Monday, December 22, 2014

Goodbye, Dad

My father died two days ago. He had been sick and had been in the hospital for over forty days. On Friday, he was brought home, and on Saturday he passed away peacefully. When one sees a loved one suffer, sometimes the best thing one can do is to pray for death. Not that I don't believe in God's capacity to heal, but at some point one realizes that the only way a suffering person can rest is when he or she rests in the arms of our Creator.

My father suffered for forty-plus days, the kind of suffering one would never wish on one's worst enemy. He was admitted to the hospital because of a persistent cough. Next thing we knew, he was having a pulmonary embolism. He was intubated because he could not breathe on his own. They stuck an NGT down his throat and prepped him for ICU. This was a man, who, only a month before had played 18 holes of golf. He was dying and we had had no clue he was even sick.

It was November 15. I was at home taking my sweet time. I was at the kitchen table having breakfast. It was the last day of Poetics class and the last day of graduate school for me. I was excited to see my classmates and my professor and celebrate with them the end of what had been a fruitful semester. I had just defended my thesis the day before and was still floating on cloud nine. The head of UST Publishing had expressed interest in publishing my thesis, a memoir about my life with my ex-husband.

Suddenly, I got a text message from my mom saying I better hurry to the hospital. My dad was dying. That was one of the saddest days of my life. My mom and my sister started discussing practical matters. "Where will the wake be?" asked my sister. It was decided that it would be at St. Peter's on Quezon Avenue. He would be cremated right away. There would be no need for a coffin. My dad was a practical man.

But he didn't die that day. It goes to show how God is a god of surprises. He still spent a month with us. He still gave us a lot of material for future anecdotes that we will surely be telling people - both friends and acquaintances. In sickness and in health, my dad made us laugh. He gave me the gift of sarcasm. He made me realize that one needs a certain level of untouchability to be able to speak one's mind. He said things we would be too shy to even think. Tact was not my father's strongest suit. And this is how I wish to remember him.

He wasn't perfect but no one needs to be. We loved him in our own imperfect way and we made sure that he knew that before he died.

We love you to the moon and back. Rest easy now that you're united with our Heavenly Father. Swing away. Sing away. Sing karaoke with Sinatra. Yes, you did it your way.