Because this month is International Women’s Month, I have been featuring women of substance. Last week, three ladies from different generations revealed their “Realizations after a year of Covid-19.” Today, two Cebuanas who live out of the country share their musings.
Yesterday, I stopped to smell the roses
It was one of those strange days that started early in the morning with an earthquake, one that woke me up but not enough to get past the threshold between sleep and full wakefulness. By the time I got to “hmm... that’s a strong one...,” it had stopped and I slipped back into dreamworld.
I have not really thought about my mortality much, not even when I was in hospital a little over a month ago. Not until I had my publicly funded follow-up with my cardiologist later that day. He said I seemed to be responding well to my meds but that he would need to up the dosage gradually and swap out one of my meds with a new one. He gave me a brochure that explained what the new med would do and it was then that it finally hit me that heart failure was a chronic condition that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I did joke with him that I wanted to be able to live to see my grandchildren and he smiled and said, “That’s the idea here.”
I went to work after that, determined to make life go on as it needed to, and gave it my level best. My colleagues and I talked about the three earthquakes that shook the country earlier in the day, the tsunami evacuations up north and the waves that came but did no damage to either life or property. We rejoiced at 4 p.m. when we heard the Prime Minister and the Director General of Health say they were moving Auckland down to Alert Level 2 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 1 on Sunday, early morning.
On the way home, I decided to pass by the Wellington Botanic Garden for some rose garden therapy.
Being in a rose garden is therapy like no other. It is a visual, olfactory and overall sensory delight—from the variations of color that range from pale white to dark purple, to the velvety texture of the rose petals as you touch them just before you bend down to sniff and take in their scent. And how does one describe the scent of a rose? Vanilla-infused tea with honey? A scent so sweet you can’t help but say “Ahhh” afterward.
I took a photo of a gorgeous rosebud, its petals only just unfurling and hinting at the mysteries that lay beneath as it bloomed. Its beauty was unmistakable. It made me think of all the poetry that had been written comparing youth and beauty to a budding rose and understood why. Beauty was its own excuse for being.
Ah, but what about when beauty faded, what then? I moved on to the roses that had done their thing, their petals fully opened and threatening to fall at the slightest wind. It was then that I espied a bee in one of them, taking in the pollen that in youth had been hidden. Beauty was not the point now of these roses that have bloomed. They were now the purveyors of the continuation of life.
And that made me smile.
Governance and Management
Caritas Aotearoa, New Zealand
What a heart can hold
My sister Farla broke the dreaded news last year on the first day of September. “Nelson is gone.” I found myself drenched in tears, as if I had stepped outdoors into a relentless storm, cruel raindrops pelting down my eyes and face. A nameless pain emanated from my chest and it was at that moment when I understood what it meant to lose a brother I loved so dearly.
Five days later, it was Farla again: “Marlon is also gone.” I was in shock and I became numb. The deluge of grief was so overwhelming, yet strangely some mechanism mercifully took over my being, an anesthetic to momentarily ease the staggering pain. Not a week had passed by and I had lost yet another brother whom I also loved and cherished.
How much sorrow can a heart bear?
I am fascinated by fractals, of never-ending patterns. I recognize fractals in the gradual hours turning from dawn to midnight, or in the passing of the seasons from spring to winter, or in seedtime and harvest, repeating endlessly—patterns of life and creation.
Interweaved in the warp and woof of this tapestry, I liken the loss of my beloved brothers last year to midnight darkness, to the cold, bleak days of winter. And yet somehow I see light and colors bursting forth from the fabric. A few weeks ago, my second grandson Jacob Alan was born. I suddenly remembered God’s promise: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
After loss and sorrow came new life and joy with the birth of Coby. I rejoice in God’s promise of a hope and a future for my children, grandchildren and the generations to come after me. I envision this promise being fulfilled in the forthcoming cycles of dawn to dusk, seedtime and harvest, and the passing of the seasons.
How much can a heart hold? I believe the heart is boundless, stretchable to the limits of the universe—capable of bearing deepest sorrow by God’s sustaining strength, and yet carrying the potential of boundless joy in response to God’s love, grace and blessings. Our Creator designed us that way, for of a truth He has set eternity in our hearts.
Deirdra Garcia Vachal
Clinical Trials Data
Somerset, New Jersey, USA