Just Press Play

Kirsten Iteralde

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Mom, are you there? It’s Sabina.

I have to hush my voice down a bit — Lily’s asleep. I hope you can still hear me.

I’m sorry for missing your calls, but you know we’re not allowed to use our phones while on shift. Especially during these times. We’ve been busy. In the ICU, we normally receive about two patients at a time in the past. But ever since the pandemic, there’ve been a greater-than-expected increase. While we’re fighting the coronavirus, we still have to care for everyday emergencies. It’s worrying how much at risk those patients are.

As a nurse, every day is unique. I work all day shifts, and they’re the busiest, but I can only imagine the stress and exhaustion from my co-workers who work during the night.

I’ve read your texts. You’re asking if we still have N95 masks left? Truth be told, no. We lack protective equipment. We’re now issued with surgical masks, which stocks are also plummeting. If they get used up, we might resort to bandanas. Funny, and I hope that’s all it is — a joke. Either way, we couldn’t do anything about it. The hospital claims they would provide more PPE, but we don’t exactly know when, and if the amount they’d give would be sufficient.

Enough about that. How are you? Are you doing well? Still taking your medicine on time? 

Every time I treat a patient, I think of you, and if you’re okay. I badly want to visit you, Mom. I want to care for you, the same way as I care for my patients. I love you so, so much, and I can only hope you’re in good shape.

I’m sure you’re worried sick about me. Mainly because coronavirus is, well, err — associated with pneumonia. And… and… Dad fought pneumonia for the longest time… We both knew life had never been the same again after he lost that battle. This probably wouldn’t make you worry any less, but I just want you to know that I’m doing fine. When I get home, my priority is to keep me and my family safe. I throw my clothes in the wash and take a shower with a nice scrubbing. Then I plop myself down on the bed, Lily snuggling beside me.

Oh, how could I forget! Lily! She misses you a lot, Mom. She misses you so much. I wish you’d seen her face when I told her she wouldn’t be visiting you for a while. I upset her the whole day, barely ate even when I cooked her favorite meal. Miguel’s schedule had been postponed, so he’s taking care of her for the meantime. That’s a good thing, if you ask me. They could use a little father-and-daughter bonding.

Speaking of Miguel, he’s been a tad off lately. Every time I arrive at the doorstep, he always greets me with a smile on his face. But we’ve been together for eleven years — I can sense when he’s not happy. He always told me swimming helped him relax. I think he’s stressed because he can’t practice. His best mates and a lot of other athletes tested positive for the coronavirus. Maybe he worries for them, feels isolated. Maybe he’s afraid he’ll catch the virus too. I just want to hug him really, really tight and tell him everything’s going to be okay. But I know he’d be too stubborn to admit he’s not doing great. That man loved to joke around to hide his suffering.

Ah, I could still remember the good old high school days. Such fond memories. I started crushing on Miguel my first year. You would always push me towards him every time he’s around! So embarrassing, Mom! One time, his friends were there, and ever since that day, the entire class started teasing us. Miguel looked so uncomfortable. I almost felt bad for him, but not as much as I felt bad for myself after realizing he didn’t feel the same way.

If it wasn’t for that, though, he wouldn’t have found out I liked him. I wouldn’t have stood a chance. We wouldn’t have gotten close and we wouldn’t have shared a wonderful life together. So, thanks, Mom. Thank you for being all too excited when Miguel said he’d court me, despite Dad not at all being pleased! Oh, the look on his face was priceless! He was always trying to intimidate Miguel, and wow, did it work! Miguel was so scared of him.

 I just realized I’m talking too much, I’m- O-oh! Lily’s moving. I have to keep quiet.

Okay. I didn’t wake her up, that’s good. Anyway, I was saying I’m sorry for talking so much, but I’m just so excited to finally chat with you. I miss you. I miss you a lot.

I want to thank you for a lot of things, and not just for helping me with the whole Miguel situation. Thank you for coping with me, my tendency to overreact, my need to always be right. Thank you for being my first and best friend. Thank you for picking me up. Thank you for raising me, giving me a life that I would have never known to be so beautiful.

Whatever I choose, whatever the decision I make, or the path that goes along with it, you were always there. You gave me the kind of love no one could ever replace. You gave me the strength I never knew I had. You gave me the confidence to chase my dreams. You taught me to walk away from people who put me down. You are a strong, independent and beautiful woman — and everything I am today is because of you. You knew I’ve been through a lot, and you never failed to show how proud you are of what I accomplished.

No matter the circumstances, you always find a way to let me know how loved I am. I’m so grateful for that. I could never ask for anything more. I promise, everything you taught me will be passed on to Lily. I want her to experience the same motherly love I felt the embrace of. 

After the quarantine, we’ll grant Lily’s wish and come visit you, yeah? We’ll get ice cream, watch movies, play games. We’ll do it all together.

I don’t think I can stay awake any longer. My eyes are killing me already. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?

 I love you, mom. We’ll get through this just fine. Soon, everything will be back to normal. I promise you that.

. . .

Message recording sent.

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