[COLUMN] My mother’s journey: Chasing the promise of Easter in the age of coronavirus

IF Good Friday is here, can Easter be far behind? This is a rhetorical question that takes on a different meaning during these challenging times as we continue to fight the war against COVID-19, especially when we think about our loved ones in the Philippines.

Every day, we read messages asking for urgent prayers as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic hits home, going beyond the boredom of being asked to say at home and the lack of freedom of navigation. This year, we have heard and read news about our own families and friends from the Motherland dying of COVID-19, or are in critical condition because of breathlessness and there is no more room in the ICUs.

This is the worst time to be sick, or have an accident because the illness or injury you went to the hospital for may not be the one that will kill you. It is being exposed to the killer virus especially if you are already vulnerable and your health and wellness are already compromised.

During times like this, how do we look forward to Easter, to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, when there is a dark cloud hovering over us that doesn’t seem to go away?

When no matter how much we try to take care of ourselves, so many things are still beyond our control?

My own family members are still living in the Philippines, including my mommy, Angelita Santos, and my siblings and their families. I think of and worry about them every day, praying for their protection, as I feel the pining and desperation because we could not even visit them because of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

My brother Joel Santos sent me a very touching message, which to me, is God’s grace, to remind me that despite all of these daunting frustrations, we have so much to be thankful for.

Joel reminded me how last year, when the coronavirus pandemic fully paralyzed Metro Manila, including Quezon City where my family lives, my Mommy had an accident.

Angelita Santos suffered an eye injury, requiring an operation.

Of all times, she tripped as she was walking to the toilet one night, causing her to hit her eye, which bled profusely that she had to be rushed to the emergency room.

Mom’s eyes were badly damaged that she needed an operation to remove her eyeball or it could cause a life-threatening infection.

Mommy was hospitalized and upon discharge after the operation, she and my brother Joel and their caregiver Vhoy had to quarantine because of possible exposure, and still had to go back to the hospital for a follow-up.

When I talked to Mommy, she intimated that there was a point when she would ask God why this had to happen to her, after all, that she had gone through in life — losing her parents when she was barely 5 years old, and seeing them die up close  when they were directly hit by the bomb when Manila was declared an open city during World War II.

She would ask God why she wasn’t spared of this freak tripping mishap when she had to take care of Daddy when my father had an accident that paralyzed him at a young age? Mom was just turning 31 then and Dad was 34 and they had to raise us five children.

Mom couldn’t help but feel “Tampo,” abandoned… “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”

Yet after praying without ceasing, Mommy received God’s grace to seek those she could be thankful for. She was thankful for her life, and that she was spared from COVID-19 despite her possible exposure in the hospital.

She may still be navigating her new life losing one eye, but she is still grateful she still has the other eye to see the dawning of each new day, to see the way her children look at her and take care with so much love, to see the smiles of her grandchildren who adore her, to read God’s Word that feeds her soul, to check on her Facebook and see what is going on with me and our family here in the U.S., and chat with everybody else, and to share words of hope and encouragement with everybody.

She received God’s grace of healing when she shifted her focus from what she lost to what she still has, and she prays for people who need healing and hope.

The author’s brother Joel Santos with their mother Angelita as she recovered from her operation.

Mom’s resilience has been more viral and infectious than the dreaded virus, and she has been doing her part to help lift others up in their desperation, especially us, her own family. She constantly reminds us to trust in God completely, totally, unconditionally.

“Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7).

This is the test of our faith — to continue praying and believing that what we prayed for is already on its way, trusting God’s will, God’s perfecting timing, and God’s wisdom and promise that He will make everything work together for our good.

We ask for grace to sustain us during these most difficult trials of our life, and one way to achieve this is to intentionally seek how the hand of our Lord has saved and sustained us in the past, and therefore, He can and will do that again for us and more than we can ever ask and dream of.

We have to thoughtfully seek how God is blessing us now in the midst of the storm, counting even more blessings He continues to grant us, instead of just focusing on what is lacking and missing in our life.

To close, let me share with you this reading from one of my bedside books, “God Calling”:
“I lay My Loving Hands on you in blessing. Wait in Love and longing to feel their tender pressure and, as you wait, courage and hope will flow into your being, irradiating all your lives with the warm sun of My Presence.

Let all go this Eastertide. Loosen your hold on earth, its worries, even its joys. Unclasp your hands, relax, and then the tide of Easter joy will come. Put aside all thoughts of the future, of the past. Relinquish all to get the Easter Sacrament of Spiritual Life.

So often man, crying out for some blessing, has yet such tight hold on some earth-treasure that he has no hand to receive Mine, as I hold it out in Love. Easter is the wonder-time of all the year. A blessing is yours to take.”

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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