Eloisa becomes nurse leader, congressman’s wife (Part 9)

By Marivir Montebon & Elizabeth Cueva

It’s been a week since Eloisa has avoided George. She cannot get over her doubt, thus ignoring all his text messages and calls. Besides, the stress from her work at the hospital was too much to handle.

After 7 p.m., she would rush home, remove and sanitize her shoes, put all clothes in the washer and run to the shower to keep clean and safe. This routine has already become mechanical to her. She’d boil water for her tea and eat some microwave warmed pre-fixed meal catered from a Filipino neighbor. Dinners are her only full meal for the entire day. She survives on health drinks during her 12-hour shift. 

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Being a health buff, Eloisa swallows several vitamin pills in the evening as she watches Netflix or chats with her family in Surigao on the computer. The thought of the lack of N95 masks and ventilators irritates and worries her. The supply came in so much better this week than in the previous weeks, but they were still made to re-use their N95 up to three shifts before they return them to the supply room for sanitation and recycling. My God, she’d silently pray.

Life in New York is unbelievably crazy hectic…and dangerous. So goodbye, George, well for now, she decided.

Another week has passed. She and her team continued to manage taking care of their patients afflicted with COVID-19.  Michael has become too concerned of her. But she likes it, giggles at the thought of him so openly caring, as the other nurses and staff would tease them too. The Michael – Eloisa love team on the 2nd floor was the necessary break from their morbid working conditions. They were the love in time of COVID19. As Michael continues to be forward, Eloisa maintains her Maria Clara-ish syndrome, all for the fun of it.  Eloisa however knew that she was falling fast for Michael. 

But for several nights, she noticed that has not seen George in the building, and no more messages from him. Hmmm. What could have happened?

The 12th of May was a perfectly fine evening to walk home. Eloisa sat to watch TV after dinner. The breaking news — Man from Queens charged with drug trafficking and fraud.  The heck, that’s George! Eloisa squirted the warm tea from her mouth. OMG. Siyet. George Brandon. They are one and the same! Eloisa shouted, prompting Brianne to come out of his room. What happened? Are you okay?

Look at the news!  Oh my God!, said Brianne. That’s George! Oh my God.

Brianne sobs. Eloisa was surprised. Why are you crying?

I’ve been dating that guy, since you dumped him! He is a crook! Oh no…no…!

You’re dating him!? Eloisa exclaimed. Yes!, said Brianne as he cried louder.

I am sorry, Brianne. But it is good to find out this early he’s in for no good, said Eloisa.

Yes, but it hurts, he said wailing. I lent him money. He said his mother was sick!

How much?

Three thousand, Brianne said.

Ayayay…that’s big!

Yes, Brianne said sobbing.

While the world was in lockdown, these women took turns writing the story of ‘Eloisa, Filipina, RN:’  Story Weavers Ann Constantino Beck, Cristina DC Pastor, DJ Chinita, Elizabeth Cueva, Grace Labaguis, Joyce Andes-David, Lara Gregory,  Laura Garcia, Marivir Montenon,  Mona Kuker, Muriel Iturralde, Nieva Quezon-Burdick, Vanette Colmenares, and Vivian Talambiras-Cruz.  

Eloisa patted Brianne’s shoulder and stood, I think we should just drink this…apple cider! We don’t have wine here.

She handed a glass of apple cider to Brianne. Cheers!

Cheers! Eloisa drank her tea that became cold, and Brianne gobbled the apple cider. We should buy some wine soon, Brianne said. And they both laughed.

The following morning was the usual mad rush. Michael met Eloisa, both wearing masks and gloves, at the lobby. Hey, did you see the news about George Brandon? George asked with a muffled voice behind his mask.

Yes, I saw it. That’s crazy right?, Eloisa replied. 

Yes. But seriously, El, can I ask you out for dinner? Tonight or on Thursday.

Where? There are no more restaurants.

In my mother’s home. I’d like you to meet her. She is Filipina too.

Really? But it is not safe these days.

Just this once. We are not sick or not feeling well. It is my mother’s birthday, she is 80. It means so much to me that you’d meet her. It won’t take long. She’s with my older sister. There’s just four of us.

Okay. How about social distancing!?

We have a big dining table, he laughed.

Okay, fine. Thursday evening then. After work.

Michael flashes a big grin at Eloisa. Yes, he screamed delightfully as the two went to the supply room to get their N95.  

In the summer of 2020, Eloisa married Michael with only the priest and one witness, Brianne around in her living room. Every guest was on Zoom, including Sofia who had to learn to navigate the computer.

Eloisa Almeda-Salva served as president of the National Nurses Association of America in 2030-2032, steadfastly advocating for nurses’ protection in the tradition of her predecessors who pushed for adequate PPEs and hazard pay.

In 2033, Eloisa became a President Warren Awardee for Public Service. Michael Salva serves as the congressional representative of Elmhurst, and is a doting, hands-on father to their three children.

Eloisa’s novel, which she co-authored with Michael, “I found love in the time of the coronavirus,” won a Pulitzer in Medical Literature in 2032, a narrative on how the couple survived the harrowing pandemic that lasted for three years until the COVID19 vaccine was perfected.  Their novel has continued to be a bestseller in the US and Europe.  

The couple lives in Forest Hills with their children, and the youngest member of the family, Vico, a Siberian husky.

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