I stirred at a few minutes before 3AM Manila time on Wednesday, realizing my cellphone did not ring when I had expected it to just before midnight here and noon in New York. Angelo’s coming home midday as it’s Parent-Teacher Conference day in New York today. So I stood up, freshened up and then dialed via ever reliable SKYPE.
I miss my boy. I would have taken him with me if I had the budget and if he weren’t going through the prerequisites of First Communion like First Penance. Besides, it’s not like two weeks is not going to set him back academically, and I don’t want to chance that on a whim.
I had not intended to doze off but my eyes were heavy with sleep when I set up the laptop and lay down beside it, cellphone on hand so I can hear it when Angelo does a missed call. But I guess I was tired and totally out of energy after a most draining meeting with the people I was supposed to talk to on my family’s behalf tonight.
I tried to keep reminding myself I should stay positive as I tried to block out all the thoughts and feelings that have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart the past couple of weeks. I had to shoo away all the negative energy to emit the right kind of aura that will hopefully give me some edge. I had dressed for the occasion in a pant suit that was not too corporate nor too casual. I was made up but not in my custom fashion — this was not the time to lose my eye liner but I made do with mascarra. (This may seem trivial to some, but taking on the look is something I feel is very important when you are going to sit at a table to negotiate.)
My lawyer friend arrived first. We caught up (I had been one of the secondary sponsors at his and his wife’s wedding, another classmate,) and we tried to strategize without overly thinking what it was we wanted to say. Having him there beefed up my confidence. I wasn’t among strangers. This was a friend.
Then our opposing party arrived, lawyer present, too. As luck would have it, the lawyer they brought was someone from my legal alma mater which they must’ve found an awkward advantage for us — and all it took was a simple, “You look familiar. Did you go to Ateneo?” As we were wont to do, batch mentioned and common friends’ names enumerated. Bingo.. I felt the heavens were smiling down on me. My lawyer-friend-classmate and I shared a look and I knew he was thinking the same thing. Not that we automatically thought she was on our side, but at least we knew she would be one to play fair and speak upfront.
The conversation was calm but emotionally draining, because there was a lot of tentativeness and vacillation on the part of the other party. We had made our offer, it was refused, and we needed to get a counter offer we could react to. This tug-of-war took almost an hour, landing us somewhere near a possible counter proposal which, understandably, could not be arrived at right there and then. But at least we had our lawyers exchanging numbers and agreeing to communicate to each other whatever it was they arrived at, so that it can be communicated to the parties, and hopefully a document drafted for signing by all involved very soon.
I had to bare my soul in a manner of speaking explaining where my family was coming from and what financial dilemma the refusal of the counter offer has plunged us into, and what challenges we are facing given a new proposal. It is by no means a small figure we were negotiating over, but it was not something we could not work towards raising.
Even before I sat down there, I prayed. I asked God to guide me and give me the words to say. He had taken me back to Manila despite all the odds and despite previous plans not to or to do so later in April perhaps. Things happened which drastically changed my time table, and while getting me here started to become workable, in many respects, it had come with a lot of obstacles along the way and at a price. (Soul of Christ, Sanctify me.. Body of Christ, save me.. Water from the side of Christ, wash me…) I almost felt defeated thinking of all the things that had happened the previous weeks and that have been happening lately, and I just closed my eyes thinking there must be a reason for everything. I almost said out loud, if this is what it would take, I understand why it has cost so much.
(I had to pause just now, close my eyes and try to shoo away the knot forming in my chest. Too early for tears.)
I had texted out a request for prayers, for the prayers to be sent my way, but after we walked out of the restaurant and headed home, all that I could say was “Thank you.” Even if I didn’t get a reply to any of the messages, I know that people heard and people prayed. I have always believed in the power of prayer, no matter which God one prayed, too. As Fe always says, it’s the energy of the universe, and the universe is listening.
My task is not quite finished yet and we have a second and possibly third meeting set before I leave. It looks now that although I wanted to leave for New York over the weekend, it’ll have to wait. One of the meetings set is for Monday.
I wanted to just plop down in the front seat of the car, but we had to head home and relay what we had spoken about to my sister and my mom whom we left in the house. While recounting it and relaying what had transpired to them was a task in itself, explaining things related to our home to my mother is an emotional obstacle course because I have to be careful what I say and how I say it. She has spent many sleepless nights over this dilemma — in fact when the other party asked why we didn’t have her with us, I told them in a calm voice that everytime they spoke with my mom, she spent many sleepless nights after and she wasn’t one to take sedatives to calm her nerves. I had to try very hard not to hint at my displeasure at their callousness for my mother’s feelings the way they had been talking to her in the previous negotiations which was relayed to me by my siblings — I was, after all, supposed to be the one trying to placate them and trying to convince them to give us a reasonable counter offer.
I still feel like I’m carrying half the weight of the world on my shoulders, and trying to sort things in a heart already beaten down by other burdens the past few weeks. (“Passion of Christ.. give me strength..”) And I have to remind myself that life goes on when I go on that plane ride back to New York where I will have to face other challenges waiting for me on that side of the world. ( “Hear me Jesus, hide me in Thy wounds so that I may never leave Thy side..”) I would normally want to stay and extend, but there’s a boy whose warm embrace is like God’s personal assurance to me that all will be well. Every day he asks me when will I be coming home. One week, I told him today. I said midnight on Wednesday next week, I’ll wake him up and I’ll be with him already. =)
I tried to start a blog post here last night just before I lay down before midnight but I was beaten down. I only had enough strength to set up the gadgets that will enable me to connect with Angelo when he called, then sleep took me over. When I woke up this morning, I found two “messages” that were messages — but not quite — waiting for me. First was the knowledge that someone I thought might have totally been ignoring me was still listening in a distant way. I knew because I saw that there was a glimpse taken my way — even if nary a word was said. Second was yet another “Godwink” from a comment from a stranger… thank you, WI.
Wi wrote in response to Rainy Tuesday in Manila below:
I just prayed for you and will continue to do so. Good luck.
Like I always do, I returned a thank you for an e-mail trace back, and again, like a few days ago with Shay, it wasn’t the original comment which brought the tears out but rather what she said in response to my note that just convinced me my message to the heavens was received, and God was telling me that He heard.
In a strange way, I heard someone else saying what Wi had told me in her comment — someone in particular I had asked for prayers from, and to whom I texted a simple “Thank you” last night after I stood up from the negotiating table. Even if I didn’t get any replies and I was thinking perhaps my messages were being ignored or deleted, Wi’s comment to my mind was the universe telling me the messages were received, and the prayers sent. Or at least I’d like to think so.
“Hear me, Jesus..”… I feel as though there are just too many petitions I am asking of God at this point that I don’t know which one to prioritize over the other. I am almost afraid to ask that one prayer be granted at the expense of another equally important petition weighing heavily on my heart. At this point, all I can say is I offer it all up to Him for Him to do with as He pleases… what I might want most might not be what He may want to give to me… ever.. or just not yet.
As a friend would say, Inshallah. Another would say, “In God’s time..”… and Fe would say, “The universe is listening.”
I’m headed to Baclaran today for my personal devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I am almost sure the tears will come again — the hymns and the faith of the masses who raise their voices up to heaven never fail to move me on an ordinary day, what more on a day like this when I feel Jesus talking to me, and I feel His arms around me in a warm embrace. Have to make sure I brought the tissue and the shades in my purse.
Fe is away on a trip to Dumaguete this morning, so I will go about mine without my emotional crutch here by my side. I can already hear her saying “You’re doing fine.. Be kind to yourself.”
One week left. I have promised myself to make the most of what’s left of my trip as my returning any earlier than the end of 2013 is very unlikely. I might not even return until 2014. I have to finish my notebooks soon, write on my cards, pack the rosaries I brought home to give away. I have to make sure all that I brought reaches their intended recipient. I have to leave with all my paperwork taken cared of, powers of attorney signed. I have a baul (chest) of pictures and old letters I’m still looking for which I hope to find and go through before I leave. I have already tucked away the postcards my sister reminded me I had always intended to take back to New York in one of my future trips — I told her the postcards will have to stay and wait for another trip in the future. I can’t take them back with me just now.
It’s still dark out and I know half the city is already stirring. Some people are already making their way to the LRT trying to avoid the morning rush. I have to start my day soon, too. Day one of 7 and counting..