Courageous Caitie’s mom Feliz on healing: “Grief has become my friend"
In an interview with theAsianparent, the courageous mom opens up about her journey through loss, love, and the precious new addition to their family.
"Her name is Tabitha Calea, but we call her Shobe," Feliz Lucas says with a laugh, as she cradles her precious youngest daughter, who is just about to turn 4 months old.
"For me and my husband, I speak for him also, it feels like it's our first child. I don't know it's very parang God just revived the family," she marveled.
It's been over a year since Feliz and her husband Jayjay lost their 3-year-old daughter Caitie to a rare type of leukemia, but she still gets choked up talking about her. How they coped with this tragic loss inspired many. Knowing that they had welcomed a new baby also offered comfort to those who have been following the Lucas family's journey.
"I try to imagine that Caitie is still alive," confided Feliz. "She's alive naman with Jesus, eh. Just that na-turn over ko na siya."
"My son Ethan, who is turning 3, sometimes asks about his sister. Sometimes when he prays, we ask him what he wants to ask help for and then he says help for achi Caitie. Then I'll tell him achi Caitie is no longer in the hospital, she's with Jesus already."
She also manages to explain the concept of heaven and death to him. Hoping that, one day, when he grows up, he'll be comfortable opening up to her about difficult, uncomfortable things.
"I tell him about heaven, he would always ask for reassurance that I will come back whenever I go to work," shares Feliz, who is currently a stylist, while working with her husband in running their wedding and family photography business. "But I tell him that when the time comes and I cannot come back anymore, to remember I still love (him). I'm preparing him for things like that. I tell him about heaven and death. In so doing, he won't be scared to talk about important, difficult things with me when he grows up."
Doesn't it make your heart flutter when you see siblings love each other? The Lord may not speak with us face to face but instances like these, we know that He speaks to our hearts. Calms our emotions and assures us of His love and the Hope He brings. The real Joy that comes only from Him. Then I can breathe again and look forward with what the day may bring. Circumstances must not change my principles. But expand them. #ethanandcalea2017 #siblings Snuggie blanket from @spinkiebaby
Feliz confides that she had to be hospitalized recently and had to be away from her youngest for a week, which was so difficult.
"I've been in and out of the hospital because of kidney stones. It was difficult for me because one week akong away from her. Good thing they taught me how to cup feed, kasi I'm breastfeeding, eh. She got the hang of breastfeeding again."
Through all the changes being a mom brings, one constant thing is continuous learning.
"My motherhood journey is more of discovering our family one day at a time," she shares. "It's never about me knowing everything about motherhood, it's always you know a journey of learning and discovery."
Through the battles she's faced, she likens her experience to Wonder Woman's fight, citing a specific scene that inspired her.
"Yung scene na No Man's Land remember? No one wanted to go through it but Wonder Woman pushed through it, I learned from that," she added.
When asked what advice she would give to parents recovering from the loss of a child, she said, "Even if things don't go your way, you don't lose your principles, but you expand them."
"When Caitie passed away, we prayed hard but things didn't go our way. Of course I wanted her to live but God had other plans. If God said No, it doesn't mean that I have to lose my principles," adding that the heartbreak taught her to "love God for who He is and not what He can do. Grief has become my friend."
Though she admits, in moments of weakness, she became angry at her circumstances, airing doubts in prayer like, "Lord, parang I'm not good enough or baka you don't love me as much."
Through it all, she found meaning in the brokenness.
"I realized that the world we live in, like in Wonder Woman, it's really a broken world. But you need to live in that middle ground in No Man's Land na Okay even if things are broken, you need to look forward to hope, hold on to hope, fight for your principles," urged the brave mom. "Don't lost it, but expand it. I learned to focus on God and less on what I think I deserve, or want."
Through her journey of coping with loss, she wanted to reach out to those who had gone through the same thing. Finding little to no resources on grief support, she decided to create her own supportive community.
"Aside from helping out with Courageous Light, I put up a Courage and Grief facebook group, for those who lost a loved one. It's a support group those who have lost a child, partner, or someone they cared about. I learned na may need for that because when I was searching, wala akong mahanap."
In closing, she holds her little Calea closer and smiles. "I realize so many people need it. It's different when you talk to someone who's gone through it."
"She has Caitie's eyes," this writer remarked, to which Feliz smiled and said, "Yes, she does."
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