Isn’t it funny how quickly the truth can turn tail and scurry away!
When I woke up in the middle of the night around 2:00 Thursday morning, my thoughts once again returned to my brother-in-law who had disappeared several days earlier. Where was he? Was he alive? Would he be awake right now? Had he found a place to sleep? What was going on in his mind? What was he thinking/feeling? Was he depressed? Did he feel unloved? Did he have a plan, or any idea, what he would do next? What would we do if he was never found? Would there be any possible way in which he could live, even thrive, and never get home?
Around 7:30 the next morning, I had the text in hand: Eddie has been found! Alive!
Was this the end point, the final pay-off, of the work his sister and nieces (including my daughter) had been doing? They had pooled forces and posted on FaceBook, done radio interviews, distributed pictures to barangay centers. They had fielded phone calls, including some crank calls, and tried to follow up on leads, talking to the carinderia owner who “fed an old man with no money yesterday”, etc. They were waiting for someone to call and say “I see him right here, right now.”
But maybe it wasn’t these efforts. It looks as if he had found some kind of shelter, at least for a night or two. This was probably a larger barangay center with, perhaps, a security guard, or at least minimal shelter overnight. Of course, he had talked to people – and they had shared the food that had kept him alive. On that Thursday morning, the day he was “found”, he had apparently remembered the name of his own barangay, and when he was taken there, everyone knew him. Of course, they had received the handbills from the rescue team.
This scenario did bring up new questions: When/why did he forget where he lived? Why had he left his room, carrying nothing – no bag, no I.D., no wallet? Had he had a catastrophic health crisis – maybe a stroke? Had he been aware of that? Had he gone to find help? Or had he just had a compulsion to leave? Or was he going somewhere?
His nieces brought him to the doctor the day he came home. The doctor said he was no worse for the wear! (This is a 78-year-old man, who is on blood pressure medication medicine, and had been having dizzy spells and stomach upsets. Isn’t it amazing how our bodies deal with what they must and go on?) The doctor did say he needs to see a neurologist though, and it is still very possible that he had a stroke.
And of course, he didn’t keep a journal. At this point in my narrative, that sounds absolutely ludicrous, I know, but think of what a journal it could have been if he had been at all aware of what was going on! Four days homeless and cut off in the streets of Manila!
I hate to admit that I was after the story from the very beginning! I was terribly worried about Eddie, but I had (and I guess will always have) so many questions, so many possible story lines. Now I am even more convinced that Truth is slippery, can change in a fraction of a second, and that there is almost always more than one truth.
At the end of this adventure, my daughter pointed out that the city government should create and maintain a database on missing persons, probably including criminals and definitely including teenagers, and that this should be widely disseminated between police stations, public hospitals, barangay centers, and social welfare agencies. This should result in much faster recovery, and perhaps in a more precise picture of The Truth!
That might be a good idea for Puerto Princesa as well!