“I’m calling to distract you,” my friend Matt said over the phone. I was on my way to the hospital on a Sunday night, assigned by my brother to stay the night at the Acute Stroke Unit (ASU) of St. Luke’s BGC. Papa had a mild stroke earlier that afternoon and after he was treated in the Emergency Room, he was transferred to ASU for monitoring and observation. I texted a few friends asking for prayer, including Matt. He called and was trying to make me laugh—he succeeded, and boy was I grateful for it.
“Don’t be ‘masungit.’ He’s disoriented. Papa don’t remember much and he might call you a different name,” my sister told me. She rushed Papa to the hospital earlier that day, after she saw him lying on the floor and mumbling.
As I settled in the long seat that will be my bed for the night, Papa was trying to tell me something—it was painful to see a brilliant communicator convey a jumbled set of words, but he was trying. As he was hitting the sack, his first night in the hospital hours after his stroke, the only clear words he blurted were: “In Jesus Name, I can do this.” I was there from 10 PM until the next morning and he did constantly call me by a different yet very familiar name: Joshua. He would call Mama the same name over the phone and my sister too.
My best friend Brandon (who’s based in New York), messaged me at around 11 PM that Sunday, checking-in to see how I’m doing and asking if I wanted to talk (we chat on the phone almost every weekend). I didn’t see the text in real-time because my iPhone’s data was non-existent and I couldn’t access the hospital WiFi just yet. The next day, Monday morning, I saw the message and told him what happened. He noted how he felt that there was something wrong when I didn’t respond immediately. He wished me well, “Hang in there. Let me know when you want to talk,” he texted.
In December 2016, doctors saw a cancerous tumor near Mama’s breast. She had been undergoing treatment for it since January of 2017 and Papa was her primary caregiver—taking her to treatment, preparing her meals, making sure she gets the medications she needs. Now, he too had medical issues.
My most important work, a book that I finished in April 2016, has yet to have a final release date. Thanks to a blend of procrastination, neglect, and fear, it’s editing and packaging is taking longer than expected. I’ve been constantly frustrated.
“In the long view of things, everything now is just a hump along the road,” Brandon told me in one of our phone convos. He has always assured me that things will be all right. Though it’s not easy to believe sometimes, it’s the best kind of mindset.
The so-called humps the past quarter felt like ditches with a depth of the Marianas Trench, but looking back it really is what Bran said it is—a hump. A setback that’s temporary. A trial with an expiration date.
Because life did move forward.
After a few days in the hospital, Papa was discharged and is now recovering well. He still has quite a way to go to full recovery but his speech and language are much, much better. He now calls me Caleb.
Mama’s treatment is on track and the cancerous tumor is decreasing. She would never cease to declare, “I am completely healed.” I know she will be.
The book has finally reached round 2 (or second to the last round) of edits this week. I’m confident I’ll soon have a release date pegged.
On March 3, 2017, my sister-in-law gave birth to Levi Josef Galaraga. My brother and sis-in-law’s first kid, my parent’s first grandchild, and a genuine source of happiness for all of us. I made sure to update my book’s acknowledgments so I can mention him on there. This tiny (but swiftly growing) boy has changed all of us. I wanted to see him the night he was born and it was one hospital trip that I was happy to embark on.
Being still and being grateful are not only commonly dispensed self-help advice, they’re defense mechanisms in tough times. We decide to be still and be grateful so that we can move forward—they are mindsets that empower us to treat challenges as a launching pad for the next act, and not as a burying ground for our hopes.
How we react to our circumstances could have a greater bearing than the actual experience. Our perspective on the things we go through can determine the finality. It’s to our advantage to be still, be grateful, and yes, be hopeful.
As I was dealing with all that was happening, I gleaned from what I wrote. Maybe the author needed to learn from his book first, before he’s supposed to share his message with others.
It was a late afternoon in February 2017, a Tuesday. Papa has been in the ASU for one night and two days now. I got the mid-afternoon to late afternoon “shift” this time. He was sound asleep and the nurses were on deck to attend to him. I asked if I can leave for a few and they said it’s okay. They’ll call me if they need me. I went to the waiting area to review my manuscript.
I’ve mastered my own book’s sequence, but as I landed on the part that I needed to check, I can’t help but be slightly amazed.
In a moment when my emotions are consumed, and my worrisome self forcing to take over, today’s task was too apt. In bold and prominent letters, the section title reads: “How to speak life to your situation.”