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Arsenio C Jesena

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Featuring Mila Cajili Jesena Smith's TINY BUBBLES
by Arsenio C Jesena   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2011

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Featuring Mila Cajili Jesena Smith's "TINY BUBBLES"

written by Mila Cajili Jesena Smith

My life with Toto Baby Meloto for 20 years seemed to pass by so fast. He built us a little bungalow house with three bedrooms, and we had four beautiful daughters -- Betsy, Emgee, Joie, and Tina. A daughter, born after Betsy, died when she was two months and six days old -- Maria Lourdes Leilani, whom Fr. Juni lovingly nicknamed “Tiny Bubbles.” And all of us loved the name.

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me feel happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I’m gonna
Love you till the end of time ....

I used to sing this song whenever I was putting my second daughter, MARIA LOURDES LEILANI, lovingly nicknamed “TINY BUBBLES”, to sleep in my rocking chair. She was born May 12, 1972, 7 lbs., 14 oz. at the Riverside Hospital. She was a chubby baby, round face, dimples on both cheeks, with curly brown hair. Every time you looked at her, she seemed as beautiful as the angels pictured in prayer books or calendars. I was filled with constant wonder that I held this angelic-looking baby in my arms. I had no doubt she was mine because she was the only baby born in the hospital on that particular day. She made us all very happy. She just smiled all the time and she rarely cried the way other babies do.

When my birthday came on July 18, I thought it would be a special birthday because we had our newest and youngest addition to the family to help us celebrate the day. There were some relatives coming to the house to greet me that morning when, all of a sudden, we heard the baby cry. Since it was her feeding time, I ran to get the bottle, but when I approached the crib, I saw that she was turning blue. I called for help and took her out of the crib, putting her on a flat surface and checking her mouth for anything that might obstruct her airway passage. I remembered doing my resuscitative efforts while Baby was driving us to the nearest hospital Emergency Room.

In spite of all our combined efforts, we lost our Tiny Bubbles. We were all in shock, especially Baby and me, but we had to be careful because Betsy, being too young to understand, kept asking where her little sister was. Tiny Bubbles was autopsied because, in my anxiety and distress, I needed to know what triggered this heartbreaking tragedy in our lives. The diagnosis was SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS), where the larynx just closes without any other symptoms. As a nurse, it was even harder for me, because I was there all the time at her bedside, and I was sure she was not able to feed prior to the onset of her problem because of the fear of possible aspiration. There had been nothing in the crib to cause choking or suffocation. Moreover, I hadn’t left her with babysitters while I cared for patients at the hospital.

The death of Tiny Bubbles was the first tragic event in our family. She looked like a sleeping angel in her little coffin. Her funeral was attended by friends in the nursing and medical profession, in the community, Baby’s friends at work and basketball and those he had helped as a Barangay Councilman.

I prayed to God constantly all through the day. He had been with me from the day I was born, while I was growing up and through so many periods in my life. He gave me strength to overcome my sadness, loneliness, and insecurities. Sometimes, I would lock myself in Tiny Bubbles’ room, singing her song while cuddling a small pillow in a rocking chair. I found comfort in her lingering baby smell, and in touching her clothes, crib, toys, etc.

Then, I would come back to reality when I would hear Betsy’s voice calling for her Nanay. I would tend to her needs and reassure her of our love for her. Then, we would make plans for the days and weeks to come, remembering my duties as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc. They say, “Only time can heal.” The life and death of my daughter, Tiny Bubbles, taught me so many things. Life is so short and vulnerable, and death can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. And there is no perfection in life, so life is what you make it.

It was unspeakabIy painful, but I never doubted God’s love when my daughter died. I thanked him for giving me the chance to have Tiny Bubbles for two months and six days and to sing to her, hold her in my arms, and look upon that angelic face. Also, I did not resent the fact that God took her on my birthday, because He was showing His love for me by taking her back sooner rather than later, when the damage to our lives would’ve been much bigger, deeper, and more heartbreaking. I also thought of the death of my mother, when I was four years old, which was even more profoundly saddening than this loss. As a child, your life is never the same, because you have only one mother, who is more irreplaceable than anyone else in your life.

In the years after we lost Tiny Bubbles, God gave us many more blessings, with more happy birthdays to celebrate with Betsy and with her three younger sisters who God brought into our lives. The loss of Tiny Bubbles made Baby and me more aware of God’s presence in our lives. Whenever we would feel empty and remember our great loss, we would think of our beautiful memories from the time she was with us. Those memories helped us to recover emotionally sooner as we faced the days, weeks and years to come in our lives.

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