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  • Courageous Caitie's Parents Write a Book on Loss, Love, and Faith

    After losing their 3-year-old, daughter, Feliz and Jay Jay Lucas share how their family is moving on.
    by Ana Leah dela Cruz .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Who could forget the heartbreaking story of Caitlin Lucas, the 3-year-old girl who passed away after bravely battling a rare case of leukemia? Courageous Caitie, as she was fondly called by family, friends, and supporters, was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia — what started as insect-like bites on her skin led to a series of numerous blood test, biopsies, and blood transfusion. Then on March 31, 2016, her parents Feliz and Jay Jay made the sad announcement of her passing.

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    Almost a year later, on February 14, 2017, the couple welcomed their third child, Calea, whose time of birth, 11:26 a.m., happened to be the same time Caitie passed away.

    And two years after Caitie, Feliz and Jay Jay have come out with a book called More Than Most, a collection of passages and learnings through their journey of love and loss. The book is published by OMF Literature and launched today, September 16, at the Manila International Book Fair 2018.

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    How to make grief a friend

    In an email interview, we asked Feliz what she hopes readers would learn from reading the book: “I want anyone who would read the book to understand that we are all hurting in one way or another. Sometimes it’s not just grief. But grief has a way of unearthing your issues and the condition of your heart. It’s scary but welcome it,” she said.

    “I eventually realized that I’ve been carrying a whole lot of issues I have hidden under a rug. Issues of feeling worthless and issues of pride in wanting to take control because of the things that have happened in my life. Grief can become a friend to reveal to you what you really need to confront and resolve,” she adds.

    According to Feliz, the whole process of writing and creating the book has helped her and her family to heal, saying, “Telling your story is a way of healing. It’s a perfect way to debrief. It became closure. I tried to understand what happened, where I am, and who I want to be.”

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    Moving on after Caitie

    She offered some advice, too, on how grieving moms (and dads) can come to terms with the realities of loss. “I didn’t stop asking [why it happened], but I made sure I was looking for the answers at the right places. Confronting pain allowed me to see my faults and discover the real condition of my heart — who I really was and if this is who I really want to be. Our emotions define our current, state but it doesn’t define who we are,” she shared.

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    “I think when you process and debrief yourself with what has happened — describe in detail what really happened, what I couldn’t control, it uncovered the truth that God was sovereign. That He may have allowed the pain but He didn’t cause it,” she said.

    “I realized that life isn't about stages, but it’s a simultaneous growth about loving Him first and obedience to what He wants me to do. The days that I lose are the days that I’m so full of myself and dwell on my circumstances and the days that I win are those when I live beyond myself. The answer to healing isn’t a one question one answer kind of scenario. Healing needs consistency of finding the answers in the right places.”

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    Here’s an excerpt from the book More Than Most, words by Feliz Lucas:

    It has been two years since Caitie died. I still, during unguarded moments, feel like I am being tossed back and forth, in danger of questioning God’s judgments. Sometimes, I identify more with what I have lost than with the goodness and grace He has brought forth in the life that I have now.

    I am grateful for the depth of my pain. Here, I see the real condition of my heart. It is in my place of pain that I sacrificially dedicate my heart to the Lord — every day. This pain is a room where Jesus and I meet regularly. I cannot fake my responses there. In that room I am real, and I can choose to come out of that room either defeated or victorious.

    In the midst of my pain, I still hope to reach out to others and remind them — remind you — that all of us are not alone. Our heartaches can bring us on a journey closer to the heart of Jesus. That is where we can experience renewal.

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    Now, our home life — Jay and Jay and mine — consists of establishing routines, devotions, spontaneous trips, and character-building exercises. I have decided to homeschool my children and be a full-time housewife (I still accept some small projects, but rarely). We are raising a strong-willed boy in Ethan, and starting to teach the basics to our little fluff bear, Calea. Home life comes with its own joys and challenges. Ethan gets along with Calea one minute, then fights with her the next. I find it amazing and humbling how we are all learning how to be a family that practices processing when we make mistakes, praises accomplishments, respects one another, and is quick to ask for forgiveness. Jay Jay has physical playtime with the kids every morning to help expend their energy, and he does devotions with them. I handle doing workbooks with Ethan and other practical activities. As a family, we love investing on core memories by going on quick getaways, like picnics and the beach. We see how the kids thrive in the outdoors and love seeing them run around and explore freely.

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    Jay Jay and I talked about whether or not our parenting style has changed after Caitie’s passing; we realized that it has not. We still do the same things we did with Caitie with Ethan and Calea; now though, we have become more sensitive to God’s leading and pay attention to what we need to change in ourselves in order to be better parents. Our desire is to be authentic parents who embrace being imperfect and forgive each other when we or the kids make mistakes. We grow for and with them. Do we still cry? Of course. Grief never leaves you. You just learn to live around it.

    For anyone who has guilt, depression, grief, and other concerns of the heart, Feliz is starting a small support group starting September 17, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Community Kitchen in Libis, free of charge. You can email her at todaywiththelucas@gmail.com or send a direct message via Instagram @FelizLucasMore than Most wil be available at bookstores soon. 

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    Ana Leah dela Cruz  is a web content writer with excellent babysitting skills and a knack for making mug cakes. She spends her free time feeding stray cats and badgering her mommy friends for article ideas.

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