This past week, we have seen pictures of tragedy, the specter of death and the face of despair. The images are impossible to ignore. It is difficult to find words to describe the horror that thousands lived through when “nature went crazy.”
Witness accounts have moved us to tears. So did the speech of Naderev (Yeb) Saño, member of the Philippine Climate Change Commission who, at the recent climate change conference in Warsaw, vowed to go on a fast to join his starving town mates in Leyte who barely survived “Haiyan.”
I remember what a good friend suggested Miss Universe’s reply should have been when asked, “What is your biggest fear?” “She should have answered ‘climate change,’” my friend said. “It affects the universe she now represents.” True.
And while the dead in Leyte and other affected areas wait to be collected and buried, survivors scramble for their next meal.
We are in the headlines all over the world. And from more than 21 countries, generous hands have reached out. Hearts have opened. Aid and relief are on the way. We are immensely, deeply grateful. Oh yes, there is goodness left in the world.
P.S. A miracle story
When the first giant wave swept into the coastal town of San José in Tacloban, it threw the family of Emily Sagalis, 21, her husband Jobert and her mother Beatriz as well as their entire community out into the streets in a flood of raging muddy water, among corpses, dead animals and debris. Emily was heavy with child, her due date any day soon.
Much later, Jobert found his pregnant wife hanging on to pieces of wood. She was exhausted from swimming and trying to save herself and her unborn child. They floated for hours and found shelter in a school building. They lived on bottles of water found in the rubble.
Emily went into labor at 5 a.m. Monday. The couple walked several kilometers looking for help, until at last a truck came along and gave them a ride.
Hours later, with the help of a young military doctor, Capt. Victoriano Sambale, a baby girl was born amid cheers of jubilation from fellow survivors.
Her birthplace was a makeshift clinic in the ruins of Tacloban airport. A dirty plank of plywood among shards of broken glass, rubble and garbage served as her bed.
The tearful young mother said she would name her daughter Bea Joy after her mother who was still missing. The report concluded: “In the most tragic of circumstances, Bea Joy has restarted the cycle of life.”
Have you ever sat down with one of your grandchildren for a leisurely meal, just you two? I have these “heavy dates” only every now and then, and last week it was with grandson No. 3.
We met at 2nds. We each chose a power lunch. It offers the best value for money. You get a hearty soup, a choice entrée, dessert and a glass of iced tea. The leek soup and roast chicken were delicious. Crème Brûlée Peanut Butter was our dessert, and it was to die for!
But let’s get back to my date. For days I planned what we would talk about. It would be a conversation, something new, not texting.
But how do you crowd into a couple of hours lessons and guidelines to last a lifetime? How do you speak, as lovingly as you can, words that have been throbbing in your heart for so long?
It was such a special moment and I didn’t want to blow it. Yet, I felt it could very well be my only chance to make some important statements in the hope that he will remember them. Time is running out.
How do you discover his thoughts, his dreams, fears or hurts? What are his plans? It is difficult to ask all this and not sound like what they call in Spanish telenovelas “la vieja metiche” (the old meddler).
It is difficult to ask questions and not seem overly inquisitive, or tell him serious things without it sounding like heavy “drama.”
Does anyone have a formula? How do you weigh and measure your words? Time spent away from these children as they grew up is now truly impossible to recover. I once knew what they were into. But they grow up, don’t they, all too fast.
Trying to cross the generation gap can be painful, sometimes dangerous. Emotional stuff gets in the way. It must be embarrassing to sit across an old lady who is wiping away tears. So I crack a joke and start again. I fumble. I change gears in mid-sentence. How does one make a point without driving it home too hard?
Today, at my age, I find it difficult to express what bubbles over in my heart. But there are crucial things I don’t want them to miss.
It seems like the older I get, the more insecure I am about what I can say, how to say it, or if I should say it at all. What happened? I feel an urgency to speak up. Instead I often opt for silence. My sister calls this wisdom.
Seriously, time was when grandkids ran to lolo or lola for advice. Would I like that better?
What makes me think I have all the answers, anyway? What do I know? After all, “I am not young enough to know everything.” (Oscar Wilde)