Up until All Souls Day of 2020, Mia Feliciano had never gone home.
In the morning of 2 November, she showed up to the interview wearing a blue, pinstripe, long-sleeved shirt and asked her husband: “haven’t you noticed anything?”
Her husband, former general Melquiades Feliciano looks at her and she says, “I am wearing my best shirt today.”
Why? He asks.
“We are going home,” she replies.
Home had been a memory for her over the past several months during which she was not able to celebrate her 50th birthday, “my golden” and that of her two children.
She saw some funerals, too.
Especially in Cebu City, once the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the country last June when the government recorded more than 5,000 active COVID-19 cases with 39 deaths.
Into this maelstrom of death and infections the Feliciano couple came into after General Mel was named deputy chief implementer for the Visayas by the National Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases.
Mia went with Gen. Mel. A tag-along, some critics would say.
In her defense, she says she is not.
After all she is a nurse who spent most of her career working bedside in the United States.
And while nurses are often mistaken to be simple orderlies of a physician, Mia says their roles go beyond that.
“We explain to the doctors the medical status of a patient because doctors cannot be expected to be with them all the time,” she adds.
A general, on the other hand, “cannot be expected to become a medical expert overnight,” she explains.
Which is why her role was to explain to Gen. Mel the intricacies of medical speak – like viral load, clinical symptoms, comorbidity factors, embolism, to cite a few – all of which present themselves in or become context for a COVID-infected patient.
Like Florence Nightingale explaining to artillery commander what would happen to soldiers with limbs blown off.
Or, in her own words: “whisperer to the general.”
Mel and Mia come from different provinces but in only several months, they have become an adopted couple, first in Cebu, recently in Bacolod.
Even if it meant skipping her golden birthday. “My birthdays are significant because I always come home even if I am in the US.”
Her husband got emotional during the DNX interview. All he wanted, he said, was to save lives.
His wife believes in it, too.
They went home on the afternoon of All Souls Day.
In only several days, however, they were off again to Pagadian City in Zamboanga Del Sur.
With the same mission.
It does not matter to Mia if she misses her birthday or that of her children.
If it means that funerals can be avoided.