In a piece of paper attached to the strings of seven balloons

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3 years ago
Topics: Freewrite, Stories

I woke up today, and I was crying. I had a bad dream.

In our culture, they said that when a child turns seven, God will grant him a wish. When I turned seven, I only wished for more cartoons, so my parents asked for something else more meaningful in my stead.

In a piece of paper attached to the strings of seven gigantic balloons, I wrote what I wanted in awkward handwriting. My sister added all of my family's hopes and wishes for me: especially good health. When I let go of the balloons, they got stuck to a post. As a kid, I was disappointed, and watched each day as they deflated. My wishes—my parents' prayers—still stuck up there, were unable to reach God.

But it looked like while the piece of paper did not reach Him, He just knew. After I turned seven, I got to watch more cartoons. My health improved, I didn't get hospitalized as much anymore, and my family didn't have to walk in tiptoes around me. You see, I was born an unhealthy child. My mother claims that I almost died many times, and that in a year, I got hospitalized a minimum of five times to as long as two weeks at a time.

My body was weak and easily got ill. No matter what the doctors did, I always found a way back to the hospital. I had vague memories about those times. Sometimes, those memories are locked up in the deepest recesses of my brain, but there are moments like this, when I am anxious and they would buoy to the surface.

Photo by Nevin Ruttanaboonta on Unsplash

I would remember the painful skin tests and the pricks of needles through my arms, and how I would cry so much in agony. The very distinct smell of the emergency room. The practiced smile of the nurses and doctors that tended to me. The never-ending road construction we always had to pass through on our way to the hospital. My father's panic and nervousness every time he would bring me to the private and well-known hospital that was 60 km away from home. He was my personal emergency ambulance since time immemorial. The apples my mother would skin for me but I wouldn't eat, because I wanted food from the Jollibee just outside the hospital. My mother had been my personal attendant since I was a child.

Until now, when I am an adult, my parents still worry about me. When I find it hard to breathe. Or when my vertigo hits. Or when I get colds for a week and the medications won't work. I think I traumatized them.

The last time I nearly died was when I was eighteen years old. I got measles, and I had a hard time breathing. My fever wouldn't let up, and I was starting to hallucinate. Before that, the doctor from the checkup said there was nothing to worry about. Measles shouldn't be deadly in my case... I was a young adult and even children survive through measles. Except I was a normally weak person, and I may not be any stronger than a 5-year-old. What usually isn't fatal, my body would make it so it is deadly. That time, I was brought once again to the hospital. I spent one week before I got any semblance of healthy, and another before I recovered. Later, my doctor said I could have died, and he initially suspected I might end up with scarred lungs—which meant I will have to deal with the effects in my life moving forward.

With COVID now and with hospitals steadily running out of facility, I am quite honestly scared. My parents are now old. They weren't the same people they were when I was a child and needed access to the hospital. Hospitals are generally inaccessible these days, and there are many horror stories of capable people literally combing through the whole of Luzon just for medical accommodation.

Should this weak body of mine need that, I don't want my olden parents experience what others experience nowadays. I don't want them to have to scour through the country just to find help for me. I won't want them to stress out, or even have to worry about me. I flinch at the thought that I might one day need emergency help and they would move mountains just to see me safe even at the expense of their comfort.

Heck, they would keep me at home to the best of their abilities. When they found out that the institute I work in allowed a work-from-home setup to curb the dangers of the pandemic, they aggressively asked me to travel 120 km to go home from the city worked in. Now, every time I said I would go out to do groceries or even just go to the bank, they would find ways to minimize my movement.

I understand, though. I really do. And I definitely don't want to outlive my parents, because I knew that if for some unfortunate circumstances I get really sick, I knew my body will make it very hard for everyone, not just myself. It's a little sad, and maybe even lonely, but I understand. It makes me anxious almost every day, every night, and every time my head wanders, but yes, I still understand.

I woke up today at 5 am, 2 hours earlier than my usual alarm. And try as I might, my head wandered again to many what ifs and possibilities and probabilities... then I cried.

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Avatar for rang
Written by
3 years ago
Topics: Freewrite, Stories