Day 461: Lessons Learned from a Life on Pause

It has been a while since I last posted in this website. It has also been a while since I lugged my black backpack and frolicked around the beautiful islands of my home country. Everything that I thought I could do slowly began to die down.

My dreams and aspirations of traveling to the varied coordinates of the world were turned into stone. My desire for a life of freedom was put on hold…

travel map

Last April, I was all set to spend several weeks in Negros Occidental before embarking on a trip down to Dumaguete, Siquijor, Southern Cebu, Samar, Leyte, and the Northeastern Mindanao. With all the planning, all the research I did for my itinerary, all the secrecy, that month, I was very excited for my independent voyage.

“It will be one of those first experiences among the many that may come in my lifetime.” I told myself with great enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, I was unable to do all of these things because of a single, unexpected text message from my mom: “Mommy was admitted in the hospital.”

I was crushed to know that my grandmother, whom we call “Mommy,” was rushed to the hospital after suffering from extreme pain on her right spinal area. Several days in the hospital with all the tests done, she was diagnosed with Pott’s Disease (a condition in which the tuberculosis baccilus affects other organs instead of the lungs). She could not sit, nor stand, nor even walk because of that excruciating pain she’s feeling all week long.

Days and nights I spent sitting beside her while the rest of the family continued with their businesses. From that moment on, I decided to work on my computer from the hospital, delivering my designs to my clients, and still remain beside her. I bought her medications from the different pharmacies and consulted with the Registered Nurses taking care of her that were once my classmates in college.

“I guess my travel plans could wait until she’s okay to go home.” I contemplated.

After nearly two weeks in the hospital, she was advised to go home and recover. My mind was then again back to the plan. I was eager to get out of the city and live the life that I was dreaming of. I was once again motivated to go.

The next day, I got a phone call from my aunt. It was a quivering voice that sounded like an emergency. It was a voice that was asking for help. With no hesitation, I packed my black backpack and left the house.

“I was not going anywhere after all.”

Instead, I went to Mommy’s house and intervened. Her blood pressure was elevated. She was sweating even when the air conditioning unit was on. She was restless. She was again in pain. “I can’t bear seeing her in too much pain.” With that, my travel plans were flushed down the drain instantly as I assume the responsibility of taking care of my grandmother until she fully recovers.

Today marks my 63rd day away from home. With these precious 63 days, I have learned the following lessons:

1. Unexpected Events Happen

Often times we are pretty much contented of the life that we are enjoying that we tend to forget that somehow, several circumstances may arise in any second, any minute. We are constantly focused on the schedules that we set for ourselves, euphoric of the days that pass, that we could not see the possibility of positive or negative events presenting themselves to us at any given time. Tragedies may happen: a death of a family member, a woman getting pregnant, an earthquake, anything that could surprise us. I have learned to expect the unforeseen events that would eventually come my way.

2. Never Abandon your Loved Ones

I would have chosen to go on with my journey around the Philippines even if my grandmother was still in the hospital. But instead, I chose to stay with her. Being exposed to the Nursing scene when I was in college, taught me a valuable lesson of never neglecting my responsibilities as a daughter to my parents, and as a granddaughter to my grandparents. I believe that no other care could ever replace the care that was brought about by you and not another person. There is a big difference. Don’t just leave your grandparents or parents in a Nursing Home as if you have no other choice. Would it kill to try to take care of them first?

3. Always be Ready to do New Things

Entering the gates of Nursing Education prepared me to be ready for anything that might occur in “real life.” Traveling taught me the same exact thing. Living with my Mommy taught me how to live independently. Now, I breathe in human feces every single day. My grandmother could not sit up in the first few weeks under my care and her daily routine when she was able was now under my responsibilities. I have never regretted doing anything that disgusting (as per reaction from my kid cousins observing me nursing my grandma).

blue sky

4. Be Optimistic

Everyday I pray, meditate, and read Og Mandino’s Credenda. These are my weapons in enduring one day after the other. Optimism relaxes me and gives me a reason to live happily. Being optimistic boosts everyone’s performance, enhancing self-esteem and confidence. Positivity infects a lot of people. Encouragement and motivation keeps the people around you filled with positive vibes. Everyday I believe that my grandmother could start to sit. A month after, she was able to sit. How much more for the months ahead? There’s progress.

5. Give and not Expect Anything in Return

“To give and not to count the cost” the very words in the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Many of my friends thought that I was paid to care for my grandmother. I’m not. I don’t have a 9-5 job in a fancy office. I don’t have an employer. Instead, I work for myself and I am not getting any centavo from the care that I am giving. Nothing compares to the feeling of doing something for someone out of love and sacrifice.

6. Challenges will Make you Stronger

There are some nights that I cried inside the bathroom because I could not take the pain that I could feel for my grandmother. I empathize all the time and I could not control myself. I hide my tears and pray that God could speed up the recovery of Mommy. For two straight weeks, I was living in hell. We don’t have a household help to wash my clothes, nor clean the room, nor even help me bathe my bed-ridden grandmother. It was all me. The point is that every new struggle becomes a lesson in the end that will make you a better person that you were before.

purpose driven life

7. Try to be a Better Person Every Day

Give thanks to the people all around you. Give thanks for the life that was given to you despite the many hardships one must face. Give thanks to the blessings and another light of day that was showered upon you. Strive to be better. Strive to be strong and independent. Learn to embrace all endless possibilities that life has to offer. Be a good child to your parents and grandparents and take care of them the way that they all took care of you when you were first brought into this world. Become someone who would look back and say “Wow, I am really a better person now than yesterday.” Grow. Learn. Discover.

8. Don’t worry

Often times, I bombard myself with unnecessary thoughts that drive me anxious all day and all night. I think about all the “What ifs.” What if my grandmother would fall on the floor while I am still asleep? What if she drank too much of her medication without me knowing? What if… I worry about things that need not to be injected in my mind in the first place. Worrying too much of something that is not even occurring means over-stressing the situation. Negative energy flows in every vein in your body. I have learned to calm down. I have learned to think about what’s currently happening and not about what’s “least likely” to happen.

9. Be Productive

Don’t waste any second of your life. It is that precious. I never allow myself to waste my time in things that does not make me learn. I have realized that there are far more ways to learn about everything even after college. Productivity erases all the monotonous boredom in your life. You make calls, pay the bills, sketch, write, or even play the piano if you wish. Empty time slots are to be filled with so many wonderful tasks that exercises the brain to its potential. Listening to the news from my grandmother’s radio kept me updated of the most recent happenings locally and nationally. Being productive reminds you of who you are and your daily life routine.


10. Do Everything for the Greater Glory of God

“Ad Majorem dei Gloriam” – For the Greater Glory of God. “In Omnibus Amare et Servire” – In Everything, Love and Serve the Lord. These are the phrases that I live by. I grew up in an environment that taught me the most valuable lesson of all: Love and Serve others with good intent. Serving others is serving the Lord in so many aspects. I constantly remind myself that I am God’s steward. I lift everything up for His Greater Glory.

We live by each day as it comes. We make decisions and we sometimes fall short on our mistakes. The beauty of life lies between the line of success and failure. It pulls both ends to create that balance. We dream and we fulfill our obligations. We say yes and we say no. Our lives are dependent on the actions that we take. Our lives are well written that whenever we go astray, we will be placed back on track by someone who’s power is far more greater than the forces of the universe combined. We live. We learn. We love.

life on pause

Life on Pause. The truth is, life could never really be on pause. It goes on and on and on just like the Earth revolving around the Sun, or the moon around the Earth, or the cocoon that will never remain a cocoon. Life blossoms like a bud waiting to become a gorgeous flower. Life could never stand still because we are all designed to live, to leave a legacy, and to die peacefully.

Today is the 63rd day of my life with my grandmother, the 63rd day of taking care of her and getting to know her deeply, the 63rd day of being a responsible, young adult. Today is the day that I have witnessed something more beautiful than the landscapes and seascapes that I have seen in my life. Today is the day that my grandmother, who was once bedridden, began to lift her body up, barely enough to stand. Today, I saw an immeasurable amount of hope in the eyes of Mommy. Today, I never regretted my decision to stay with her.

Today, I made a difference in someone else’s life.


Add yours →

  1. Wonderful post Rej.. very touching and true to its words. I empathize with you fellow traveler, healer, and friend.. May your mommy get well soon..

  2. WanderfulTogether

    June 19, 2013 — 6:49 am

    Hibi ko ya… 🙁

    I know it’s been hard, but it could have been more painful if you didn’t get the chance to really care for her. I never got the chance to take care of my grandma..and it always hurts every time I remember that…those things I could have done when she was still here. :'(

    Well done miga.. both this post and taking care of Lola. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much @rojae:disqus. She will get better sooner 🙂

  4. I definitely agree on your statement… So sorry about your lola… 🙁 Thank you for lifting my spirit on this @wanderfultogether:disqus 🙂 Thank you so much.

  5. w0w… so touched.. missing my dad ;(

  6. Thank You Jho 🙂 I’m sure he misses you more.

  7. WanderfulTogether

    June 19, 2013 — 9:23 pm

    hugs hugs!!

  8. Indeed, you have a kind and caring heart.. God bless you always! 🙂

  9. Thanks, E! 🙂 God Bless you more. Have a blessed week!

  10. Thank you so much, E. 🙂 God bless you too.

  11. Hi Sugah! I just saw this comment I apologize. Thank you so much for making me feel better. 🙂 I really hope to see you this year. You’re absolutely right about family. I agree with you 100%.

    Love, Reg

  12. wow so moving…… it reminded me of the time i took out to take care of my Mother for the last two years of her life…….

  13. Hi @davegatenby:disqus Thank you so much. She’s fully recovered now 🙂 I’m sorry about your mom though 🙁 It’s a different kind of feeling if you’re taking care of your loved ones. The emotional attachment is there… Thank you for sharing 🙂

Leave a Reply