There are certain pains that you could fake; pains you could ignore; but there are certainly those pains you just have to endure.
It was around 5:45 PM when she called me, telling me he was gone. I can’t help the tears from falling, but I managed to control the ache. The tears kept falling, but I kept my smile and my composure. I went to the comfort room and one of my friends held me and I cried, when I get back people started approaching me, holding me, reaching out to me — hoping I am okay.
The thing is, I am okay.
I managed to believe that these things happen, it’s inescapable.
And so, I rush home — to find him, to see him for the last time.
On my way home, there were moments I just stare blankly, moments I sob, moments I feel absolutely nothing.
But I am okay. I know I am.
When I reached my hometown, I got off the car and I started to walk. I walked past a certain familiar street — and the pain come rushing in. The kind of pain I definitely cannot ran away from, the kind that fills every inch of my bone, weakens my knees and consumes each cell of my body. I was not okay.
I’m not okay.
At this very street, was one early morning he walked me to work, he insisted to walk me because I was having anxiety attacks and I was scared to walk alone, even though it wasn’t easy and safe for him to walk me and for him to walk back alone, he insisted. Love. At this very street were all those mornings he would buy delicious pandesal for great mornings. At this very street were all those times I would ride his motorbike and we would go to places. Love.
That was just the beginning —
The thing about losing a loved one is that: once they’re gone every single memory you have will come vividly like it just happened 5 minutes ago. I remembered everything. Every single memory.
I remember all the sweet hugs, the genuine kisses, the fulfilling I-love-yous, the dates, the adventures, the meaningful walks and talks, the times we would gladly bring him to the airport, the goodbyes, the one year waiting period till he’s home again, the nonstop phone calls, the unlimited how are yous, the cute packages, the thoughtful gifts, the stories, the excuses so I won’t get in trouble. I remember that one time he rushed me into the hospital because I burned myself, that moment he panicked because my toe nail was bleeding, how he was always mad at me during those days I’m too lazy to take a bath and I don’t want to clean up my mess, the times he’d bring me to school, pick me up from places.
I remember the sacrifices, the tears, the years spent away so he could give us better lives, better future. The work endured so we could enjoy, the suffering and the pain so we could live conveniently. The times he thought of us first before he thought of himself. The times he was such an amazing, kind hearted, patient man. The times his plans were revolving around his family, what’s best for us and how he could do things for us. I remembered it all.
I remember the first time we rushed him into the hospital and how my world come crashing into million tiny pieces, how scared I was, no — terrified. How terrified I was just thinking about the fact that I might lose him anytime, how I don’t want to live more than half of my life without him. I remember how he would want to see me and listen to me instead of the doctors. I remember how he overcame, how he survive. But I also remember the second time we rushed him into the same hospital (who I swear I hate) I remember how strong he was then, how he fought, how he doesn’t want to leave us. I remember how selfless he was in everything, that even in his most vulnerable phase he still thought of me, of his family. I remember how he held my hand and didn’t want me to leave his side. I remember how you loved me in perfect detail, in such a genuine way.
I remember the good old days, the moments together, how he would always be the first person I want to tell all the good news to, how he was the person I loved the MOST in the entire universe and I am not even exaggerating. How I would excel at school or at anything I do and he would always be the first person I want to share it to. I remember how I would tell people all of his good traits and they would see how much he means to me. He meant the world to me. I remember why I am motivated, why I do what I do, why I strive hard in life and it’s all because I want to give him a comfortable life in return.
I remember all the life lessons from the simplest ones like be nice at any restaurant crew so they wouldn’t mess up your meal, to being generous to a homeless man. How I should value my education, how I should work tremendously hard if I want something. How important it is to just forgive people and not hold any grudge against them. I remember how I should chase after my dreams and what I really want in life more than I pursue any man. How I should love my family and the people that are really close to me. How I should take good care of them so I wouldn’t lose them, how I should be compassionate and loving.
I remember how his heart is as wide as the skies. How his soul is as bright as million stars combined. I remember how he was very resilient in fighting, how courageous he was overcoming all the waves the ocean threw. I remember how generous he was in giving not just to his family but to anyone who needs it, how he was always giving people the chance and the opportunity they need. How he strongly believe that there is good karma, that what goes around comes around, how he was ever kind and loving. I remember how soft he was, how loving, how caring and how sacrificial. I remember him as a strong man, a man of his word.
And I will also remember how it hurts to know that his gone and I just had a sweet, incredible 22 years with him. I want more, I want more years, more days, more moments and more memories. I will remember the ache and the sorrow of losing someone like him. I will remember how this is better for him, because I know he is in a better place. That the pain and the suffering are over, the burden is gone. I’m joyful that it will be easier for him, that he can now sleep well, without any hint of pain. No more aches, no more sorrow, only gladness and peace. I will remember how he made me the happiest daughter in the world knowing he is no longer in pain and how I am also the saddest one knowing he will never come back.
I will remember how he will missed out on more than half of my life, how I will grow, how I will evolve, how I will fall in love, how I will get marry someday, or maybe start a business, cry over a lost someone, a failed pitch. How he will miss out on all our future plans that he promised to wait until pushed through. How he will miss the future nights I will cry myself to sleep, I will fight, I will fall down, I will get up and I will survive life. I will remember how he tried — tried to not miss out on all this and even though he failed at trying, he did not fail as a father.
BUT ABOVE ALL, the thing that I will remember most is love, love brewed perfectly with pain. The kind of pain I would love to endure an entire lifetime with, the kind of pain that I will remember and be glad, the kind that I will be reminded of why I work so hard today, why I am the way that I am today. The kind of pain that is altogether breathtaking and beautiful. The kind of pain that is forever engraved within the depths of my bones.
I will remember him, everywhere I look, everywhere I go, all our memories, all our experiences, and I know, half of who I am, half of my soul will always be a reminder of him.
He is a great father. And I will forever be grateful I had him. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You are assured I can make it through. Because for what it’s worth, you raised me well. You raised a strong woman.
I’ll be okay, Father.