Lakay whispers back, "This night, last year, I was alone with your son in our bedroom, crying myself to sleep."
We are silent for a while, then we smile.
New Year's Eve of 2009 was such a drama. I was diagnosed with a nephrotic disorder with an unknown cause, transported from one European hospital to another (with the help of my sister's driving skills and enduring patience), subjected to different tests and really bad hospital food (my first culture shock by the way), and to top it all, my husband and son were not with me.
They were entangled in a different drama--six weeks after their long-awaited interview for a family reunification visa in the Belgian embassy in the Philippines, they still haven't received a call for the results. Lakay's calls have been passed on from unit to another, yet no one could give a clear answer to where our papers were. These calls drained out our finances, our energies, our hopes.
Meanwhile, we had to learn to live by the day, to live by our smiles through the webcam (my laptop and the hospital's unlimited wifi was our saving grace). Surprisingly, these smiles were enough to help me make it through that whole month in the hospital. I smiled throughout my biopsy, the bad hospital food (sorry, unforgettable detail), listening to my neighbors farting instead of watching fireworks on New Year's Eve. And even in that most dreadful moment when they had to insert a catheter right down my jugular vein, I smiled while shedding tears. I had to smile. Being aware that every moment might just be my last, I had to make sure that my son's memory of me would be that of a smiling mum.
Now as I write about this, I marvel at the inner strength that pulled me together back then. Certainly, it didn't just come from me. I know now that I couldn't have made it through with my own strength. Love (which is God) was holding me, keeping me from falling apart. That love was expressed in multifaceted ways: my family's support and prayers, my gentle Belgian nurses who didn't mind struggling with their English just to comfort me, my hospital roommate's daughter who was kind enough to offer to do my eyebrows (probably couldn't stand talking to me with that bushy thing on my forehead), and friends who visited every afternoon. I had every reason to despair, but I also had every reason to hope. Love cancels evil, even the utmost temptation of giving up.
I hold Lakay's hand in the midst of this New Year's Eve's joyful noise. I look around the room, at every person laughing, singing, running about. I wonder to myself what "surprises" 2010 has in store for us. And then I say, "Oh well, whatever happens this year and in the next ones to come, I know, I'm sure, with Love's strength, WE WILL BE JUST FINE."
Lakay presses my hand. We smile again.