It was barely a month after my wedding when the news came.

My uncle and his family were enjoying their Christmas vacation in Thailand when the deadly tsunami struck. This disaster claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of lives, including those of my uncle and my 2 young cousins (they were only aged 44, 13 and 10 at the time) plus 2 other members of their party.

My brother went to Phuket to take care of things while we all waited for any updates. At the time, the youngest daughter (my cousin) was still struggling for her life in an ICU. She eventually succumbed after almost 3 weeks, a few days after her 10th birthday.

Imagine. We were still at the height of the euphoric honeymoon cloud that we were riding in when we were rudely brought back to reality. My mother was very depressed that her youngest brother and the 2 young children were so abruptly taken away from us.

With all that was happening, I initially did not realize that there were already changes occurring in my body. I started to get food aversions. I thought that I just did not have an appetite given the extreme situation that we were in at that time. There were only a few things that I could tolerate, and the Goldilocks mamon that my mom's friends brought over was one of them.

Then we began to suspect that my lack of appetite and food aversions were due to something else.

2 pink lines. A new life. Hope.

We told my mother the news that she is going to be a grandmother. I believe that this was the point when she started to slowly get out of her depression.

9 months after we lost our loved ones to the fury of Mother Nature, we welcomed another life into the family. My husband and I were so excited that we excitedly shared the news to family and friends. A lot of them came over to visit. We served them goodies from Goldilocks like ensaymada and mamon and tetra packed juice.

I realized later that my son came at just the right time. He is my mother's first apo, and while she may not be a totally indulgent lola (she can actually be strict at times), she loves him very, very much. We now celebrate life, after death claimed our loved ones.

Life has again changed.

In about 2 week's time, it will be his fifth birthday. We're having a simple celebration at home. No party this year, just a simple family salo-salo, but for sure there will be a cake (from Goldilocks!) and misua. It's been a roller coaster ride the past 5 years, but life goes on, through all the ups and downs, through all the challenges, through all the PAGBABAGO (changes).