I remember how I felt irritated to no end, whenever a situation tried my patience, to hear the nuns tell me, again and again, “In God’s time, Teresita, in God’s time!”
When I was much younger I hated to wait because, unlike God, I didn’t have eternity.
Well, I’m 80; in human years that’s a pretty long time for God to have put up with me. Almost to the date, He sent the new coronavirus, perhaps the supreme test of, not just mine, but the whole world’s patience—and, more importantly, faith.
If in every life some rain must fall, I’ve been through a few storms. But this virus is something else; it seems to have come at the worst time, when there’s hardly enough left for me to enjoy myself of this amazing world and the people I love. We had our plans—bucket list plans.
It’s not only the timing about this virus, but it’s deadly novelty, something the world has never seen before and to this day such a mystery to medical science, it still has no answer, only hopeful possibilities, in vaccine or cure. We could be talking years of waiting, time many of us do not have being squandered in lockdown. Will we ever go back to normal, or even a mere semblance of it? How different or strange will that new normal be?
Not all lost
Not that all time is lost, don’t get me wrong. While in isolation, I have found pleasure—yes, pleasure—in looking back, and whenever I do, I realize God’s timing may not have been all that bad. Proof is, I’m still here, in relative good health and modest comfort, little touched by all the viruses and other life-jeopardizing germs that have come and gone in my long life. Sturdy genes, I suppose.
Another good thing during this lockdown is I’ve never heard so many Masses, if virtual, and said so many rosaries—at least once a day for both. Feeling better already under the circumstances, I have discovered that to have got to where I am certain things had to have happened first.
I was already a toddler toward the end of the war, spared thus from the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man. I saw the war through innocent eyes. The only recollections I have are of young American soldiers giving me Baby Ruths and Butterfingers and a blond doll that could open and shut its blue eyes.
I also remember having to wear a money belt whenever we moved from place to place. Dad explained to me later it was his way of making sure whoever found me would treat me well and keep me safe.
I remember hearing personal stories about the war, enough to know how horrible it must have been for the generation before me and the generation before them—no pandemic could even come close.
Growing up watching many war movies and listening to war stories, I came up with my own childish plan of staying safe: If war happened again I’d play dead until it was over.
I can smile about it now, as I do whenever I see pictures of old Manila, postwar Dewey Boulevard, Taza de Oro and Cine Ideal, and the other theaters on Rizal Avenue.
How lucky I was to have been born of the parents I had, to have been a young girl when I was, and to have married and had my four children when I did. I look around me now, remarried, and feel singularly blessed. Surely, I’m not alone in my generation feeling that way.
For all we know, being locked down might be the easier part of what awaits us. As my husband keeps saying, whether we realize it or not, we’re not only in a fight for our lives, but also for our freedoms and for our old-fashioned sense of right and wrong.
Evil men could actually be using this virus to take advantage of the situation. On the other hand, since it does not choose its victims, this virus more or less equalizes everyone’s chances of being infected or protected—hand-soaping, wearing health masks and lockdown are measures available to all.
As for the impact of the virus on the environment, I only have to see the sky never bluer for a long time.
Anyway, we will know soon enough. Instead of being eager for the lockdown to end, I’d look at it as a godsend—as I’ve said, as a renewal of faith. And perfectly timed, too, for Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, to take the place of the human Christ, as our guide, teacher and protector, on earth until the end of time.