The Couple

We met them when we were looking for a place to live. They were recommended to us by our previous flat owner. They were very warm and pleasant, very friendly, and we liked them right away. The flat was huge and spacious. It looks like home. They greeted us like we were old friends. We really felt welcome to stay in their place and my husband and I instantly felt at home.

This couple has a child. They waited years before they finally got one. The child was born normally. But due to some reasons, the child had to stay in the NICU. The child had cerebral palsy. They didn’t elaborate how it happened. They were devastated but they accepted the child and its fate.

The wife decided to quit her job to be able to care for her child at home. They dedicated their lives and vowed to care for this child. They have decided not to have another child anymore in order to focus their love, care and attention in rearing this child.

Everyday became a routine. The wife will be home all day being a mother to her child until her husband gets home. Then she will become a house wife. She will cook for her husband, (or her husband will cook), they will eat together, watch TV, and then sleep.

They cannot go out together. It’s either the husband will stay at home to care for their child so that the wife can go out, or vice versa. I asked them if they ever bring their child outside and they said no, for fear of the child getting sick. They have been this way for 7 years.

I see this situation as something like a bondage. Like they were forced to live in a cage where life outside is something that is nonexistent. That the only life they have is contained within this space where rearing this child is the most important thing. They were deprived of a life in order for their sick child to have a life that he was deprived of. They sacrificed so much for the child to grow up healthy despite of having a different life.

I want them to go outside and enjoy a day as husband and wife. I wonder how they both feel. I wonder what the wife is thinking every morning when she wakes up, as I see her on the table staring into space, while stirring the child’s milk. Then in the evening before going to bed, how she watches TV, but her mind is some place else. They were deprived of a lot of things. Most especially, they were deprived of being husband and wife.

This made me change my perspective on a lot of things. People, married or not, have different burdens that they carry. In our case, we, as a married couple, were deprived of having a child. I get depressed every month when my period arrives, that I forget to appreciate how lucky I am to have a loving husband, who is so understanding and patient and never fails to show how much he loves me. I tend to ignore the fact that we can freely do whatever we wish, or go wherever we want to. My mind was focused too much on myself for not being able to bear a child, and being jealous of others who seem to be able to bear a child effortlessly. I forget how happy my life is despite of not having a child.

I am not alone in this, I know. There are also married couples like us, who are struggling to have a baby, in order to be seen by the society, as a complete family. Marriage should not be focused on having children alone, for being childless feels like a flaw in a marriage. Marriage should be about how well you live your life together whether you have a child or not.

I truly admire the couple, with whom we are living with right now. They had their marriage, the child they were waiting for, and accepted whatever was given to them wholeheartedly. It is very rare to see a kind of love like that. It is beyond boundaries.

Whenever I see this couple, with their child having cerebral palsy, laughing together, praying together, staying strong together, and being happy together, I see a family, a perfect family in a not-so-perfect world, unaffected and unbridled. Yes, they were given a child, and that child is the luckiest child on earth for having the best parents.

Life is how you choose it to be. It’s how you see things that will make you happy.

I choose to be happy. Therefore, I need to change the way I see things.

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The Girl Who Can’t Seem To Give Up Comfort (and Forgets She’s Married)

It’s been 2 days since I’ve moved out of my flat. I went back to my old flat yesterday morning to get my other stuff and to leave my keys to the owner and I was feeling melancholic already. As I was walking the path towards my old flat, the sight of the park and the beach on the other side of the road, the building lobby, the elevator, the hallway, and finally the door to my old flat. As I turned the key, I already feel like a stranger. I no longer live here. I don’t own any stuff here anymore. I tiptoed inside our room and found my roommate/colleague S sleeping. I didn’t disturb her because I know that she’s from night duty. I saw my old bed all bare and empty. It felt lonely. That was my comfort corner. I quietly gathered my remaining stuff, left the key of my cabinet for H, then knocked on the room of the owner to surrender my key. We exchanged a few words, I said thank you and that we’ll still see each other hopefully, then left. When I closed the door, I know that I just left my old, comfortable life with the people who became my family for the past year. I felt sad all of a sudden.The feeling of not wanting to leave was so strong that it’s making me want to cry. Did I really have to leave? Oh, geez, I’m married. Of course I have to.

I didn’t go back to G’s flat right away. I walked and enjoyed my surroundings. I haven’t bought anything for my husband for our wedding monthsary because I was too busy moving out so I decided to go inside a department store and look for something to give him. When I found the thing that I want, I had it wrapped and headed straight to G’s flat.

Being in G’s flat is one of my comforts. This is my home away from home. I became a part of her family. I played with the kids for a while before I decided to drop by to my new flat to clean our room. My new building is huge. It has a vast lobby. It almost looked like a fancy hotel. When I reached my floor, I pressed the doorbell and the owner let me in. It’s a 3-bedroom/2-bathroom flat. The master’s bedroom belong to the owner. The other room belongs to another couple. I went straight to our room. Our room has wide glass window and I can see G’s flat from our view. Now I’m feeling like a newly-wed already. I’m starting a new life. I took the vacuum cleaner and started cleaning. It took me 3 hours to finish cleaning and organizing our stuff. The owner gave us a queen-sized bed and some furniture. I haven’t done beautifying our room yet. I have a lot of ideas in mind. J hasn’t brought his things yet. He said he’ll do it on his day off. I walked back to G’s flat, took a shower and rest. J and I had to stay in G’s flat for a couple more days until our room is ready.

J came and I assumed the role of a wife (as I always forget), gave him my late gift, he said I didn’t have to (what the heck, did he like it or not?) and we talked about how our days went. I let him rest after dinner while I chatted online with my roommate/colleague H. H and I always talk about anything back when I was still staying in our flat. I miss her already. By the time we finished chatting, J was snoring in his sleep.

I have to (always) remember that I’m married now. Why is it so hard to get used to changes?

Moving Out

Finally, I’m moving out to a new flat with my husband. It all came too suddenly. One room was vacant in my friend’s/colleague’s flat and she just innocently asked if I knew a couple who is looking for a room to rent and I quickly volunteered myself. And she gave it to me at a discounted price. Considering how much a room costs here in UAE, the price she gave us was reasonable enough. Everything is falling into place. J found a car lift from Abu Dhabi to Yas Island where he works. And I found us a room. I mean, a room found us, technically.

Staying in G’s flat whenever my husband is off from work is no longer an option. We need a place of our own. When I’m with my husband, it’s so hard to part with him. But when I’m in my flat, it’s so hard for me to think that I have to give up the comfort that I have. I’ve grown to love my own little corner, my roommates who are dear to me, the late night chat, jogging, the beach, my surroundings. But I’m married now and I have to live with my husband. Why is it so hard to be married?

When I was packing all my things, I wasn’t thinking that I’m finally leaving. My mind was preoccupied with the thought of how I can move all of my things on my own. J is at work and he won’t be home until 7pm. H was watching me pack my things and said she feels sad. I also feel sad to leave them. They’re like my sisters. But I have to go. H was kind enough to help me move out. Then J came just in time to take my remaining stuff to our new flat. The couple who owns the flat even helped us load our things in the taxi. I feel like I just left my family.

The room’s still a mess. I have to go back to clean and organize my stuff. For the meantime, we’re staying in G’s flat until we’re settled. The good thing is, G’s flat is just walking distance from our new flat so I think I’m still closer to home.

The things I have to sacrifice for a married life. What else is there?

 

 

Post-Wedding Update

Phew!

I got married.

Did I really?

Well, that’s what I felt after we said our vows, put the rings on our fingers, and kissed. Is that it?

I felt a kind of tingle when we’re both gazing into each others eyes while saying our vows, but was a little bit distracted when Gemma and my other witness started posing for the camera while we’re in the middle of saying I do, like, this moment has to be captured on camera and people will see that they’re a part of it.

The good thing about having an embassy wedding is that, we don’t have to conform to traditions. After the wedding, since it was still Ramadan at that time, we searched the place for an open food chain to order takeout. We woke up early and no one was able to eat something before heading to the embassy. I woke up early because my eyes were swollen from too much crying the night before, when I realized I’m getting married without my family on my side. So I had to press some ice cubes on my eyes for the swelling to subside, 2 hours before the wedding. The swelling did subside a bit and I don’t know how to put on make-up so I looked like I just woke up and decided to get married and headed straight to the embassy wearing a birthday girl dress. After searching for hours for an open food chain, we finally settled on Marrybrown, went back to Gemma’s flat.

We had to wait till after Iftar before we can proceed to our wedding dinner. So Jess and I started calling our family to update them on our wedding. I messaged my bestfriends on FB and everyone was happy for me (because probably I’m the only one left among the group who isn’t married yet) and I got numerous messages from other people (mostly relatives) telling me how surprised they were of learning that I got married without even a clue. One was even asking if it was just a spur of the moment thing that I decided to get married without informing my family and relatives. Whoa! Getting married is really that complicated, huh? I assured them that I will have my church wedding in the Philippines after 2 years and that they are all invited. Then came the replies of, “Why wait for 2 years? Blah, blah, blah!”

(Sigh!)

Makes me think twice of getting married in the church and inviting all of my relatives. I told my Mom that when I get married in the church, I will only invite a few of my relatives. I will only invite those who are close to me and I will get married somewhere far so that they will not be able to come. Damn FB…

Anyway, the wedding dinner was a blast. My wedding guests composed of friends and colleagues whom I only met here in UAE. I celebrated a very special day of my life with people whom I only met for barely more than a year, while the others I met for only months. Isn’t that amazing? And yet, these people became my family away from home. There was no wedding program whatsoever. Almost everyone has a SLR camera that’s why I didn’t have to hire a photographer. We received a lot of presents including our honeymoon venue. I nearly cried at the end of the dinner. I maybe miles away from home but my new friends made me feel like I’m home.

So that’s it for my post-wedding update. 🙂