Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Year After My Stroke of Luck


Finding inner peace can be a struggle.
When I was a still a school librarian in Xavier School, a classroom teacher became one of my assistants. She came from a long leave of absence after a minor stroke that rendered her insecure and fearful. While she tried her best to work alongside the healthier staff of the library, her moods and temperament swung from left to right. She couldn’t keep up with the entire demands and energy of the preschool community thus, the work assigned to her were few and light. Hoping this would give her the time and the pace to recoup, gather up her strength and go back to full time teaching for the next school year, she wallowed in self pity. It affected her work output and productivity. She became a burden to many on days when she was down.

It had not been easy for all of us, most especially for me as I was the librarian-in-charge of that library located in the early childhood education unit of the school. One day, she told me of her desire to go back to classroom teaching because, she utterly felt useless in the library. She believed she was meant to teach. Her health has stabilised somewhat according to her doctor. To go back in the classroom would renew her self confidence and vigor.

Who was I to prevent her? The next school year, she was moved back to the Grade School department to the relief of the staff and the teachers who endured her for one academic year.

I remember her now because today is the first year anniversary of my Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). How easy it had been for me to dispense faith and belief to someone who survived a stroke. Indeed, putting one’s self in the shoes of another is very different from experiencing a life changing event. The emotional and psychological recovery takes time. I remember her now with the realization of how fragile our bodies are, more so, our feelings and state of mind.

Now I know how it is to be insecure and afraid. To lie in bed, begging for sleep to come but worry hovers and keeps me awake for hours; to cling and to seek friends who would patiently listen to my complaints. The irrepressible Zarah Gagatiga is no more but a vulnerable woman afraid to die at any moment. There are days when, after a productive day at work, fear would gnaw at my insides and it would leave me exhausted until either of my kids or my husband assures and pacifies me.Telling me and reminding me of my worth. That I am loved. That I am not alone. I doubted myself a lot since the stroke. My prayer to God had been a litany of endurance and survival. Nahihiya na nga na ako sa Dios because, there are instances when I have become blind to the graces, the mercy and the blessings that came my way since the TIA.
With the Fambam, Easter 2017
Yet, God’s love is stronger than my fears. Walang hangan ang kanyang pasensya. Walang katapusan ang kanyang pagmamahal.

Everyday, He continues to give me the grace to see the kindness in people and to bask in the glory and the goodness of His creation.

Despite myself, I pray for humility and a forgiving heart.

I wish I had been kinder to that former colleague of mine. No one knows if I will see her again. But, I resolve to live life one day at a time; to be simply grateful for every breath and for every waking moment; to be kind and to do goodness for as long as I live.

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