I and my wife are now trekking into our 37th year of marital life.
Every November time of the year, especially with Undas or All Souls Day having been just observed a few days ago, we cannot but reminisce forward a real-life proof of the existence of the soul: my wife’s firsthandout-of-body experience (OBE), some 29 years ago when she delivered our fourth and youngest child by caesarean operation.
We have four children – all sons. And for some medical or physiological reasons, they were all delivered via caesarean operation.
After my wife gave birth to our third son, the doctor advised her to undergo “tubal ligation” to prevent any further pregnancy.
But, being an ex-seminarian and adamant in my stance against artificial contraception methods, I dissuaded my wife in following the doctor’s advice.
Expectedly thus, voila, barely after a year, my wife got pregnant with our fourth child.
Early on her 2nd month of pregnancy, two doctors whom we consulted declined to give pre-natal services to my wife, emphasizing that it was too risky to push through with her pregnancy until delivery – and the prognosis for an undesirable consequence was just too high.
I was almost tempted to resolve the problem by having my wife go to an abortionist! But back in my mind, again with my seminary upbringing, I was impeded with the fear of committing a grievous (read: mortal) sin.
Until a priest-friend and former seminary contemporary of mine recommended us to a lady OB-Gynecology specialist, Dr. Reina (not her real name), who surprisingly committed to take care of my wife throughout her pregnancy until delivery.
Dr. Reina thus sternly advised my wife to have a twice-a-month pre-natal consultation until the 6th month and weekly consultation starting on the 7th month of pregnancy.
In addition, Dr. Reina told us to inform her immediately as soon as my wife experiences any irregular contraction or unexpected bleeding.
Thus came the crucial day. On the eve of November 20, 1992, on her eighth month, my wife experienced some vaginal bleeding. Right away, I brought her to Dr. Reina’s residence – and immediately at around past 11 in the evening we (Dr. Reina in the front seat and her husband driving, I and my wife at the rear seat) boarded Dr. Reina’s car to the hospital.
On the car, with my wife’s continued bleeding and intermittent groaning, Dr. Reina silently ignored my nagging questions about what would happen then to my wife. Feeling the gripping anxiety of that moment, I just opted to pray silently to God.
Upon reaching the hospital, my wife was immediately brought to the operating room for her caesarean operation.
Before entering the OR, Dr. Reina hurriedly told me, “I will try all my best to save both your wife and your child. But if it’s not possible...just pray.”
Outside the OR, feeling anxious and worried, I started lighting and puffing a cigarette – and to which, I was reprimanded by a hospital guard and told me to smoke outside. I begrudgingly complied.
While standing by outside at the entrance facade of the hospital’s emergency room, a taxicab came screeching in with a pregnant woman who was almost about to give birth. I didn’t know what got into my mind that I instantaneously rushed to the cab, opened its door and tried to help the woman until the hospital personnel came rushing in with the stretcher.
Then, after a while, still my wife at the operating room, I decided to find the hospital’s chapel – which was at the second floor, and it was open but dark – and spent a solitude of prayer.
At around 3 in the morning, already November 21, I went to the operating room to check about my wife. A little while after, Dr. Reina came out, still in surgical gloves. I immediately asked her, “How’s my wife, Doc? ”She smiled and said, “She’s OK.” Then I hurdled my second question, “What about my child?”
“Your child, it’s a son. He has to be in the incubator...and his navel is very freshly delicate yet,” Dr. Reina answered. “For how long will my son stay in the incubator?” I asked again trying to figure out the daily rate-cost of the incubator. “Let’s say, just prepare for about a month of incubator stay,” Dr. Reina said.
At around 5 in the morning, feeling relieved about my wife’s and son’s survival, I decided to go home to get some necessary stuff for my wife’s hospital stay.
On my way back to the hospital, at around 9 A.M., I dropped by my place of work (the school where I was then teaching) to file my salary loan for my wife’s hospitalization.
I arrived at the hospital at around 11 A.M., and I immediately went to the incubator section of the nursery room.
I peeped through the glass window and surveyed for the incubator bearing the name tag, “Baby boy Acebedo”.
Yes, I saw the name tag, but alas, I was greatly alarmed when I saw the incubator empty... “Where’s my son?”
I rushed knocking at the nursery room door to find out, and miracle of miracles...the nurse gladly showed me my newborn son who was already fine and strong at the normal or regular section of the nursery room.
“Maraming, maraming salamat po, Panginoon,” I silently exclaimed.
Then my next objective was to find out about my wife.
I found her already at the recovery room. Sitting beside my wife’s bed, I waited for her to be awake.
When she started regaining her consciousness, her first words were: “Antok na antok ako, wala akong tulog.”
“Ano? Antok na antok ka, e kagigising mo lang?” I asked. My wife answered, “Hindi. Wala pa akong tulog. Alam ko lahat ang nangyari.”
Thereupon, my wife narrated to me her out-of-body experience:
“Pagkapasok ko sa operating room, sabi ko sa sarili lalabanan ko ito. Hindi ako matutulog; ayaw kong malalaman ko na lang ang sarili ko nasa morgue na.
“Naramdaman ko pa nang tinurukan ako ng anesthesia sa spine ko. Pero pagkatapos ng ilang sandali, parang naramdaman ko na napakatahimik ang buong paligid, wala akong sakit na nararamdaman, at halos lahat ng kahit anong katiting na tunog o ingay – ang paghinga ng mga doktor at nurses, ang tunog ng paghiwa sa aking tiyan – ay naririnig ko.
“Maya-maya pa ay nakita ko na ang sarili ko sa operating room, tapos nakita kita na tumambay sa labas at naninigarilyo.
“Nakita kong tinulungan mo pa nga ang isang babaeng manganganak na sa taxi na dumating. At nakita din kita na nagdadasal sa chapel...”
Wow! Upon hearing all these, I was dumbfounded and unable to hold my tears from rolling down. “Thank you, Lord God, for giving me these two instant miracles – first my son, then my wife,” I muttered in prayer.
Fast forward to the present. My son is now grown up, married, and will be celebrating his 29th birthday come November 21.
He spent some 12 years inside the seminary, including a stint of theological study in Rome, Italy before he got out of priestly formation and decided to get married.
He’s currently undergoing his PhD (doctoral) studies on Transnational Catholicism and Decolonization at the Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
In sum, back to my wife’s amazing out-of-body experience, there’s no denying indeed that we are not only a physical body but a spiritual soul as well. It is our embodied soul that makes us an “image and likeness” of God.
And God, who is the owner and master of life, is the sole giver and disposer of life. Either way, God does it for a certain purpose – and ours is but to pray, discern, and embrace such purpose.