May 22, 2013

When Plans Don’t Push Through : A Birthday Story

My husband and I have been together for 15 years and within those years we have never gone out of town as a little family simply because we couldn't afford it. Although we have traveled locally and abroad, they were trips made with my family or with friends.

Money has never been easy for my husband and I. For some weird reason, I have never been motivated to earn more than what a simple life will require. I’m aimless, I procrastinate, I am complacent, I live my life one day at a time. I am not the type of girl who will break my back for luxurious things. (But that’s about to change because I will really aim for Harry Potter World come 2017!). My husband, being a goat through and through (Capricorn and ram), is a person who has long-term goals. He really works hard but what comes in is just enough for us to get by.

But we dream. My husband and I have always fancied traveling as a little family.

About a month or so ago, my husband told me he’s planning an out of town trip for my birthday. I was worried. In my head, I was calculating what we’ll spend. But he assured me again and again that there was nothing to worry about, so off we went.

On the day of my birthday, with no definite plans, we left the hot and sticky city and headed for adventure.

We decided to stay in Subic. An old US Army Base, now a tourist spot, a couple of hours or so away from the city. It was good enough for a family who will do this for the first time. The swimming pools in Subic were not as pretty as we hoped (save for the places where membership is required. Argh.) but that didn’t bring us down. We still checked ourselves in in a very nice and cozy hotel. We went to the local restaurants where my husband and I had been before. We ate to our hearts’ content. Delectable baby back ribs, juicy steaks, chocolate shakes, crepes - the works. We also checked out the duty-free shops, my husband re-assuring us all the way that we can buy whatever we wanted! No, I didn’t take advantage of his generosity, in fact I bought my own goodies, but I really did feel he was spoiling us! We were having a great time.

Until night-time came. We could no longer ignore my eldest son’s coughs. They were getting violent. He was obviously getting weaker and soon enough he had fever. We cancelled our plans to hit the spa for some special massage and instead my husband and my eldest son went to the emergency room at the nearby hospital. He had to use the nebulizer 3x in a span of 45 minutes. That’s how bad he was. 

He felt good right after and we all slept well that night. He no longer coughed and his fever abated. When we woke up we were excited to go to the zoo and ocean park. We were feeling high! But during breakfast, my son’s cough and fever came back with vengeance. And our 1-year old started to cough as well.

We decided, with heavy hearts, to terminate the trip and head back home.
I saw how my husband was sad. I felt his sadness. We didn’t talk about it, but I felt it. I saw the twinkle in his eyes vanish. It was replaced with worry and disappointment. I felt how sorry my eldest son was too. He was feeling guilty and down. But we assured him that he was our top priority, not our trip.

We went home in silence, save for the loud coughs of both my sons. And I reflected… What did this experience teach me? We have waited so long for this but the Universe had other plans. What did it want to teach my little family? There must be a lesson, or a nugget of wisdom, at the end of this failed trip – yes? Is it about money? About how precious time is? About how fragile my eldest son really is? Is it about defining what quality time is?

We were feeling so high, my husband couldn't even sleep properly in excitement days before my birthday. It was a momentous day. Our first time out of town, just us, our little family. We had swimming pools in mind. We had tigers and dolphins in mind. We had shopping and non-stop eating in mind. We were supposed to stay at Subic for at least two nights. We were determined to make it a happy and very special trip.

Maybe it is about handling disappointment as a family. Well, if that's the case, we handled it well and I am quite proud of it. As a family, we knew what to do, we did it properly, we did it together. And that’s what matters most, especially for my birthday, that we, as a family, are united wherever we may be.