In one of the pre-celebrations of our 30th foundation anniversary, I saw someone who I think looked familiar although I wasn't really very sure. I may not be very good with names but I have a good memory for faces. However, the more I looked at him, the more I failed to remember who he was. Since I was kind of busy then, I dismissed the thought and went on with what I was doing.
Then, last week, I just confirmed that I knew him. He was a former student of mine. As a matter of fact, our valedictorian in 1989, our school paper's editor at the time and recipient of our Man of Letters. The reason I couldn't recognize him then was because he is suffering from an affliction. He developed a dystonia as a result of a brain stroke "...from a ruptured AVM ( Arterio-Venous Malformation, an abnormal collection of fragile blood vessels like arteries and veins, in my particular case, my brain".
His name is Richard Buencamino. When he graduated with honors, we knew he would go places. True enough, he was accepted in the U.P. College of
Medicine's INTARMED program( an accelerated 7- year medical curriculum which only accepts the top 20 males & top 20 females in the Philippine) and was awarded as one of the outstanding interns in Surgery,ENT & Family Medicine. He passed the medical board right after that and was accepted to the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics(4 years instead of 6 years of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics when done separately).
How can something go wrong with all these credentials? He is young, bright and full hope. However, God has other plans for this young man. One day while he was making his rounds in the hospital, he had the attack. As if that wasn't enough, while he was recovering from this, "(he) developed a terrible illness called Dystonia, secondary to the stroke(involuntary contraction of various muscles in my body like the tongue, eyelids, esophagus and neck)" disabling most of his bodily functions like speech due to involuntary contraction of the tongue, (he communicates through a voice synthesizing device and pen and paper). He also has an impaired vision at times and has to pry his eyes wide open to see. He cannot eat solid food and has to have his sustenance pass through a tube that is connected to his belly. His left ear has gone and can only hear through his right ear. Even his balance is way off and has to be assisted to stand and walk as a result of abnormal contractions on his head and neck.
But amidst all these trials, he has not surrendered his resolve. He turned to writing poetry and drawing. In spite of all those contractions, he still tries to write and draw from his heart. If there is one thing that this young man has, it is his will to live and his passion for life. While I was browsing through his writings, I remember distinctly something that he wrote. "Good food is not served on a platter twice." I had occasion to read his poetry and I had a hard time keeping my tears to myself as I read one of his poems that speaks to his 8 year old daughter. I hope it would be alright for me to reprint it here.
LAURYN, I love you very much!
9:30 am 10-10-08 by DAD
Lauryn, my daughter, I think of you in my solitude
Feeding my Jevity cans through my feeding tube,
I cannot talk, eat or walk properly
And my head turns to the right… o, Lord help me.
But I think of my loving daughter there in the U.S.
Who still has to hear me utter those words…
Oh Lauryn I yearn to talk & be with you,
Like a normal regular father would do.
How I yearn to carry you
Up in the heavens… the sky,
Where the mighty winds can blow your lush hair,
As you graciously go by.
There are so many things I long to give you dear,
So many dreams I desire to bestow but I fear,
That they may not come true
Yet, I know that GOD can make
the radiant sun emanate from this blue.
I remember the house by the beach,
The BMW SUV your Mom & I followed
but could not reach,
Yes, that house you were supposed to have
A party your friends & barkadas will simply love
I know with every fiber of my dystonic being,
That GOD is great every single time
Like that good old mailman HE always delivers
His graces to poor lonely souls
like us who always quiver.
So keep your chin up,
Lauryn, you are blessed from above,
GOD put us here for a purpose
We in due time will discern His love.
Lauryn, Eryn, I love you very, very much!
You may not know this fact,
Because I have been a stubborn fool
in all 8 springs that has passed,
I know that we will triumph,
In GOD we will always be exuberant!