I am writing this on Easter Sunday right after streaming today’s mass.
In the past I would annoyingly always remind everyone, that Easter must be meaningfully celebrated like Christmas. I seriously planned out my holy week activities. I would make sure to have a green branch for Palm Sunday which would replace the dry branch on my window.
I usually report to work Holy Monday until holy Wednesday. I also know that there will be hardly anyone in the office by then. They would all be on vacation. But I somehow cherish the feeling of being in a quiet work place.
Holy Thursday was for Visita Iglesia, Good Friday was for prayers and quiet time and Black Saturday is devoted to Easter preparation. It was a holiday I planned out by myself, sometimes my daughter and my sister would join. But even if I am all alone, (my husband is usually at work around this time) I would make sure that it will be a meaningful spiritual experience between God and myself. Weeks before the holy week, I will carefully plan out all the seven churches I would visit on Holy Thursday. I have made the rounds of the churches in Makati, Quezon city and Manila. This year I was hoping to go East, somewhere in Rizal, Antipolo, I was being very ambitious.
Come Easter Sunday, I will make sure to celebrate with good food. There are times, when I join my family, or sometimes I dine alone, and it didn’t matter, because deep down, it was spiritual celebration.
As early as February, I was looking forward to this year’s Easter celebration. As soon as Ash Wednesday happened, I knew that in a few weeks, I will once again embark on my spiritual celebration with God. I remember proudly parading the ash on my forehead at work, since I attend the daily 6:30 mass, and it served as a reminder to everyone, that Ash Wednesday was a holy day of obligation.
But as we all know, the holy week celebration took a different turn this year because of the virus. All my plans were shattered as early as March 14 , when the government declared a lock down, and the church decided to stop holding public masses. I thought I could still continue my daily routine of going to church, just to greet God, and just tune in to the live stream mass at noon. But even the churches were off limits because social distancing was strictly imposed.
When the government declared a community quarantine, which meant we all had to stay home, I tuned in to the daily livestream mass. The daily spiritual activity somehow helped me cope, but all the negative issues, uncertainty, and all these discouraging figures of people getting infected and losing their lives, started dominating my sense of reason.
I consider myself an unusually optimistic person. I see the bright side, even before it makes its presence felt. I have always believed that life is what you make it. If I think happy thoughts, then happiness is on its way.
But a global pandemic is certainly like no other. I always thought that nothing will ever surprise me. I built my muscles while working for an agency, where everything is needed yesterday and watching heads roll were as normal as cappuccino and tiramisu.
For the first time in my life, I could not see the bright side. I can go through my daily affirmations, attend mass, fill up my gratitude journal, but I was still heartbroken as ever.
I was upset for al lot of reasons. First, I miss my daily routine of going to work, meetings seeing my friends. I miss my after work activities. I feel that I am making a lot of progress with my swimming, my dance class is preparing for a show and I am meeting interesting people in my circuit training classes. Secondly, there was nothing “normal” about my day to day activities, restaurants were closed, stores were closed, we were not allowed to go anywhere, it was mandatory that we stay home. Sure there was Netflix and internet to keep me entertained, but everything online was about the virus, and how there was no cure, and that it’s affecting the economy and people are going hungry, it painted a terrible picture of reality and I just could not stand it. No amount of positive affirmation could pull me out of the black hole. The worse part is that I could not spell out my condition. Or I couldn’t admit to myself, that all these issue brought about by the global pandemic is emotionally draining me. No matter how I try to be productive, the uncertainty is scaring me like crazy. For the first time, things were beyond my control.
And while I pray unceasingly, God is taking unusually long in answering my prayers.
I actually thought that work and all other tasks can keep my mind preoccupied, until they found a cure for the virus. I was wrong. First, there is no cure in sight, and secondly, grief is not like dirt that can be swept under the rug.
Amid the sleepless night, I tried to have a full day. I do my morning run, hold zoom meeting with the guys in the office, I do my reports, I am trying to learn a dialect, spelled the names of my friends with origami letters, watch a concert in YouTube, go for a swim, eat dinner with family, read a book and sleep. I was being overly productive but was going through my day with a heavy heart. At night before I close my eyes, and thoughts of this pandemic getting worse would continue to haunt me. I go through the same routine the next day, and continue to cap the evening of thoughts of terror.
It took 20 days before I realized that something should be done about all my fears.
And it happened today on Easter, maybe because, there isn’t much Easter activity because people are just too sad and everything is still in lockdown.
Today I asked a friend if it’s okay to have occasional sad moments. And she said it was fine, in fact she sent me a Youtube lecture to help me through, will discuss it in my next blog.
In the meantime. Easter has taken a different turn for me today. It is still a spiritual experience between God an myself, although instead of celebrating, I acknowledged my grief and fear, and to remind myself to hold on to my faith.
I wish to end with this beautiful music as rendered by my talented nieces.
That’s my niece Fiona, Camille and their equally talented friend Harmon.