Friday, August 18, 2006

Lord, Grant Me A Listener

Of love and of life

Of joys and of sorrows,

Trapped inside a chamber

A pumping cell within my vessel

Of fears and of anxiety

Of pressures and of pains

It rotates from mind to heart

But never really find its way out

Empty space and only me

Reaching out, but none to touch

Views withheld, feelings kept

And accumulate like a file of trash

To express and to share

Yet, not a single ear bother

In a blank wall, facing

Mumbling, to soothe my feeling

Of truth or of fiction

Of myths or of facts

Ideas… feelings… all hidden

‘Cause no one really care to share

Lord, grant me a listener


Written on November 19, 1988

At around 10:00 PM

Angeles City

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Don't Really Want To Write About This

To be honest, this is one subject that I refused to write about – for a long time now. Primarily because, I could be accused of being one-sided or worst, a narrow-minded person. Actually, my first post in my blog was something dealing with this subject. But after receiving feedbacks, which is detrimental to the person I wrote about, I decided to delete it from my blog. The post was full of angst and I definitely poured it all there. After hearing the feedbacks, I felt it was unfair to the person that was the subject of that post.

I’m talking about my in-laws, and my mother-in-law in particular. No, this is not about my relationship with her, or with them. It is about my wife, and how her condition has brought realizations that has caused her more pain than her sickness does. If you have read my previous blogs, you know what condition my wife is in. And as childish as it may seem, you definitely seek support from people you think are close to you. But read on – you might realize and appreciate how your mother really cares for you, or if you’re a mother, you might see that what you are doing may not be enough.

I am not the perfect husband. I have my flaws, my imperfections and inconsistencies. But imperfect as I am – for my wife’s condition, in every way that I can, I’ll do anything to alleviate her pain. If I, just her husband, could do sacrifices for her, what more could her kins do for her? I wish there could be an easier way of saying this. Nothing. Surprising as it may seem, we simply could not feel any support from them, nor see any initiative on their part to show some concern for her. This really breaks her heart every time she remembers it. And it isn’t helping her condition.

I’m not complaining about taking care of my wife. I admit I am really having a hard time trying make both ends meet, trying to make it through the next dialysis session, without mentioning all our daily expenses. But somehow, we’re surviving, with a lot help from other people – my mother, my brothers and sisters, her friends from school, our friends from the community we belong in, new found friends that I just met through the internet, and yes, even strangers. Noticed I didn’t mention her mother and her siblings? Because I cannot, they simply weren’t there. And it pains me so much to see my wife feel so alone in spite of all the support we’re getting from other people.

Okay, maybe it’s not really that bad. Honestly, I wish it wasn’t. So that I could tell her that, and help her ease the emotional pain she’s going through everytime she remembers it. Put yourself in the picture – if you are a mother and you have a sick daughter, although married and all, you know she still needs some help. Her husband has to go to work, and her children are still so young and all go to school at the same time. Leaving your daughter, who really can’t move that much even just around the house, all by her lonesome, won’t you run to her side to at least look after her? WELL, HER MOTHER DOESN’T! Okay, she may not like me, I may be the most stubborn person in the world, I may be the most disrespectful, good-for-nothing, son-of-a-bitch son-in-law! But would I really matter? Does a mother’s love have its limitations and conditions?

Well, I’m not really even half the man of those I mentioned and my mother is definitely not a bitch! But like I said, it’s not really about me, I have really forgotten about myself, and all that’s important to me now is my wife and her condition. Trying to make whatever is left of her life less miserable than it is. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about that particular aspect of her life. I can’t cut the tie that binds her and her mother. I don’t intend to.

Their eldest brother is working overseas, for more than ten (10) years now. She could have supported her financially. The last we heard from him was before my wife started having her dialysis, and it was almost two years since. Suddenly, he called. He was asking my wife as to why he wasn’t informed of her predicament! He even got the courage to say “WHAT ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND? WHAT IS HE DOING?!” I swear, if he were in front of me then, I could have buried a knuckle on his face! After that, we didn’t hear from him again.

One afternoon, while I was at work and the children are in school, her sister and sister-in-law came. And when they saw her all alone in the house they said – “WHERE’S YOUR HUSBAND? WHY IS HE LEAVING YOU HERE ALL ALONE?!” and while they were talking they were crying, as if taking pity on their sister. Saying, they could have visited her more often and cook for her and take care of her, IF ONLY WE DON’T LEAVE SO FAR FROM THEM. And that far distance was nothing more than a five (5) minute tricycle ride.

I could go on… but it doesn’t really matter. Yes, I’d like to believe that they are praying for her, I’m still giving them the benefit of the doubt. I am refraining myself from judging, that is not for me to do and it won’t help our cause in any way. But everytime I see my wife, even without saying a word, I would know what she is thinking – and what she feels. Can you blame me then for feeling like this?

But to be fair, my mother-in-law did stay in our house for a while and took care of her, but that is everytime we send our son to call her. Yes, she needs to be called before she would come. Only to go again, without even saying anything as to when she’ll come back or if she’ll come back again. If you’re a mother, would you leave your sick daughter? Oh, she does have some reason. You see my mother-in-law is one of those called as R.O.T.C. or Rat Of The Church; she is a member of a church organization. We all used to be one, that’s where I met my wife.

She would have to go to attend this meeting, to visit this sick person, to pray for the soul of someone who died one year ago, to visit and attend the wake of a dead person – most of whom are not even relatives! Ironies? I don’t know, I just do not understand it.
I do know and acknowledge social obligations, but do they have to stand over your own family? Is it justifiable to forsake your own blood, just so to fulfill your obligation and look good at the eyes of others? Honestly, I believe that charity SHOULD always begin at home.

Back in 2003, I accompanied my wife to a nephrologist in Makati Medical Center. The doctor upon looking at her and her medical records immediately said that she needs a kidney transplant. He wants my wife’s siblings to be tested for compatibility, I was volunteering, but the doctor said it has to be a blood relative. Somehow, this news leaked out, before we were able to tell her brothers and sisters. They were saying words such as ‘she shouldn’t take my husband’s kidney, we have children too’ this was her sister in-law talking. They were pointing fingers at each other as to who should donate a kidney to my wife – their sister! Since then, we noticed them alienating themselves from her; they started avoiding my wife like the plague!

When she started with the inevitable dialysis, they were saying words like ‘why did we let it reach this far?’, ‘why didn’t we do anything?’ I can’t actually see it, but I can feel blaming fingers pointed at me. Still, that was all there is to it. All talks and pointing fingers! Lame excuses and what have you. The kind you hear from hypocrites and self-righteous people! People who do not know any better! I really wish I wasn’t writing this!

I don’t want to judge them nor hate them; it’s not going to help any of us. But I can’t help but feel my wife’s pain. Save for all the people who’s helping us, and our little daughter, Angel, who never fails to cheer her up – I knew at the back of her mind, she still wish that things are not how they are now. At times, I let her spill it out, pour it all on me, let her cry her pains out, lest they accumulate inside her and make her condition worse. It’s the only means I know of easing up her pain.

I write this, not to gain sympathy or to put my in-laws in a bad light. Like I said, I really don’t want to write about this subject, but having really no one beside me to pour it all out, ‘tis the only means I know of unloading myself. I can’t tell this to my wife – I can’t show signs of weakness in front of her. I have to be always tough for her lean on... while I keep it all inside of me.

Believe me, I really wish I didn’t write this.

August 15, 2006
9:28 AM

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It Always Rain on Weekends

Working all week long makes you anxious for weekend to come. To be able to have a time of your own, to do whatever you wish to do. Far from your desk and all those files of papers, no worksheet glaring at you on your computer monitor. Just you and everything that you have planned to do all week long. You can stay late in bed without worrying you’ll be late, take a leisurely breakfast with your family with neither of you nor your kids hurrying to finish your meal. Aaahhhh, weekend… don’t you just love Saturdays?

Last Saturday was no exception, it was met with a lot of anticipation. Hoping to accomplish lots of things that I could not otherwise do on weekdays. Spending time with the kids, getting updated on my readings, fixing some house minor repairs, arranging things, and lots of other things, including the laundry… yes, the laundry. You see, without household help, half of our weekends are reserve for the laundry, a week’s load of dirty clothes all ready for washing. No problem. Notice that most of the scheduled weekend activities could be done indoors, except the laundry. You need to hang them out in the sun to dry.

So, after hanging all the washed clothes outside… you guessed it, I felt trickles of water on my skin. I tried to ignore it as I could still see the sun… I thought, it would prevail. Lo and behold, before I could recover, the trickles started getting bigger, and what was just a drizzle became a shower – and then into a heavy downpour of rain! My initial reaction of course was the unprintables – why does it have to rain on weekend? Why can’t the sun do its job? I was very much disgusted and frustrated!

I called my 11 year old son, Edgar Allan, to help me get all the still wet clothes inside. As we were doing it, I noticed him being happy with what were doing. I was puzzled. Here we are, frantically doing everything to get all the clothes inside under heavy rain, and yet he is enjoying it. It’s the kind of face that I see in him when he is enjoying what he is doing.

After all the clothes were taken inside, we were dripping wet and the rain continues to fall heavily. I said to myself, ‘what the heck!’ so I told E.A. to get his bike. And as I tried to ride it, he got on my back and we rode the bike, under the heavy rain. At times, I would get off and let him ride it himself as I walk beside him and talk to him about practically anything. Then he would ride fast leaving me behind, only to come back as fast as he drove away, wearing very wide grins. We walked and rode the bike around the neighborhood and played under the rain for almost an hour. Only to go home when the rain finally stopped.

The rain that I was just cursing a while ago… the rain that has caused me frustrations and disgusts, was also the same rain that brought happiness and joy to me and my son. A very rare opportunity that I get to share with my kids. I’m actually looking forward to another weekend rain.

Yes, maybe it’s true… it’s always rain on weekends… you can either frown on it, or you can clown on it. Frowning won’t stop the rain, neither would clowning, but at least you could be happy – even under a heavy rain.

August 9, 2006
1:20 PM

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So, How's Your Wife?

“How’s your wife?” A question that I always dread to hear and be asked with. Why? You would definitely ask. Why would I shy away from answering such question? Is it that difficult to answer? Do I have a problem in my married life? How can such an innocent and well-meaning inquiry cause me lots of fear and unspoken anxiety? But there’s really more to it than just that simple question. I cannot answer that question without lying or being sarcastic… or worst – I’ll just breakdown.

When asked such question, whether it’ll be about a wife, husband, brother, sister or parents – one would simply answer “They’re doing great!” “He’s got thinner/bigger now than before.” Or just simply “she’s fine.” I can’t answer as simple as that! I cannot say she’s fine, just for the sake of answering the question, when in fact she’s not! And more often than not, the person who asked that question knows it! Are you getting me? Am I even making sense to you? Why should you ask someone how they are doing? When you know for a fact how they are doing! Yes, I know they meant well, they meant no harm. Maybe it’s just me. But that’s it! It’s me they’re asking!

I could say, “Oh, she’s still breathing, thank heavens!” or “What a stupid question! You know how she is!” or “I really can’t tell, but when I left her today she’s still alive” or maybe “Well let’s see…, she’s been having dialysis for more than two years now due to her stubborn kidney, missing some sessions sometimes. She’s got ascites, her tummy is bulging due to excess fluid in her body that keeps on accumulating. She can’t eat too much, nay – she can’t even drink too much lest her tummy will become bigger. She feels pain all over her body every now and then, sometimes she can’t move. Her blood pressure is 160/90, or 170/90, one time it even reached 200/100! She really can’t move around that much because of the heavy luggage she carries in her stomach, and other things that comes along with her kidney problem. Sometimes she has trouble breathing. Other than those, she’s perfectly fine!”

Do you see what I mean? Does it make sense to you now? How such a simple, innocent question could bring me so much anxiety, just because I wouldn’t know how to answer it. Do I take it against the person who asked the question? Certainly not! Why should I? Like I said, I know they meant well. I just wish I wouldn’t be asked that question. What should they say instead? I don’t know! I really can’t tell them what to say, could I? Would I rather that they wouldn’t talk to me? Sometimes I feel that way, but then again it’s not really about me. They are just concern about my wife’s condition, and of course, the icebreaker sentence would always be “How’s your wife?”

No matter how hard I really try to be polite or restrain myself from reacting, sometimes I feel it still shows on my face. Can’t blame me, I am entitled to my own feelings in as much as they are entitled to say or ask anything they want. So, is there really a problem then? Most definitely! I think the question really is, “Do you really want to know how she is doing?”

So the next time I am asked, “How’s your wife?” and I did not respond, please – don’t repeat the question.

August 2, 2006
9:18 AM

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