Being in the military and being a military wife in one equates to a tedious and adventurous life. But this also equates to sleepless nights once our respective husbands go on deployment...Here was the last message my dear friend Mommy Sophie (LTJG Aemy Leslie Campos-Damian) read, the night before Daddy Sophie (1LT FRANCIS DAMIAN PA) was buried...
Note: This letter/message was posted with permission...
"I am amazed with how my husband has touched many lives while he was still alive. Pero mas nakakataba ng puso na higit na maraming na-inspire kahit sa kanyang pagkawala.
”Dadi, nasa frontpage tayo.”
· Nais ko pong kunin ang pagkakataong ito upang sabihin ang matagal na dapat naming sinabi ni Chikko.
To Mommy Sol and Daddy Bing, Mama and Papa, SORRY.
Chikko and I are sincerely sorry for not being able to begin our journey with you. We stepped on to another significant path without your knowledge and consent. We know we caught you by surprise and we could not be more grateful for the unconditional love you’ve given us. Without ifs and buts, you accepted and understood our decisions. You showed us the kind of parenting we wish to pass on to our dear Cheeky - the kind that is patient, just, keeps no record of wrongs, always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. You taught us that love prospers when one forgives.
· Dear friends, Chikko and Chick… our not-so-ordinary love story is a tale to be told… a story that in time, Cheeky will come to understand. Our love story will make you laugh; it will make you cry. It will make you believe that no matter how you run away, the Lord will always lead you to the one He has prepared for you. With the incomparable happiness Chikko has given me, our love will always be worth all the pain.
· Much has been said about the heroism of Chikko and of how amazing he is as a brave warrior for the country. But to me and Cheeky, he will always be “Dadi Sophie.” I have realized that more than the grief of losing him, there is also the searing pain brought by the tug of familiarity and the what-could’ve-beens.
Mamimiss ko ‘yung morning messages niya na: “How is my Momi and Cheeky?” Pag low morale ako, may mga hirit siyang “Okay lang ‘yan Momi, basta may pumapasok pa sa ATM” o ‘yung “Life is already hard, Momi, why make it harder.” Francis was like that… alam niya kung paano kami patatawanin at patatahanin. Nung binyag ni Sophie, he surprised us when he arrived a day earlier than his supposed flight. When I opened the door, andun na siya sa labas ng bahay with his usual charming smoulder.
Mabibilang man sa mga daliri ko ang mga pagkakataong nagkasama sila ni Sophie, Chikko made sure every moment was memorable. Bago pa man siya makagraduate sa Airborne Course niya, gustong-gusto na niya magpadeploy sa Zamboanga. At isa sa mga dahilan ay kami ni Sophie. Higit sa pagtupad ng kanyang tungkulin bilang kawal ng bayan, pinanindigan niya ang pagiging Dadi kay Sophie.
Upon landing in EAAB, he said, “Momi, san kayo? Makita ko man lang sandali ang Momi ko at ang Baby Girl ko. Diyan na lang sa NavForWem, before ako pumunta sa TCP ng LRB. Wag sa bahay kasi nakafull battle gear na ako. Pwede dalhin mo lang sandali ang baby girl, Momi? Kung hindi, kahit ikaw na lang momi ang makita ko bago madeploy. Naks, parang pelikula lang.”
· I knew in my heart that Chikko would have been the best father. He would’ve introduced our God to her, carried Sophie around whenever he had the chance, taken photos of her as she grows, given her the world, taught her how to play a sport or a musical instrument, accompanied her on her first day of class and picked her up from school every day; napahirapan pa sana niya ang mga magtatangkang manligaw sa baby girl namin; he would’ve come up the stage every graduation day. Chikko would’ve walked her down the aisle, kissed her cheeks, and gave her his blessing; he would’ve watched our grandchildren grow up to be as beautiful as her.
· When his battle bag was handed over to me, I could not stop myself from crying. I saw three (3) precious items in it:
- First, his phone, ang wallpaper ay kami ni Cheeky.
- Second, Sophie’s bib na ninakaw niya. Hindi ko napansing kinuha niya pala ‘yun during our visit to Cheeky’s pedia for her vaccination. Walang laba yung bib puno pa ng suka ni Cheeky, yun ang inaamoy nya to remind him of our little girl and he carries it everwhere he goes.
- Lastly, I found a book about being a “Father to a Daughter,” life lessons on raising a girl. I could imagine my husband reading through the book during his free time, understanding every advice there was in it, longing for a chance to apply every single piece that it said.
I turned to a page which stated that the five (5) keys to raising a girl are:
1. Always be involved in her life.
2. Respect and honor her mom.
3. Treasure every moment with her.
4. Pray for her everyday.
In the span of time that he was with us, Chikko did all of the above. The last one struck me the most… it said:
5. Be her hero.
Francis may not be physically present anymore to defend and protect our baby girl; to give her a comforting hug or kiss whenever she’s afraid; and to sing her a lullaby until she falls asleep. But I am confident that he will always be there for our baby, guiding her from above.
He is not just the country’s hero… he is our daughter’s hero; he is and will always be my hero.
· I have to admit. I am overwhelmed by this challenge. Ang huling for compliance ko lang kasi kay Chikko ay mejas na Biofresh o Burlington, tapos foot powder at Fungisol. Ngayon, I am not just Momi Sophie, I have to be Dadi Sophie as well.
Pero pangako ko sa’yo dadi, I will raise Sophie the way we wanted her to be. I will make sure that your dream for our baby Sophie will be fulfilled. I promise that she will know you better day by day. When the time comes, she will proudly tell the world that she is our daughter and that 1LT. FRANCIS G. DAMIAN of the Philippine Army, a hero of the Filipino nation, is her father.
· I would like to take this chance to thank everyone who condoled with us in this moment of grief. Thank you for all your concern and sympathies. The coming days will be hard. While Chikko victoriously won in his fight, it is now our time to face another battle - that of letting go and beginning a new journey. Armed with faith and prayers, we will get by.
· As I end this, allow me to share with you a few lines from the last song dadi Sophie sang to me…
“I am all alone without you. My days are dark without the glimpse of you. But now that you came into my life, I feel complete. The flowers bloom, my morning shines, and I can see…”
He may not be here anymore, but his reassuring voice will always be in my mind. He will always complete the song of my heart.
I love you dadi, I will always do… till we meet again."