“Ma’am Au nasaan ka?” (Ma’am Au, where are you?)

“Naaksidente si JC ! Walang tao sa bahay nyo”(JC had an accident! There was nobody at your house) I recognized the trembling voice over the phone. It belongs to Clodet, my neighbor.

“Nasaan sila?” (Where are they?) I wondered to myself.
.
“Pumunta ka kay Nanay”(Go to Nanay) was the only instruction I could give Clodet. I knew she was just there.

My anxiety increased because I still had an hour to wait for my husband and I had no way of reaching him. That was the only time I got furious for his total dislike of gadgets. My heart was beating so fast and my phone kept ringing.

“Ma, wasak na wasak si Scoopy, hindi na natin siya magagamit.”(Ma, Scoopy is so wrecked, we cannot use it anymore.) It was our middle child, Nikki, on the other line this time.

“Si Kuya?” (What about your brother?) I was already shouting.

“Hindi ko alam! Nasa ospital siya.”(I don’t know! He’s in the hospital.) Nikki sounded nervous and confused.

“Nikki, please, gusto kong malaman kung anong nangyari kay Kuya.”(Nikki, please, I want to know what happened to your brother.)

One hour later of anxious waiting…..

“Ma, sabi nila na-fractured daw si Kuya” (Ma, they said brother has a fracture.) It was Nikki again on the phone.

“Thank God,” I whispered.

The beating of my heart started to slow down. I came back to my senses and focused on seeing my husband and going back home right away.

Thirty minutes later, I received another phone call from Nikki.

“Mama, sabi nila unconscious daw si Kuya.” (Mama, they said Kuya was unconscious.)

The panic hit again. I felt like my heart was breaking into pieces.

I waited for my husband at the lobby, holding my cell phone, not wanting to speak to anyone else. What I was going through was unbearable. I was losing control. Going back home alone was not a wise move. I had to wait for him and let him know what happened to JC.

At 6:00 in the evening my husband finally arrived.

“Huwag kang mabibgla, naaksidente si JC” (Don’t be shocked, JC had an accident) as if my warning could control how he would react.

“Saan ‘yung pinakamalapit na pwede tayong sumakay ng bus?” (Where is the nearest place we can ride a bus?) I asked him.

I reassured him that our friends were doing their best to take care of JC and they had taken him to the best hospital in town. Aside from their promise over the phone, I didn’t have anything to tell him.

The bus ride home felt like the longest I’d ever taken. I attended a seminar that day where my husband had to accompany me since I am not familiar with the venue and then went to his own itinerary. And I had never been comfortable attending a seminar out of town since that day.

That call turned out to be the most unforgiving call far beyond anything I could have expected that changed my life three hundred sixty degrees onward.

I find it hard to write about the unbearable moment we arrived at the hospital. Human beings have a tendency to forget very painful memories I’d read that somewhere. I was hysterical when I saw the crowd. I knew what it meant. There was no word to describe how I felt then and I guess how I feel until now.

From within, I felt the need to suppress a violent grief that was beyond my capability to handle. Breaking free from the tight embrace of people close to us was a way of letting the feelings out until I lost all the strength to resist the screaming inside.

“Why? JC! Why?” These were the only words I was able to repeat over and over. I wanted to run, never stop and just be lost. It was too much. JC was gone.

No! I couldn’t accept that.

My mind could not comprehend JC’s death. How could it be? I longed to hug JC. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to hug somebody I see. I didn’t know what to do. It was more than feeling crazy. JC was gone forever. He couldn’t be with me anymore. It was hurting like hell.

I’ve heard the pieces of stories during his wake and one thing was sure, my son JC was driving drunk.

Dr. David H. Ohlms, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment and education, defines alcoholism as a chronic, progressive, incurable disease characterized by loss of control over alcohol and other sedatives. According to him, the progression of alcoholism can be precisely described in different stages.

He cited drunk driving, relief drinking, and blackout as some of the common symptoms in the initial stage. Work-related and financial problem becomes obvious in the middle stage. Those were the classic symptoms. As the disease gets worse, changes in moral or ethical behavior tend to occur and physical problems begin. The liver starts to go bad and impotence begins to show up. He said once the deterioration of the body starts, the alcoholic has entered the late or chronic stage of the disease: the body has gone rotten, the liver shot, the brain only flickering a little and about to go out. It takes about 20 to 25 years of heavy drinking to reach this stage if one is lucky according to him.

I feel stupid for taking this article for granted. I paid a high price for my ignorance. The only consolation that I have for myself today is to do things differently for JC’s siblings and to share our stories to answer the call.

The message is loud and clear. Alcoholism is a disease. Recovery is possible. Awareness is the key. Moderation is not for all, to some it must be abstinence. Either we believe or we perish. Think.Think.Think.

The days that followed after we lay him to rest was indescribable. The agony shooting through my body was worse than anything I’d ever known.

I have to be connected to JC because I was losing myself and having him around was the only thing that would fill the gnawing emptiness and sorrow which was beyond my whole being could bear. The only thing I could turn to at that point is my pen and my journal; they had been my constant companion ever since I was young, both in difficult and good times.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dear JC,

I don’t know if I was dreaming last night or it was you telling me not to worry because you will sin no more. Today is Saturday, and there is something inside of me that wants to explode every time I remember that afternoon. I just want to shout and let the shock, the agony and all of these feelings out of my system. How I wish it didn’t happen. I felt so devastated. Going back to that moment is unbearable. How can we ever get through it? I still don’t know how to deal with it.

I was so shocked, so lost, so hopeless, so frozen, so numb, so hurt, so sad, so mad and like a child so furious and so helpless. All of these feelings at once.

I was kind of asking the Lord if He was sure that this is what He has for us. He might be making a mistake. But He wasn’t. I can only trust that everything is happening for our sake. I am so confused. How can that be?
The thought of that Saturday is too much. I’m freezing. I cannot do anything. I’m screaming inside. I cannot understand. I am so lost.

Please God, just help me surpass this moment.

On my 3rd month of writing to him, I dreamt of him carrying so many books with his girlfriend. Suddenly I realized he was telling me something.

A year before he left us I have started writing a book about alcoholism which I cannot finish for a hundred of reasons. I cannot even think of the title to use although I have several in my mind. I have seen so much suffering brought by alcohol and I want to be a part of healing. I knew how my entire family and our entire nation was affected. And I felt a strong call to do something but I just can’t.

During his wake, I felt like he was really stolen by alcohol and on my eureka moment I said “yes!”
“The Booze Stole my Son (Don’t let it steal yours)” was birth.

It never occurred to me that this writing will be my cane in passing the most agonizing moment I will be going through. And I never realized how I will find the calling that had been ringing all along, something I could not ignore to answer this time.

 

TWO YEARS LATER …………

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Dear JC,

My editor was asking me to do a letter for you again. She had no idea that it will make me cry once more but this time, there was a smile, a big smile in my heart.

I became anxious when I was about to finish this book. I’m afraid that I can never be in touch with you again and all the longings for you will come back. For the last two years, writing this made you feel close. Then I realized that my apprehensions were coming from not wanting to feel the intensity of what I felt before. I guess it will never be the same because I find you giving birth to this book. And to keep in touch with you until eternity I will keep conceiving more.

That’s one thing I am so grateful to you. You brought me to do the thing I enjoy doing so much. I still remember how you wanted to give me a book as your gift on one of my birthdays. You remember that? You were asking money from me because you are going to buy the book I would like. So here it is now. Thank you really.

At present, there are still a lot of ups and downs in emotions, only not as intense as it used to be. I am still missing you most of the days; but as it is, I will have to continue living and do our mission of shedding light on the disease of alcoholism and sharing the promises of eternal life.

You will always be in my heart.

Love,
Mama

 

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(I submitted this article to an  International writing program I have attended recently, as part of the assignments)

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