Whenever I hear the song “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross, it never fails to bring tears in my eyes as I remember my Pa.
He passed away last May 12, 2013 at 6:10 in the evening but he was pronounced dead at 6:30PM after succumbing to heart attack due to enlargement of the valves, blocked arteries and pulmonary edema.
The medical staff tried to revive him but his heart and body did not respond anymore. He was 67.
At that time, I was in Davao City busy preparing for May 13 Midterm Elections when I received a call from my sister Jane informing me of his demise.
The initial reaction I felt was shock followed by overwhelming regret and loss.
Shocked, because I was told he was doing okay after discharging from the hospital days ago;
Overwhelming regret, loss and the feeling of bereft, because I wasn’t able to see and talk to him for the last time after being apart for so many years.
Upon hearing the news, I immediately dropped everything at hand and rushed to the Amosup Hospital where my Momma and younger brother, Buboy was.
When I got to the hospital, I immediately saw them huddled together at the waiting area, silently crying and mourning for the sudden loss of our padre de pamilya.
I slowly trudged forward and carefully sat down between them and asked, “where is Pa?”
Momma replied, “He’s at the morgue. Do you want to see him?”
Do I want to see him? Yes. So much that I wanted to rip the doors down, hug him, cry my heart out and tell him that I’m so very sorry for staying away for so long.
But I refrained from doing so. Pa is already gone and staying with Ma is much more important since she also has a heart problem and could breakdown any time.
After a few moments, I asked, “what happened?”
Ma said, “I don’t know. He was doing okay before I left. He said he wanted to eat lugaw [congee] without recados so I went out to buy it for him.
“He said he wanted to eat lugaw pero hindi na pala niya kakainin… [but he won’t be able to eat it anymore]” Ma kept on saying while crying so I shushed her and asked my brother instead.
“Pa was doing okay when Ma went out. After a few minutes, he asked me to go to the Nurse’s station to tell them to adjust his oxygen levels.
But when I came back, he was already struggling for breath. I called for help and the Hospital staff immediately rushed to the room. They tried to revive him for a few minutes but failed.”
“I was there the whole time, watching and hoping that Pa survive the attack but it was in vain.”
Then Ma said, “he was doing okay after he was discharged from the hospital two days ago, but this morning, I woke up to him tossing and turning in bed.
I asked him what’s the matter and he said, he can’t sleep and was having difficulty breathing.
When I held his hand, it felt too cold and he was looking so ashen that I got scared and told him that we get to the hospital immediately.”
But he declined so Momma instead massaged his joints and reflex points to keep his blood flowing, placed a blanket on him, adjusted his pillow and made him sit up so he could breath easily.
“After a few minutes, his temperature gradually went back to normal. I tried very hard not to show him how afraid I was while tending to him so he won’t feel burdened and clam up.
A few more minutes, his breathing got normal and he was able to sleep,” Ma recounted.
“He woke up after a few hours and told me to bring him to the hospital. When I asked him what’s bothering him he said he’s fine, he just wanted to be able to breath more easily through hospital equipment.
And so we checked-in the hospital around 1:00PM and he was promptly given a room and medical attention. The nurses said his vital signs were normal and his blood pressure and sugar levels were okay. I never really thought he would be gone,” she said.
“When I returned in the hospital, naabutan ko pa nire-revive ang Papa mo pero hindi na ako pumasok. I was very scared he won’t be able to make it so I stayed outside his room and prayed. I never really expected for him to be gone today. He didn’t say anything kung anong masakit sa kanya,” Ma said.
“When he was pronounced dead, I touched him and he still felt warm. I never really thought he would would die since he was doing so fine today. The last time he was in the Intensive Care Unit, his condition was far worse then than today but he was able to survive it,” Ma told me.
Upon hearing their accounts on what happened minutes before Pa died, my heart wanted to burst.
While I was laughing to something my friend said over the phone, while I was busy browsing the internet sites on election-related materials, Pa was already fighting for his life.
I could have been there for Pa, for them. I could have held his hand while he was still alive.
The last time I heard he was in the hospital, I remember asking God in my prayers to cure him, if not, maybe He could let Pa rest from his long-time battle against his sickness.
I never thought God will hear me and grant my request promptly.
On that moment, I realized a lot of things. Among them are four things:
First was being careful with what you wish for in life;
second, do what you can do today for tomorrow might be too late;
third, tell your love ones you love them everyday and
fourth, you really never know what you have until you lost it.
These are adages as old as time but rings true every time.
Author’s note: This is the first part of the series of events that took place on that fateful day. I am going to write about it as my way of coping with loss and grief and to impart a message to everyone who will be reading it on the importance of life, family, communication and health. The next part will be uploaded in my blog as soon as I can. Thank you.
Robierose is currently working as a Writer for UNTV but writes about almost anything in her spare time. She also does proofreading and copy writing, accessory designing, painting, and interior D-I-Y among other things that she considers a hobby.