June would have been a month of many milestones for Jonas Kahlil Cabanayan and his wife Giki.
June 11 would have been their first wedding anniversary and Giki's first birthday as a mom.
But fate had other plans.
In March, Giki passed away hours after giving birth to their first-born Phoebe. On June 17, Kahlil will have his first Father's Day without his wife by his side but armed with faith in raising his daughter.
"Even though I am broken during this time, you have my word and assurance that I will do my best to be a good father to my daughter," Kahlil said in his published Facebook note, as he acknowledged all the help he and his family continue to receive after Giki's passing.
"And lastly, that I have not lost my faith," he added.
Kahlil admits it has not been easy coping with the loss, and that in what he calls a "daily battle," he sometimes loses.
"If I would only see Giki as a wife who provided for my emotional and physical support/needs, I think I will lose my head and succumb to depression now that she passed away - depression, not just a simple sadness or melancholic feeling but the paralyzing of the mind and soul," Kahlil said.
"Yet Christ reveals to me how I should see her, see our marriage, our relationship," he added.
Kahlil holds on to his faith and remembers the power of love.
"She was not my own. She was Christ's weapon that He used to protect me and fight for me and for others - beautifully forged arms made out of His love and mercy," Kahlil said.
"I continue to lift up my sufferings in prayer as an offering in the hope of her full entrance in heaven - I as a lover can only do so for my beloved," he added.
Kahlil's story caught attention online, as his family and friends sought breast-milk donations for Phoebe. Mothers from all over the country mobilized to collect breast milk. Kahlil said people also sent clothes, Mass cards, and some even went the "extra mile picking up milk donations on different parts of the metro and delivering them home." Somebody even donated a freezer for breast-milk storage.
While the future seems uncertain for Kahlil, this first-time dad is undaunted, thanks to the support he's been getting from his family, in-laws, and friends.
His father-in-law, Benjie Oliveros, has vowed to raise Phoebe like Giki.
"Our grandchild Phoebe reminds us of the joy of the newness of life, and of our Lord Christ’s admonition that we must be as innocent as a child to enter the gates of heaven. We will continue to miss our sweet daughter Giki. But we will be humbly inspired by her life, which was dedicated to the glory of God, and will strive to raise Phoebe to be like her, God-fearing, God-loving and God-serving mother," he had said in a post last Holy Week.
In sharing his story, Kahlil hopes to inspire fathers who may be going through difficult times while raising their children.
"You may feel inadequate as a father, but remember, there is a God in heaven who ultimately cares for each and everyone of us and He knows what you are going through, and is always there, ready to help you in times of need," he said.