A year after the blast

AS SEPTEMBER 1 marks the first anniversary of the bombing incident in Davao City, people can't help but ask: does time really heal all wounded souls after being impaired by the outlaws?

Over 60 people survived the Roxas Night Market Bombing. The memory of terror and tears of that explosion last September 2, 2016 just before 10 p.m. still rings in the ears of those who were there.

While the night market has since recovered after suffering from very low traffic for a whole quarter after the blast, the survivors are still wrecked in physical and emotional pain.

Sheena Tagadaya, one of the blast’s survivors along with his brother, said the first year after the tragedy was all about convincing herself that there is still life after the injuries she got from the incident. Sheena was with her brother Stephen on that night. They were both injured.

But of the two, Sheena suffered the greater injury as she was injured on her spinal cord, disabling her and forcing her to move around in a wheelchair. She also experienced Atelectasis or the condition when both of her lungs collapsed due to the shrapnel that hit it. The two shrapnel are still embedded in her right lung and is being monitored by her doctor.

“The most difficult thing I had to endure throughout the process of healing other than my wounds was the battle inside my mind. It was like I had to fight the demons inside my head every single day just so I will not go insane or lose hope,” she said.

She had to stop going to college as she was bedridden for several months and her parents refused home-schooling despite her interest because she was going through various physical therapies and other treatments for recovery.

Another survivor, Dennis Larida, who lost his son and wife in the incident, said his faith was challenged during the first year of grief, constantly questioning God on the circumstances that happened to his family.

“During my depression, I talked to a pastor who told me that all my questions will be answered once I arrive in heaven. I continuously ask God why did he let me live alone on earth while my wife and child are already in heaven,” Larida said.

The pain of the loss of his family, he said, will never be erased. The welcome kisses he received from his wife and son every time he arrived home remain fresh in his memory. Their bonding moments over "balut" at midnight is another memory that he holds dear.

His longing for his family made sleeping at home unbearable, he said. He prefers to sleep in the truck he uses at work.

While going through different agonies, both Tagadaya and Larida are grateful for the unfailing support of the local government unit and President Rodrigo Duterte in helping them recover from the tragic incident.

“I might have doubts but I am certain that I will get through this because I have my family, friends, and supportive government who help me every step of the way,” Sheena said.

With the P50,000 provided by the City Government last month for all the blast’s survivors, Larida said he will probably donate some of it to the church he belongs to and save the remaining money as his salary is enough to sustain him daily.

Sheena said the tragedy taught her and his brother that no matter what happened in the past, life goes on and it will always get better as each day passes by. With Larida, the pain of the tragedy is what keeps him motivated to do better for himself and strengthen his spiritual relationship.

“By God’s grace, I can say that I am at least 50 percent recovered,” Larida said.

With the stories of healing from the Roxas Night Market Bombing survivors, people are taught that history will remain alive in the hearts and minds of people and that the only thing you can do to get over a dreadful experience is to cross a monkey bar - you have to let go first in order to move forward.