a time to hold their hand

 

It was 7:10 in the morning, I was supposed to be out the door by 7:00 but I decided to make a coffee before the one hour drive to work. I heard a loud bang from upstairs and I assumed it was my sister slamming her bedroom door. I shrugged it off. As I poured hot water into my travel mug, the banging continued and got louder and louder. I thought, what is she doing? I walked to the stairs and heard loud cries that kind of sounded like painful laughter. I thought, maybe she’s laughing at a video or a message someone sent her. But the banging got louder. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw her head moving up and down on the bathroom floor. That’s when I realised what was happening.

The next few minutes was a bit of a blur. And honestly, there’s a selfish part of me that wished I could erase these next few minutes from my memory. I ran the fastest I had ever ran in my life, up the stairs and into the bathroom. I witnessed my sister having her second unprovoked seizure in the span of a month. I’ve seen a lot of horrible things in my life. In fact, I have a degree in nursing so I’ve seen a lot of really medically related scarring, terrifying things. But nothing was as scary as this.

My “nursing” side kicked in. Without thinking, I looked around to remove anything that would have harmed her. She was still twitching but I managed to gently grabbed her wrist and checked her pulse. I observed her mouth to check her airway and she was frothing in the mouth so I tried to move her to her side. She was still in a convulsive state so I couldn’t do much but yell assurances to her, even though I wasn’t sure if she could hear me. I looked for my phone and swore at myself for leaving it downstairs even though every other time in my life, it was permanently attached to my hand. I ran down the stairs and back up in a matter of seconds. Who do I call? I called the one person that this family can fully rely on, my older sister. I know what you’re thinking. I should have just called emergency services. But I was panicking and upset.

Pick up, pick up, I thought. Finally, my older sister picked up. She was at work. She’s a (successful and really really good) nurse. So I knew she’d know exactily what to do. But she couldn’t do anything for my younger sister, who had stopped twitching, but was unconscious, because obviously, she wasn’t physically there and couldn’t assess the situation. But she gave me exactly what I needed. She calmed me down, told me to hang up the phone and call 000. And so I did. After giving them all the information, I sat there on the bathroom floor, held her hand and waited.

I think the last time I held her hand was when I was twelve, helping her cross the road after school to catch the bus. She was seven. It was simpler times then. But life is life and things change. And her and I, we certainly have our differences. But at the same time, we’re both pretty similar. We both try to be independent in our lives, with our own goals and our own paths. We definitely have our own way of dealing with things. And different ways of showing love. But at the end of the day, it’s all the same love. And we all want this love. Most importantly, we all need it.

Timing is such a funny thing. Do you ever have those moments when something unexpectedly happens in your life and you think back on the moments that led you there? If I hadn’t come home so late from dance practice the night before, I would have woken up earlier. And had I woken up earlier or decided not to make coffee before leaving for work, I wouldn’t have been there when it happened.  If my afternoon teaching session didn’t get moved to 9am, I would have slept in. It’s times like these that affirms me of God working through our lives.

I started this blog because I believed so avidly in perfect timing – His timing. There is definitely a time for everything. And that day, He called me to hold her hand as I called 000. To hold her hand as she woke up confused. To hold her hand as I assured her she’ll be okay. To hold her hand through this life changing experience.

At one, or many points in our adult lives, we’ll need someone to hold our hand, even when we don’t want it, especially then. What’s stopping you from reaching out?

“I lose my hold and You reached my hand. You held me up, I’m truly home.”

Let’s take this moment to pray for those who are suffering from a medical condition, both physically and mentally.
Lord, hear our prayers.

Reaching, – M.

Ps. My sister is back at home and is now trying to move on with her life with this condition. Thank you for your kind words and your prayers. We appreciate it! God bless you.

a time for a Good Friday

I’ve been a Catholic my whole life. I was born and raised with the faith and values of a Catholic for as long as I can remember. I consider myself pretty lucky for that. And still, I learn something new about this faith almost every day. A new lesson, a new theological teaching, a new reality, a new revelation. This faith is definitely a learning experience.

But there are a few concrete, unshakeable things I’ve always known and believed. Like the one true Immaculate Conception of our one and only Lord Jesus Christ through our Blessed Virgin Mary. And 33 years later, He epitomises the one true and ultimate definition of love through His sacrifice. Finally, through His resurrection into Heaven, where He joins with our One True God, our lives are renewed, giving us eternal hope. This is all true, right?

But two nights ago, at the Easter Vigil Mass, I was more or less proven wrong. During the priest’s homily, he reminded us that “in every Good Friday in our lives, there will always be an Easter.” At first I thought, how can this be when there is only one Good Friday? But I realised he was talking about all those times in our lives when we’ve been betrayed, let down, left alone, felt helpless, blamed for something we didn’t do, lost someone, betrayed our loved ones, sinned, let others down and so on. He was talking about all those times we’ve experienced how Jesus felt when Judas betrayed Him, when Peter denied Him 3 times, when He fell while carrying the cross, and during His last moments of humanity, when He cries out to His father, “Why have you forsaken me?”. He was talking about the shame Judas and Peter felt, the sorrow Mama Mary felt, and the emptiness the apostles must have felt when their leader had died.

But, despite all this, what came/comes after Good Friday is a beautiful renewal of hope in our lives – Easter. This is one of the reasons why we celebrate Easter every year. To remind us that, through our faith in our one true God, death could not hold Him, nor could it hold us.

“But God raised him up, releasing him from the thrones of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’.” Acts 2:24-28

In this time of feast and celebration, please join me in praying for those who have not been fortunate enough to celebrate with us –  the poor, sick, lost, forgotten and those who have passed. Especially, beloved father and grandfather, Xavier Pereira who has left us in this world and joined our Father in His Eternal Kingdom. May His soul rest in eternal peace.

A blessed Easter to you all! x M.

a time to eat your vegetables

It was 6pm and my stomach was growling from hunger. I could smell a familiar scent coming from the kitchen downstairs. It was that beautiful combination of garlic, onion and oil – three staples in every filipino home. I was so excited to see what my dad was cooking. What could it be? Adobo? Corned beef? …other filipino dishes that I don’t really know the names for but tastes really good.. lol.

After patiently waiting for half an hour, I hear my dad loudly tap the edge of the pan twice *bangbang, which was a universal signal (or maybe just for filipino households) that dinner was ready and you better get your behind to the kitchen asap otherwise… well, I never really found out because as far as I can remember, I always came to dinner.

I race downstairs from my room, and to my utter disappointment, dinner was – alampaya (with some minced pork) which is Tagalog for, bitter melon. Which tastes exactly that. Except not melon. So, just bitter. Yeah… Gross. This is probably second on my list of food that I hate the most. The first being coriander, or cilantro, depending which part of the world you’re reading this from. #ihatecoriander

Anyway, you’re probably thinking this is an over reaction. And it totally is. But here’s why. There’s a subconscious reason as to why I hate finding alampaya for lunch/dinner. You see, every time this is dished up by my mum or dad, they never fail to remind me that I should be forever grateful for this vegetable because it saved my life.

Yes, my life. When I was really young, I almost died due to a “complication” (we’ll call it that coz I’m not exactly sure what it was) that I was born with (I think). And apparently eating this vegetable saved me. Being naive and proud when I heard this story countless times, I never really asked my parents for any details. All I did was roll my eyes, sucked it up and ate the damn vegetable to shut them up.

But this time around, I was an adult, and I could finally say no to this vegetable without feeling guilty. So when I saw what was for dinner, I, the 30 year old, said, “Ew. Yuck. Gross! I don’t wanna eat that!” Hahahah. Queue dad’s – “Hey, you should be thankful for this vegetable. It saved your life!” – line. And seriously, word for word, that’s what he said. To which I responded with a quick laugh and responded with a “Yeah yeah..” *rolls eyes. However, he continued…

Apparently, when I had this “complication”, I was really sick and lacked a certain type of blood cell. It was pretty critical. The doctor’s first opinion was for me to go into surgery. If the surgery was successful, there was still a high chance of me becoming paralysed for the rest of my life. My parent’s didn’t like the odds of that and got a second opinion, which was to get a blood transfusion and eat a whole heap of this life saving vegetable.

Can you imagine, had my parents gone with the first option? Had I survived, I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the many things I love and simple things I take advantage of in my life. Like, playing with my nieces, playing basketball #ballislyf, walking up to 10 kms a day during travels, having long random conversations with good friends while driving, and, dancing. Oh man, dancing. #dancingisalsolyf

I couldn’t help but contemplate on all the things in life we don’t want to do, but need to do. If only we could fully comprehend how much it’ll benefit us (and others) in the long run. Like, going to that meeting, driving your sibling to work, staying up another hour to apply for jobs, staying home, running errands, having that dreaded but needed conversation, doing that last set of reps, eating our vegetables and taking up our cross.

So for dinner that night, I happily ate my dinner, without picking out any of the alampaya off my plate, like I used to do.

What are you picking off your plate?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-26

Eating my vegetables (except for coriander), – M.