“Beautiful”, I mumbled to myself while looking at the garden beside our small house. I did some fixing work that morning, uprooting sporadic weeds and grasses and cutting some wayward leaves and branches. I wanted to do more. I still had so much energy to spare if only I were not pregnant.
“You should be extra careful. The baby is weak”, our ‘Hilot’ neighbor, Nanay Rosa, reminded us.
Nanay Rosa lived about half a kilometer from our house, but here, in our remote community, that distance fell within the description of what made a neighbor. Rightly so, for distance was obscured by how people lived here like family, though unrelated by blood. Being neighbors after all should be characterized not so much by geographical proximity as by emotional solidarity.
She was the Doctor in the Barrio. No, she was not a medical doctor. If I recalled it right, she did not even finish high school. But she had gained the reputation of being a healer of sort. Well, seeing a doctor in this place was a luxury. To have Nanay Rosa to turn to in times of illness was such a comforting relief. And many were healed under her magical care through her healing implements consisted mostly of ginger and random herbs.
She had also risen to fame as the best ‘Kumadrona’ having assisted almost all deliveries, with a whooping one hundred percent success.
Aside from having a good heart, she wore that personality which conveyed pure joy. Wherever she was, she brought an aura of natural and spontaneous happiness, that kind which could sweep away even the gravest sorrow. Her smile was contagious. And her laughter could raise even the most melancholic dead from the grave.
Her words reverberated in my head. I caressed my tummy. “Time to rest baby.”
I took a chair and enjoyed the fresh air under the giant mango tree in the left-front side of our house. The sky was clear. The crystal water was quietly flowing in the river just a stone’s throw away from where I was. My soul danced with the gently blowing wind. My mind hummed along with the chirping of the birds. Oh, the perks of life in the farm.
Miracle Born before Time
I felt the baby inside. 7 month and counting. Oh, the next two months felt like forever. I couldn’t seem to wait any longer.
“Mama’s so excited baby. And Papa too.”
I felt a pinch of pain. Did she hear me? Was she responding in some way? Uh, it seemed she was kicking.
“Are you excited too sweetie?”
Something was swirling inside, forcing its way out. The pain became persistent. More intense. Until I could hardly bear it anymore. I wanted to stand up and get inside the house. But the pain had rendered me so weak. I wobbled and I fell down into the ground. I shouted for help. But who could hear me unless someone was passing by? Our closest neighbor was Nanay Rosa.
“Gregggg!” I screamed although I knew he could not hear me. He was in the chapel to oversee the preparations for our patronal fiesta. And the chapel happened to be a little less than a kilometer away.
I was crying from both pain and fear. I was confused and scared. Cold sweat soaked my entire body. Just moments ago, I was full of excitement, of joy looking forward to that day when I would finally carry my baby in my arms.. Now, I was languishing in pain, terrified, not knowing how long I could survive – or whether the baby and I would survive at all..
As my strength waned. I remembered the verse which I read that morning. It was customary for us, Greg and I, to randomly read a Bible verse first thing in the morning.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)
With all trust and resignation, I prayed: “Lord, you are faithful. You will never leave me nor forsake me. And you have great plans for me, for my baby. In your promise I cling, to you I surrender everything.”
How God would save me? It was just about 50 minutes past nine in the morning. Greg would be working in the chapel until about five in the afternoon. Passersby? Our house was quite far from the road and I could hardly scream for help anymore. Would God send an angel from heaven? I had no idea whatsoever. But I was certain God would not abandon me. I knew God would rescue me. I didn’t know how. But He would, I was quite certain.
“Beth?!? My God! Beth!” I barely heard Nanay Rosa. Whether it was real or hallucination, I wasn’t sober enough to know.