Wednesday, July 22, 2009

random thoughts on illness and soul...

My apologies for not following this up sooner. Remember my friend Malu? The doctors have recommended an amputation of her right foot. (As you read this, she must have already gone through it.) It's a difficult decision for her. Must be. Letting go of something you've grown attached to is devastating. Violent. Saying goodbye is indeed horrible. Remember saying goodbye to your old teddy? your old rag doll? I've said many goodbyes to a number of security pillows. I never wanted it washed because the washing destroys the smell that makes me oh so secure. But letting go of a part of your body? I've seen two patients in the diabetic ward that day I visited Malu who have lost their foot. As I've said in the last post, so much of their pain were etched in their faces, the smiles were a struggle. I felt it. But there was something else in that room I'd like to give emphasis to. There was so much Soul. Yes, so much of Soulwork. There was a centered spiritual energy in that space. Despite the obvious material lack, it was sacred space. There was so much, and yet, patients didn't need much. In fact, I have observed, diabetics are foregoers. They can lose much, and still enjoy life. Of course, there are medications that make life easier, but the fact is, you still have to watch your diet and deny your self a lot of life's sweet pleasures. I would think of Malu as a giving person. Being a writer and whom I would consider my life coach, Malu gives so much of her Self. I feel her hardship she will accept as a gift.

Deny your self. I remember the Gospel, where Jesus' discourse emphasized self-denial, taking up the cross and following him. Sounds very simple and easy. I tell you it is not. Giving up something is hard stuff. Yesterday I had a good Japanese lunch with two of my uncles and an aunt (not related). Meeting them again after so many years, was oh so much like a refreshing dip in a cool pool on a blasting summer afternoon. I was meeting them for a very precious agenda-for my mother who is sick with Pneumonia. Difficult times are indeed here and they've come to help me cross the road of life, to help make ends meet. Letting go, they are. I felt these elderly people are just like my generation friends. They are actually in their early seventies. I'd like to think septuagenarians have a special flair. There is so much change, since the time I've known them. One particularity is their health. Graying hair, bent shoulders, loss of weight, growing fatty apron, and so much talk of "i need to get my medicines", "there might be too much fat in this", "I'm cutting on sugar" and the likes. In my forty-eight years and aching joints, I've never heard so much healthtalk as this. But what is indeed unique in the conversational atmosphere is the talk of God. One uncle has survived cancer. Attributing his survival to the power of God. He is free of cancer. Clean. But at the price of his vocal cords. Removing it was necessary for the invasion to stop. Giving it up, going voiceless was a must or you bust. What's all this giving up spree? Denying themselves of a precious part of their bodies in order to live - to get another lease in life. To be able to get a chance to give life to others?

In this speed-conscious, instant-driven, greed-mad generation, life becomes so complicated instead of what it promises to be - an easy life. It is easy indeed to think of one's needs and wants first before anything else. You rarely hear people allowing a delay of gratification to be able to yield to the other. What really makes a meaningful life? This country is a developing country, with 90% of its population drowning in the quagmire of poverty. We see with our own eyes everyday, the grinding misery of people crying out to God, assured with their faint faith that somehow there will be an answer. Hope still exists. What with the reality of joblessness, failing health, and soaring commodity prices, hope remains the only treasure a majority of people hold on to.

My uncles and aunt are not affluent. They were hard-working employees, now reaping the fruits of retiring, and as the sun sets into their lives, the pursuit of meaning in life never stops. I read it in their eyes. They want to help. They want to give. And giving not from their excesses. But giving from their own labor, out of their heart. This is Soul. Despite the reality of illnesses, of insecurity and impending aloneness, giving is inevitable and an imperative. I want to imagine a sacred thing. I want to imagine, that as they sincerely think of helping, of giving, every cell in their body yields to healing...I wonder...I believe a miracle has happened. Go gently...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

illness and the soul

i just came from visiting malu, my soul friend. she is confined in a government hospital in quezon city. entering the hospital visitors' entrance is not really very welcoming. it looks like the narrow gate mentioned in the Bible. only one person at a time can pass through and you have to surrender extra belongings at a baggage counter. how discouraging. is this how they discourage visitors? i thought (but this is another story). it is past visiting hours ma'm, but since you seem to bring something for eating, i'll let you through, the kind guard said. true enough, the path to life is not an easy and convenient way. the winding way through the diabetic ward is even more disappointing. i prepared myself for the worst. the medical extension wards were all in one area. pneumonia, TB, diabetes patients in different rooms in one tiny inconspicuous wing area of the hospital. i asked the nurse in the station for my friend. i held tightly to my pasalubong of bananas. the native latundan are good for diabetics. she asked for it in her text message. i'm in diabetic ward, she said. bring bananas please, her request. she looked as if she was lifeless, a companion beside her. all the other women patients were pictures of pain and suffering. they don't have to say anything. it was a painful life.

malu had diabetes 20 years ago. she's now 54. one of prolific women writers of pampanga, a writer for the local paper and contributing her talent to other papers including RCW's CARE magazine (tell you about this later), malu is a beautiful soul, and a great life coach! she says my visit is a blessing. that i am a gift. what with marilou galang visiting with me, (she came in a little after i arrived), there was a burst of energy in the room!

before i left, we prayed together, me a Catholic, marilou a certified meditator and future Tibet pilgrim, we felt so much healing power and energy flowing through our, love, kindness, goodness, sincerity, light, care, nurture. malu felt like she wanted to get into a wheelchair and enjoy the space outside the she can't do that. the doctor was firm. she might contract other illnesses from the ones confined in the area. i left the hospital with a light and heavy heart. light, because i gave my best light massage for my friend-a light touch of love she felt really good about. heavy, because suffering abounds. so much of it. of which i'll tell more about next time...see you later...go gently....