I finally found some time (and courage) to write. The past week has been a blur. At 43 and 41 years old respectively, my brother and I are officially fatherless, my Mom is a widow at 62, my children have lost their first love, N has lost the person he looked to as his 2nd Dad.
Dad is gone. I can't believe I'm "saying" that.
I can't believe I'm never going to see him.
I can't believe I'm never going to hear his voice.
I can't believe that all our special occasions will be celebrated without him, our official party organizer.
I can't believe I'll walk into his condo from now on and not hear the TV blaring from his room.
I can't believe I've stopped getting my morning text messages (always the first everyday) from him.
I can't believe he will no longer comment jokingly on my Facebook posts.
I can't believe he's gone ... just like that.
I still feel like he was snatched away without warning. He wasn't sick. There was nothing about his health that gave us reason to worry or expect the inevitable. Death came to him like the proverbial thief in the night. I woke up Saturday after 4am to my cellphone which was ringing. It was his number, so I immediately thought he was calling about an emergency relating to my Mom. But it was my Mom's voice on the other end of the line, that told me to get dressed and run to The Medical City. She didn't say much, she probably wanted to keep it to herself first and not add to my stress. When N and I arrived at TMC's emergency room, I found my Dad being revived by the doctors. My knees turned to jello, I fell to the floor in tears. This was not what I expected to see. Not my Dad. He was always so in control, and now his life was in the hands of all these doctors who were working desperately to resuscitate him. I felt helpless because he looked so helpless. I had never seen my Dad so helpless before in my life. It was the worst day and I still haven't been able to shake that image off.
Pretty soon, the doctors called it. Scenes from Grey's Anatomy kept flashing in my head. Time of death 5:34 am I had never known what it's like to be in shock until then. It's as if time stood still, as still as my Dad's body on that hospital gurney. As still as the entire room was after he was declared dead. I never left his side until the people from the funeral service we called arrived to claim his remains. At the morgue, I sat there, staring at the lifeless body wrapped and tied with plastic. There were no tears. I just kept staring at it and wondering what had just happened. One minute, he was so full of life and then this. I don't know where all that strength came from, not at that time. But I stayed there and didn't leave.
The next 4 days did not give me much time to grieve, except when I would get home late from the wake. I'd cry for a few minutes, then fall asleep. In the morning, I'd cry a little again before heading to Christ The King to face the day's responsibilities. I had little time to cry there because of all the people who kept us busy by condoling with us and paying their respects. Daddy was so well-loved not just by friends and family, but by the industry where he spent so many years.
At the necrological service put together by ABS-CBN, his former home, one of his former subordinates and now Congressman Angelo Palmones, apologized to us for taking him away from us all those years he was working for the network. They all knew that he spent more time in the office than with his family. He was an excellent provider, but he was mostly an absentee husband and father. He, however, more than made up for all of that after his retirement some 10 or so years ago. We basked in the time he finally had for all of us.
I still find it hard to do this, to write about how he went and how sad we all are that he's gone.
Today is his 9th day. I can't believe I survived a whole week not hearing his voice or seeing him. Today is the first Sunday after his cremation that we are gathering for our usual family dinner without him. I woke up in tears today when I remembered this. I've been on the worst roller coaster ride of my life since May 19, the day he passed. I'm not enjoying it at all but I'm on it and I've accepted that I will be on this coaster for a while. I get my strength from my Mom and my brother, from N, my kids and from the many beautiful memories my father left behind for me to cherish.
He may be gone but I'll always be a Daddy's Girl. I'll always be the daughter he raised to be strong, opinionated, one who values character over reputation, one who believes that integrity is the best kind of wealth a person can ever have.
I had an amazing father for 43 years and despite the sadness that envelopes me right now (and will probably stay with me for the rest of my life), I am truly thankful for all that he was to me and especially to N and my children.
Daddy ... when you were still around, there was never a time that I didn't say goodbye to you. I always had to give you a kiss each time we parted ways. To do otherwise was unthinkable. I guess that's where most of my sadness is coming from now. I wasn't given the chance to do the thing I had always reminded myself not to forget to do all these years. But I'm not mad at you, I can never be. God, in His own majestic way, has shown me little by little, why things had to happen this way. So while I hurt inside because you left us without warning, a part of me feels truly blessed that you were spared from any kind of pain. That would have broken my heart even more I know. Like I said in my eulogy, you raised me/us well. You can take comfort in knowing that your spirit and values live in me. You were always my hero, my rock, my safety net. But nothing lasts forever and it's my turn to be all of those to the rest of the family. I will not disappoint you, Dad. What I am today, I owe to you and Mama. You will continue to be proud of me from the happy place you're in. Remember what I whispered to you before I let you go? Thank you, Daddy, for everything. For the comfortable life, for giving me everything I asked for and more, for loving me even in silence, anger and disappointment, for being the best grandfather my kids could ever have known and the most loving and understanding father-in-law to Neal. Thank you for being everything that you were to me. I'll continue to look up to you for all that you've done to touch so many lives. I'll always love you with the kind of love only you deserve, from a daughter who thought the world of you. Now go and be happy, because in spite of the pain we all feel from losing you unexpectedly, we will hang on to each other for strength. I promise that soon, I'll remember you only with happy tears.