A frontlinerâs letter can move you to tears
Immaculate Heart of Mary on the birthday card sent to me by STAR columnist Danny Dolor.
A frontliner’s letter can move you to tears
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Saturday (Sept. 26), “feel good” story about a doctor who lost his way and found God has touched a frontliner into reacting with a personal story about his ailing mom, something from which other readers can learn a lot about loving their own moms even more.

The frontliner is Dennis Jerome Lorca. His story has to be told so I am giving him today’s space so that other readers can pray for his mom’s speedy recovery and give their own moms or parents a reassuring hug.

Funfare reader Dennis Jerome Lorca with his mom Fely during Dennis’ recent birthday.

Dear Mr. Lo,

Good day, sir!

I am a frontliner practicing in Bulacan. I haven’t really read The Philippine STAR for quite sometime now because of the busy schedule this pandemic has caused. But since I am staying with my father, I came across your article today. They have been avid readers of The Philippine STAR ever since I can remember.

Being a medical practitioner, I was deeply touched by your article today.

I just read your article about Dr. Abraham. To tell you frankly, I was deeply moved and was brought to tears after reading it. Maybe I was emotional and sensitive at the moment because I myself can empathize with the woman you mentioned in your story.

The truth is, our mother got infected with COVID-19 and is currently at the ICU in a hospital in Bulacan. Being a medical practitioner, we are trained to be strong in the worst of situations, to be courageous and to be objective no matter what the odds, to provide the best course of treatment for our patients and to be strong for their family’s benefit.

Despite this training and the acquired emotional strength after several years or more of practice, I thought I was strong enough to face anything, especially after our second baby died a month after his birth. (He was diagnosed with a severe congenital heart disease and died during surgery). But I was wrong! When the news about my mother being confirmed to have COVID-19 was revealed to me, I couldn’t help but cry hard (I haven’t cried this hard since the death of my child) because I know that being an octogenarian, my mother has a very high probability of not making it, given the statistics.

We have seen patients, even younger than her, who were not able to make it even after weeks of treatment. Honestly, for that brief moment, I haven’t felt so afraid in my life. Our mother was gasping for air and her oxygen saturation was down to 66 percent at the time of admission. We had to rush her to the hospital because we could no longer manage her at home. Hoping that this was just another case of flu which led to dehydration, we tried to manage her and treat her at home for two days but it was futile. We decided that we had to bring her to the hospital despite our apprehensions. There was no other recourse. Either she gets immediate treatment or else she won’t last another hour.

As I accompanied her in the ambulance, holding her hand, everything flashed back to me — the image of my strong and healthy mom reeled through my mind as if it was just yesterday. But at the same time, the bleak future was unfolding before me. The possibility of losing her became imminent and the fear surmounted my whole being, freezing me for a brief moment.

As the ambulance was speeding to get to our destination, I suddenly realized the gravity of the situation. I told myself, this is probably COVID-19 and at the back of my mind was the high probability that she was infected based on her symptoms. But how? I asked myself and I began to question God why this has to happen to my own mother, she who has not even stepped out of our compound for the last few months. I asked myself why this happened despite the precautions and constant reminders about the disinfection protocols.

I guess God has His Own way of waking us up. Being so preoccupied in treating others and in earning a living for my family, I must say that I have my shortcomings, especially toward my parents. I am one of the many guilty children out there who have so little time to spare for his parents. I must say that the most time I have spent with them in a week is three to four hours on the average.

I know that COVID-19 is such a lonely and isolating disease. It destroys family bonds by isolating members from each other to the point that you can’t see each other or visit each other for two weeks to a month depending on the result of your PCR swab. To some, it can be just a mild flu, but to the elderly, like my mom and people with other comorbidities, it can mean long weeks of isolation, deep emotional, physical and financial strain.

I must admit that I know theoretically how COVID-19 affects the body, read about the physiology and pathology behind it. But I never thought how it would affect the family as a whole. I know how deadly it could be but never did I imagine that my mother would fall victim to it. Nor any member of the family that is. I would say that never did I imagine that I would face COVID-19 in the eye. It is devastating and no victim can be very well prepared for it. It will consume you emotionally, physically, mentally and financially.

I would say that we are very lucky to have a mother like her, fragile and small yet strong in her principles and full of determination in achieving her dreams for her family, for her children. Humbly speaking, she’s just an ordinary employee who managed to send my sister and me to the reputable medical schools in the country. With their meager income as a couple, she and our dad had to sacrifice a lot to send us to medical school and provide for our books, board, lodging and transportation. We barely had time and the finances for travels and vacations so we had to contend ourselves with just staying at home during vacation. In short, my mother lived a simple and recluse life, never wanting for more than what was necessary for herself. She was just happy to see her grandchildren during the weekends and would be so proud to see them play the piano.

Her generosity and thoughtfulness are among her remarkable traits. She would write us letters of inspiration and constantly remind us and give us pieces of advice regarding the education and the upbringing of her apos. She would tirelessly write beautiful letters of appreciation to our relatives and friends abroad and make sure that they are greeted during their birthdays and holidays. Like most mothers, she is the pillar of strength and the light of our family. She would pray for us every day to make sure that we are all healthy and safe.

I know it is never too late to show our love for our parents. And I would like to share this story to all the Filipino families of frontliners out there. I urge you to spend quality time with your parents no matter how busy you are. I know how difficult the situation is for us frontliners but just talk to them, even through video call, and let them feel how much you care for them. Do not wait for tomorrow, do it right now. Express your love for your parents right now and appreciate them while they are here. Let us show our immense love and appreciation for them today for we may never have the chance again.

Sincerely yours,

Dennis

(Postscript: Fortunately, my mom is responding well to her current medications. She is still in the ICU with her oxygen saturation between 89 and 94 percent. Her breathing is much better now but her heart rate is around 120-130 per minute. God is continuously moving in really mysterious ways.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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