Before I started blogging, the only things I ever really baked were these chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is the urban legend, a false copy of Mrs. Fields' recipe that was rather good anyway. Good enough for some of my friends to ask me to make big batches for Christmas for them to give away. They remind me of my friend, Ads, who at one time while we were hungrily waiting to leave the campus for a teaching excursion, gave me some pinwheel cookies that were surprisingly moist: my savior. I promised her these cookies in return after the Christmas break (hoping to knock her socks off). Mission accomplished.
Our surnames were close together so we hung out a fair bit, being the best friend of the girl here. There were times that we did fight (because I was a tight-assed leader and couldn't readjust her schedule for her birthday out of fear the world would fall apart-- stupid me). But I mostly remember the good times-- Karaoke, her being the only one to congratulate me for my first commissioned poster (well, I pulled her arm to see it), and eating at my first French Patisserie. The lot of us had ordered several petit gateaux, and I told her I was pretty sure the Opera was a classic gateau with a recipe out there (oh, the days before blogging!) and that one day, I'd make it and she'd be the first one to taste it. But my fear of messing it up (and baking in general) hindered me from getting off my ass to make it until several years later.
There are times when I'd see a girl with long hair who moves a certain way who I'd think might be Ads, and I'd get excited thinking about all the things I've made since and how Ads would be so proud. But I snap out of it and remember that they couldn't possibly be Ads. Two years ago this day, she passed away.
I was shuttling between Manila and Batangas (3 hours away south) for my stint in community medicine, so I was shocked to receive a text one weekend I came home that she had lapsed into a coma. And a few hours later, she was gone. There were a lot of regrets expressed, many fingers pointed, blame passed, anger burning between the interns, doctors, nurses, and hospital administration. I still remember the anguish of her parents, and how her father screamed at all of us.
I don't know why we ever thought we were so invulnerable. That somehow helping the sick gave us a karmic barrier. But she was only 23 (I was 24). Diseases that make children ill (and at the Philippine General Hospital, many children came in fulminating states) easily latch on to us (this is an assumption, by the way-- there was no conclusive evidence that she contracted a disease from the hospital in the first place). I don't know when we thought the machinery was more important than the components-- that keeping the service running smoothly was more important than her welfare. But Ads was worth than that-- if I only knew, if I could turn back time, if I'd seen her-- I wish I could have told her to make sure she's okay before she continued on. Everyone would understand if she missed work. In the end, she gave up her life instead, being the dedicated doctor she was until she couldn't any longer.
Sorry, I'm ranting. The anger isn't there anymore, but somehow it's revisited on this day.