Today is Sunday, September 23, 2018

Learning to Live After the Loss of An Only Daughter

By J. Mar C. Del Castillo

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But there is no word for a parent who loses a child. And that’s how awful the loss is.

The truism exactly describes my emotional pain. Intense. Excruciating. Overwhelming. I cried too much that I ran out of tears. My chest ached and my lungs gasped for air that I found it so difficult to breathe and I could hardly talk. I woke up from bad dreams, drenched in cold sweat. I blankly stared into space. My whole being was paralyzed by grief and emptiness. It was like that for a week… and up to now sometimes. In the natural course of things, it should be that the parents should leave the children behind. With my heart condition, I expected to die first. It turned out that the gift of life I have would be in exchange for giving up another gift, my only daughter Ann.

My wife Cynthia and I loved, reared, protected, and supported her. We gave her only the best of what we could give. We felt a sense of pride and accomplishment as we witnessed her every achievement and her every step in blossoming into adulthood. All we wanted was the best for Ann, and we financially and emotionally invested in her immensely. When she left us in the blink of an eye, I grieved for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. I felt that I’ve fallen short of my role as a father by failing to protect and support her. I felt guilt for the times when I denied her requested excesses or was too demanding on her. When her life did not run its anticipated span, I felt cheated that I have to blame the only Being that could allow this unwanted and uncalled for sorrow. Shattered, I assailed God’s wisdom.

And a week later after Ann’s death, my stenographer in the Court of Appeals office likewise fell victim to depression. She decided to take her own life. As Erly moaned in pain in her last moments in the hospital, the only words she uttered over and over again were, “Sorry Lord…forgive me…patawad…kunin mo na ako.”

Erly’s unbending faith stunned me. In times of her pain, she still sought Him, and the stark realization eased the heavy load off my chest. Life is not wholly centered on me. I am not the only one who has lost a loved one. So many families, too, are consumed in their misery. Hundreds died in the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars (about the same time my daughter Ann passed away), and everyday, news of murders and brutal crimes abound. We all live on a borrowed time, and we must all live under difficult times.

Ann and Erly both sought the road where death is a fulfillment. God allowed this for a reason that man could never fathom. (God’s ways are not man’s ways) There are only 2 things that We can ask Him during tragedies and moments of weakness: “Lord, what are You saying?” and “Lord, what do You want me to learn?” From His perspective, our spiritual growth is more important than our ease, comfort, or pleasure. It is His form of pruning. We have to trust and obey.

As for me, I understand the importance of continuing to live. I still have Cynthia, my only son Jay, and Jay’s girlfriend Cria to live for.

As for you Ann, borrowing a phrase from the song Vincent, “this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” Till we meet again… in God’s appointed time.

Anna Patricia Roxas Del Castillo
November 23, 1979 – June 21, 2008

While we continue to mourn the loss of Ansky
we are consoled by relatives and friends like you who
have eased our burden by holding our hands, praying with us
offering masses and adorning her with flowers
during our trying times.

With our prayers,
we are confident that God has allowed her entry
into the gates of heaven

We will miss her dearly,
but we will always remember her the way she lived:
a writer, an artist, a lover of nature, a travel bug,
a swimmer, a lawyer, a staunch defender of her friends,
a loving daughter, a protector of her brother,
and the life of any party.

Thank you for being part of her life, and for being
there in our time of sorrow.

From us whom ansky left behind:
Mar, Cynthia & Jay del Castillo

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