Today, I’m recovering from sickness. I was at home for two days and third day today. I was sick even two days before I was down. Even if I was already sick, I had to go to the office and be present for two days. Even if I was already sick, I had to go to Makati and expect a friend who confirmed attending a business meeting (a financial literary talk) but would later would cancel due to alleged LBM. I thought I had no right to cancel because he was the one who confirmed attendance. He cancelled while I was already there, attending my higher series of seminar and I felt dying already of severe headache, clogged nose, fever, back pains. I had somewhat UTI about three days before I was down – painful and upper back pains. I drunk a lot of water and it’s gone after two days.
Thereafter, I had somewhat that repeating allergic rhinitis. That’s the start of my clogged nose, irritated nasal cavity, difficulty in swallowing and then chilling. In Thursday morning, I can’t even move my body. I felt severe headache. I can’t drink liquids – water, coffee, milk. I vomit every liquid that I drink. The colds stuck up in my nasal cavity. I should have bought some over-the-counter medicines last night but I didn’t. I only bought four tablets of Biogesic, that one I had taken while on my way home on the night I felt I was collapsing and losing consciousness as I walked along Ayala Avenue to catch up for a jeepney bound to the train station.
I’m not used to buying OTC medicines unless prescribed by the physician. So when colds strike me, I just leave it that way until about three days. After three days, I have to visit our resident doctor for medical checkup and she would eventually give me proper meds. However, this one is quite different from what happened before. I asked myself: “am I that old really?” “am I sick of a serious thing?” Silly things come up my mind but I’m helpless. There was a time before when I felt so bad, I didn’t know what happened because I went asleep for several hours. After those sleep, I realized I was half dead perhaps? I was so hungry and felt very weak. God is so great, the pain was gone.
I am used to undergoing medical checkups regularly. Two years ago, I had a request for a CT scan because my head kept on aching. I searched for cheaper lab facilities, I got one – in the East Avenue Medical Center. On my way to the hospital (I was already inside the hospital premises then), somebody called me up and told me, “are you really ready with what you are doing? Or you just turned paranoid of the things you feel in your body?” He further reminded me: “you’re a health buff and you’re so conscious of your health. You might just be wasting money to a medical exam you don’t need at all.” Until now, my head still aches seldom and it happens when I have colds, upcoming menstruation and it’s very severe. Yet, my CT scan isn’t yet done.
Back to my Thursday suffering; since I can’t move and I had nothing to eat in my pad, I texted Mama to tell her that I’m sick. I’m a single mom who lives in the city alone. I have a small pad where I live by myself because my kid is with my parents about 500 kilometers away from me. I used to suffer pains and get sick alone in Metro Manila. Sometime in 2010, I submitted myself for a hospital confinement but the Catholic hospital where I went to refused to admit me because they told me that I am just alone and no one’s to run errands for me. I told them that a kin can come in the morning (because I went to the hospital in the evening), but still they refused to admit me. Instead, they suggested that I undergo “outpatient services”. Nothing to do since alone, I underwent to outpatient services – laboratory examinations. I would have loved to crawl in the hospital benches waiting for my lab results for hours until midnight. I would have shouted and asked for help. I would have turned hysterical. Yet, I patiently turned to several positions sitting, standing in the waiting area despite I felt as if I was dying already because of severe headache. I asked myself: Is this the prize of being alone?
I am not used to informing my family, not even my officemates, of my medical condition. I don’t want people to be panicking. I don’t want to cause trouble. I don’t want bothering people. Since, this is reality, I had to text my Mama just to inform her that I’m sick. As usual, she would reply: “I just can’t be there. Should I’ve been near, I would have been there for you.” Years pass by and this is her universal reply.
I didn’t marry, I promised myself to take care of them – my parents, my family, my kid. I used to call at home – but seldom do I receive a call from home. I used to send money at home but sometimes my text message will end up with a reply “I got no cellphone load today.” Before, Mama and Papa used to have individual mobile phones. I was glad then that Papa tries his techie side but problems came. I can’t understand if it was still midlife crisis or somewhat psychological or somewhat medical reasons. Quarrels at home happened – Mama shouting at Papa. Great jealousy that until now I still cannot figure out the cause and the reason behind. Great jealousy that until now I still can’t see any person behind. I am a father’s girl. And when I went home, I had nothing to say about the issues. Mama had to be so angry with me. She kept on telling me I was on my father’s side favoring him instead of her. Mama was jealous of me – she felt she was alone in her feelings. She felt nobody understands her. She felt she got no ally at all. She was so angry with me all over again.
I felt devastated. I had to rush to the airport because my Tio and Tia called me up asking me to go home. They told me, a great quarrel going on. They feared someone might end up injured of any fighting that may occur. Until today, of all the things I heard about the quarrels, I did not hear a story about Papa shouting at Mama or any chance of him raising a voice on her – never. I called up a Tia, Tia Deling so close to Papa, she’s his best friend. She narrated to me that Papa was crying because he pitied Mama so much. He can’t understand what’s going on with her. He fears that she might get sick. Mama is hypertensive, she has been into maintenance medicines for years now. It’s heredity. All these quarrel things happened when I’m away while my kid is with them. I wonder if my kid is hearing all those shouts in the middle of the night that neighbors relay to me when I get home. My heart has crumpled.
Going home often is not my priority this time that I have a kid and that I had to maintain both homes – my solo pad in Quezon City and my family’s home in the province. Instead of going home, I should sacrifice and send the money to the province instead or just add the money to my savings for my kid’s future. To my devastation, the quarrels that happen from time to time in my faraway home had to drain my little savings. There was a time when my brother had to go home to just to pacify Mama. There was also a time when, my Tia’s family (Papa’s sister) had to go to the province bringing their car and comfort Mama of what she feels. I asked Tia to investigate on the issues but until now, there was no clarity. It is still a question to me why Mama has turned like that – was it still midlife crisis or somewhat psychological or somewhat medical reasons? Mama has her stories and I respect them. I don’t want to meddle anymore. I don’t want to comment on anything and that made Mama so mad at me. She believed my silence means favoring Papa. She concludes my silence means I don’t understand her. I pity her so much. I pity them. They should be a happy couple enjoying their days. They should be sweet couple enjoying time with my kid – their granddaughter. Those are perhaps marriage issues? Couple problems? I believe they should inspire me to get married but I don’t see any inspiration at all seeing couples quarrelling. What if those are psychological or medical reasons, who would understand them? Who else but me.
In life, we will never really be able to find our exact match. Sometimes, we thought it was enough to sign a marriage contract but to our surprise, we got our exact opposite. Imagine two dancing shoes in different rhythms? They must dance together in nice melody because the public expect them to be. Tell me now – will I still marry? How will you ever persuade me to marry? I’m 32 and I feel I’m too old already.
Back to my Thursday suffering, Mama texted me the usual reply. If she was just near, she would love to take care of me. Mama is a very strict woman – as in, so strict disciplinarian. Whenever we (her children) get sick, she will take care of us to the fullest. She spends sleepless nights taking care of us, wiping our back, feeling our forehead and neck of fever. Stewing all possible herbal meds in the yard for us to drink the juice, preparing a traditional and does a traditional massage for us. Mama is a devout Catholic. She prays everyday – from Angelus to Angelus to rosary to novenas and all sorts of prayers. When I was a kid, we used to pray the Angelus in Spanish. We say the rosary in Spanish and the litany, I remember, in Latin. Each one of us in the family has a novena – that which we pray for nine days since our birthday. Mine is a novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel because I was born a day before the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mama’s novena is a Novena to Our Lady of Salvation, so with my brother and my father, they all have the same novena. My daughter has a Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe because she was born on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since my brother and I have been away from home for work or studies for many years now, we all carry with us our individual novenas. To make it sure that our novenas are read, Mama has to read them even if we read on our own or not. Even if we are far from home, we are confident that Mama reads our novenas back home. We are sure that Mama prays for us.
From the reply that she wished to be with me but she’s very far, Mama told me through SMS to go home so that she could take care of me. I replied by saying: I can’t do it to be home because physically I really can’t. Later, she replied again that my brother is coming. I was angry because I don’t want to see my brother. I told her not to send him because he has work in Angeles City and that he’s so busy. Then, I shut off my phone. I told myself that I must not cry. I told myself: “This is it! This is reality. This happens now and this is what will happen in the future. I must be used to this. It happened before.”
Being alone, single and single mom; I am not used to complaining of little or big things that I feel in my physical body. I’m training myself to be strong and face the world. I might be old as this – all alone. I might end up with no one taking care of me. I might end up suffering all alone. I might even die alone. I forced myself to drink milk and eat a loaf of bread. I vomited in the morning and my head was aching so much. My tears flowing out of pain. I can hardly open my eyes. I felt dizziness, I felt I was fainting. In my pad, I had not enough to eat. I have a kilo of rice because I cook with my rice cooker from time to time and a can of sardines. Last week, I bought three cans of sardines and cooked two of them in chilli. I then felt as if I have not eaten sardines for a century. Only one was left now and I had nothing to do than to eat it by all means later. I may have money but how can I order for food if I can’t read? How will I be able to read if I felt severe dizziness?
When I’m sick, I usually order food from Chowking. Through online ordering system, I can order for my food for the entire day without bothering. However, today is different. How will I order online if I can’t read any texts? How will I open my notebook? How? How will I survive today? I can order by phone but it will take a lot of cellphone load for me to call a hotline number. I don’t have sufficient load today. Unlike for online, I have my cart ready and in just a click after an unlimited Smartbro service for a day, I can have my food delivered. I have done this several times already especially when I am sick. But today is strange. Today is different. Am I becoming older? Or am I sick of something worse? What’s going on?
I forced myself to take Biogesic after drinking milk and eating a loaf of bread. Within two hours, my headache subsides a little but it is back soon. I was bothered. What will happen if this repeats? How will I survive today? I thought of going out when the pain subsides to buy some OTC meds but it seemed impossible. Comes noon time, I still have nothing to eat. I forced myself to rise and cock rice. Immediately, I opened the can of sardines which as of now I already forgot the brand. I bought three brands then but now, I can’t recall which one I ate last Thursday. Then, I ate hurriedly for fear of that headache killing me. I’m on teeth braces so it is a must to brush my teeth every time I eat whether lightly or heavily. While brushing my teeth, someone bangs the door and knocks hard for several times. I did not get bothered. Since living alone, I don’t just open my door without looking first at the window if who the person is. I’m also confident that I’m living in a subdivision with three gates and security guards around. Now, my brother has arrived. It was December 2012 since we last saw each other. After that, this is the next time.
I didn’t like my brother to visit me at my pad. I gave him a key of my door since last December, I wanted to get it back but I don’t know the polite way of saying it. Until now, I haven’t taken the key back. It is still with him. I had a heavy heart for him since last December for reasons I wouldn’t elaborate. Since, I am his ate (elder sister), I have to forgive. I punished him for a long time by not speaking to him, by not giving in any way my sweetest “como esta” and simply by being mum. We had quarrel in texts but I shut up until he was able to say a lot and me ended up saying: “you are amazing. God bless you.” He ended up saying “I’m sorry, ate.” Since then, I disregarded him. I didn’t even care. I shut myself from him.
Before I regularly ask for my brother’s condition, if he is ok or not. I am fond of asking, “have you eaten?” “Take care of your health.” “Did you have your regular medical checkup?” “Do you exercise?” Since, then I didn’t reach out for him. I proved to him that I will not text him anymore for the rest of my life. Until this day, I got sick and Mama asked him to visit me and to take care of me.
Before my brother entered the police academy, he was my boy. He graduated college from a reputable Catholic school in our province. He had nice and good-mannered friends. He is not that so expressive of his thoughts as mine. Sometimes when he talks, it’s like “did he ever thought of what he was saying?” to me. Events change situations. Sometimes events change people. Sometimes events change people for a lifetime. My boy entered the academy. I missed him for four years. I made rivers of tears thinking of him in his breaking period and before his recognition period. Recognition happens only after a year of plebe-hood. My heart was shattered seeing him walking like a stick, he was so thin then like a malnourished out of famine, when I saw him in his recognition day. Christmas and New Year came, his birthdays etc; my boy is no longer my boy. I can’t forget bringing him some small pieces of luces (lights for New Year) before I went home for a vacation during his fourth class cadetship. My tears will just flow as I pass by the areas of Laguna whenever I went home then. I thought that somewhere in the nearby elevated lands that I see with light, my boy is suffering. My boy is perhaps being punished. The saddest of it was to think what he was eating, what he was doing and who takes care of him when he is sick.
Then it came his 3rd class and 2nd class cadetship. Things changed, my brother already had underclassmen. I was so irritated then feeling it was the most awkward thing that I did on the face of the planet – being his partner for two times in his hop. It was like a Valentine ball, every female wears a night gown. There were dances, partners that classmates were laughing at. Since I am his sister, I had to obey all what he had to ask me to do. However, I wonder who defined that word “sister” for them. I was surprised seeing their cadet dictionary and this is how they phrase it with a question: “Do you have a sister?” and the answer is: “Sir, that surging question has been languishing myself totally and mentally polluting my mind; I became your untaxable property and that evil might besiege my family. Its sparkle will be lost to demon like whom I would like to run from head unto feet after asking the question with a ten peso balance on your checking account. We might be on the same boat, Sir! So, may I pause with the same question, do you have a sister or daughter sir?”
Things happen so fast. The cadets are now allowed to go out – sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays. Those cadets in the police academy came from various provinces of the country, all of them young and came from conservative families, most often than not. As graduation day is coming, the most timid boys and girls I saw in their plebe-hood days are now changed into gentlemen and ladies. I won’t elaborate any further, what negative changes I saw. However, how I wish we still nurture the best family values that we Filipinos have. Until now I still can’t find the reason why the culture of “mano po” was declined apologetically by my brother when he was inside the academy during visitation period. What’s wrong with “mano po”? He just told us, it’s “bawal”. Until now, I did not ask the reason why. I am an officer and he is an officer now.
Here comes my boy, now a gentleman. He came all the way from Angeles City. I did not ask him why he came. I just asked him if he has already eaten lunch. He brought a lot of foods. He brought me chicken too. I told him I don’t eat chicken (simply for the reason that it’s difficult to chew in braces). He ate some food because I had just eaten my lunch – that rice and a can of sardines. I had the feeling that he has not yet taken his lunch that time. This is the moment when we are talking to each other since six months ago. He persuaded me to rise and that we go to the doctor for a checkup. I told him, I’m just okay and I don’t want to go to the doctor. Because he was earnest, I just asked him instead to buy me some decongestant medicine that will relieve my headache and my colds.
Siblings are given to us by God for a reason. I only have one and only brother. In other words, there are only two of us left when our parents had to depart, which I never wanted to of course. Reality, we have to face reality, only two of us, siblings. Me, I have one kid and I’m never married. My brother is still single. Now, I’m thinking of estate planning so that all our efforts including my parents’ efforts will not be wasted or diminished in the future. For families with little estate like us, estate planning is indeed important. Otherwise, all our small properties will end up under division process forever and it will incur a lot for fees dividing small properties by small people like us. Small as we are, we should always think of being big. Estate planning is for a person with a big dream so as our families will not be left behind.
I told myself, maybe I was sick in order for us to speak with each other. My brother took care of me for two days. He has to arrive before lunch and has to bring and prepare my (our) food. Before late afternoon, he has to leave again because he was not given full freedom to leave for a day by his immediate superior. This happened for two days, our communication is back. He now texts me and I now respond. Although not that often, the barrier has been cut and broken. Without a sibling, who would have taken care of me? Yes, I have a handful of relatives in the entire Metro Manila. They can come and take care of me. However, it is of course not their duty, not even their responsibility to do so. They care because they are a part of me.
I don’t like the idea of people pitying me. I shut off from my world for two days and three days consecutively. I don’t like people bothering a lot. I hate it when my officemates are thinking a lot out of me. I just texted them once to inform them I can’t make it. Thereafter, I shut my phone again for the rest of the days. I hate it answering phone calls when I can’t even speak, eat or open my eyes. I fear people who care might even scold me for not taking care of myself thereby causing me to be sick. It is not even their duty to get bothered. They too have their own worries, why would they worry about me? I believe they are not bound to care, unless one is a husband of mine. I may have a boyfriend or somebody who loves me but I believe it is not even his duty to care for me or to worry for me. Unless I’m tied to somebody else, that’s where responsibility to care starts. Yes, I have parents but I must not be dependent on them for the rest of my life. I am so blessed to have them to take care of me and my kid. However, I must bear in mind that I must be independent someday – that someday I have to take care of them instead of them taking care of me. Yes, I have a brother but I have to bear in mind that my boy already became a gentleman. That gentleman might not even be mine anymore in the future. I may not get a hold of all the people I love one day. What could be left would be me and my kid. Yet, a friend told me that my kid will be a lady and when that time comes, I must learn the art of letting go. Who else is left? Nobody else but my one and only I.
When I got sick and downed last Thursday, I thought of posting in my Twitter account. That stubborn thing came to my mind and I edited the sentence for several times in my head: “Wanted: Husband to take care of me when I’m sick. Rewards: Over a million worth of insurance benefits. Note: No ex or present BF allowed. DM me for physical characteristics required.“ I told myself, if I tweet it this way, will it create any harm? Will it be awkward? I didn’t tweet them. I just kept them in my mind and now, I’m expressing them in words.
I always fear of getting married. I always think of: “what if I blame myself in the future?” How much is the cost of my signature in a would-be marriage contract? Every signature costs thousands of pesos for that super expensive annulment in this only Catholic country in Asia. I admit I am cynical. However, human as I am, I too know how to love. I love in full and I should give it all. However, life isn’t perfect. Every circumstance and every thing happens for a reason and for a purpose. Some people are given only a kid but never a spouse. Some people are given a spouse but never a kid. Some spouses are given plenty of kids but have nothing to eat. Some spouses have lots of kids and lots to eat but end up in a lot of challenges due to illnesses. Some end up a broke. Some people end up taking care of dogs and cats instead of kids. Some couples end up adopting kids because they can’t have any from their own. Some have tried a lot of technology and drained their resources just to have a child but end up nothing. Big or small as we are, we have different stories.
I am a single mom. Yes, I am a breadwinner. I have a kid of my own. I already so blessed. What else can I ask for? However, why do they keep on teasing me in my workplace? Why do they keep on telling me to get married? Because they got kinder of me being teased than others? I told one for twice already that it will take a miracle for me to change my mind and get married. What if I decide to get married and no one’s to marry at all? Isn’t it funny? Whom should I marry? Then everyone will end up tweeting LOL or LMFAO. I’m choosy. What if my family would end up arranging a marriage for me? I don’t know, I can’t tell. I’m so afraid that I might not please Mama or I might hurt Papa. What if they end up blaming me? I told myself many times: how much is the cost of an igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock that I will be hitting my head in the future if I marry a wrong person?
Whenever I hear the song “Dance with My Father”, I have to hide what I feel. I feel so emotional with that song. I have been to several wedding ceremonies already, I have seen fathers cry. I have seen fathers dancing their daughter – the bride – in tears. For me, I thought of I will never be able to dance with my father in my life. I will never be able to hug him. Maybe we will dance together in heaven one day and that would be the happiest of all.
Now that I’m big enough, I always long for a hug. I didn't feel hug in my family as often as I could. Last time I felt a hug was seven years ago – that was a hug from my parents. I wonder if when I will ever feel a hug from them again. Now that I have a kid I always long to hug her. I thought of her hugs as the hugs I did not receive or the hugs I missed from my parents. We, siblings never hug. I don’t know why we don’t have that culture of hugging in the family; maybe because we were raised in disciplinarian and conservative family. I would have instituted reform for me and my kid but I simply cannot impose the reforms I want to make because I don’t have a kingdom of my own. I am under the kingdom of my parents until now. Yes, I am hugging my girl as often as I could when I go home. I always think of that my kid will someday shun away from hugging me. I thought of time going so fast that childhood happens only once. I believe that parents should hug their kids as often as they could because one day we will not be able to hug them anymore.
My days of suffering being sick is becoming over. My brother scolded me before leaving. He told me not to do a lot of things in my recovery. He cautioned me to take care of my self. For me, being alone is reality. It is not a novel; it is a true to life story. Even if I still feel dizzy, I had to clean my area. I have to wash my clothes. I have to look for the water-delivery man and the garbage collector. I have to go to the grocery by my own to buy me some stuff. I have to do a lot of things by myself. As I am writing this account, I still felt little dizziness. I took advantage of the momentum; otherwise it will just be gone. Let us bear in mind that being alone is not a punishment. Being alone has a reason. Imagine having billions of people on the face of the planet yet I still can’t find someone for me for the rest of my life? Sometimes funny; life it is. Without life there would be no fun. I just calm myself by saying this often: there are always lesser and greater persons than me. I’m already so blessed with what I have and I must cherish it every single day.