In the new book, Letters to My Children, 35 parents, from showbiz actors to athletes to politicians, write to their kids to impart wisdom, affirm their love, and share words of encouragement on how to embrace the future. It is probably one of the few times you'll see these public figures at their most joyful, hopeful, and, yes, vulnerable.
One of the letters featured is by Feliz Lucas, who runs her own styling company called Lifestyle by Feliz, and, along with her photographer-husband Jay Jay, co-founded Chestknots Studio. She is also the mother of Ethan Jairo and Caitlin Soleil, whom most of you probably know as “Courageous Caitie.” You may be familiar with this family's journey – the struggle to to know what was wrong with Caitie and finally knowing her condition, only to be faced by the fact that she didn’t have much time left.
In this letter, published here in full, Feliz, who recently shared she is pregnant, writes to her son about the love his 'Achie' will always have for him. (Read her husband Jay Jay's tribute to their daughter here.)
As I put my hands around you and watch you sleep, I try to gently give you a kiss and smell you with the hopes of not waking you up. I try to envision you as a 7-year-old child and wonder if you would ask about your older sister, Caitie.
The day you were born your sister was the first one you were introduced to. She even gave you a kiss on the forehead. She slept in the hospital with us, your Mom and Dad, and helped us change your diaper, give you a bath, and put you to sleep. She patted your thighs and wanted to give you her Chapstick to calm you down. She also wasn’t able to sleep well because you kept on crying every two hours. Every morning, we’d bring you out, and she would rub her hands and place them on your chest to keep you warm.
Your sister loved you unconditionally her whole life, even if she would run away from you because you would either hit or bite her, or step on her feet. At home, she would put up her flash cards and teach you about colors and numbers. Mom and Dad had a hard time feeding you while you were in your infant years. It was only through her that you would eat — you took whatever she gave. She would join you in the tub and regularly give you a bath. Whenever you cried, she would get a toy and balance it on her head. Whenever it would fall, you would laugh so hard and forget why you were crying in the first place!
As a family, our fondest memory would always be our car rides going to a resort in Batangas. Both of you loved the pool and the beach, and for Mom and Dad to throw you up in the air. We were just full of laughter! When we were at home, we always made time to dance, and you and your sister would do funny, frog-like break Mighty Ethan, dance moves. Everywhere we went, the two of you would instantly get up and dance whenever we’d play your theme song!
When we brought Caitie to the hospital, you still didn’t know how to talk. But when you arrived in Singapore, three months after not being able to be physically together, I heard you say, “Achie” and “Caitie.” A glass door separated the two of you, and it broke my heart to see how much you wanted to go inside.
The last time you were together we were in the ICU room, and the doctors allowed you to come in for a short time. Your sister always asked about you and would tell us she loved you. She put up her hand and waited for you to fist bump with her, align and hold hands, and that was it. You saw the Chapstick on the table, and you grabbed it because you wanted your sister to use it. Caitie tried to open all the paint bottles and place them in the saucer so you could dip your paintbrush and paint.
When she passed away, it was difficult for us whenever we would see you get excited about girl toys, shoes, and clothes because you would always say Achie or Caitie upon seeing them. At the toy store, the only toy you kept going back to was the same toy house that you and your sister played with, which she used to teach you about opposites. At home, you would see the tandem bike you used to ride together, and you’d still sit in the back seat, as if expecting your sister to pedal for you from the front seat.
Mighty Ethan, your sister always thought about you. Whenever we would go out together, she would get a toy and say, “For Ethan” or “This one is for Caitie, this one is for Ethan.” And when we would buy just one toy, she would ask, “How about Ethan?” I want you to know that I saw how much she loved you because you are you, not because of what you should or can become. You loved each other’s presence, and that was enough. Though she was just 3 years and 7 months old when God called her to be with Him in heaven, I am excited for the day when we will all be together again.
But while we wait and invest our time on earth to prepare for heaven, I want you to know that I will continue to be dependent on God so I can be the kind of mother He wants me to be. I pray that I will be filled with wisdom and grace to build you up to be the kind of man God has planned you to be. I want you to know that above everything else, I choose to love you unconditionally for who you are, and I place my full trust in you.
There are three things that I have always instilled in your sister, which I wish to pass on to you:
I will disappoint you and need your forgiveness. As you grow up, there might be instances where you will feel disappointed because I might fail you. I want you to know that even if I disappoint you, God will never disappoint you. Whatever you do, always remember your audience of one — that’s Jesus. With this, I hope I will be a good example of saying “Will you forgive me?” and pray that it will show you that there is strength in humility.
“The first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, and the first to forget is the happiest.” (Unknown)
Pursue God and continue to learn. I hope that you will not simply love God, but I want you to pursue Him, find out who He is, what His promises are, and how you can continue to discover more things about Him. Because there is no greater joy than to fall in love with someone you know so well. With Him, you will feel joy and feel complete and never feel lacking in anything.
“But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)
Communicate and think of others first. When both of you were 7 months old, we learned about baby sign language. You were able to communicate to me what you wanted and didn’t like. As the months and years went by, we improved at communicating with one another, so I want you to know how important it is to communicate. Pray and ask wisdom from God on how, what, and when to say things, especially when it comes to serious matters, as you grow older. As much as we have so many things we want to say, think of others before yourself. Serve the first scoop of your favorite ice cream to others before you serve yourself.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
As we continue to enjoy and explore new adventures in life, my prayer is that both you and I will be grounded in God’s love.
I love you so much. On to our next adventure!
Tight hugs, Mommy
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Published bySummit Books, Letters to My Children (P295) is available at your favorite book store.