I would like to start with the end.
I’ve been in bed most of the day, more of a week now..I don’t know – mornings and evenings have been pretty much the same since the infection. The pain in my knee have been excruciating, even slightly moving feels like a thousand pins stinging me. Unlike the previous days, today I woke up weak and extra tired. My whole body was aching, my left arm shaking uncontrollably. It was hard for me to speak, but when the nurse encouraged me na,
“Lalaban tayo Mr. Godes.” I said, “Lalaban!”
“Hindi ko na kaya” I told my wife and son. I was afraid. maybe this time, my time was about up.
My breaths have been lagging and more difficult now. I saw Rose and Toti, as I gasped for air.. I saw fears in their eyes as they scramble. Slowly I faded… too tired I closed my eyes.
It was just darkness, the nothingness was unbearable. I was afraid but also unafraid. They say when you are at your life’s end you see flashes. Yet I saw nothing. It’s like I was in an empty dream.
Slowly I heard something, like a mumbling, but I can not understand. It was just like that for how long I can’t recall. I was just waiting…
Then there was a small flicker of light, slowly it grew and I could see the stars… I came towards it or it came to me, I dont know.. They were so near I can touch them and then a thousand colors burst that blinded me. I opened my eyes looking at the blue skies, I was on top of a hill. It was all green and serene. I could feel the cool breeze in my cheeks. My hands looked younger and I can walk!
From below was a big blue lake, and there I saw silhouetted people — they were waving at me. I came down slowly. I first saw my Ate Mameng, her kind eyes and smile was so warm I cried. Behind her on a big rock, was tatay and below that my nanay. She was open arms and was waiting for me for a lifetime. I saw another kid I did not know still looking at the lake… My Kuya Ben said, “Oh, nandyan na si Tony.” I was crying as I rushed towards them… I could see God from afar and I could feel his love and comfort. I felt no pain. I knew I was home. I am home.
This is one of the last stories my father told me and my mom (in one way or another). This is how I like his story to continue.. it did not end on January 19th. A new chapter is being written in his next life.
He was a man of a thousand stories, you know? Please check his biography (if you have not) so you could get a peek on how he lived his life. He’s stories fascinated me, even now Im still unsure if they were true or just “kwentong kutsero.” But those stories partly made who he was. He was a joy and will fill the room with laughter. “Wala syang masamang tinapay,” and did not bear grudges. It was him who taught me how to read (and enjoy) the dictionary and novels. It was him whom I got my love for good story-telling, writing, learning, and war movies.
My father went through so many things – minor attacks/strokes, a quadruple bypass, eye surgeries, right (and later left) leg amputations, pneumonia, tail-bone pain, tube feeding, dialysis. He was a life warrior, I probably will not be able to live through if it had happened to me. I can also never answer why he had to go through what he’d gone through. I guess God is in the business of PROMISES never explanations.
Ours is not a perfect family, but we are a family with faith.
(state lines from “I Still believe” song by Jeremy Camp) –“I still believe in your faithfulness..I still believe in your truth, even when I don’t see you, I still believe.”
Sa mga kapatid ko, kung may pinaka di ko makakalimutan na tinuro sa kin si dadi – is that WE BE IN THE PRESENT. Maiksi lang pala ang buhay para ipagwalang bahala ito. It’s no longer a cliche, we’re living it now. I pray that we learn from here and honor the memory of our father by being a fighter in life. Wag tayo susuko sa anumang pagsubok na darating pa sa tin. Na di tayo matakot sa kinabakusan (dahil ang bukas ay hawak ng Diyos), instead we focus on the NOW. With the people we have in our lives. To love them and be there with them now. For tomorrow might not come.
Mi, you are not alone. You were never alone. As I promised dadi and you, I will be here for you. Know that all your efforts, sacrifices, and pains I appreciated it a lot. I’m sure dadi loved and cherished every moment of it. You have shown me what true love is – unconditional, unfailing, unselfish. You loved him even when he was delirious and was pushing you away.. You loved him as you lay by his side with your hands on his chest as he sleeps off his pain. I could not have prayed for a strong, loving mother.. I pray to God that he give you long life with us your sons/grandchildren, so we can atleast return all the love you’ve given dadi. God is with us, you are not alone.
Di, just like that night before you passed I will look up the heavens and I will thank God for having you as my father. I will continue to have faith, I will continue to trust God who is in control of our lives. I will honor our name by taking care of momi more, by looking after our family, and by leading a good life. I am glad you are no longer in pain, run just like when you were younger, or fly with stars! Discover all of universe’s secrets, learn all the life’s stories. I will not say rest in peace.. Live the rest of your life with God.. We’ll be fine. I love you, dadi.