He was already in the ICU for a few hours when I arrived in the hospital. It was shocking to see the man who was always the image of good health and who I had never seen hospitalized since the day I was born to be lying unconscious in a hospital bed with all sorts of tubes and needles sticking into him.
That morning, the doctor pulled me, my sister and Nanay into a corner of the ICU and explained what was happening. He said my father was in critical condition. Critical? Are you kidding me?
He was working all week, even on the day he was rushed to the hospital. And now some guy is telling us that he's fighting for his life? It was a concept pretty hard to reconcile.
Despite the ICU visiting restriction, I was allowed to see him that morning. As I brush the hair on his head, I told him to get well and that we were all waiting for him to come back home. That his grandkids were all excited to play with him again. Then I held his hand and kissed his forehead before I left.
It will be the last time I saw him alive.
A few relatives braved the rains and the flood to visit him that day - his sister and her husband and two of my mother's siblings. My family appreciated their efforts.
My youngest sister, who literally came through hell and high water, arrived by mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, Tatay's condition had worsen by that time. So much so that while she was having her moment with him in the ICU, Tatay’s vital signs started to fail and the doctors had to request my sister to leave the room as they tried to revive him.
She came out of the ICU looking so distraught. She broke down when she saw us by the door. She collapsed on floor and wailed. It was one heart wrenching scene.
A little later, the doctor would call us all again to tell us more bad news. Tatay's heart had stopped beating. He said they are trying to revive him but he's not responding very well. However, he assured us that they were trying their best to keep him alive.
But God had other plans. At 6pm, less than 24 hours since he was admitted, Tatay was gone.
We were led to his bed side while the curtains were drawn around us. There in that little corner of the ICU, we said our last goodbyes to the man who was instrumental in what and where we all are now. We hugged him, we touched him and told him how much we love him. It was like a scene in a movie and I cannot believe it was now actually happening to us.
The next hours and days were spent getting the news out, planning his funeral and burial services. It was a whirlwind of emotional and physical trauma. But it was heart-warming to know that the people around him appreciated the things that he did. To us, his family, he was a man of few words. But to his friends and colleagues, he seems to have a lot of things to say. Apparently, he was a chatter and can even throw a joke or two.
On the 4th day after he breathe his last breath, we led him to his final resting place. It was a beautiful and solemn ceremony. And though Basil Valdez's "Hindi Kita Malilimutan" pierced thru my heart like a lance while they played it during the short walk to the crematorium, I am comforted with the thought that Tatay is now in a better place. He is now taking his much needed vacation. He can rest and worry no more.
I am missing you so much Tay. It’s goodbye for now but I know we’ll see each other again someday. And until that day, you will always be in my heart. I love you.