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My Husband Died A Day After We Found Out I Was Pregnant
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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    It happened last year, in the morning of September 25, 2019. I woke up with a cheerful heart. I remember seeing my husband, Jan Vincent Natividad, running for the door to go to his usual morning dragon boat training. Nothing special there, except in our minds, we both know that we were pregnant. Just a day ago we went to the doctor to confirm it.

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    After our first doctor’s appointment we celebrated with a simple lunch and a day out on the beach. We were ecstatic about the baby. “It felt so good to be alive,” we told ourselves. Later that night we told our families in Manila.

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    On that Wednesday morning, the news broke of a drowning incident in Boracay — seven paddlers from the Boracay Dragonforce team drowned while training for a Taiwan race that was to be held in November 2019.

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    Last known photo of the Dragonforce paddlers on that fateful day of September 25. This photo is not mine — it was given to me by the Coast Guard to help me identify my husband. He is the one doing burpees on the right.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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    My husband was one of those who drowned. He was 32.

    A lot has happened since then. Shipping his body from Boracay back to Manila wasn’t an easy feat. My relocation back to Manila with all our things from Boracay also didn’t go smoothly. Christmas seemed lackadaisical.

    Then there was the COVID-19 pandemic, the enhanced community quarantine, pregnancy hormones, giving birth via cesarean section, the death of my father, celebrating our child’s first month, and now, he is four months old. All of these situations tested me in every single way.

    There was a time that I refused to get an ultrasound — I feared for our baby because of all the stress I went through. But our baby fought.

    On my second trimester, I had serious bouts of depression. Everyone around me told me to be strong for the baby, to fight the sadness and try not to cry. But these were impossible to do.

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    Jan and I enjoying a Sunset cruise around Boracay.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad

    Sometimes, praying was all I could do to feel better. I never stopped talking to my husband. I talked to him as if he was just beside me. I’d still send him chat messages, photos of our baby boy, and every single time I had to make a crucial decision.

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    My last memory of him alive was when he kissed me back to sleep, tucked me in bed with our dog beside me, before he headed out the door on that fateful morning.

    You see, my husband took care of everything when he was still alive. He works from home, cooks, walks the dog, and takes care of our finances. I, on the other hand, was always out on the field because of my work.

    This is a photo of my husband cooking. A typical scene in our house in Boracay. Our dog patiently waits for alms.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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    My husband was a kind-hearted man. He was Mr. Steady, with a happy-go-lucky attitude in life and always with a sweet smile on his face. When we moved to Boracay in 2018, he fought an illness called Graves' Disease which almost crippled him. But the island healed him.

    Our baby’s first ultrasound. It’s a boy!
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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    During the last days of his life, I saw that he was happy and really excited to be a dad. He was so eager to take care of me and the baby. His YouTube history showed that he had already watched a few pregnancy prep videos. His last messages to his friends were questions about their birthing experiences, expenses, and other pregnancy-related stuff.

    My last memory of him alive was when he kissed me back to sleep, tucked me in bed with our dog beside me, before he headed out the door on that fateful morning.

    Here I am wearing my husband’s favorite shirt as I hug our baby for the very first time.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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    More than the feeling of being alone, I was helpless inside the house with him gone. But it was during my solitary moments while talking to my husband that I slowly regained my strength — I needed to be strong for our baby. I needed to live again.

    I don’t really know how to finish this story — I just wanted to honor my husband with this post, on his first death anniversary. I hope that my story can enlighten, if not empower widows like me who are still paddling through rough waters. Life still goes on, for me and our baby.

    One of the last photos I took of my husband.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Ayn Descalsote-Natividad
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