A month ago today I arrived in
When we arrived in
We silently went to the ICU and I could not explain how I felt then. He had tubes all over and yet he was awake, conscious, moving his right arm, and trying to speak. But the tubes prevented that. I was shocked to see my Dad in that situation. To us our Dad was indestructible, our hero, our protector. We thought he would always be there, lending support, teaching, mentoring. Providing comfort and shelter to us when we go home, and the stability of home when we are away. Giving insights to our confusions and answers to our questions. When we were at home, we always felt protected when he was there with us, and felt scared when he was away on a trip. Seeing him there in the ICU bed made me speechless. My mind just stopped. What should I do? What should I say?
We hugged and kissed him, and started talking to him. I held his arm, hand, and stroked his forehead. And spoke to him, prayed for him, quoted bible verses to him to assure him of God’s love and salvation, which he already knew as we always spoke and wrote to him about these. We (Mom, sister and I) also assured him that everyone would be coming home, and mentioned each one of our names (children). Sometimes my voice got stuck in my throat. I was at a loss for words. I was not prepared for this but I had to be strong. That was what he would have wanted us to do. To be strong. He would always remind me that in the face of difficult situations, to be strong and to keep going. I am sure he himself was trying to do that. I remember him telling us that time when he visited a relative much younger than him who was struggling for his life in the hospital. He told him to keep going, to fight for his life, to be strong. And that person did survive, up to this day. I willed for my Dad to do the same, despite his nearly 75 year old body.
Then the ICU doctor called us after a while informing us that my Dad’s attending physician wanted to see us when we arrived. So we said goodbye to our Dad telling him we would be back. How I wished I stayed on. If I only knew my Dad would pass away a few hours later I would have spent more time with him than chit-chatting with the doctor. Talking with the doctor gave us hope that my Dad would survive. But he did say that due to my Dad’s health condition and old age that his body might not be strong enough, yet they would do their best. Maybe I was clutching at straws and looking at the brighter side that I was not able to read between the lines of what the doctor was saying. He was probably saying that my Dad might not survive but they would still do what they could to the best of their ability (according to him) just in case he did.
It was early evening and since my Mom and Mama H did not have any lunch yet, we went to have an early dinner. It seemed during the days they were there they did not have regular meals. The hospital system prevented them from doing that with all the errands and running around which was supposed to be done by their medical staff. We also checked out various accommodation alternatives near the hospital. It took us quite some time and when my Mom checked the time, the visiting hours at ICU was nearly finished. So she and my sister rushed to go back while Mama H and I went on to check the digs. By the time we went back to the hospital, the atmosphere was so grim. We were told to stand by for medicines and blood transfusion. I had to call friends especially a doctor friend in another hospital to ask about the process for obtaining blood in case it was needed, as the blood bank did not have any more. The Red Cross as well would not give as we did not have any donor. How can we look for donors in emergencies like these? Was there still time? Why could they not give their reserve and we could replace it later? ICU staff then told us there is no need for it now.
My Dad had two cardiac arrests that night. After the second cardiac arrest he did not respond anymore to efforts to revive him.
When we went in to the ICU to stand by his side, it was so quiet. I wanted to cry but I did not want him to hear me cry as he might be worried and sad. So instead we prayed, talked to him and held on to him. To remind him that we love him and always will, and to thank him for being a super Dad for us. We wanted him to know that he had not failed us but that he had done all his best for us, and that he could think of good thoughts and feel good about being our Dad. And by hearing our prayers and the bible verses, he would think of the Lord our Creator, and he would call on the name of the Jesus Christ as His Savior and God. He has taught us to always trust in the Lord and I am sure he did that even during his last hours. As we were there talking, praying and comforting him, we did not even notice that his heart had already stopped. Until the ICU doctor informed us. Again I did not know exactly what to do. I looked up at the wall clock and it showed 7:45 pm. He passed on to the next life minutes before that.
Then reality struck. My Dad was gone! Just like that. Oh, it was so painful to think about it then, even now. And we know that the rest of our lives we would always be thinking of our Dad. He was so looking forward to our visits in April-June, as one by one we planned to go home. Not at the same time but with overlaps so there would be at least one of us with them. My sister and her kids were just with them during the holy week and left a week ago. Then another sister and her family were scheduled to arrive that week, then I was supposed to arrive more than a week later. A couple more sisters a week after that. And my parents knew our schedule. When I last talked to him a few days before that emergency he was so happy and looking forward to our visits. And then this happened.
We were also planning for a party for him in August 2009 for his 75th birthday, although he said not to have a party for him as it would just cost money. When I said goodbye to him during my last visit in January, he cried and told me that I would leave them again. I assured him that we would come back in August for his 75th birthday. I was trying to hold back my tears then to show him I was strong and brave. I am crying now thinking of that moment. How I wish I could have stayed longer. I did try to find job opportunities and consultancies that would make me stay there for longer periods but until this time there had been none. So I had to contend with sending text messages to my parents many times a day and calling them as often as I could.
One month has passed since my Dad was reunited with the Lord. One month that flew so fast it seemed things just happened yesterday. People say life goes on. Yes, that’s true. They say we have to move on. Yes, that’s also true. We also tell ourselves that. We also comfort ourselves with the fact that my Dad is now at rest, at peace with the Lord, without any pain from his sickness, free from the troubles of this world, and enjoying the wonderful presence of our God Almighty. And that as God has promised that we would be reunited with loved ones in the future, this gives us hope.
... So we can cry with hope. We can say goodbye with hope, 'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end ... And we can grieve with hope, 'Cause we believe with hope. There's a place by God's grace, There's a place where we'll see your face ... again. So we can cry with hope, we say goodbye with hope, we wait with hope, and we wake with hope. we hold on with hope, we let go with hope ... (With Hope, Steven Curtis Chapman)
“My soul finds rest in God alone; My salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.” – Psalm 61:1-2