CANCER

“Cancer” one word, one word that bring people to tears when they hear it. People think they understand what it’s like but they don’t, until they see their loved one in pain in their last few days on earth because of it.

I remember 9th grade, when mommy and daddy had an overseas call saying that daddy was diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. My grandfather has always lived a healthy lifestyle so it was shocking to know that he had cancer. Every day we would pray. I would even wake up at 5 am to attend the class mass at my school (I was in an exclusive catholic school for girls back then) which was at around 6 am. I prayed so hard, we all did. There was never a night that we didn’t pray the rosaty. Good thing, the doctors and the technology in the United States were the top of the line so after daddy’s radiation therapy sessions, we was found to be cancer free.

On the year 2014, my grandparents went home to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversay. It was their 50th year of married life, mommy and daddy went home earlier than expected and had their golden wedding celebrated a few months earlier. They celebrated it in June instead of October. I was beyond happy, to see them there, happy by each other’s side and full of love. We were so happy to know that daddy was cancer free, or so we thought he was. As it turns out he wasn’t. On the month of October, just a few weeks after my grandparents got back to the United States, daddy got confined to the hospital. We almost lost him. I remember how hard I cried seeing him with all those wires and tubes, how badly I wanted to be there with him but I know I couldn’t. He got out of the CCU but after series of tests, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. The cancer from his prostate recurred in his colon. My heart broke, first I thought of how it would be like without him, then I thought of Mommy, how much she loved him so much and how much she loves him still.

Daddy and Mommy went home the following year on holy week in the year 2015. Daddy, despite his pain was still so thankful for being able to be home and for being still alive. How I loved taking pictures of him and mommy as they held hands, how much I dreaded the day of losing dad. They want back to the US after the holy week but went home for Christmas which seemed unusual since they would usually spend it in the US but he chose to spend it here. Despite the doctor’s disapproval of him staying more than 3 weeks, they stayed here for more or less 2 months. When they got back, I gave dad a hug and he whispered in my ear “I thought I’d never get to be back home, maybe I would but in form of ashes…” I was fighting the tears, I had to show daddy I was strong and told him ofcourse he’ll be home, he would still be there in my oath taking ceremony after all. Days passes and everything was great. I would usually spend mornings watching him do his paperworks and all those highlighters he had.   He gave mommy a bouquet of red roses on Christmas morning. I even have a video of them dancing that morning, mommy was in tears. Little did I know that it was our last Christmas with him. We didn’t know his cancer was spreading when they left for the US on January. When daddy resumed his chemo, he got weaker. By march he decided to stop his chemo and go home to PH for good in April.

The doctors gave him a permit to travel and he miraculously got to walk by himself without any assistance from anyone so he got to travel back home. It was April 6 when they got back to PH. We were waiting at the airport, all of the passengers were already out except for them. Then there I saw him, in his wheelchair being assisted by the people from the Airport. I barely recognized him, he wasn’t his usual self. I knew something’s wrong. Mommy was there with him like she always has been. Dad cried when he saw us. Daddy always wanted to see us smile, that even when he’s in pain, he danced when he got home and laughed with us. He even called my mom the director for giving all the directions to everyone on how they will bring him upstairs. I was the one who picked the curtains and the arrangement of my mom’s old room wherein they stayed. My mom was the one who picked the native recliner though. When daddy removed his hoodie, I saw how much he lost weight. I thought his vomiting was just part of jetlag but days passed he was still not feeling well. He would cry in pain, he always would and everytime it was my turn to look after him, God knows how hard it was to fight back the tears. I would go out of the room and call someone else to look after him first then I would cry. Why him? Why did it have to be my grandfather? Daddy was such a good man, he didn’t deserve all the pain he’s going through. My heart broke every single time I saw him struggling for his life. It was the morning of April 16 when daddy passed away. Part of me was happy he was no longer in pain but it was more of a depressing feeling actually. Flashbacks of my childhood played through my mind, how he used to baby sit me as a child everytime my mom and papa were at work, that time I copied him shave his face and I shaved mine too, when my mom forgot to pick me up at school when I was 5 and just when I was about to cry he came to bring me home, how he called me “attorney” first and how we both looked forward to my oath taking ceremony when I  finally become a lawyer but these are all memories now because he’s gone. When I finally got enrolled into law school, I almost broke down in tears knowing that he could’ve been there and he would’ve been so happy if only cancer didn’t take him away from us. If only cancer didn’t have to ruin it. If only cancer didn’t happen, he would still be here and mommy would still be happy. If only cancer didn’t happen, if only.

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It is tonight that I realized how lucky I am and how blessed I have always been. A few years back, despite having every material thing I ever wanted, I was never as happy as I am today. The problem was never with how life was, as it turns out. The problem, had always been about me. I had almost everything but I was completely blindsided by my insecurities and dilemmas. I had a good family, my father’s business was doing great and had more than enough to provide for our needs, I had a good company of friends and enjoyed the sport I loved. How could someone ever ask for more right? But I did. I asked for more than what is due. I demanded more than what I deserved. To make things short, I was greedy and self centered. I never wanted to be like that, perhaps it was just simply because I had a different lens in viewing life back then. I was young and naive to see how life really works. I had everything but was never trully happy.  Things had changed though. My oh so perfect life isn’t so perfect anymore. People have come and go in my life. I have a fair share of heartbreaks both romantic and platonic. People I used to trust somehow ended up betraying me. I was filled with anger, not only to others but also to myself. It was hard to forgive, but much even harder to forget. For so long I have kept grudges and for so long I have kept myself from being trully happy because of this grudges. I don’t know why but God always made a way to give me a little bit of everything. In the middle of the year last 2015, things started to fall apart. My thesis was at the brink of total failure, we had a business crisis and my mom had a  heart problem, and my grandfather whom I adored so much isn’t coping well with cancer. It was like my oh so perfect world crumbled just like that. But you know what’s funny and ironic? It was then that I started to find what trully matters in life. My life isn’t so perfect and so am I but it’s okay because I no longer want to be perfect anyway. I used to see darkness in light but now all I ever want to see is light despite the darkness of the world. I may not have every-thing, but I surely now have everything I ever needed. Life is indeed what we make out of it.

Nights like this remind me of why I’m pushing through limits and how I’ve sacrificed so much for my dreams. I’ll never give up on my dreams, not now – not when I’m already this close from turning it into a reality.

Manika

Lahat siguro ng batang babae ay minsa’y naging paboritong laruan ang manika. Ang mala porselana nitong balat, mapupulang labi at magandang mga mata. Sino nga ba ang di mabibihag sa taglay nitong kagandahan na kulang nalang ay parang diyosa na sa kagandahan.

Minsan napaisip ako, isa nga ba akong manika? Manika na sa sobrang ganda ay ayaw mong ipahawak sa mga kalaro dahil sa takot na baka masira ito ng iba kaya’t kadalasan ay nasa loob lamang ako ng kahon para di magasgasan at maingatan ng husto.

Sa bawat araw na nilalabas mo ako sa kahon, lubos na ligaya ang nadarama ko. Isang araw na naman ito para makasama ka, para mapaligaya ang taong mahal ko kahit na ang ibig sabihin nito ay paglaruan mo ako. Ganun naman talaga siguro ang saysay ko, ang magsilbing dekorasyon sa iyong magarang kwarto o laruan para sa ikasasaya ng iyong puso. Minsan nga ay napaisip ako, pano kaya kung isang araw eh maging masaya ka kahit di mo ako paglaruan o ipang dekorasyon lamang, sa simpleng pag titig lamang sa aking mukha. Siguro nga pwede pero alam kong ayaw mo naman nito. Kahit na minsan ay nasasaktan na ako sa paraan ng iyong paglalaro ay hinahayaan ko na lamang, ito naman ang ikasasaya ko ang makita kang maligaya kahit alam kong masakit na. Ayos lang basta alam ko sa sarili ko na ako parin ang rason sa bawat ngiti at tawa mo pero isang araw nagbago ang lahat. Nakahanap ka ng bagong manika, mas maganda at mas magara kesa sakin, na luma na at pinaglipasan na ng panahon. Ang sakit palang isipin na nagbago na ang lahat, di na ako ang iyong hanap hanap sa bawat paguwi mo sa bahay at ang iyong mga ngiti ay di na para sakin. Nakahanap ka na ng iba at sa iyong puso’y wala na akong puwang. Kung dati rati’y ang pagkalagot ng aking hininga ay dahil sa iyong sobrang pagmamahal na nakakasakal sa tuwing nilalagay mo ako sa kahon, ngayon ay iba na ang rason ng aking bawat hinagpis. Iba pala ang sakit na ito, kasi ngayon ako’y binalewala mo na.

Habang tuwang tuwa ka sa paglaro sa bago mong manika ay nandito ako sa isang sulok ng iyong kwarto na unti unting namamatay sa hinagpis at lungkot. Tanga man kung sabihin ng iba pero balewala lahat ng sakit dahil ang ako’y masaya parin dahil maligaya ka na kahit sa piling pa ito ng iba. Manika nga pala talaga ako, manika na minsa’y nagpasaya sayo, minahal, pinaglaruan at ngayo’y pinagsawaan mo.

“love is not blind, it sees but it does not mind…”

(quote not mine)

 love doesn’t lessen our capacity to see and know things, it just makes us set aside the flaws and imperfections…

The Lieutenant

by: Princess Ann Dominique T. Salcedo

 

The lieutenant was young he was just twenty four,

When his wife carried a child, it was a daughter she bore.

His career was at its peak but he thought about his child,

The dreams that were once brave and bold became sweet and mild.

 

He left the military service to be with his daughter and wife,

Everything was never the same when he chose the civilian life.

While his fellow soldiers were away on violent and rough encounters,

There he was, back at home looking at his child full of laughter.

 

He wasn’t just a good provider but also a good father,

Every single day was a conquest for him to work even harder.

The world was a battlefield and he fought like there was a war,

It was to protect his child whom he treated like the brightest star.

 

Many years has passed and a lieutenant he is no more,

He now works with the government as an arson investigator.

There are things from the past that are still the same as before,

It is that he will do everything he can for the people he adores.

 

He may have not become the great soldier he wanted to be,

But in the eyes of his daughter, he is someone who truly depicts chivalry.

He was the one she looked up to as she grew up in a home full of happiness and laughter,

The lieutenant might have been a good soldier but he was a better husband and father.