That was the first thing I read on a TV screen at the SFO airport ramp as I exited from the plane I took from MNL the other night.
"When you travel beyond the ordinary, it must be San Francisco". Still fazed from the trip, my mind was not quite clear yet as to what I've just read.
I was in Manila for almost a month. It always feels good to visit friends and family, especially my mother. Birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, high school classmates', grand nephew's grade school graduation, a nephew passing the bar exam - they were all big celebrations! In fact, one reunion was with my cousins on my father's side. There were about 10 of us, cousins, from USA and Australia who went home about the same time, without having talked about our trips previously. Some of them, brothers and sisters, had talked about their plans but didn't know exactly when the others were coming. The day after I arrived, my brother, Tony, treated us all to a sumptuous dinner at a chinese restaurant, reuniting both visiting cousins and the ones living in Manila. Many of us hadn't seen each other for ages! The irony of it all was another cousin from Manila died on the same day we were going to meet!... Strange??... How can you explain that?!
I had an accident. I fell down the stairs at my mother's home from top down - Yes, from the top, about 17 steps, down! Me, the so so so very careful me??? Well, sh__ happens!!
What happened, how'd it happen, I don't know! It happened so fast. The next thing I knew, I hit the tall table where the big statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sits and I was waiting for the statue to fall on me and crush me... Then it stopped!!
I have a cousin on my mother's side, Minerva, from Canada. We call her the visionary in the family. The day I was leaving for MNL, I called her at the same time she was also trying to call me. She said she just felt she had to call me. I called her because the night before, I found my jewelry I was missing for a year, and I was so excited to tell her as she always said I would find it again. She was the first person I called when my jewelry was missing, to pray for its recovery 'cause her prayers are powerful, I tell you, and also the first person I called when I found it. Anyway, I asked her to pray for my safe trip, too, as I wasn't feeling well then and it was a long trip home. She said to pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and that when I got home, to greet the statue on the stairs and say "Hello" for her. "That statue is powerful, it is miraculous," she said.
After my fall, I stared at the statue and thought, "Were my cousin's words a forewarning?"
Because I hit the statue first, it prevented me from falling all the way down where, perhaps, I could have hit my head. Instead, I stopped short on the last step. Somehow, the statue of the Sacred Heart was there to "catch" me at the end. No, I'm not a religious fanatic, but after having talked to my cousin before my trip... I do believe in miracles -
"Truly, I tell you, if you have FAITH the size of a mustard seed, NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE." - Matthew 17:20
Yes, I was badly bruised and had serious hematoma. In fact, if you wanted to know the distance between each step of the stairs, and the depth of each one, look at the left side of my back! I was sore. I had abrasions, with one seriously infected. I had contusions on my ribs so that it was painful to breath. Yet I didn't have a fracture and no head injury - How miraculous was that?!
I stayed home with my mother most of the days after the fall to heal. I didn't go out anymore, no shopping! I didn't even visit with my childhood friends which I usually did when I'd come home. The irony, again, I must say, is, the day before I left, one of them died. Again, how can you explain that?!
I had a massage at the airport in MNL before I left. I felt it would help me on my long trip back as I was sore all over. My nephews and niece always treated me to a spa every time I went home, but this time I couldn't do it because of the infected wound. But at the airport, fully-clothed and covered, my wound wouldn't be touched, I thought it was all right. It was a long flight, (no, actually, shorter this trip, 10 hours 40 minutes. As I recall, it used to be 12 hours). Nevertheless, still a long flight for me with my condition...
I looked back at the TV screen just before I entered the terminal building -
Welcome to San Francisco.
Travel beyond the ordinary.
Indeed, I've arrived! And... more than just a Welcome, it's Welcome HOME.