Life’s too short to be trifled with. Short statement, yet too meaningful. But how short is short? How long is long?
On Tuesday night, I had an appointment. It wasn’t in my itinerary, so I adjusted. Everyday has a lot of challenges and surprises to offer, and each of those has a lasting impression to linger for a moment, and most, for a lifetime. My dear friend informed me that they’ll be visiting family friends who are bereaved. Tita Joyce’s mom passed away.
After hours of travel, we reached Sucat, Paranaque. Without knowing the exact location of Holy Trinity Funeral Homes and Crematory, we spent some time looking for it. It was not the usual funeral services I went to. The wake that night was memorable. Like I often experience way back in college, I was asked to offer musical rendition. Ambush ministry may sound weird, but I call it that way. Abrupt, yet I can’t resist the calling for service. If I won’t do it, who else? But I expressed some excuses, as my flesh struggled with my will! The fact that my friends who were with me were singers, member of Reagent Square Chorale and Unceasing Cantica, gave me encouragement; yet I sang alone and was requested to sing two songs!
I sang not for the dead but for the living, the bereaved family and those who came to sympathize. It was actually a great opportunity to share. Before I sang, I uttered a short testimony. I may not fully understand the feelings and situation the bereaved family is going through, but I can relate somehow. I too had a loss, our family is still coping up with the death of my younger brother Ben Jathniel. He’s only 12 years old and his death was beyond our expectations. He died on March 31, 2011, few days from my ate Leah’s first hospitalization. BJ, as we dearly call him died of typhoid encephalitis, for eight days of hospitalization, he suffered until after discharge, he painstakingly fought for two weeks but gave up. Oh, the agony of not seeing him after my graduation! I hysterically cried due to regret, I promised to see and care for him after graduation but before week-end came, he passed away.
His death led to greater pain when my ate Leah became severe after the incident. The emotional trauma and strain from travel worsen her case and she’d been bed-ridden afterwards. After a month from her first hospitalization, she never walked again, she had three hospitalizations from three different institutions in quick successions. To reminisce the details of our nightmares makes me more vulnerable to doubts and bitterness, yet I could praise God for the miracles, instead of being bitter with the unfairness of life, as it may appear, I learned to appreciate His lessons and the blessings overflowed. We knew that we are loved, cared for and being prayed for by family, friends, acquaintance and even strangers from here and beyond. I learned that almost the entire world who knew our crucibles supported us in prayers and other ways possible.
Ate Leah is only 28 years old, young to acquire dreaded diseases. She was robbed with many privileges and rights, but “Praise the Lord!”, she still have life He entrusted. For more than a month, she was in three different hospitals. Southern Luzon Hospital and Medical Center: Myelomalacia and Syringomyelia, at Manila Adventist Medical Center (8 days in ICU): Chronic Inflammatory Demyelenating Polyneuropathy, chronic counterpart of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, she had lumbar tap and tracheotomy because she had difficulty being intubated; at Philippine General Hospital (9 days in ICU, more than 2 weeks in Neurology-ward): Myelopathy. There were MRI results from four other hospitals: Calamba Medical Center: thoracic spine – cyst formations; St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City: cervical spine– tumor ostrocytoma/ endepymoma at C2- C6, Cardinal Santos Hospital: cervical spine – tumor metastasis, FMAB/PGH: cranial: tumor near cervical spine), however the neurosurgeons at PGH wanted her to undergo brain surgery. We didn’t like and ate didn’t want to, we always wanted natural remedies; but of course it’s needed to have modern medication!
The magnitude of her case challenged us to depend more with the Wounded Healer. Then the dreadful verdict came even at her second hospitalization: case is hopeless, INCURABLE. I thought I was having a nightmare, oh it even started when we learned ate Leah got severe disease. The neurologist blatantly uttered: “Well, I would tell you frankly (talking to my father, brother next to me, and myself), it’s too late! Her tumor is huge and her case is rare. She’s incurable…count two weeks; however, if she survives, she’s be paralyzed for life…” I respect doctors, I regard them highly, but that moment, I could have told him how cruel he is for being too insensitive! I wished I could have died myself, maybe from heartbreak?! But God didn’t allow, He gave me wondrous opportunity to witness His unchanging love amid the unexpected vicissitudes of life. The miracles that He did magnify His creative and restorative power! From two weeks to live, she survived for more than two months!
The neurosurgeons at Philippine General Hospital didn’t declare it cancer and it’s stage though her tumor metastasized. The doctors wanted her brain tumor to be studied so they’ll know more her rare case, they really encouraged ate and our family for her to have brain surgery. But there’s a little chance of survival. When her neurologist at MAMC said her case is hopeless, he advised cobalt treatment for a month…that’s also the neurosurgeons at PGH advised, but it’s after the surgery. It’s horrifying to take risk with the surgery. I respect the doctors opinions and I’m also grateful for their help, but then we were convicted that we have to fully entrust her case to God and follow His will — have her a holistic natural program!
Since she won’t undergo surgery, she was discharged. We brought her to our medical missionary’s wellness home and she was given a modified Gerson Therapy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShqKk3fasZA). It was never easy. Being drained in almost all aspects we were revived with greater hopes from the God who knows us better than we do, whose hurt more than we do. The recuperation continued and ate Leah survived all the depressing moments from the hospital that kept haunting her. FAITH and PRAYER played the vital part of her awesome miracle! We can’t cease to praise God! Her diet are most fresh juices, herbs, fruits and vegetables from God’s bounty. Nature helped as a SDA Christian author wrote more than a century ago: “There are many ways of practicing the healing art, but there’s only one way that heaven approves… lifestyle change, natural healing.” We gave ate revulsive hydrotherapy, clay poultices and her environment is abundant in fresh air and sunshine. It’s God Himself whom we felt in every moments we had whether in joy or in sorrow. Here’s a video taken before we transfered her from the wellness home toour apartment. Kindly watch and be blessed! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2016016877835&set=vb.1166240443&type=1&theater
Life is too short to be spent in bitterness. That’s what I learned the most. By His grace, I learned to be truly grateful and happy even in sorrowful moments. And that night during the wake of a friend’s family friend, I testified of His loving kindness that is better than life. I sang NO MORE NIGHT, a song based on God’s promises of the new heavens and new earth where there’ll be:No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again. (http://www.lyricsmania.com/no_more_night_lyrics_david_phelps.html)
Mamang Asuncion Pinili passed away at 99 years old — FULL AGE. She’s about to celebrate her 99th birthday on the 15th of August, but she died 10 days before her birthday. She was born August 15, 1912, almost a century! Too ironic, my brother lived for only 12 years. When he died, I prayed that God would spare ate Leah’s life, we can’t afford another death in the family so soon! So kindly continue praying for my sister. God has reasons for allowing these to happen. It’s beyond our finite mind to fathom, yet He let us understand one purpose at a time. I long to see my BJ and Lola Asuncion on that grand resurrection morn! But I long more to see the Wounded Healer and hug Him tightly as He utter: “It’s over! You’ll never cry, you’ll never get hurt; I cried with You, I was wounded for you to be healed!”
Ah! what a wondrous thought! I can only smile as I reminisce that night and even those moments I consider nightmares. The appeal song still rings in my heart, which I also sang at the wake: “It’s easy to blame God when troubles come our way, to ask Him Lord, “why do you treat as so? Why do we blame the Lord for everything that’s wrong, forgetting all the blessings we have known so long?”
So I continue my prayer song: “Please help us heavenly Father to trust in You today, You always answered in the past, help us find your way.” I would smile every time I ponder upon life as a mystery-filled miracle. ^_^