Monday, March 30, 2009

A Beautiful Family

Dear all,

The cholecystectomy that Mommy had undergone last Saturday was completed successfully. The surgical procedure did not take longer than the estimated 1 hour. They found and removed 3 grape seed-sized stones.

We are pleased – with the outcome of the surgery, and the support we received from all of you.

Thank you very much. We are in your debt.

With Mommy out of danger now and our worries have subsided, as the eldest son I owe everybody more than just the expression of thankfulness. I also wish everybody the best; perhaps most fittingly –the best of health. Along with yours, my prayer is that may we don’t see anyone in our family have to go through the same kind of predicament again.

Thank you – although I could never really thank you all enough: For the prayers that you meaningfully composed and worriedly whispered in your sleep and probably even spoken repeatedly while at work; for the hard-earned money that you perhaps had already set aside to pay the bills or saved for future family needs, which out of kindness and worry you decided to send to us instead, not minding momentarily how it will affect the budget in order to accommodate a loved one’s call for help; and for the different expressions of support and inspiring gestures of encouragement that sent our knees to the floor and our hands in the air in thanksgiving.

I appreciate what you did to help us. As long as I am on this earth – your help shall never lose meaning and value.

I may have exposed my weaknesses and incapability by asking for a financial support, but I did so by assuming your generosity, not underestimating it. I admit that an amount of Php60, 000 may be hard to believe unaffordable for a 12-year engineer like me; and while it is true, as I say it is, I paid a great price for the said admission of limitations, shortcomings, or the obvious poverty – a price appraised so high against the worth of pride. Hence, it wasn’t easy – but pride is a commodity whose value must depreciate during crisis. I swallowed it, even gobbled it up for the sake of a higher purpose – the safety, the life of my mother.

Therefore, more than thank you – I am also sorry if your high expectations of me disappointed you. You may not be proud, but this deficiency is not really a result of habitual inactions or muscled, reinforced mistakes, and definitely not because I’ve been lazy. Undeniably, there have been many setbacks and episodes of confusion, and the economical environment does not provide generous means for quick recovery. But despite life’s unfairness, none of those blows have succeeded in making me give up; I only bended, but not broken. I lost some, I gained more – although not something measurable by the figures in my bank account or the assets I have – but only greater tolerance, an advantage against those not accustomed to pain and poverty.

With poverty lingering in this life, by default, I know that I have to be strong, but at a certain degree I understand I also have to be sensitive. I learned that it is in being sensitive that we better understand the needs we are responsible to provide, or the space that we have to fill in – even if being sensitive is often criticized as a trait of losers. Being sensitive – I learned from more experienced and influential people I’ve read or met – is never a weakness especially in the context of empathy. Conversely, strength is gauged neither by how much force you apply to resist or ignore the obvious miseries seen around nor by how much you can afford nor what you can buy for yourself. Strength – these individuals from books, news, and history teach us – is defined and measured by how much of your life you are willing to share; how much you can give away for things that matter more; by how often you are willing to get out of your comfort zone to meet those that don’t have.

Ironically, the more we recognize our weaknesses, the more we would feel empowered. There are times I would just marvel at the seeming obviousness of God’s presence, and my hopes have never been high. Thanks to poverty – for once again I have proven that if taken in the right context, poverty itself is really a very good source of delight, and of strength. I am glad that despite the hardships we are going through, my wife Annie and son Julian are more than just cooperative. They learned to be resilient themselves; always cheerful despite the need to be extra resourceful. Like me, they are doing their best to live life to the fullest with the blessings that we have. For the three of us, God is generous and mild.

Having said all this, though, I really cannot commit that all my future decisions and actions will be correct or certain. But the lessons are clear, and I understand very well that it calls for nothing less than a better understanding of my responsibilities, and the proper adjustments of all my priorities. That is how I intend to complement the support you provided us.

Thanks to all of you again – for in the midst of this all, you all remained. And during the dangerous hours my mother was in great pain – you gave your best as well. We received calls – I heard cheerful voices; we received text messages – I read comforting words; we met friends – they tapped our backs with a sympathetic smile on their faces. Recording them all in our bank of gratitude, I just know, and I think everybody should also realize, that what binds our family together is thicker than what drifts us apart, even thicker than anyone would secretly admit to himself; that we have the quality of a beautiful family – although not immune to heartaches, quarrels, isolation, unhealthy comparisons, and misunderstandings – they do heal, in a rather difficult but amazing way.

Yes, in our family we have a facility for healing – ears that are always ready to listen, members possessing wisdom and tolerance – but only available for those whose wounds and heartaches they are willing to share and speak out. Therefore, this doesn’t mean that in our family there is no work to be done or no issues to resolve, mistakes to be corrected, habits to break, or phone calls to make; the dangerous assumption that our comfort or struggles, togetherness or isolation can be easily taken as they are and say “I am okay”. I think we must not let that assumption breed indifference. To make and convince ourselves that our family is strong, there is no denying that each member of our family has a reaching out to do; regardless of the comfort or security that we enjoy in the warmth of our own homes, or from our individual accomplishments – still, no man is an island.

I hope my plea for help and my admission of shortcoming sends a message of better understanding of the goodness of our family, and the importance of family in general. For some of us, we need to reach out more so it could be enjoyed to the fullest; and for many, this means lowering down your wall or opening up your door.

Sanny Sison

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