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Confessions of the Lost and Found

´You, walker, there are no roads; only wind trails on the sea.µ - Antonio Machado, S.J.

Edited by Nicolas O. Elemia

This humble work is dedicated to all our children. . and their mothers who bore them.

Foreword«««««««««««.. Epilogue««««««««««««. Bridge Is Under Repair««««««« Landslide Prone Area««««««. Contributors««««««««««« ... Blind Curve Ahead««««««««««« Believing One Way: Sorry for the Inconvenience No Parking«««««««««««.. Celebrating Warning: Falling Rocks«««««« Slippery When Wet«««««««. Remembering Slow Down««««««««««..Table of Contents Introduction««««««««««. Don·t Block My Driveway««««..

George I. however measured or far away. perhaps he hears a different drummer. Gurdjieff ´When a man does not keep pace with his companions.´Only two things have no limit: man·s ignorance and the mercy of God.µ -. he straightened up and said to them ´Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.Henry David Thoreau And as they continued to ask him.µ -.µ (John 8: 7) . Let him step into the music he hears.

the lab results showed a severe stroke at the left side of her brain. After we introduced he led me to a lighted wall where filmed results were hanged. another major surgery was out of the question. And the result summed all my fears. More nurses came and checked for her vital signs. To everyone in the room that rainy afternoon.Warning: Falling Rocks WE WERE to have an early supper when she almost collapsed from her bedside bench. Quite a long shot. If indeed it came. The initial suspicions were correct. The bloody culprit was still there. They were declared normal. I called home and tried to explain things but it only deepened my sadness. they wheeled her out for an MRI. After two hours. I cried like I never did. and barely four days after she had had open²heart Atrial Septum Defect (ASD) surgery at Philippine Heart Center. The crowded streets were flooded after a low pressure followed by suspicions of another typhoon. I panicked. a surgeon from the pontifical University of Santo Tomas. The bespectacled 35 year-old surgeon came at 9 PM. Erroll Navarro. it was. I could not believe it. In fact it grew and shifted beyond the midline of Myra·s brain. And Myra was one in fifty. I was lucky I caught her other arm but it was already too late. Dr. I had no time to make excuses for the bathroom or make long distance calls. He declared that they had to free an area in Myra·s head to relieve the growing pressure in her brain. My in-laws left for Negros . Alone and very afraid for the first time in my entire life. I sat down on the cold floor outside the crowded room and tried to take it all in with what little courage I had left in my system. she vomited repeatedly. was summoned in the middle of heavy downpour and Manila traffic. After like 48 hours of close observation inside the Neuro-ICU and the swelling did not reduce even by strong medications. Truth was my wife was already in a place where the road which would lead her back to me would be long and hard to find. A nurse routinely handed me a pen and a waiver to sign. But that particular morning was slow to come. He helped me carry Myra back to her hospital bed. Myra lost her balance as she fainted while watching the evening news on a TV mounted on a side wall. A male nurse on duty heard my screams and he rushed to our ward. Some wandering lowlife blood clot with nothing to do was sucked in one of a myriad of arteries in her head. The doctors had suspicions of embolism they wanted to verify. I repeatedly called her name but she seemed not to hear anything. When it was done. She was ready for discharge the next day. And his team had to do it fast. and very terrified. I covered my head with a jacket as my sobbing did not cease. There he explained in plain language the case. It was the first time in our five years of marriage that I saw her throwing out. a CT scan was finally ordered. I was alone. I did not notice its arrival. Her cardiologist explained that this was a rare one in fifty cases. It was almost 6 PM in ward 15. and earlier I bought some fast food to sort of celebrate. My wife indeed had acute cerebral infarct in the left frototemporoparietal area and she needed emergency decompressive hemicraniectomy. Quezon City. I screamed to wake her up but she did not. Moments later. He spoke with utter urgency by pointing at places of what appeared to be an image of Myra·s skull.

I was a born rebel and somehow my love affair with philosophy fueled my angst against Church politics. I ran again to the elevator and rushed my way to the hospital chapel on the fifth floor. I married Myra one April morning four years later. They were all smiles as they watched Myra talking to friends on her mobile phone and walking around with that last needle in her arm. I loathed what I saw. As an insider. We only managed a quarter of it and left the rest to fate. The inevitable came like a theft in the night. I grew a serpent on my head. I reckon that with trembling hands I signed the forms without even reading what was in there. very big blunders so embarrassing they don·t deserve to be written on paper. The nurses instead used forceps to help our little Louie out and welcomed him to our world. I could not make the commitment because I witnessed a good deal of infidelity and hypocrisy in those years. It was supposed to be a normal delivery but she could not carry on halfway through it. My dream of becoming a priest did not hold out after seven years. and even that was nearly fatal. Well. Like those pharaohs of old. Alcohol was a delight. this other argument could be closer. Weeks after her 35th birthday. and I thought it was my darkest leap of faith. Myra had complaints of exhaustion and shortness of breath. some questions are better than their answers. Until . at that time. enormous rocks were dropped from heaven. I thought that this second time I had to make bitter bargains with God or to question His goodness or to mock Him disrespectfully for causing so much bleeding in my heart. I had fire in my belly. A cardiologist from nearby Silliman University was beside her when she gave birth to our only son. For the uninitiated they would say that God chastised me this much because I turned my back on Him. filthy trash among billions in the world but what did I do to deserve such whipping? IN RETROSPECT. It felt like watching a beloved mindlessly staring at a ceiling in death row. I was never the ¶you-are-right-because-I-want-my-peace-of-mind· kind. To say as to who was wrong or right would be to separate the wheat from the weeds. I had to raise at least a million pesos from scratch. Or maybe it was only the unpaid piper of Hamelin beckoning me farther out to sea only to die among those children? Truly. Sadly. I filed for an indefinite leave from my studies²and with my hand on the plough I never looked back.Oriental the day before. I would never also believe in a god like this. That instead of being stoned to death by a jury of my peers. It was a very crucial hour. I willfully decided to stay home and join my family in raising funds by approaching government agencies and politicians. after they shaved her head. Everyone knew she had congenital heart disease and her work as a private school teacher for the last eight years did not help the situation. I could say that our first five years of marriage was never rosy and obviously less ideal. For sure I was one stinky. I knew He wanted me to serve in the Church but I heard a different drummer. the bigger burden of proof for instead of growing virtues²I nurtured a serious vice. I had several jobs after this episode which included from being an enumerator for a subsidiary agency of World Bank to being a state university instructor. I judged that I would not be an exemption and would only be a liability to the system. maybe. Then I made a lot of mistakes. and these destroyed a hard-earned trail on which I proudly tread to stay away from that original path God paved for me. Good grief. But when Myra·s symptoms became clear and apparent. When she was wheeled into the OR. At first it felt like a stay of execution. Yet all this time I know I had. But that was 72 hours ago. When I met Myra I left the Catholic seminary and did not finish Sacred Theology. I drank more than I needed. But I would not admit to this crime. her second in just two weeks.

I slept on a thin blanket amidst the cold with only a paperback for a pillow. Louie was waiting with my older sister at the airport and he cried as he was not prepared to watch his mother with a disfigured head and less hair. And I did not care anymore. I missed my old life of friends. really. A handful of big ones smashed and created a crater.I found myself squatting on that cold tiled floor having my nth vigil. With what seemed like a chapter in eternity and countless days of staring at hospital walls. Perhaps the sun also came up after that heavy downpour. staring through those clouds. things were still in whiter shades of pale for me. and even to friends· houses to beg. We already went beyond the half million peso mark minus doctors· fees. music. we pulled through and finally was on a flight bound for Dumaguete City on October 4. a void so big. With a little courage I went to the Senate. There was none. and lots of bargaining. And I decided not to care. I kept playing those scenes in my mind. and whispers. The last time our son saw his mother with her ponytail and all was when we waved goodbye to family and neighbors one day in August. AFTER MORE than two weeks back in another ICU and into our ward. DSWD. And I sorely missed our 4-year old son who never had the faintest idea of what hell and purgatory his mother went through. and not able to hug him close because of an embedded bone in her abdomen. rough sleigh ride. That day finally came. tears. I cried on my seat while I gazed at those Sunday morning clouds as patches of sunlight sliced through them. picnics. I feared it would not come. my days were like fleeting clouds of prayers. It was a tearful reunion after more than two months. Myra·s cousin arrived on a plane via Cebu and it lifted some burden from my shoulders. But it was not so dark after all for I also had my little consolations. places I had no plans of going. LOOKING BACK at what happened I could see that it was a bumpy. I met a lot of people. sitting on a borrowed wheel chair. . I waited for Myra to emerge from the operating room alive for the second time. They kept coming in uninvited. books. our native house. But I did not see it. Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. I had to. she did come out from those sterile double doors. Indeed they fell but not from the heavens. But this time I had to crack my head as to where I could find the money to pay our mounting hospital bills. going into doctors· offices. House of Congress. And rocks were thrown at me. beer. I practically begged. She survived one more time but to me she was never the same again. These were all part of my choices. I lost a lot of weight. and swallowing my little pride in humiliation from insensitive secretaries and the like. With her rosary beads in my hand. in my dreams. I was badly in need of a scrub or a good bath. I knew that He was watching up there. Most of all I was able to establish a new-found relationship with God even if until now I still could not decipher the message of why He allowed it to happen to Myra²to my family. With a big bandage on her head and tubes all over the place. It had to come or the pain would send me to insanity. There was not much that separated me from those Metro Manila children begging at commuters during a red light anymore. phone calls. My eyes were bloodshot. rubbing elbows with strangers who became friends because of our common bond in suffering. I knew I had to look for them myself. covered in dark green and unconscious. I could not go where she went again²one for every week. These were all part of the geography of my trail. and He still did not answer my questions.

2. Or wounds help to keep track of time. 3. It came when He was challenged by the Jews to come down from the cross.µ I witnessed how she gradually rose from her ashes. It is a paradox. Weeks ago. I understand that I will have to continue to tell the story of how in the depths of my nothingness I found a flicker of the divine. Or maybe I did not allow them to. . Myra·s memory is now ´almost full. Our friends have been very supportive too and inspiring. As for me. one way or the other. His biggest temptation did not happen in the desert. My suffering has scarred my depths forever but I could not throw this burden away or let it burn. And I believe that they in turn were changed by their faith. There is no other choice. So be it. Like Jesus. theology. There seems to be no end and I could not just go on having a bottle to drink every late afternoon and watch my sunsets. I have grown in my trust in divine providence the hard way and I am still very afraid of the future while the present is dangerous and risky enough. Her right side is very affected by the stroke so was her speech and retention. Guide Questions: 1. 3. I could say that I almost lost my faith in the Lord. and pay for her therapy and medicines by working as a part-time religion teacher in a St.She was never the same wife and mother again after her ordeal. Philosophy. give her a little massage. Like my phonebook of friends and contacts. 2. But time heals all wounds. she started to check on my cooking and taking care of the house in my absence. I give her a bath almost every day. She cannot read and write anymore³and for a husband who owns shelves of books this one breaks my heart. I now make the vow to serve the Church through my gifts of writing and teaching. they both almost failed to help. Louie sings to her love songs as they watched television together. Key Points: 1. It is now my turn to make use of these fallen rocks to pave a different path for an advocacy. It is a juxtaposed tapestry. She inched her way out of her oblivion. My wife still has broken sentences when she tries to talk and mostly use her left hand to point at something. as they witnessed the pains and joys of my wife. It is not my turn to be hanged. I changed her clothes. Augustine Academy where she used to work for many years.