If you really knew me, you’d not be surprised if I tell you I’m a little grinch when it comes to my birthday. That is because, as conceited as I may seem most of the time (tee-hee), I don’t really want the attention. I just want my birthday to be a normal day, a day when I can take a break from work and just be with my loved ones. This sort of feeling started when I entered 25. Party sort of stopped for a while and I thought that the best way to spend my day is just relax, rest, and get the day over with. But as you know, it never was like that. Most of my birthdays I was either stressed with work or with whatever. Days before my previous birthdays, I would really feel depressed because you know how birthdays just remind you of your could-have-beens and whatnot? That’s the feeling I had been feeling ever since the 25th birthday came.
Maybe it was just quarter-life crisis. Whatever.
But it was different this year. Like waaaaay too different. I stopped being the ugly grinch who dreaded her birthday. I wasn’t just excited for my birthday to come; I was EXUBERANT. I was super giddy, like a child who’s counting days before her birthday finally comes. You see, when this year started, I declared this year to be my year. I declared that good things are gonna happen, and that God will reveal a lot to me. I declared that there is no more room for the silly depressing moods I had been having like the former years. I declared this year to be THE YEAR.
Most importantly, I declared that something huge is gonna happen when I turn 27.
And apparently, I need not wait for my birthday to come before the revelation began.
Two weeks before my 27th, I witnessed and experienced a hold-up inside a jeepney. It was my second time; the first was when I was in first year college, also inside the jeepney. And if you think that having experienced a hold-up already trims down the anxiety, man, you’re wrong. Because it only made everything worst. The fear and trauma doubled, or maybe even tripled. It was the worst feeling ever. Up until now, I would never be caught riding jeepneys anymore.
So yeah, it was a Sunday- just a couple of days before my birthday when the incident happened, and already people are telling me that “maybe God wanted you to buy a new celfone…” “that’s just a celfone. What’s important is that you’re alive.”
I never thought I’d hear those words so soon again.
The day that I turned 27, I woke up to a horrifying scene: WE WERE ROBBED INSIDE OUR HOUSE. An akyat-bahay gang entered our house while we were asleep. I had work that night but there was just this feeling that was forcing me not to go to work that night. I didn’t really plan to be absent that night because as you know, I am beginning a new chapter in my life (new work, venturing to other things, career-shift, etc.), so I was really trying to be a good employee. But that day my eyes were swollen because they were irritated, all thanks to my contacts. BUT THERE WAS REALLY THIS SPIRIT THAT WAS PULLING ME FROM COMING TO WORK THAT NIGHT. And so I didn’t go to work. THANK GOD FOR THAT. Hans, my lovely fiance, was there at home- he was gonna spend a week there because it was Summer Camp week at church and we were both BS/Small Group Leaders. Thank God for that, too!
Hans and I watched DVD until 12 midnight. There were just three of us at home: Mom, Hans and I. At 12 Hans already said good night, and he entered his room. I sleep beside mom, but I stayed at the sala until around 1am, doing faceboook, thanking my greeters (it was already my birthday!). I was also doing research as to places where Hans and I could date because well, it was my last year to be single (another reason why there was this excitement). Mom woke up, went to the restroom to urinate, and asked for Milo because she’s feeling a bit dizzy. I entered our room at 1am, and made sure the doors were properly locked.
I usually wake up around 3am and I did wake up that night, only that time I refused to look at my celfone to see the time. AND AGAIN, THANK GOD FOR THAT! I never really knew what time that was but I woke up because I heard mom walking or talking. I checked mom, who was on the other bed, and she was peacefully asleep, and so I went back to sleep. I remember looking at the door which was already wide open with the lights on outside. I never suspected anything because mom usually wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom and I thought it was just one of those nights.
At 5:18 in the morning, mom woke me up, and she was really shaking. She was telling me that somebody entered our house and took all our money and bags and laptops. I was super shocked but I could not open my eyes for a while. When I finally stood up, I ran to the room where Hans was sleeping and woke him up to check if he was okay. He was okay, thank God. We ran to the window where mom was standing and saw the window grills and screen broken. There was a hole where a small man can fit and apparently that was the hole the robber used as his entrance and exit.
I went to our (mine and mom’s) bedroom and surveyed the scene: there was a knife by the floor of the door, our knife, which obviously the robber would use to stab us in case we wake up. There was a belt by mom’s pillow that we figured would be used by the robber for mom in case she wakes up. Mom’s 2 celfones which were placed on my bed, by my foot were stolen. Her bag, which was in our room was taken as well. Our bags were found by the window, mine was inside, Hans’ and mom’s were outside the hole.
Hans iPhone, which was beside him wasn’t stolen, among a camera which was inside the room where Hans slept. We figured that the “insider” did not know there was a man inside the house and he probably got scared when he saw Hans so he didn’t risk taking things from that room.
Our money, 3 laptops and celfones were stolen. My celfones which were not-so-techie (I was robbed a week before, so there) were beside me and were not stolen (yep. The robbers knew what they were doing).
We were told that the insiders probably used a “spray” on us which was why we didn’t wake up. We were told it was chloroform, as manifested by mom’s rashes and our drowsiness after the event.
Mom hugged me inside our room and she said sorry that this had to happen on the day of my birthday. She smiled and told me to consider that those are my gifts to those people because it’s my birthday.
I was really in a state of shock. It was the first time that we were ever robbed, and it was the first time that I felt that feeling. I couldn’t smile, couldn’t react, couldn’t even feel a thing. When the police came and asked a couple of questions, I displayed what we nurses call flat affect. No emotions. No whatnots.
Several other people came, including some of our churchmates who were concerned. When they left, it was just Hans and I (mom attended an activity in church. Yep, the incident didn’t stop her from serving the Lord). Hans and I prayed, and we were blessing the robbers and their families. We were forgiving them. That was when tears rolled down my eyes. I let out a heavy cry. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I wasn’t depressed because I had to celebrate my birthday this way.
I was crying because I was thanking God because we were still alive.
You know, most people receive (and ask for) money, a new laptop, a new celfone for their birthdays. I lost mine before my birthday. And instead of receiving new ones, I received the best gift ever.
I was given the gift of life.
Life for me, life for Hans, life for Mom.
And I could never, not in a million years, ask for any other gift but that.