Tuesday, January 20, 2015

From a distance: Surprised and touched by Francis

Rock star Pope Francis just checked into the Philippines when I checked into the St. Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart for a scheduled three-day confinement that stretched to another half day. I took this photo of a side of Baguio visible from one of the hospital's windows. I needed to refer to it when a bit of fear nibbled me as I prepared for a paratidectomy, a surgical incision to be done on a side of my face near the neck where a suspicious tumor had been growing. I stayed in a semi-private room while waiting for a private one to be vacated. Was I cheered when I saw that the private room had a small TV from where I could monitor good Francis' itinerary. Was able to catch his meeting with families.

On the day of his truncated visit to Tacloban, I was at the mercy of a team of doctors led by Anthony Vanadero. It was a two-hour long procedure; I was fully knocked out until I was brought back to my hospital bed where I requested that the TV be switched on. I asked my daughter and watcher Kimi to take souvenir shots of me at my worst-looking state so my other daughter abroad would know. But the pics frightened Ida and my apo Kai. The latter ran away from the image and covered her eyes when it was shown to her. But I was confident I would emerge from my Manny Pacquiao look in a better state.

On Sunday, the 17th, I felt I had my own resurrection. Most of the gauze and tape were removed, I could sit up and feed myself. Best of all, I was one with the youth at the University of the Santo Tomas, especially the child Glyzelle Palomar who wept openly as she asked in a heartbreaking voice why God allowed children to suffer. My heart swelled when he asked why there weren't more girls and women represented among the select who read their personal messages to him. I could've jumped for joy at that statement, but all I could manage was a thumb up. Thanks, Francis, for acknowledging women, for pointing out how cleansing, purifying tears are the mark of a true Christian!

As Francis and entourage flew out of Philippine air space, I also made ready to pack up. I received my instructions on how to care for my wound and when to return for a follow-up. The team of residents and my surgeon Dr. Vanadero (third from right) gamely pose for a patient with this strange request. Thank you, grazie mille!

Nothing like the constancy of a husband's love to see me through so thank you, too, Rolly. God is truly good. A bit of a stretch to make it seem I had a journey that was parallel to His Holiness. But I don't think it was a coincidence. With my faith and hope strengthened by the prayers of friends and family, I can say it was wonderful and joyful synchronicity!
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