To celebrate our first year of oneness, we traveled to Maj’s hometown in Iloilo. That was when we first heard about the novel coronavirus, which later became known as COVID-19. Little did we know that it would change our lives, and our second year of marriage, drastically. How did we cope? Let us tell you our story.
No one in, no one out. That announcement was made here in Bethel sometime in March 2020. At first, we didn’t feel the full impact of the total lockdown. But after weeks and months went by, we realized just how much traveling refreshed us. Whether an adventure abroad, a weekend getaway, or even just an evening date out, a change of scenery really replenished our energies.
Thankfully, we received timely letters from the world headquarters telling us how to cope with the lockdown stress. Their advice? Get a daily dose of sunshine, sleep early, exercise regularly, and have a balanced diet. We tried to follow just that, and we felt our stress levels drop. But we had more serious problems.
Mom’s Battle with Cancer
It was December 2019. My mom called me, and I can tell instantly in her voice that something was seriously wrong. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was only a few months before the pandemic. So the absolute most heartbreaking part of the lockdown for me was not being able to be there for my mom in the most difficult time of her life.
COVID-19 cases were exploding in Manila when Mom was scheduled to start her chemo. I felt anxiety each time she visited the hospital, where she could be exposed to the virus. It crushed me to see my beloved mom lose hair, weight, and lose strength. Sometimes, I even felt like she was losing herself, her sweet self. All I wanted to do was to hug her, kiss her, hold her or just sit beside her and tell her, “It’s going to be OK, Mommy.” But I couldn’t do any of that. And it broke me. I felt helpless. Too many times, all I could do is cry and pray to Jehovah for help.
Dealing with Death
My world was shattered just six days after our second anniversary. It was a Monday morning, February 8. The morning worship program here in Bethel had just finished when I received a call from my sister. Mom died.
Maj and I secured permission to rush home, and for the very first time in almost one year, I saw my precious mom. But this time, I couldn’t hug her, kiss her or hold her. She was gone. I was devastated. Losing my sweet, caring, loving mom broke my heart into countless million pieces. I didn’t know where to start picking up the pieces or whether my heart could ever be whole again.
My Best Human Friend
I couldn’t imagine going through all of this without Maj. Whenever I cried, he dropped everything, and just listened. Whenever I was anxious, he would put some sense in my emotions. Whenever I was tired, Maj did the chores. And whenever I felt helpless, he always reminded me to focus, not on what we can’t do, but on what we can still do. Maj made my family, my mom, my pain, my tears his very own. I never felt alone.
It was a tough second year. My heart had no rest, constantly burdened by intense pain and sadness. But even in the darkest days, having my best human friend Maj and my Best Friend Jehovah by my side brought light. It really proved to me what the Bible says is true: “Two are better than one.”—Ecclesiastes 3:9