The Last Working Day of the Year: Part Two — Three Letters

Photo by Nevin Ruttanaboonta on Unsplash

While walking back to the office, my phone shook in my pants. With both of my hands occupied, I wasn’t able to read the second message from my step-father. Arriving at my cubicle, I put down my grocery on my table and sat.

After gathering myself, I took out my phone. The message wasn’t subtle at all.

“Tinubuhan si mama mo.” (Your mother was intubated earlier.)

“Dumaan ka dito agad pagkalabas mo ng work.” (You need to drop by here after your shift.)

My knees weakened after reading the first line. The message grew in size and flew out of my phone. It landed on me with a weight so unbearable I’m glad I was seated. I had to grab on to something solid to help me process the rush of emotions that was slowly drowning me. Everything happened at the same time. A knot the size of the Sun tightened in my stomach. My heart pounded on my ears. A tsunami of images flashed on my mind.

Si mama tinubuhan? (My mother? Intubated?) The knot in my stomach twirled at the image.

The urge to cry was so intense I had to revive my PC to distract myself. Luckily, it worked.

A few minutes later, I was stuffing my bag with all the items I bought from the grocery. My attempts on squeezing in a task or two before leaving were futile. How can one work when an NGT is inserted through your mother’s nose? It wasn’t worse, my mother wasn’t rushed for resuscitation. But it still hurt because I can’t do anything to alleviate her pain. So, despite my brain telling me to pack all my things and book a plane ticket to Leyte, I conjured whatever mental image I had of my mother with the NGT and gathered whatever emotional current the effort produced to recharge my already-empty will power. My feet can only get me at the hospital’s ER. I needed more than that to run hospital errands, to stop myself from breaking down, to stay awake despite being sleep deprived for three straight days, and to keep it all together while suffering silently.

My younger, 3rd high schooler self would be surprised to know that I powered through all of it — snot and all. If he were in that position I doubt if he could stay for just one night in the ER, surrounded by dying people. It still baffles me to this day how I mustered the strength and courage it took for me to survive the whole ordeal. Maybe I was slowly being prepared for it. Or, maybe, no one is really ready until something happens. I, for one, was clueless with the turmoil that loomed ahead of me. I didn’t know I could do all those things, not to mention surviving the “aftermath.” But if asked if I can do it again, it will be a resounding No! I will not go through such hell again, ever.

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