September 29, 2011
I woke up very early that Thursday. That meant I’d have more time for myself – to have my quiet time, to read, and to clean the house before my boys get up. I walked down our stairs, telling myself “Maybe I should write that tribute to Daddy. He may not read it anymore.”
I have no idea why I thought about that but I really did.
I wasn’t able to do any of the things I mentioned. I proceeded to the kitchen to cook the recipes I’d been wanting to prepare for my family: Mango Salad and Celery Soup. I’d gone serious with my cooking and had started to bring meals to my parents. I even bought a “Low Cholesterol Diet” book so I could cook for my dad. He’d been undergoing a new series of medical tests for more than a month then. It was the first since he suffered a mild stroke five years ago. But he was fine – his test results were okay and he just needed to take his medicines regularly.
I ordered five bottles of Green Barley from a friend. It’s the latest superfood. I was told barley is good for the health. I’ve tried a couple of bottles already and I noticed I became more energetic. So I planned to give the rest to my dad. My order came that very same Thursday. I was hopeful he’d be healthier.
I went to work– which was just in front of my computer. I was ecstatic to use my new monitor. I had just gotten an adapter so I could connect my MacBook Air to Joshua’s old monitor. I had a new workstation. And then I thought about my old desktop PC. “I’ll give it to daddy so he can have his own in their room“, I thought.
Amazon just announced its new lineup of Kindles. It was my first assignment for the day. It took me a while to finish it because I had to edit a bunch of images and make photo galleries. After finishing my Kindle article, I decided I’d buy daddy a Kindle this coming November. He loved to read, reading all the materials he could lay his eyes on. I promised I’d subscribe him to Reader’s Digest when he gets the Kindle. My husband’s boss was coming so I thought I’d ask him to get the e-reader for me.
Because of the busyness that day, or should I say my laziness, I wasn’t able to take a bath earlier. After that one article, I settled Noah on my office chair to watch his current favorite “Polar Express”. I grabbed my towel but I didn’t head to the bathroom immediately. I saw that our sink had a lot of unwashed dishes so the OC in me went and started to wash the plates.
Then, suddenly, my phone rang. I ignored the first ring because I was busy. It rang the second time so I hurried to answer it.
“Yang, si Daddy mo inatake. San ko dadalhin?“, my mom said panicking.
I remember answering, “Ha?” I couldn’t decide so I asked Josh. My husband answered “Polymedic” since it was nearest. I thought of saying “Medical City” but I thought it was too far.
I started calling on the name of Jesus. I’ve lost count of how many times I blurted His name. Noah had no idea that I was panicking. My husband told me to remain calm. Surprisingly, I wasn’t freaking out (not yet). I just kept on saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…”
I took a quick shower in our bathroom upstairs. I don’t often use that, but that day I did. I wasn’t crying yet. I was alternating saying “Jesus” and “Peace”. And then I thought, “Why wasn’t I praying for my dad to be healed?”. For a second I thought I was being selfish. It was my prayer for God to give me PEACE. Later on I learned from a Pastor that it was God leading me to pray that kind of prayer.
Peace was given right away. I had that moment in the shower when everything turned slow and silent. It happened for a few seconds. It was like in the movies: I was moving slow and images were blurred. Now that I think about it and the time it happened, perhaps it was that very moment that my Daddy has breathed his last breath.
I hurried down, grabbed my bag, and hugged my husband. By this time, Noah was crying because he realized I’d be going out. I apologized to my son and ran out the gate. I ran and ran and ran. I ran the whole stretch of the street with the wind on my face. It was getting dark. I was still repeating the name “Jesus” and the word “Peace”.
As if by some Divine intervention, the first cab I saw was available. I told the driver “Manong, emergency lang ho, Mandaluyong Hospital.” My mom called again to tell me traffic was really bad so they brought daddy instead to the public hospital. I had reservations about the hospital but I said we’d just transfer him as soon as possible.
I called Kuya Chad, my brother-in-law, as I decided not to call my sister so she wouldn’t worry. I told him the details and he told me to remain calm. They would be praying.
The ride to the hospital was a blur but I remember texting some of my friends asking for prayers. Fortunately, traffic from our house to the hospital was light. I got there within 15 minutes.
I got out of the cab. I remember my steps were hurried. It was as if I was skipping. It was the first time I’d been to that hospital. It was dark outside but I put on a brave front. I was trying to compose myself.
It was like another scene in a movie: girl asks where the emergency room is, passes through the crowd saying “Excuse me”, opens a huge door, and then sees her father lying on the stretcher with the doctors and the nurses fussing over him.
I saw my mother and my brother. They were calm. I hugged my mom and she apologized that she only got to bring daddy there. I told her it was okay because it was the nearest and the most sensible thing to do. I knelt down by my daddy’s head and whispered “Daddy, we’re just here. We love you”. I had no idea about his state so I held his forehead and prayed for him. Everyone in the ER was looking at us — at me. I knew they were staring at this woman who was praying over the new patient.
After a while, I stood up and asked the doctor, “So what’s happening? What are you doing?”
She said, “We are trying to resuscitate him. But we checked his eyes, dilated na. No more pulse. We’re just waiting for the flatline.”
I snapped, “Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.”
I had no idea what to say. Did that statement mean my dad is dead? Gone? “We’re just waiting for the flatline”… just like in the movies!
My mom and brother went to the other side of the room while I stayed near daddy. I was still praying. Now I was praying for a miracle. And then the nurses were slowly leaving. The doctor was already seated. I was left alone. Still no flatline.
I was confused. “So that’s it? He’s dead?” I still hadn’t mustered up the guts to say to myself he’s gone. I told my mom, “Mommy, gumagalaw pa yung chest nya, may pag-asa pa.” I really had no idea.
I went to the doctor and asked her again, “So ano na po, doc?”
She replied, “Yun na po, we’re just waiting for the flatline”
I said, “So umm, what’s the time of death?”
She answered, “6:32.”
That was it. Dad was gone.
I went back to his side quietly and held his hand. My mom saw me from where she was seated and asked “Ano na?” I went to her and said “Wala na daw eh”. She gave me a puzzled look and then slowly went to our daddy. My brother didn’t ask but he understood.
We stayed at his side for what seemed like the longest ten minutes of our life. I was holding his left hand and telling him that I love him. I remember thanking him right then and there for our life…our family. We were all crying. Mommy kissed him for the last time.
I called my brother-in-law again. I said, “Kuya, wala na eh.”
“Anong wala na?”
“Wala na si daddy eh”
“Exhaust nyo lahat ng dapat gawin”
“Wala na eh… wala na.”
And then I hung up.
I stopped crying. I comforted my mom and reassured her that it was his time. “It’s his time. He has lived a full life. Let’s thank God that daddy was such a good husband and father. He loved us and we loved him.”
Dayang, a friend from church, came. She was witness to that very sad moment of our life as a family. I didn’t see it but she said it was she who closed my daddy’s eyes.
Really at that time, God gave me peace once again. That daddy was in heaven. My God reminded me that my earthly father was a good man. He had left us good memories.
I stood up. I wanted to be away from the body so I asked one of the nurses to bring him to the morgue. It was only the body after all.
He was gone.
I texted my husband, simply, “No more.”
My brother brought him to the morgue. Mom and I went outside the ER. An hour after I got the dreaded call, daddy was suddenly in Heaven. In my mind, I was rejoicing because I knew that he was no longer in pain. He was now singing with the angels.
Some family and friends came to comfort us. Everything was a blur once again but I remember trying to call my best friend, Cecille, in the US. She didn’t answer so I called her sister instead to share the news. A few church friends started calling too, asking about what happened.
By God’s grace, we were calm. I was calm. It was God’s peace. It was one of those real times that you’d see peace as something that passes human understanding. I could still smile.
But when I went to find my brother at the morgue, I let out a hard cry. I didn’t want my mom to see me. I was trying to be strong for her. It was only with my brother that I cried, hard and loud. We hugged crying for a while.
The body was immediately transferred from the morgue to the memorial home. It all happened too quickly. My uncle was with us and helped with the arrangements and all. Before we went home, Pastor Jesse prayed for the family. His prayer first affirmed what I’d been feeling…
That was what held me that day. And that is what is keeping me from being lonely – God’s peace.
Writing helps me cope with grief. I had to write how I remembered that day. For two months, I would cry every single day. It wasn’t tears of regret but more of loneliness. But then there’s peace and joy that He is already in heaven. And hapiness because he was such a good father to me.