Precious in His Eyes

By Cymbeline Villamin

Religion & spirituality


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6 mins

Waiting for the Cardio

Chapter 1
(Waiting for the Cardio)

On 4 June 2008, Wednesday, 3 p.m., I left home to go to Healthway Medical Clinic – Alabang Town Center to see a cardiologist. I needed to show him the results of my 16 April laboratory tests, which included cholesterol, blood sugar, hemoglabin, liver, ECG and chest x-ray, among other things… for him to determine my fitness to undergo lumpectomy, because a benign mass on my left breast kept growing and it was supposed to be excised December last year yet but my surgeon wanted a clearance from my cardiologist, I supposed this was SOP.

Upon arrival at 4 p.m., I registered promptly at the reception and was told the doctor may arrive 6:30 p.m.! I was texted his schedule was 5-7 p.m. but nevermind, I can window-shop around while waiting. I was told to leave my cellphone number so I can be sent a message as soon as he arrives. At the lounge, there was this poster that said “The whole mall is your waiting area.”

I had plenty of time left in my hands. I decided to stroll along the clothes shops then toy shop on the upper level, took a snack of Asian salad and orange juice at KFC. Then I went to the bookstore and browsed over the memoirs of Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil (journalist) and Pilar Pilapil (actress). They had beautiful black-and-white portraits. They wrote about the powerful men in their lives. Carmen talked about Ferdinand Marcos. Pilar went finally aglow in God. I failed to find out what denouement there was for Carmen. There were cook books. I noticed one by Rosario Nem Singh, a former colleague at HomeLife, which reminded me how long I had not been writing creatively. If I was not writing, I was not living at all. So for the longest time now I had been dead already. I wondered will I ever rise again?

At the Town, I had learned the art of doing nothing, of killing time, sitting alone on the bench and feeling extremely uneasy amidst crowds of people coming and going, passing me by. Subtly I observed a group of women in their 60s and 70s exploring the mall like they had nothing better to do on a sleepy afternoon, because they had done them all… everything, and still they had so much free time, they might be impatient or scared to move onto the next life, and they did not like to be found bored to death in their homes. I would not want to look but I saw lovers kissing on the escalator, they were on the way up while I was going down.

I honestly would not want to hate the cardiologist for being so unpunctual. I was just thinking what a waste of time it was, this waiting game. It stressed me so much. Since I woke up this morning, I refused to waste time before I went to see him. I cleaned the house, did the laundry… just to keep my mind off this reluctant but necessary visit.

I could have chosen not to go and see this doctor but I was being responsible. I wanted to do the right thing for my health because I wanted to live productively, go on working and earning a living for my children. If I got bedridden, that would be more expensive and would cause my family a problem. If the doctor pronounced me okay, then I had to go ahead with lumpectomy which I did not want to go through, not because of pain because I was told I would be placed under general anesthesia… I would be totally unconscious… but because of the after effects— will the anesthesia impair my cognitive ability? The brain was a major tool of my profession. Will I recover easily? Will there not be any complication that would result to further expenses beyond the coverage of my health insurance?

But what would happen if I did not have the lump removed? Would it continue to grow and become a monstrous sight? Would it develop into cancer? I had to ask my surgeon-breast care specialist. I had to email her soon.

I have read in the news about this woman who opted away from the surgeon’s knife because her body could not take the operation and the family could not afford the expense. What she did was lived her remaining years to the fullest, did all the things she wanted to do. This looked attractive and sounded exciting to me. I would want to spend time in a mountain health resort than in a hospital.

But really, if the cardio said I was okay for surgery, then I had to undergo the operation before September because after that, my health card would expire.

It was already 6:45 p.m. and there was no cardiologist in sight. The clinic staff were sending him text messages when I decided to leave in disgust with such very unprofessional attitude of a doctor. Was he on a tryst or was he having a heart problem? He should have at least texted back.

I was about to alight from the van at the gate of the Golden City when my cellphone alerted on a message that said the cardiologist had arrived, and it was 8 p.m.! I would be very much insanely thrilled to reply, ”The patient is already dead!” But I yielded not into the temptation.

And so I had to reschedule my doctor’s visit—not in Healthway anymore but at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC), as was my original plan. Perhaps, it was meant to be that my cardio and surgeon should be housed in the same hospital for convenience and fast comparing of notes.

I thought it was unproductive to be constantly planning my visit to the doctors when I had better things to do, things I enjoyed doing. Actually, there were not so many. But I did looked forward to attending the music concert with colleagues at the UP Theatre on 9 June, 6-9 p.m. in celebration of the science department’s golden jubilee; ballroom dancing twice a week; and aerobics every Tuesday morning; taking pictures of book covers with Genny’s digital cam to post on my blog.

I looked forward to die in a quiet, peaceful, joyful way. It looked exciting, being no longer confined in a physical form. I would be free to roam the forests, seas, mountains, heavens… go to Shibuya-ku in Tokyo, Artist’s Row in Dorset, Waitakere in NZ, Vienna, Paris; Alaska, the last frontier; Budapest; Holland; the entire Europe then back to the East—Himalaya; Ladahk, Kashmir. Listen to Rob’s piano performance, watch him conduct the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra if I could do time travel backwards to 2003, give him a kiss, hold him tight.

Which brought me to tears now. I remembered crying when he emailed, saying he would present me to the Supreme Being while we would be in Ladahk, and wait for Him to give me back to him to care for and dream our dreams together until such time that He would take us back together. Rob said he found a new reason to live because he had my heart to take care of. It was true at that time but had eventually become a lie. Before I die, I must destroy his nude photo, it was for my eyes only. The problem was, I had forgotten where I had kept it. Rob was in my life for a reason and a season. I fell in and out of illicit, human love to prepare me for a higher kind of love, that kind which was unselfish, unconditional, Christlike: Godlike. No regrets. He said he would have been happy and grateful even if we did not meet in person because we have met in a special way in cyberspace. Well, same here, actually.

At times, I got so terribly lonely and bored that death seemed the only adventure left. But I had to be grateful for each new day, for each evening of rest and sleep. Right now, I was going back to the activity that gave me so much pleasure— writing. I had been into databases lately, the new genre, the new way of expressing human experiences. I need to love database because it was my work, my bread and butter. In fairness, I was also learning a lot. Life was good but lonely. My husband was not mine. My sons and daughters were not mine. I had no one but myself. My cyber lover had really no intention of keeping the flame burning. I had given up on him. But of course, we only gave up that or whom we could never have anyway.

But I had God inside me. He wanted me to be empty so He can fill me up. I wanted to love Him too. I wanted to be the best, to be pure, to be worthy of His great love. Really, God, Your Son was so unconventional… so tender and kind to the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria and to the adulteress. “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone,” Jesus told the crowd who wanted to stone to death the woman caught in sin. Later he told her, “Go and sin no more.” He loved unconditionally, unselfishly. I would have wanted to love in that manner too.

So, database was life’s new genre. People neither dreamed nor thought in narrative anymore but in lists because of information overload. Narrative had inner music, database had none. As dance was poetry being written by the body, database was like dancing without music, and how painfully lonely this could be-- like making love clinically sans fire and passion; or making passionate love but virtually on email or online chat… this was insane!

I did not know what I was trying to say. By writing, I intended to annihilate loneliness with meaning. But I had lost the power as I could now plainly see. I could not even tell a story. I had no enveloping background. I had no conflict to build up into a climax and a denouement, an epiphany. I was good only for database. Oh well, database earned me a living. I may be lonely without creative writing and a cyber love but I had database and now I just bought a pair of Otto wedge and a couple of Megs at the Town. Now at 53 y.o., I could sing passionately on Videoke and dance with pleasurable abandon. But I did not make love anymore. It did not matter. Nothing really mattered to me.

I don’t wanna die
Sometimes I wished
I’ve never been born at all…
-“Bohemian Rhapsody”
sang by Freddie Mercury of Queen

Oh, by the way, because I was a hopeless romantic capable of falling in love every month… and because there never seemed to run out of vulnerable and naive lovers who never learned— I had a special friend who lent me music CDs. He kept on lending me each time I returned, he had new ones to offer and I did not want to refuse—Sinatra, Buble, Tyrell… what’s next? I knew he had Gospel songs. I loved Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes” and Queen’s “Love of My Life,” but I was sure he did not have them.

And so it came to pass that while I waited for the cardiologist who did not arrive on time, I had this chance to immerse in life at the mall where everyone had the luxury of time. Not bad. I came up with this narrative. I guessed if I waited for the angel of death at an appointed time, I would just get disappointed. For death comes like a thief in the night. I had this feeling that death would delay its arrival and would be there only when I stopped waiting. I might just as well be reading at all times. In the meantime, I would just enjoy the sights and sounds and the feelings and thoughts random like listings in databases. Life is a database; life is waiting for the heart doctor who will arrive only after I’ve left for home, delaying my tryst with the surgeon at the OR and thus indeed, prolonging my agony…



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