Emerita Gabutero, 54

Time tonight is 9 pm, this 28th day of March, 2009.  I have just arrived from the city.

img_1431I had been to the hospital this morning. I rushed there because I received a text message from Albert, Mery’s son, that Mery was having difficulty breathing, even with oxygen hose attached to her nose. They already covered her face with an oxygen bag.

Mery had been admitted at Cebu City Medical Center on March 17, 2009. And every day, during those eleven days, I was her frequent visitor– morning, noon and night. I never missed a day. Because my eyes and my brain are just focused on just one thing:  To see Mery through all this. I believe that a service to the least of Jesus’ disciples is a service that is worth more than all. It is a service that Mery can’t repay.  But who cares if she can’t? Maybe we are used to serving only those we like to serve, those whose inclination–political and otherwise–dovetails with ours. Again, I say, who cares? I don’t.

They injected her with a double dose of antibiotics, and a double dose of paracetamol. Her fever still remained at 42 degrees Celsius. Too high.

The doctors told us their prognosis was dim. This was after eleven days. No, they even told me that on the ninth day. So I knew what’s coming.

I gathered the members of Mery’s family— her husband Tonio, her three sons Albert, Arnel and Gary and her daughter Arlyn. Mery was in a very pitiful situation. Our eyes were focused on her as we talked. She was the topic of our conversation, and if that conversation was gossip, you could already say we are going to hell. We were talking about her and we all were teary-eyed as we talked.

This morning too, Mery’s sister-in-law Tessie Ardiente came and expressed the sentiments of Mery’s siblings, her mother and those close to her:  They wanted to put a closure to the situation.  They pitied Mery so much seeing her gasping for breath—gasping as if every minute of it were her last.

I refrained from making judgments but asked Mery’s husband what he thought.

From the ninth day and today the doctors had been preparing all of us for what is inevitable. It was a situation that was waiting for a push.

This afternoon I was beginning to surmise Mery was walking the last inch of her journey. Even the oxygen tank beside her, its hose attached to her nose, even the oxygen bag that apparently was put on her face so she could amply breath from its ready supply of life-giving elements—they were no help.

Mery could not speak, could not even raise a finger to signal what she wishes to be known. Is death or dying supposed to occur this way, supplanting our wills with its inability to communicate?  They saw her weep; her daughter who had been by her side since yesterday and never went home, never thought of leaving her mother in this situation, wiped her mother’s tears with a handkerchief.

They decided to take her home, and I wrote the waiver which Tonio signed. They wanted Mery to go back to the mountain—and to feel free again. She had been away from it for eleven days now. The mountain is her home.

I left them all at the hospital after having arranged to pay the hospital when I had the money ready.

They all rode in a comfortable van, courtesy of a city councilor who also wanted to help. But Mery’s journey home did not take longer– about two or three kilometers on the way, she gave up the ghost.

They took her back again to the hospital, per advice of the driver of the van. The doctors at the emergency room pronounced Mery dead.

When they informed me about it at 5:30 pm, I rushed to the hospital and was told they already brought Mery to a funeral home.

By the time you received this post, Mery is back to her home in the mountains. In a coffin.

I still owe someone for the hospital bills and a pharmacy for antibiotics and other medicines. I could bargain.

I will be seeing Mery and her family tomorrow.  The church is going to meet tomorrow since it is Sunday.  Mery had wished she would die on a Sunday; she just missed it by a day.

I am sure the angels in heaven will be glad to welcome this lady disciple.   Mery’s wish has come true.  The lady has left us, in this land of cares and troubles, with a void in our hearts—because we are used to having her in our number.We could not sing the same songs again without her.  We can’t discuss verses that relate to our troubles and cares without remembering Mery, who also had suffered with us all these cares and troubles. Church will not be the same without Mery. We surely will be missing her.

And she has left us with a longing. For a home.

Of course she is in a better state than we are.

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