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“Shaken” by Jhasmin De Castro

Read the original Tagalog version here. To discuss this and other finalists, visit Mormon Lit Lab.

“Shaken”

by Jhasmin De Castro translated by Joar Guitierrez

“Doctor, will my daughter be okay?” asked the woman, the worry in her voice obvious.

“Yes, Mrs. Mendoza, she’ll be okay within in a week. We just need to observe her condition for now.” the doctor replied.

After checking the young woman’s condition, the doctor went out. The woman held her daughter’s hand and caressed it. “My daughter, I’m sorry,” the woman choked out through her tears. “Sorry if we neglected you. Your dad and I were always busy—that’s why we can’t care for you. Sorry, my daughter, if you ever felt that you were unloved and alone.”

In a little while, Vlaire woke up and saw her mother crying while holding her hand. For a moment, she just looked at her mother and wondered why she was crying—until Vlaire remembered what she had done.

Blank. That was all she felt when she did it. She didn’t feel anything. She didn’t feel even the slightest pain. She was thinking: why did her life end this way? Why, instead of feeling happy that her mother is by her side, can’t she feel anything now? Is this how it is when you are used to being sick? To the point that…you just think to commit suicide or slash your own wrist just to feel something?

Every time she remembers that part, she feels like she’s waking up from a nightmare. She can remember all the painful memories: sadness and pain. Feeling like she lost the drive to live. When her parents started working so much and started having all their problems, she slowly changed. She slowly became melancholic and avoided her friends. But she kept all her problems to herself and never told anybody.

Depressed. That’s what she was feeling during those times. She grew sad, grew secretive and kept the pain tucked tight to herself. But was she right with her decision? To keep everything to herself—everything she was feeling even though it was hurting so much?

Vlaire thought of all these things while staring out into nothingness. After a while, her mother said she would go out of the room while the nurse brought in food. Vlaire was still staring into nothingness. She didn’t know what she would do. After the nurse set down the food, Vlaire could hear her mother asking the nurse questions outside the door.

The nurse came back and looked at the wounds in Vlaire’s wrists…while Vlaire remembered those nights. Someone was knocking on her door. “Ate…” Her sibling was calling to her. Ate, please eat now…” Her sibling was saying, but she didn’t pay attention. She was just crying that night while she slowly cutting herself. Nothing. She did not feel anything.

A little later, her friends came in to the hospital room and asked how she was doing. Even though she was not responding, her friends kept on telling her stories about what was happening in school. After a while, they all said goodbye.

That’s what her life was like for a week. Eat, sleep, be visited and asked how she’s been doing—by her friends or sometimes by her younger siblings with her mama and papa.

As soon as she looked okay, the doctors discharged her and sent her back home. One doctor advised her to consult a psychiatrist to help her with her condition. As soon as they arrived home, she went straight to her room to be by herself and locked herself in. She silently lay down while staring at the ceiling: she didn’t know what to do and so she started crying again. She couldn’t tell if she’d been happy when her friends visited her, because all she knew was that right now she was so sad and felt so lost.

A little later, she heard someone knock on her door. She wiped her tears away and opened it.

“The missionaries are downstairs and are asking how you are doing,” her mother said.

“Okay, I’ll come down. Just give me a minute,” she said and went to the bathroom to wash her face and comb her hair.

Eventually, she went down and asked how the missionaries were doing. That afternoon, they had family home evening and had dinner together with the missionaries.

“So, Sister, are you already okay?” asked Sister Casas. Vlaire nodded her head in reply.

“Sister, just pray and do not lose hope,” Sister Casas’ companion, Sister Mac, said. “A lot of people love you.”

Vlaire just smiled even though she knew her smile was fake.

After the dinner with the missionaries was over, the missionaries said goodbye.

“Okay sisters, take care!’ said Vlaire’s sister Xiara as she waved.

“Take care,” Vlaire’s father said while shaking hands. “Thank you for visiting us.”

Before the missionaries left, Sister Mac handed her a letter. Vlaire wondered what it was, but the missionary sister just smiled at her and walked away with her companion. When the missionaries left, she went up to her room and read Sister Mac’s letter. Dear Sister Vlaire, I know you are suffering and feel like you are alone. I know how you feel because I’ve experienced that as well…I used to be bullied in my school and I was a loner: I didn’t have friends and my classmates didn’t like me either. Every lunch time, I sat in the corner and ate by myself. Until one day…I gave up, and I tried to kill myself. I was so depressed then—but with the help of the missionaries and my family, I was able to endure this trial. But only because of their help and because of one missionary who took time for me and told me to pray—and do you know what finally happened? I felt happy and at peace. I was amazed and that time my testimony grew because of that experience. Sister Vlaire, I know that you are not alone and that Heavenly Father is there to ease your burdens. Keep praying and have faith. Love, Sister Mac

That time, Vlaire prayed and at last, she felt happiness and peace. Even though she felt shaken with her testimony before, she was glad to know that she wasn’t alone, and that Heavenly Father is always there for her.

Now that she’s going to serve her mission, she is happy that she didn’t lose her testimony and she is happy to serve God.

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