Mercy and compassion when it hurts the most
Life’s several stops are time consuming but necessary. Going back to January 18, 1985, my papa didn’t know what led him to Makati Medical Center where Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) met regularly. He listened to their stories. And for the very first time, he arrived at the place of surrender.
That night was particularly frightening. He was desperate for help and hope. He didn’t know where he’d been, and where he was going. “Umay na umay na ako sa buhay ko bilang isang mag-iinom (I am tired from the life of an alcoholic),” he told me.
After the meeting, he walked up and down several streets from Makati Med to Luneta. He stopped near the grandstand, and lied there for a moment. Listening to his thoughts, he had them all figured out. He was an alcoholic. He needed help. He was finally letting go.
That night he started saying, "Just for today, I won’t drink. Bahala na bukas (Come what may when tomorrow comes)"
The next day, he showed up to AA’s second meeting. And life went on, just like that. Days, months, and years passed. He remained clean.
Everyday, Christ claims him. Daily, he gave his addiction to God, and never took it back. There were times when he would be weak and those where the times when he would be reminded that God’s strength is perfect.
Sometime in January 1995, Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines. My father was then celebrating his 10th year of sobriety. He didn’t know that the pontiff's visit was readying him for a tougher test of faith.
That year, he lost his job. He found himself on a shaky ground, almost falling. The words of his friends kept him, “Cesar, just don’t drink no matter what. God is in charge!” So everyday of that day he kept saying… ‘Just for today, I won’t drink. Bahala na bukas.’ (Tomorrow will take care of itself.)
He stayed home and devoted his life to us. By the time we were 5, his eldest son, my kuya, started drinking.
From the day he found out, my papa started praying for a miracle. Knowing kuya and the disease of alcoholism, he knew he would someday be desperate for help. My papa was willing to wait.
But surrender does not come easily. It took time to grow. And sometimes, as they say, miracles come at a high price.
One day, my kuya was drunk and on a high spirit. He ran away from home, from life, from everything else. The clock ticked. Then there was a blur.
There was a big trembling bang, and a painful shock. The skies saw clearly how he fell to the ground. The green grass blew and took away his breath. He was rushed to the nearest hospital. His system was down, his brain was dead. He didn’t know what was happening. He didn’t know that it was his last fight.
On June 15, 2013, my kuya lost his life from drunk driving. The next day at 2:00 AM, my papa saw him for the very first time in his coffin. “Habang nakatingin ako sa kanya sa kabaong, alam ko na sinasabi nya sa kin, 'papa mula ngayon, hindi na po ako magiinom'" (As I looked at his coffin, I knew he was telling me, 'Papa, I won't drink anymore.')
Kuya’s sobriety was the best and the most painful father’s day gift he gave to my papa.
Meeting the Pope
Now, nights are longer and colder. Keeping sober every day is more than a challenge for my father. But miracles keep happening. He reminds himself, "Just for today I wont drink, bahala na bukas."
Last June 18, Sunday, he celebrated his 30th sobriety anniversary, with Pope Francis, at Luneta, where once upon a time he experienced the mercy and compassion of the Father.
“Sapat na naroon ako para maramdam ang pagmamahal at pagpapala ng Panginoon sa isang tulad kong mag-iinom,” he said. (It was enough that I was there to feel the love and blessings of the Lord for an alcoholic like me.)
As he came back to Luneta, he approached God with great expectation. He was hurting, and still desperate for hope. The days for him are still frightening.
Losing his son due to alcoholism is more painful than losing his life thirty years ago. But having the pope there gave him reason to celebrate life, for the grace of thirty years, for the son he lost, for the hope he had back, for what it’s worth. - Rappler.com
Toni Krizia Vivares is from Laguna and studies at the University of the Philippines - Los Baños. She is also a member of CFC Youth for Christ.
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