My Covid Story

It finally hit us. 
For two-and-a-half years, we’ve managed to dodge its mighty bullets living in and out of lockdowns in the Philippines. But in our recent and first-ever travel out of the country since the pandemic, it hit us. It was saving its best just when we thought it was safest. This happened while we were on vacation in the US, when every minute was precious and dear.

Most of the locals did not wear masks anymore. We all did. All the time. How I got it, I still do not know. And when it struck, I was dumbstruck, dumbfounded, dumbed down! And I have intelligent reasons for being so:

  • We were in Washington, DC —4½ hours and hundreds of miles away from our base in Jersey city.
  • We were traveling in a rented van. There were seven of us, four seniors and one is a recent cancer survivor.

My mental processor was suspended, but I still remember vividly that time Andre pulled me away to where our vehicle was parked to have me tested after persistent coughing while having lunch. I haven’t even finished setting the 15-minute timer on my watch when he exclaimed, “Dad, you’re positive!”

I remember not saying a word. My thinking was on-hold. I couldn’t even pray.

In hindsight, I remember this opening prayer in a Holy Mass:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.

Because even in the silence of my heart, He answered.

We decided to drive back to Jersey with Andre stepping up to do all the driving sans the authorized alternate driver. All windows wide open, all faces masked. All I can do was sit and cough.

We haven’t even left the DC area when we got a call from our good friends in Virginia where we stayed the night before inviting us to turn back to quarantine there instead. But because of the danger we may pose to the family and our van was on loan and had to be returned to Jersey, we had to turn down the gracious offer.

While on the way, Nikkei re-booked our flights back to Chicago and Manila and booked us hotel rooms in Jersey. Our Jersey hosts were willing to take us in but there was no possible room for us to be totally isolated. Too risky.

After five days of quarantine in the hotel —by then, two more have tested positive, my wife Rissa and her sister —our Chicago hosts told us to fly back there and have the rest of our quarantine at their home where we can be isolated, instead of draining our vacation money in hotel quarantine. It was an offer we could not refuse.

In Chicago, three more tested positive —my two children and one of our hosts’. I felt terrible being the main donor of this tragedy. Thank goodness that all of us only had mild symptoms. We were fed like kings and queens, like fattened animals to be slaughtered. The names of all those through whom God’s grace flowed when prayers became hard to say, I will not mention anymore. You should find their names already written in St. Peter’s book by the Pearly Gates. 

For the most part, I was good with God’s silence, but for some, the silence was deafening. I was waiting for the proverbial window to open after a door closes, asking myself why this happened. There was none. I am sure this will all make sense when I’m older.

We still had a few more days to enjoy our vacation after being cleared of the virus. God is good!

To a growth experience, I raise this cup.


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