Stories to Tell: Everyday Miracles

Stories to Tell

Stories to Tell is a blog series where I invite guest bloggers to share share their story.
I think stories are wonderful things, and we all have our own stories to tell.
It is my hope that in sharing these stories, we will remember that we are never alone.

* * *

My guest blogger is a friend I met through one of the groups of friends I have. She has asked to remain anonymous as well, because of the nature of her story. Nevertheless, I am proud to know her and share her story on my blog. :)

It was a sunny, cool day in December, 2010 when I gave birth through Caesarean section to my first child: a lovely baby girl with a mop of fine downy hair, soft supple skin and the prettiest, most pouty lips I’ve ever seen. She is our firstborn, and she might be the only child we’ll ever have.

Image from we heart it
Image from we heart it

That is, if my husband and I will abide by my pulmonologist’s advice against having another baby.

Because another pregnancy is no longer safe – I guess I’m lucky enough to be able to physically carry out one pregnancy, albeit not without incident.

Because my lungs may no longer be able to bear it anymore.

* * *

It was in 2009 when I was diagnosed to have a chronic lung disorder. Prior to that, I was only a small child of 3 or 4 when my pediatrician declared me to have “inherited” the asthmatic genes that run in my maternal side of the family. It can’t be helped, I guess; some cousins are also asthmatics, but I couldn’t think of anyone who wasn’t able to lead a normal lifestyle notwithstanding the physical constraints that the illness entailed. If I remember correctly, a couple of my mother’s siblings – an aunt and an uncle, I think – died of asthma, but that was in their old age. So I didn’t think I was something exceptional to not be able to live that normal, physically-active lifestyle that my relatives have.

I guess I thought too soon.

Since childhood, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have the sniffles, or a cough, or the wheezes. Sure, I still had a lot of physical activities back then, and led a relatively ordinary childhood – playing physical games and joining a lot of school activities that required rigor and stamina – but even then, and because of my asthma, I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. If I wanted to do something so badly, I had to push myself to my limits. I’ve had this illness to endure for the larger part of my life, and so when I came of age, my apprehension was how it would affect my future – with my own family.

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Stories to Tell: That Space in Your Heart

Stories to Tell

Stories to Tell is a blog series where I invite guest bloggers to share share their story.
I think stories are wonderful things, and we all have our own stories to tell.
It is my hope that in sharing these stories, we will remember that we are never alone.

* * *

My first guest blogger is a friend I met through one of my blogs. She asked me not to reveal her name, so I shall leave it at that. Thank you so much for sharing your story. :)

I watched my family grow old in two-dimension. For the past ten years, they have made their home in a place of ice and snow and days that hardly end, while I stay in the limbo of Manila’s dusty and humid streets, occasionally drowning in an August waterworld. But distance does little to hide the years, even when I pretend that everything happened just yesterday. Wrinkles appear almost overnight, flattened by computer monitors. The frozen sunlight in a photograph glints off a strand of white hair. I begin to measure growth spurts in pixels.

ice caves

This life wasn’t entirely by choice; I aged out when my family flew. At first I was excited at the idea of living alone, something that I was never really allowed to entertain while my parents were still here, despite a six-month experiment that gave me a temporary cosmopolitan address but depleted my savings. Now suddenly I was getting everything for nothing. I could stay out as late as I wanted. I didn’t have to pay rent. I could have friends and guys over. I was working in a company where we drank mojitos in the middle of the day. I was traveling and crossing off countries on my bucket list. It was far from a hedonistic lifestyle — after all, I worked overtime and was paying off two insurance policies — but it felt all terribly grown-up to me, in the way that teenagers imagine grown-up life to be.

In those ten years, I would spend holidays with friends and relatives, even an ex-boyfriend’s family long after we had broken up. Desperate times. Christmases are worse. Finally, I had to admit: I was alone.

And I was lonely.

I realize that there is a space in your heart that no one but family can fill. It is the space reserved for Sunday breakfasts after church and dressing up in old nightgowns. It is the space reserved for shadow puppets during brownouts and arguments over TV programs. It is the space for eating arroz caldo when you’re sick and inventing secret languages and outrunning the traffic police on your last night together. It is the space for everything silly and bitter and happy and tragic that sees you from childhood to adulthood.

Sometimes I find myself in my grandmother’s house or in a train bound for new places, always feeling grateful that I have escaped the city. But in every return, I remember that I am alone. The house in Manila never feels smaller; there is, after all, only me in it.

It will be a few years again before I will see them — all of them. In that time, hairstyles would have changed, dress sizes would be different. Names and opinions and attitudes might not be the same. I’m always afraid that growing up — growing old — means growing apart and I wish I had just a little more time to know everyone better.

So tonight, if you are with your family, hug them. Kiss them and tell them that you are okay. Ask what you can do. Love them in simple doses, in grand gestures, in ways that are both tangible and immeasurable.

You are very lucky.

If you wish to be a guest blogger for my Stories to Tell feature, head over to this post to find out how. Looking forward to reading and sharing your stories! :)

Show me grace

01.

I don’t know if anything has changed, but things feel different somehow. It feels warmer. Not summer warm (or hot, rather), but more like the first rays of the sun peeking from the horizon after a long and sleepless and cold night. It was a welcome feeling, and I’m so, so, so afraid that it’s just a fluke, that it’s just one of those strange days that things are different.

But why am I subscribing to such negativity? Why can’t I just sit back, relax, and enjoy everything?

02.

I was angry. No, I was fuming.

I can’t remember the last time I was so pissed off about something, so bad that I wanted to cry. I wanted so much to fight back, to answer, to say something to put some people in their place. I was one click away to doing it, but a friend stopped me and told me to take a walk.

And so I did.

I was still so angry, that I needed to let it out. I called a friend and started ranting, and after I have said everything, after I have spent some time speaking about my anger, being all ranty and whiny, he says, “It’s kind of shallow, you know.”

And…he’s right.

We ended the conversation with another topic, and I thanked him. Later, he reminded me of something I used to tell myself before 2012 ended: be gracious.

03.

I was in tears. The frustration just bubbled up, and I wondered if there was something I could have done, if there was something I could’ve said to make everything stop. What if, what if, what if.

And then I wondered: are we really bad people?

It was then I really disliked everything, and even them. I hate that they made me doubt the goodness in the people I know, and most especially, me.

04.

I was snapping, snapping too fast. It was an automatic reaction when I talk to them sometimes, and I am not proud of it.

I think there’s a special kind of grace involved when dealing with your family. It’s easier to be nice with your friends because you don’t live with them, and you are often always together with them in the happy times. But when you live with some people who know you inside out, whose words can automatically set your nerves ringing with annoyance, it’s easier to snap and answer back.

But I’m too old for things like that. I’m too old to be a brat, I’m too old and I should know better.

So I prayed.

Image from we heart it
Image from we heart it

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