The long road to recovery has been laid out for me: a six-month regimen of medication, exercise and diet—a reasonable one, I’m happily surprised—and I’m well on my way, off on a new beginning.
Anyway, I tell myself, in Waldo Emerson’s words, “You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well, and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
Perhaps, it’s only fair that things happened late for me. I battled with tardiness most of my life. I often arrived late for school, and later also for parties. The latter habit I developed with help from my first husband, a brain surgeon, who always seemed too tired for socials. We’d arrive late and leave early. Leaving early was harder for someone like me, who had to wait all day and dressed early, looking forward to being with friends.
Perhaps life is getting back at me. I’m starting on a lifetime of health maintenance at 82. Some friends had a 15-year head start on me. When I said I was having a cataract operation, everyone had had theirs.
Even my angioplasty, the repair I’m recovering from, seemed old hat to peers. But then, there’s no argument my case has been perfectly timed—with the amazing advances in medicine and technology.
My timing, come to think of it, has somehow changed for the better with Vergel, a stickler for punctuality.
Just watching him, I’ve learned the value of time and timing. It seems to have its providential rewards.
A few years before the pandemic, I did something really smart—and fun, too—at the right time, on hindsight. I joined a small group of friends for a thrice-weekly aqua-aerobic exercise in Anabelle’s pool. Even during the pandemic, we did it between lockdowns. We’ve resumed it with some regularity, although, with my angioplasty, I have yet to rejoin.
A generous, counterproductive breakfast follows each session, but the frank and intimate exchanges at table cancel it out: We friends have grown closer and wiser.
They, never mind me, seem somehow to have found their own formula for not only coping but beating life’s never-ending challenges. I’m in continuous awe of their well-preserved mental sharpness and level of positive energy, which, I’m convinced, has its healing and inspiring qualities. We draw inner strength from one another, especially when anyone of us goes through a personal trial.
We all feel so fortunate for one another’s company that we take out-of-town trips for further bonding, bringing along the two remaining living husbands, who themselves happen to be old friends from the same town.
The departed husbands have their own part as subjects of sentimental conversations. In Anabelle’s husband’s particular case, he sometimes takes part physically, as a butterfly or a dragonfly fluttering around the pool. At any rate, to Annabelle, it’s definitely her Tom.
Whenever the pandemic eased, Linda called a priest, a friend of hers, to celebrate Mass before the session.
Afterwards, he himself joined us in the water and at breakfast. Thus, a spiritual component is added to the session, and no doubt it was part of the preparation for my cardiac procedure or other life’s surprises to come my way.
I have no doubt, too, that my oldest son and my youngest granddaughter, brought to us by the pandemic and other circumstances, are themselves part of the providential arrangements: They have enlivened our home. For this, I’m eternally grateful to my life partner, whose depth of understanding and love, is nothing short of wondrous.
It’s a blessed life, a far more blessed life than I deserve—but then, who am I to judge myself.
As I set my own personal goals for recovery, I can’t help but think of the country’s own case, which certainly dwarfs mine. What would take six months for me to recover would surely take far longer, and that is yet depending on the outcome of the elections in May.
The stakes have never been higher this time around. Vergel keeps telling me that, if the Marcos-Duterte partnership wins, we are finished. I believe him. But I also have faith. I wasn’t spared from a heart attack to live under another Marcos-Duterte regime! I mean to outlast this nightmare and be around for the final redemption of the Filipino soul.
I have faith in God’s personal love for us. Why else have we been given a Leni and a Kiko and, with them, the chance to knock down for good, in just one election, two malevolent dynasties?