From heartache to healing | Inquirer Opinion

From heartache to healing

“Bea, I need to talk to you and your sister. This is urgent,” said my mom on the phone.

I felt my heart drop that moment.

“You both know Mom has not been feeling well the past few days. This lunch, I just lost my sense of smell. I think I have it.”

The entire room went silent. We were not quite sure what to say.


“Mom, where are you right now?”

“Medical City, anak. About to get swabbed. Please guys, take your vitamins right now. You were all exposed to me the past few days… Go about your routines, do what you have to do in school, and take care of your brother for me.”

“Ma, I’m scared,” was all I could muster.

“Bea, you’re the eldest. Please be strong for your siblings.”


“Yes ma, of course.”

My sister was crying, and my dad had turned pale. “It will all be okay,” he tried to reassure us.


Perhaps it was the effect of shock, but when I went to my room, I forgot why I went there in the first place. It hit me right then and there: How could I keep my family strong when I myself am utterly weak? This was just the beginning.

A few days passed, perhaps the most anxiety-inducing days of my entire life. By the grace of God, my dad, sister, and I all tested negative. It all came down to my mom and brother, who were both exhibiting symptoms of the virus. I never prayed this hard. I could recall wanting to storm the heavens and tell God not to let them undergo that kind of suffering, to let me take the pain instead.

Dec. 4, 2020: A day that I will never forget. While my siblings and I were having online classes, my phone rang with messages from our family group chat. My mom and brother’s PCR swab results had come out. My brother’s results came first. Negative. That really took a weight off our shoulders. We were all pretty relaxed after that, thinking that everything would be fine as usual. Then another message came, this time from my mom. “SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19) viral RNA DETECTED” were the exact words that were stated in the lab results. Our worst nightmare came to life; it felt like we were being haunted by some evil entity. COVID-19 is not the type of monster that stalks you at night, it attacks in broad daylight when you are supposed to feel safe.

Things changed quickly from that point. The house became darker, the people quieter, life a lot duller. For a few days, we all fell into a deep depression. I could not do anything without breaking down in tears. I had trouble sleeping at night because my mind would not stop running and thinking of worst-case scenarios. My dad was not his usual laidback self; my siblings looked dazed and down in the dumps. I realized that although the virus affected my mom the most physically, the emotional and mental effects of the virus that my family was experiencing were just as draining.

Another aspect that contributed to our desolation was that we could not share what we were going through with most people, because we did not want to cause panic. Without a doubt, the support of friends and extended family would have meant the world to us at the time.

Dec. 7, 2020: The day things turned for the worse, especially for my mom. She had to go back to the ER due to shortness of breath. The x-ray results revealed she had developed pneumonia. This news plunged my family into the darkest part of our journey so far. My mom was isolated from us in my brother’s room, fending for herself in the midst of all her symptoms: fatigue, headache, fever, LBM, and shortness of breath. All we could do was monitor and communicate with her via FB messenger. It pained me to see her that way, because no one ever deserves to experience this, and certainly not my mom.

From the outside, we did all we could to make it easier for mom. Dad closely monitored her condition and always tried to cheer her up by sending a daily cup of coffee over, as well as ordering her favorite food so she would regain her appetite. My siblings and I constantly reassured her that we were feeling well, and that we did not have any symptoms to worry about.

“The COVID Timeline,” as I would like to call it, is the 14-day process of braving through this virus. This is entirely based on my family’s experience, though. Day 1 to 3, which I also call “The Dark Phase,” is the time when the depression kicks in and we have yet to accept the fact that we are in this kind of situation. This time, for me, was the worst part of our COVID-19 journey. Day 4 to 7, also called “The Acceptance Phase,” is the time when we are coming to terms with where we are and looking for ways to move forward from there. At this stage, there really is no other way to go but up.

Day 8, where I am at as I am writing this, is called “The Soaring Phase.” Now, this is the stage where we become productive again and try to have fun amid the situation. As a way to make my family laugh, I pretend to run away whenever my mom comes out of the room. Little things such as this really lightens up everyone’s mood. We still have six more days to go before we finish this timeline, but what keeps us going is that we know healing is on the way.

Though it’s difficult and heartbreaking, I do not wish that we never had this experience. My mom is recovering well, and every member of my family has come out of it a stronger and better individual. The road to healing is definitely not an easy one. There are many bumps and stop signs along the way, but the hardships will never equate to our strengthened and renewed faith in the Lord.

So, just a friendly reminder to keep safe and stay healthy during these times. It happened to my family, so it could also happen to yours. While doing your part, always remember to keep the faith. Surely, we are all going through different timelines right now, but one thing is certain: Christ is waiting for us at the end of the tunnel.


Beatrice Louise Gabon Santillan, 17, is in her senior year at the Immaculate Conception Academy, Greenhills, San Juan. She is in a writing internship with Ambidextr Media.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Family, health, nCoV, pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, virus

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