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Dearest P,

Finally, after more than a month, I finally made time to write you your first letter. It’s a bit more challenging to find quiet time to write with your Manoy, Diko, and Ate clamouring for attention. While the boys play, and Tatay and Ate K bond over Netflix, I’ll try to gather my thoughts and prayers for you.

My pregnancy with you has been one filled with excitement and anxiety. There was a bit of bleeding, and like with your Diko, I had placenta previa. I felt strong though – and it was only closer to your arrival, that I started feeling tired.

I knew the excitement would continue. I am looking forward to watching all four of you grow up, and seeing the dynamic among you guys. And the anxiety? There is that too. Raising four isn’t a joke. But know that Tatay and I are trying our best to provide the best for you all.

Now, the anxiety we feel now is not what I expected to experience. You see, we’re living in interesting times. And I have to admit, a bit scary too.

We have been isolating our family, staying at home since Spring break started. Mommy and Kongkong arrived, so we’re staying away from the outside world for 14 days.

The whole world is experiencing a bit of shut down – non-essential stores are closed, schools are doing distance learning, flights are cancelled, certain places are on lockdown. There’s a virus going around, making people sick. There is no vaccination, and it moves real quickly. The best way for us to be safe, and to keep those healing the sick safe, is to stay home.

Our family is scattered all over right now – Nongnong D in San Diego, Nongnong M in Denver, Nongnong Lee in Manila. Auntie K is in White Rock, Auntie Nini in Manila, and PapaLo and MamaLa, and the rest of the family in Naga. We’re lucky Mommy and Kongkong made it just in time. And perhaps this distance adds to our worries.

You’re asleep now, in my arms, as I try to type my thoughts on my phone.

Asleep in my mother’s arms.

Your name comes from Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. And many of his words and prayers offer some comfort at this time.

No worries. All smiles.

While “Pray, Hope, and Don’t worry.” is a popular saying, a quote that speaks out to me is:“You say you are anxious about the future, but don’t you know that the Lord is with you always and that our enemy has no power over one who has resolved to belong entirely to Jesus?” (3/29/1914)

At this point, prayers, vigilance, and support for those affected is the only thing we can do. Support for those in the frontlines, and support for those who cannot enjoy the orders to stay home (maybe because they have no home or cannot afford not to stay home) in whatever means possible, is needed. And honestly, seeing the way people have been generously moving their resources to stop this pandemic is an overwhelming sight (but for another letter altogether).

It is so easy to fall into despair, P. Especially at a time like now. But when Padre Pio says “don’t worry”, he doesn’t mean do nothing. I pray that you be a mover, P. But with each movement, each act, each decision you make, bring hope with you, a hope that is anchored on your faith. Because in a strange way, hanging onto hope, clinging on to faith, is a way of surrendering to the Lord.

I guess the point of this first letter is, me so sure that you are a strong, mighty girl – to remind you, that there is Higher Being. That it’s okay not to be in control. That it’s okay to surrender to Him, and be assured that all will be well. Because at this point, and throughout my pregnancy with you, surrendering was my toughest lesson.