Most of us adore love stories. We watch them in movies, read them in books, and if something really catches our attention, we share it to everyone we know. Perhaps one explanation is that we love it when love conquers all – boy meets girl, boy sweeps girl off her feet, boy and girl live happily ever after.
If you’re absolutely fond of love stories, one you should hear about is that of Nonyx and her beloved Leonard. Unlike other stories, where much emphasis is placed on how the pair ends up together, their story focuses on what happens after that – how to stay strong in love despite the challenges.
A Tale of Resilience
In September 1987, 22-year old Nonyx Reyes-Buela was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease involving the chronic inflammation of the body’s tissues. The succeeding years were marked with routine checkups, tedious laboratory tests, and frequent hospital confinements. Her life suddenly took a 180-degree turn.
Prior to the diagnosis, Nonyx had just graduated with a degree in BS Community Development and worked as a researcher for three months. However, the lupus forced her to leave her job, change her entire lifestyle, and had affected her social life. She sometimes felt helpless and frustrated, and asked God why He allowed this to happen. Yet, Nonyx’s admirable inner strength and faith in God helped her deal with her illness.
In the midst of all the hurt and frustration, Leonard, who was her friend at the time, was always there to support her. The two met in 1984 at their college organization. Two years later, Leonard began courting her, and when she was diagnosed with her illness, he still pursued her. Even when the side effects of the medication (mainly steroids) started showing (bloated face, facial hair, and a slight hump on her back), he stayed by her side. He proved to her that, while she had to face this condition, she did not have to do it alone.
He also proved his sincerity when he still stayed as a friend after being rejected again as a suitor. His love for her never wavered. It was only on January 22, 1989 when Leonard and Nonyx finally became a couple. More than three years later, they tied the knot on October 17, 1992.
A Look Into Their Marriage
Being a lupus patient, Nonyx was given restrictions which included avoiding exposure to the sun, avoiding crowded places and staying away from people who were sick (even if it was just a cold or cough). Along with these, she was not allowed to get pregnant. Pregnancy, according to doctors, would endanger Nonyx’s health. But it was a risk they decided to take.
Nonyx and Leonard were blessed with three children, two boys and a girl. However, having been prematurely delivered, their daughter passed away just one and a half months after she was born. Nonyx had contracted preeclampsia – a pregnancy complication – and had to give birth through an emergency C-section. And within that one and half month period, Nonyx’s condition prevented her from being with her child. In her place, Leonard provided their daughter with all the love and care he could give.
It took some time but Nonyx and Leonard recovered from their loss. The couple endured and their relationship grew. Although just like any normal couple, they would argueevery once in a while, they always made sure to patch up things and resolve their differences by keeping their communication lines open. They regarded each other as partners and respected each other’s opinions. They also showed appreciation for each other’s efforts and gave importance to their bonding time as a couple and as a family. Laughter was also a huge part of their marriage. On top of these, the couple had a 3-way relationship – with God in the center, guiding every decision they made.
While their marriage thrived, Nonyx continued to face another problem regarding her health.
The Kidney Transplant Miracle
In April of 2008, Nonyx discovered that she had kidney damage due to the SLE, so she had to undergo hemodialysis. Hemodialysis was only a temporary solution and a kidney transplant was the only way to survive. This meant a donor was needed, but donors were very difficult to find, and the only option they hadwas an emotionally-related donor, and that wasLeonard.
The couple then underwent a few apprehensionsabout pushing through withthe transplant as this may compromise Leonard’s health. Money was also a problem. But to Leonard, this act would be the ultimate expression of his love for her. It was alsoimportant for him to keep the promise he made to God – that he would take good care of her.
When thecardiologist explained to Leonard the risks involved in donating a kidney, he started having second thoughts again. He asked God for assurance that being a donor was the right decision to make. Immediately after his prayer, their nephrologist came in and explained to him the results of their Cytomegalovirus test – which helped determine if they were a match. Usually, it is the (would-be) recipient that tests negative for the virus, and the donor tests positive. In this case, it would be dangerous for the recipient to receive the donor’s kidney. However, the results revealed that Nonyx already had the virus. Meaning it was safe for Leonard to donate his kidney. The pair then took this as God’s sign that this was His plan for them.
Leonard also took charge of raising funds for Nonyx’s operation. He sought the help of their friends and relatives through social media. Through their combined efforts, loans, and financial aid from the Charity Sweepstakes Office, the couple was able to raise around P1.5 million needed for the transplant.
On April 16, 2009, Nonyx was given another chance at life thanks to God’s grace and the love of her life. It was truly a miracle for many reasons. First, because it was very difficult to find a non-related donor. Second, it was Leonard, her husband, who would be her donor – a very rare and very fortunate circumstance. And lastly, the transplant was a success, and Nonyx’s condition gradually improved.
The Buelas Today: An Ongoing Love Story
Nonyx is currently making up for the time she lost due to SLE. As Leonard earns for the family, Nonyx stays at home as a full-time wife and mom. She and her husband carefully watch out for their health. Both continue their medical routine and religiously take their medication to avoid organ rejection and other complications.
Most importantly, to show their gratitude to the Lord for His miracle and blessings, the Buela family actively participates in the Light of Jesus community, which is headed by Bro. Bo Sanchez. More specifically, Nonyxserves as a member of the Music Ministry alongwith her son Nico. Her other son Victor serves in the Dance Ministry, and Leonard in the Liturgical Ministry as a Lay Minister. Life is great for the Buelas, in spite of the challenges (big and small) that come their way. They are able to surpass it all because of their love for each other and their faith in God, which were both strengthened by everything that they’ve been through.
All in all, stories like these have a huge place in our hearts not only because it shows that love – mixed with commitment and faith – can conquer all but also because it’s real. Nonyx and Leonard’s story shows us the truth about love stories – the good and the bad. But they prove to us that, in spite of life’s adversities, as long as there is complete trust in the Lord, any couple can still live each day happily ever after.