talking that Tuesday afternoon when she brought home Marc Andrei for the first time. The grandmother kept reminding ate Baby about money matters in the lying-in clinic. At that juncture, my wife wanted to ask if ate Baby and the grandmother were both in the lying-in clinic when Marc Andrei was born.
I woke up that morning without my wife and Marc Andrei by my side. They were already downstairs. When I went down I saw my wife lovingly clutching our baby while humming a song.
We had a serious conversation again the previous night about our situation. She vigorously opposed my plan of giving up our son telling me that we should have just given him up entirely the first time around – that I should have not allowed her to be so attached to Marc Andrei if I would just surrender him after all. For whatever reason, she said, nobody should take away her son from her.
It was her turn to say that everything between us would no longer be the same should I give up Marc Andrei.
My emotional roller coaster continued its downward spiral. It was so steep a fall.
I tried hard to make her understand the same things I told him the previous night. That the family of that woman is known for their scheming ways. 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, given the reputation of the family of that woman. Besides, how would Marc Andrei feel when finally we need to tell him of his being an adopted son and then he’ll discover that his real mother lives just nearby? What emotional wound that would create in him. What about if seeing daily Marc Andrei just around the corner the (un)real mother would develop fondness of the child then later on would demand that he be returned to her? Daily that we would be in pins and needles hounded by the thought that anytime, our Marc Andrei will be snatched away by the (un)real mother or any member of her family. And if and when the court of law would be asked to intervene, who would the honorable judge favor?
In making whatever decision, I told my wife that it should not be our feelings we should consider but rather the implications on Marc Andrei and to us as a couple in the long run.
That day, some of my colleagues at work asked questions about Marc Andrei. My response was a simple – “He’s doing fine.” I could not tell them the dilemma we were facing at that time. I wore a mask of happiness pretending that everything was fine.
My wife sent me several text messages that day at work imploring that we should not be giving up Marc Andrei. Exasperated, I responded once and said “We won’t give up our son if you will agree that we will bring him to my hometown in Batangas!”
She rejected the idea. My offer was serious, I really thought of it. I can easily find a job in Batangas, what was important with me that time was keeping Marc Andrei. And that was our best option then.
I saw a glimmer of hope that my wife was beginning to understand the situation when she told me through a text message that if ever we would give up Marc Andrei, we won’t be returning him to ate Baby but to someone else – to any of those who have shown interest in Marc Andrei that Tuesday afternoon and not to any of those who designed the scheme to make fools out of us.
At nightfall, I asked ate Baby through text message to come to our house for something very urgent. She came after 10 minutes, announcing her arrival through her trademark boisterous laugh and bass booming voice.
We waited until she got settled in her seat. I and my wife were just quiet. Ate Baby was not used to that kind of reception from me. Usually, when she’s loud, I would be louder. She probably sensed trouble which prompted her to ask if there was a problem.
Not wanting to beat around the bush, I told her that we have discovered that the mother of Marc Andrei was that woman residing two houses away from us. Thus, we were giving up Marc Andrei for good.
Upon hearing my firm declaration, my wife cried while looking at Marc Andrei soundly sleeping in the daybed. She kept shaking her head. I didn’t know why. Did she get hurt by my decision? Or she could not believe that we were deceived in that manner.
My wife gave a look that was beyond description. I could not say with certainty if that was a gaze of an angry person or a look imploring that I reconsider my decision. Or was it a combination of both. I was suddenly reminded of how I felt about her when suddenly she changed her mind few nights back and wanted to give up our baby. That gaze made me feel that she is accusing me of cowardice. She was seemingly demanding that I explain why we need to give Marc Andrei up and not keep him at all cost.
Ate Baby appeared surprised and confused. She asked who told us so. She claimed that she was even unaware that that woman was pregnant. (Reliable sources told me that she was one of those who brought that woman to that lying-in clinic… and yet she made that claim.) I said that after hearing unconfirmed reports about the DECEIT committed against us, we conducted our investigation through the help of some people. But I did not drop names.
I asked her pointblank if she knew that the mother of Marc Andrei was that woman. I asked her if she was part of the plan to DECEIVE us. Unbeknownst to her that we already know everything, Ate Baby swore by heaven that she did not know who the mother of Marc Andrei is – that she would never do that to me. She kept denying knowledge of that woman’s pregnancy and stood pat on the story they made us to believe – that the mother of Marc Andrei was a 19-year old woman from Manila. She denied as well (and vehemently) complicity to the attempt to deceive us. The bombastic that she is even warned that she would confront the grandmother saying that if what we said was true then she herself was a victim of the deception.
When I told her that the midwife herself admitted everything – that she was there when Marc Andrei was born and she knew who the mother is – that she took part in weaving the lie that the midwife told us – she began to weep. She talked like a sheepish dog caught in a corner and has no more place to run. She, however, maintained innocence and promised to talk to the midwife and clarify things. She continued to cry and tried to convince us that she had nothing to do with that hanky-panky.
After a few minutes, she said that she went there only to get the baby when the midwife called her and told her that there was a mother who gave birth but would give away her baby. But she never met the mother.
I cut short the story of ate Baby, not wanting to hear the end of another tall tale that she started to weave. I told her that we will not return to them our baby. That while we were not keeping Marc Andrei because of certain complications, we will ensure that our baby would not be exploited and humiliated further.
When she recollected herself, she said that she would bring Marc Andrei back to the midwife and ask for explanation. I stood firm that they would never get Marc Andrei back, despite all her protestations.
Then I called the relatives of the couple, childless like us, who have also shown interest on getting Marc Andrei.
When they arrived, my wife started weeping again. I could see how sincerely she did not intend to give up our son, making me feel really guilty. I recalled how she suffered when we quarreled because she suddenly gave up being a mother to Marc Andrei that Thursday night. She more than redeemed herself from that fickle-mindedness and have proven that she could be a good mother. Indeed she is. I am a living witness to that. And I reflected for a moment then and asked myself, “Am I the one becoming a bad father?”
I am no moon jelly, not anymore. The decision I made was a product of reflection and prayers. The decision I made was an offshoot of the consultation I did with not just one but many people. All of them I deemed have wisdom, more than the little I have.
I could not possibly hurt Marc Andrei. I became a bad father twice already – twice I was a moon jelly. Marc Andrei was my path to redemption. My ticket to salvation. I have been rectifying things with my first child, a son. But what is painful is that I could no longer do that to my second child, supposedly a daughter.
People around me don’t know. I never told them. I was afraid to tell them, that such is the main source of my sadness, not the problems of the family where I came from, not the imperfections of the lady of my house, but my imperfections… particularly from my failures as a father.
Then when it was time for Marc Andrei to go, my wife did not hide her grief. She would not let go of our son.
Then I recalled Bertolt Brecht’s play entitled “Caucasian Chalk Circle” where there were two mothers each claiming to be the mother of a baby boy. The funny thing is the real mother was not there to join the tug of war for Marc Andrei. The other party who wish to lay claim on Marc Andrei was not there also. It was only the mother of Marc Andrei for seven days – my wife.
In the play aforementioned the king drew a huge circle with a line at the middle where he put the baby. Those claiming to be the mothers were told to race to the middle and grab the baby. Whoever succeeds in getting to the baby first would take him home. When the king gave the signal that the two women can begin only one of them moved to grab the baby. When the king asked the other woman why she did not move she said that she’d rather see her son taken away by another woman than to endanger his life and limb. Then the king issued the edict that that woman who did not try to grab the baby should have the baby for she’s the real mother.
The circle was drawn in the mind of my wife. She could either grab Marc Andrei from the middle of the circle or let him be taken away and grow up in a better physical and emotional environment.
While biting her lips and tried unsuccessfully to control her tears, she gave Marc Andrei to the relatives of the couple to whom we’re entrusting our son.
Upon learning that Marc Andrei will be brought that night to the next town then the following day to Manila, the still teary-eyed ate Baby volunteered to bring them to the next town using her vehicle – that they just needed to wait for a while for she must be informing the midwife that our son will be taken by another couple.
Before ate Baby left, she promised me she would clear her name. I chose not to respond.
When she was gone, I warned the relatives of the couple who would take care of Marc Andrei not to allow sister Babe to know exactly where our son will be brought because if the family of the (un)real mother of Marc Andrei would know then they may encounter problems. They heeded my advice and I told them that I would take care of Sister Babe when and if she still would have the nerve to show up in my house.
Before they left, I and my wife took turns in saying our painful goodbyes to Marc Andrei. Both our eyes welled with tears. Losing Marc Andrei was painful to both of us. But I could say that between us, it was more painful to my wife.
When I gave back Marc Andrei to our visitors, he cried. And while they were moving out of our residence, our son did not cease crying as if pleading me to take him back. Have I become a bad father again?
Our visitors walked through the same terrace where I saw sister Babe standing seven days ago clutching Marc Andrei. My wife ran to the bedroom upstairs when I closed the front door. She locked herself up. I had a key but I decided to leave my wife by herself and respect her grief over the loss of our son. Besides I also wanted to retreat to my room of despair and lick my own emotional wounds.
I went back downstairs and slept on the daybed where my son – MARC ANDREI – used to sleep. I closed my eyes and vividly saw the face of my son becoming crimson whenever I would kiss him in his cheeks, then I heard his shrieks and cries.
My emotional roller coaster was not through yet with its descent. But I trust the grand designer of the tracks where my emotional roller coaster is mounted. Soon I would climb up again and even there maybe more twists and spins and turns, I know I will never be thrown off the tracks for I always fasten my seatbelt called faith tight.
It may take time before my wife would understand why I needed to decide that way and forgive me for it.
My wife and Marc Andrei, MOTHER and SON… I and Marc Andrei, FATHER and SON – for just seven days.
– E N D –