Healing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

At Work

One of the things that has been helping me to live through “this” is my work. There are days that it’s a struggle to get up in the morning but because I’m working, I have something to look forward to. I have a reason to get myself together aside from my precious little one, regardless of my pain.

The little munchkin having fun at Disneyland.
The little munchkin having fun at Disneyland.

The unexpected kindness from my colleagues at work was overwhelming. They respected my privacy in spite of the very public way our family’s tragedy had been unfolding. And my bosses. I’ll never forget what one of my bosses said to me when I told him that I needed another week to be off to take care of the funeral arrangements:
“Just take care of what you needed to do for yourself and your family. You don’t have to worry about work. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to welcome you with open arms.” I bawled after that.

It is important to me because my work allows me to contribute however small that is to something beautiful, something that makes people happy. And that’s one the things that gives meaning to my life right now.

Thank you.

Healing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

A Dedication

Steve has been found. Some people might think that it should have been enough for me. That I’m lucky somebody had found him. I’m very aware of that because I’d searched for him and in my search and reaching out for assistance, I’d learned about the statistics for missing persons. I’d been through the agonizing days of not knowing where he was. And I wish that the families of missing persons would be able to find their loved ones soon, too. But I hope not in the way that I did.

My Love
My Love

Why am I still here? Sharing my thoughts? It’s quite unlikely that people will find what I write entertaining. I don’t really know where this is going. The two months of silence to take care of personal business has been building up. And I realized that this time, it’s for me. I needed to do this for myself. Also, this website is a testimony of my search for Steve. There will come a time when my son has grown up, he’ll have questions about his Dad. Lastly, I want to be able to speak about the issues that are important to me. Issues that people tend to have difficulty understanding and even discussing: missing persons, depression, suicide and workplace bullying. Maybe this is something that touches you, too.

When Steve was still missing, we were advised to focus on just the search for Steve. Any other issues will be dealt with later. Our fear of not ever finding Steve silenced me, silenced my family. Until now, there are things that I may not be able to share for self-preservation. And I expect people will respect that.

To those who continue to pray for Steve and our family, I’m eternally grateful for your kindness. Knowing that people cared, really cared and extended their assistance to me and my family without any agenda is important to me. In spite of this tragedy, I recognize that there are blessings that still comes my way. In spite of the uncertainty and despair that I feel, I do yearn for hope. I still choose to live. Living for today, one day at a time.

 

 

 

Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

An Excerpt

This excerpt from a book speaks to me:

The Journey Through Grief: Reflections on Healing
The Journey Through Grief: Reflections on Healing

“The grief within me has its own heartbeat.

It has its own life, its own song.

Part of me wants to resist the rhythms of my grief,

Yet as I surrender to the song, I learn to

Listen deep within myself.

Let the life of this journey be just what it is –

confusing, complicated, at times overwhelming.

I must keep opening and changing through it all until I

become the unique person who has transcended

the pain and discovered self-compassion –

a vulnerable yet grounded me who

chooses to live again.”

~ Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph. D, The Journey Through Grief: Reflections on Healing.

 

 

The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Silence.

Last Saturday, the little munchkin & I visited Steve’s grave. It always has been an emotional experience for me going there. Why should he be six feet under when he should be here with us? So many questions running through my head in anguish but I have no answers or rather no one has any answers for me.

Steve & Thea
Steve & Thea

The little one said a little prayer for Steve: “God bless Daddy. Amen.” He is my sunshine in this darkness.

It’s been two months since Steve was found and a month and a half since we had the funeral service. And here I am still, in disbelief. I’m in an emotional rollercoaster of pain, numbness, anger, and emotional rejection of the fact that Steve had passed away. It’s even hard for me to say THAT word. Suicide.

A lot of people don’t know what to say to me. I don’t even know what to say, either. But sometimes silence is fine and a friend who can just be there and really listen helps. You don’t have to say anything because I don’t need to hear about moving on, closure or getting over with. I don’t need a prescription of what I have to be and what I have to do unless you’re a licensed therapist specializing in bereavement. You can share your experiences with me but understand that our experiences are different and we grieve differently. But you can hold my hand and that’s enough for me.

Death. There’s such a finality in this word. As if suddenly, everything stopped. The end. And yet for me, my husband’s death is only the beginning.

Reminiscing, Thea's Thoughts

Our 8th Wedding Anniversary

Steve and I were supposed to celebrate our 8th Wedding Anniversary today. I think I’m beginning to sound like a broken record by saying that I miss him so much. I never knew that the night we were reminiscing about how we first met together, it’ll be the last time that I’ve seen him.

Mt. Charleston Wedding
Mt. Charleston Wedding

He told me how happy he was when we had our civil wedding in Mt. Charleston, Nevada. We also had a church wedding after a year. He swore that he loved both weddings but I knew he preferred this one. I didn’t mind since I knew that he favored intimate gatherings.

I wish I could still see him. I wish I could still touch him, kiss him and hug him. I miss holding hands with him. I miss his gentle smile and laugh. I’d always given him a hard time when he teased me and I missed that so much, that playful side that only few people know. I’d been longing to hear his voice again. I miss seeing him playing with our little munchkin. I miss our talks before going to bed. Or me talking while I catch him almost dozing off and asking him, “are you still awake?”

I miss you so much, baby. Happy Anniversary, my sweet.

Steve and Thea
Steve and Thea
Funeral, Thea's Thoughts

The Interment

This was the culmination of our family’s rushed less than a week preparation to honor my husband, Steve. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him. As I walked along the aisle during the entrance procession, I steeled myself in looking straight ahead or else I might have broken down and cried.

Flowers for Steve
Flowers for Steve

Georgette Manio, Steve’s FBI colleague was generous with her time and voice to be the cantor for the Mass. Our dear friend, Jaime who worked w/ Steve when they were at the Southwest Division in LAPD made it possible to include the bagpipes and the Honor Guard Ceremony. I’m also grateful for Sgt. Dan Putz and Chief Charlie Beck in making that happen. It was fitting to the qualities I saw in Steve: simple, responsible, honest, honorable, loyal, humble, gracious, gentle and kind.

Honor Guard Ceremony
Honor Guard Ceremony

A lot of people came: Steve’s past and present colleagues from the LAPD and FBI. Some people from the BPD. Our family and friends from out of states, my past and present colleagues from work, my neighbors, my mommy-friends, the bereavement groups from St. Lorenzo & St. Francis Xavier, friends that I lost touch with and now we’d reconnected. Steve’s true friends that you can count in one hand. That was enough for him. That’s the kind of person he was. I’m grateful for their presence.

Rev. Frank Hicks and Rev. Benny George did a Concelebration Mass and Rev. Hicks went to the Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary for the burial rites.

Procession
A Walk to Say Goodbye

My cousin, Justine did the Eulogy:

Rest In Peace Stephen Ryan Ivens

“Have you ever met someone so good and so pure of heart that it makes you want to be a good person as well? That is exactly what Steve was for my entire family and me. When Steve was Continue reading “The Interment”

Funeral, Thea's Thoughts

Vigil Night

It was a full day and as usual, I had about 101 things to do. There was a little bit of confusion at the Mortuary because I thought anyone from the family could get in but they needed me to be there and I was running late. It was stressful and I haven’t even finished the Eulogy for Steve until I get to the Mortuary.

My Steve, Football Hunk
My Steve, Football Hunk

I didn’t realize that there’s a difference in funeral etiquette between the East Coast & the West Coast. I really had no clue. Here on the West Coast, we greet the guest after the vigil while on East Coast, the family members stand beside the casket to receive guests during the viewing. My aunt told me that here in the West Coast, we usually serve food and apparently in the East Coast, they don’t. My aunt Naomi who is a bereavement minister and her friends from St. Lorenzo Ruiz Parish Church helped me a lot during the service.

There were still a lot of people, family, friends, Steve’s colleagues and my peeps from work. It was really comforting to see that people cared.

I finally finished my Eulogy for Steve:

“If I tell you the most memorable times of my life with Steve, we’ll probably do a 10 year vigil but I only have five minutes. Instead, I would love to tell you what kind of a husband & father he was. My husband was generous, humble, gracious, honest & kind.

Our marriage, like any kind of marriage had some bumpy roads. We had our petty fights, difference in temperaments, difference in preference for movies & even political disagreements. No matter how hard our day was, we always talk before we go to bed. If we had any disagreements, we always kiss and make up.

Steve & I celebrate a monthsery. I insisted on it & he went along with it- gleefully, I think. I always show my love and affection verbally & by giving little gifts. But you know, Steve – he showed it by his actions. He did the dishes, he made our tea, he threw the thrash bags, and he gave me pedicures. I’ll truly miss those idyllic moments.

He embraced fatherhood with such enthusiasm. We were partners in raising Kyle, his little buddy. They had their own rituals. After work, Steve usually brought Kyle at the park while I prepared dinner. Every time at 6pm, once Kyle heard the keys jiggling by the doorway, he’ll be running off greeting him, “Daddy, Daddy!” Kyle never did that for me & sometimes, I envied it. Now, I would have given anything to have those moments back but I can’t.

I have to reflect on what to say to our little boy whenever he asks for his Dad. Honestly, I’m still working on it. There is only a small part of me that had been appeased because we have him back home. In spite of the loss and sorrow that I feel, I’m truly grateful to God for the ten years of knowing him, living with him and loving him.

For better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish. Until we meet again, my love.”

Funeral, Thea's Thoughts

Rosary Night

It wasn’t a good day. I had an emotional breakdown. With all the list of things to do, I just felt that I wanted to get away from all this “madness.” I felt like a bride who just wanted to elope with her groom. My mom held me for a long time and calmed me down. In all my years growing up, it was the sweetest thing that my mom had ever done for me.

Photo by Vanderlei Longo on Pexels.com

Steve on his Wedding Day
Steve on his Wedding Day

The later part of the day was better. A lot of the people that mattered to me and Steve were there. It’s a great comfort to me that a lot of people had prayed to bring Steve home safely. It wasn’t the answer that we all wanted but some part of me had been appeased. But in spite of the turbulence of emotions that I’m still feeling right now, I’m grateful.

Recovery, Thea's Thoughts

5th Day of Recovery

We had started working on the preparations for the funeral service the day before just in case it was him. I was numb with pain but I have to do the 1001 task that needs to be done.

A Sunflower To You

The FBI SACs met with me at home regarding the updates on benefits which was one of their Continue reading “5th Day of Recovery”