MANILA, Philippines -- As I write, my beloved sleeps soundly beside me in bed, snoring softly. I dare not move lest he wake up and see me just staring at him. I confess that this is my latest addiction: just gazing at his well-sculpted face, infinitely thankful to heaven for this gift. And that's exactly what he is, a gift, which I never really asked for but whom God gave to me at a time in my life when "the rubber met the road."
I've been in Canada for three months now. My sole purpose was to visit my mom, who was diagnosed with cancer of the brain last October 2006. She underwent radiation therapy even as dozens of kinfolk joined us in prayer as we fought the good fight of faith. Everything that happened was a "touching heaven and changing earth" experience for us. Time froze and our heartbeats were suspended as we waited for the result of her final CT scan. Did the radiation work? If not, a much more delicate brain surgery would be considered but the risks were great. My mom was 62 and she had begged not to be operated on since she had had her fill of seven operations.
But our God is good. He granted her a miracle. The oncologist after looking at the results of her latest CT scan said: "It was fabulous, Perla, absolutely nothing was seen in your brain anymore." That was the one piece of good news our family needed to be able to breathe freely again.
God is also a God of wonders. As if one miracle wasn't enough, He gave me him -- an assignment, a riddle, an answer to some of life's most troubling questions. God gave him to me at a time when I wasn't even sure I was ready for such a commitment. But the commitment resounded more like a call, a summons. And the call became a religion.
Day in and day out, he was almost always in my arms. I fed him, took care of him, and loved him as my own. In turn, he taught me how to "love completely without complete understanding."
He is my eldest sister's son, Jes. For more than a month now, I've been taking care of him. It's either her sickness, her older son's sickness or household chores that keeps her from being able to look after three-month-old Jes, though it breaks her maternal heart to ask me to serve as surrogate mother for a while.
At first, I wasn't sure if I could handle him and how I would do it. But since there was no one else around, I stayed and took up the challenge.
At age 29, I know very little about motherhood, so there was much silent resistance inside when it was first suggested. Back in the Philippines, I had psyched myself up for a battle with cancer and to rescue from its deadly snare, but I wasn't prepared for Jes. Surprisingly, however, we were able to make a good team. As I tried to learn the basics of motherhood, he somehow showed me how much of a baby I am especially with regard to my being a Christian.
When he wakes up and screams for milk earlier than his schedule (the doctor says babies shouldn't be overfed and should have an interval of two to three hour between feedings), I realize my own impatience when it comes to asking God about the things I want and that having them prematurely would really do me no good. When he keeps silent and doesn't want to be disturbed in his sleep even when he has already soiled his diaper, I think of God shaking His head in displeasure as He sees us enduring filth so we can continue to enjoy our small pleasures (and we wouldn't even cry out to Him to cleanse us). When he cries so hard for anything like milk or because of gas pain or a wet diaper (and he does it all the time), I feel so ashamed for being such a whiner, even if I know that He will always be there to pick me up.
Jes came at a time when "the rubber met the road" for me: My mother is recovering from cancer, I am jobless and homesick in Canada, and I'm 29 and almost in panic since my personal goals don't seem to be anywhere within my reach. But I believe that God used him to make me come to my senses and to tell me to let Jesus take the wheel again.
I thank God for my beloved, who continues to sleep soundly, still snoring softly. I thank God for simply teaching me the gospel according to Jes.
Mary Concepcion Sison, 29, is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree.
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