In Your Absence

Whenever my thoughts lead their way to you

Still my heart gets crushed

And breaks into tiny little pieces

Just because I miss you so bad…

 

 

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Birthday Message From Me

Thirty seven years ago.

Today I remember my parents who brought me out to this world and raised me, my family who made me whole, and God who gave me life.

I personally would like to thank all the people who took time to greet me. It is heartwarming, as we say it in Filipino (nakakataba ng puso) to read messages even from social media like Facebook. Just imagine each person taking time (just a few seconds) to type in their birthday greetings? It can be as simple as “HBD, Happy birthday or Enjoy your day”.  I super appreciate each thought! It means a lot to me. I feel very special on my birthday. Thank you from my heart!

I would just like to share. When I was younger, I was excited for my birthday. As a kid,  you look forward to gifts or parties. As the years went by, I felt different about it. I can say I feel a little scared because I know that I am aging. I know we should not look at it that way, but it seems like  each year I am  marching towards the end of my journey.  I am afraid to grow old. I am afraid of death. But you know what, I also feel like as years go by, it is like God is pulling me towards Him. I don’t know maybe it is the same for other people. Aging, growing old makes you reflect on the meaning of life, the meaning of existence. It is no longer about material things. It goes beyond it. My life. The people I love and care about.

For people who really know me, I am not so much into parties or big gatherings.   I love people and  I love my friends. But truly, I am really more of an introvert. My former boss (Dennis) said, today that I should do something fun. Fun for me is reading all my family and friends’ greetings. Writing about what I feel and maybe “fluting” later. I felt very inspired too that one of our school former teacher (who is now a conductor of an Orchestra) wished me a happy birthday. He told me to keep fluting! : )  It meant so much to me. Today I feel really special because my hubby took off from work and will just spend the day with me. He will take me out to lunch. Will also do something fun with the kids later. I told my children last night that they are my greatest birthday gifts ever!

One last thing. I wish to grow more in wisdom. I want to be more appreciative of each moment. I am not perfect and will never be. And this world isn’t too. We can not please everybody. That is one lesson I have learned. Some people still won’t like me. But some do love me!!!  And I guess growing in wisdom is like learning how to strike a balance, knowing your focus or priorities, and accepting some facts about living. Lastly, is giving your darn best to be good. Just be a good wife, a good mom, a good person.

Wishing you a happy life as well! Thank you for everything!!!

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Each Moment

It is true what they say that you will never truly understand something unless you experience it yourself.

In the past, I felt sorry for family and friends who lost their loved ones. I went to wakes, funeral services, and showed compassion. There were times when I also wept with them. But then my life went on. I just feel sad when I remember those who passed away and I say my prayers to them.

Losing someone who is actually very close to your heart can actually be different. I refer to the loss of a parent, sibling, spouse, child or a very close friend.  I have felt the change in me. Days pass by, months go by, and I carry that feeling of sadness in my heart, that feeling of loss. I believe it will linger even in the years to come and for the rest of my life. I guess this is something constant as I move along.

This little feeling in me reminds me of the bittersweet reality of life. It is just a cycle.  I can imagine how my kids will feel the same way when it will be my turn someday. All of us will feel a loss. And all of us will leave our loved ones behind. For those of us who are still here, we have to make the most out of our lives. Cherish the memories of the people who left. Be reminded about the many reasons why we have to be grateful each day, be more human, and loving to the people who are part of our journey.

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A Reflection From Potty Training

I would just like to record this milestone we have reached.This week, my daughter and I are serious with potty training. I saw the signs that she is ready, and so I pulled out the toddler potty I have been keeping in the garage. I bought it from last year. At first,  I tried to introduce it to her but she would always say “No!” I figured that she was not ready yet so I stopped pressuring her.

After she turned 3 last August 8 (the same day of my Dad’s interment), I once again introduced the potty to her. This time, she is more responsive. Since we are usually at home, I now try to make her wear some training pants. I would ask her to sit down on her little potty every now and then. Sometimes, she is actually the one who tells us that she needs to go.

cartoon-girl-sitting-potty-illustration-52776918photo credit: www.dreamstime.com

I recall when she was a year old until she reached her second year, she was just a baby. Now that she is 3, I can see and feel that she is growing too fast. Soon no more diapers (more money to save!) Soon, she will be in school, and she will be like her big brother, a big kid. There is no stopping time. It keeps going. It keeps flying fast. I wish it will slow down a little bit. I want to be in here and bathe in happiness and experience of parenthood.

Last night, my husband and I were watching the film, Up In The Air, a 2009 American comedy-drama film, starring George Clooney. There was a scene there when a guy got cold feet during his wedding. The following lines below just struck me. And I think of my journey. And I guess it is the same for most of us. How it all started and how it will end.

I don't think I'm going to be able to uh...
to do this.

  
Why would you say that...today?

  
Well, last night I was just kinda laying
in bed and I couldn't get to sleep.

  
So I started thinking about the wedding
and the ceremony,

  
and about our buying a house
and moving in together.

  
And having a kid,
and having another kid and then

  
Christmas and Thanksgiving
and spring break.

  
Going to football games, and then
all of a sudden they're graduating.

  
They're getting jobs, they're getting married.
And, you know, I'm a grandparent.

  
And then I'm retired.
I'm losing my hair, I'm getting fat.

  
And then the next thing you know
I'm dead.

  
I'm just, like...I can't stop from thinking,
what's the point?

  
I mean, what is the point?

  
The point?
- What am I starting here?

(From http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/u/up-in-the-air-script-transcript.html)

40th Day After Death

It is 12 noon right now, September 12, 2015.  In the Philippines, it is already 3am of September 13. Today is the 4oth day after the death of my father. 

“The 40th Day after death is a traditional memorial service, family gathering, ceremonies and rituals in memory of the departed on the 40th day after his/her death. The 40th Day concludes the 40 day memorial period and has a major significance in traditions of Orthodox Slavs. It is believed that the soul of the departed remains wandering on Earth during the 40 day period, coming back home, visiting places the departed has lived in as well as his fresh grave (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/40th_Day_after_death).”

At around 1am earlier, my daughter woke up. I had to put her back to sleep. I also had to go out of the bedroom to lower down the AC temperature. Something startled me. Walking through the isle, I saw a our radio/cd player was lit up and the radio was on playing music! It was loud and tuned in to our favorite FM station. I was not scared but it gave me goosebumps! I took courage and walked in the dark to unplug the radio/cd player. It happened a couple of times already in the past. I am sure it is an electrical issue or an appliance issue. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it happened now on the 40th day after his passing. Maybe he is saying goodbye?

Rest In Peace my beloved and forever love. You will be truly missed everyday. Your memories will stay in our hearts.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

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14 Day Journey

This is my very first time to have a lengthy post and will probably be the last.

The last 2 weeks of my life was very significant and will never be forgotten for as long as I breathe. It was filled with life changing events and emotions. I lived each day in pain, suffering, and sadness. It tested our family and the bond that my siblings and I share.

It was my son’s 7th birthday (July 19, Sunday). That night I had a video chat with my family from the Philippines. I had a very enjoyable and funny conversation with my Tatay (Father/Dad). I clearly remember all the things we talked about.

After two days (July 21, Tuesday), Tatay was rushed to the hospital due to difficulty in breathing. His color was described as grey. I remember that Sunday I was chatting with him, he mentioned that he was feeling tired. That night, the same thing was observed by my sister when she visited him. The next day  that he went to his regular kidney dialysis session, he complained of dizziness so the doctor gave him oxygen while he was into his 4 hour dialysis. He reported to have felt better after, had dinner, and slept. Then the next day, Tuesday,  he was sent to the emergency room.

That week my brother took off from work to stay with my Tatay and my Mommy Eve. He would always update me and my sister about Tatay. I was really worried that he was hospitalized again. Two weeks prior to that he was also hospitalized because of his Potassium… Now as my brother was updating us, the doctors said he caught Pneumonia. I did not have a good feeling about it. It sounded serious. So I already made plans of going home.  True enough, that night, my Tatay was “intubated” They had to put tube into his mouth down to the lungs to help him breathe or else he would die. It was said his lungs collapsed, there was a lot of water in it. The worse thing is they had to do it  while he was conscious! The anesthesiologist was currently unavailable at that time due to an ongoing surgery in the Operating Room.  I can truly imagine how it was very traumatic for Tatay.  My brother was crying because Tatay was really terrified and in pain. It was not successful since they could not put the tube through, his muscles in the throat constricted. In the meantime they were waiting, they had to do BI-PAP (Bi level Positive Airway Pressure) to help him breathe. Finally anesthesia became available, and the procedure was done. According to my brother, he was sedated. He was not really conscious that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Came Friday night, my Tatay gained consciousness and was very upset, terrified and frustrated to find himself in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and with tubes in his body. He could not talk anymore. He was clearly frustrated. He asked my brother through hand signs if he can have a pen. He wanted to write something. He attempted it twice but could not hold a pen. He was really upset. My brother explained to him why he had tubes, why it was necessary, and why he was in the ICU. My Tatay, although he was an NBI Assistant Director (counterpart of FBI in the US) with guns and all, he had always been scared of hospitals, dentists, tubes, and being alone in an ICU. So with what happened to him, I exactly knew how he felt.

July 25, Saturday, at 5am he had a cardiac arrest for 15 minutes. My brother gave me a call that they were trying to revive him. Words can not describe how I felt at that time. I was crying and I was really scared. I had to book a flight right away.

I left that night for Manila. They said they were able to revive him but he was brain-dead since his pupils were not constricting/responding to light.

I was at the airport. I was crying. My eyes were swollen. I was by myself. I could not believe that I was going home because of that reason while the people around me looked happy and excited for a visit/vacation. In the flight, I just kept crying and praying and thinking about him.

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My 14 day journey began.

Sunday, July 26 – I arrived at 3:35 am in Manila and went straight to the hospital with my luggage. I was so nervous to see what I had to see. My family was paying for a regular room alongside the ICU room.

first room

So I was directed to meet my brother and Mommy Eve. My brother showed me the way to the ICU. Words are not enough again to express what I felt when I saw my Tatay. My heart was crushed to see what happened to him. They said he was no longer brain-dead, but just in coma. He was not moving and opening eyes since he was revived from the cardiac arrest.

I was hoping he could hear us. I talked to him a lot. My brother used to sing songs to him as well. That day went by, a lot of family and friends came to visit. They all felt for him. Imagine a tough and strong man lying helpless on a hospital bed, unconscious. Slowly, we noticed his head started to move and he was doing his best (making a grimace) to open his eyes.

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Monday, July 27 – Mommy and I were praying and talking to him all the time. Then that day, he started to move his hands little by little. We could see his foot trying to move too. He was trying to open his eyes. His movements were involuntary, like he was starting to feel for the first time. He had no control. He was given 72 hours (3 days) to wake up. It was his second day today. I was hoping he could wake up some more. He had his 6 hour kidney dialysis.

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Tuesday, July 28 – His sister arrived from Illinois. She is a Medical Doctor in the Navy. She is 4 years older than his brother.

grandma ludy

A lot of people came to visit that day. Today he was already moving more (right side of his body – arms and feet). He would frequently open his eyes. I thought he was more establishing eye contact when visitors came, but still more of a blank stare. I was not sure. That afternoon, Tatay had a fever. We could see how he was having a hard time gasping for breath. He was very restless. I was having an emotional breakdown. He was doing very well that morning. We were hopeful. But that night, it seemed something was wrong and he looked like he was in pain.

Wednesday, July 29 (I called Worse Wednesday) – Thoughts in my head. The mind is willing but the body is weak… The power of the mind, the person’s will can do extraordinary things. From being described as “brain-dead”, into comatose, now he was moving his body. My Tatay needed to have blood transfusion. They said five bags of his blood type. There was no blood bank in that hospital so they gave us numbers to call. It was not easy to find what we were looking for. Finally a relative helped us. Just a call away and it was available for us.  It was really stressful. We were feeling the weight. Physical and emotional.

Staring at his blank eyes

Holding on to his wrinkled hands

Caressing his arms and legs

A sight of agony and pain

Looking tired and old

Helplessly calling him

Hoping to be noticed

A roller coaster feeling

Hopes up then a broken heart

It breaks me to see you like this

A sight I never really imagined

You were always the strength and our fortress

The Father who always protects

Now that you are helpless, sick, and very weak

Let me be the one to give you the strength

It is a pain to comfort you through all your pain.

I will be here

I will not leave

My heart is with you

You are in my care…

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This situation right now gives us emotional punches. Punches to test our limits. It is also like a roller coaster. Emotional strain. Hating to see what the eyes do not want to see. A reality you wish only a dream. A tug between helplessness and hope…And yet in the end courage is required.

At 5:50pm, these were my exact thoughts: “I am sitting on the lazy boy where my Tatay sat on the first day he was admitted.

InstagramCapture_5008c5da-752a-47b9-9267-f928a1c06101_jpgLooking out of the window to a very beautiful view. Looking around this tiny cozy room, this was the place my father was before he became unconscious. I am looking at the things he saw, reliving the experience… Too much that I do not know what I feel anymore. I just know it struck too deep and I can never fathom.

view

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That night, it was the first time I gave up. I could not see/visit him tonight. I felt it was already too much for me. It was killing me inside to see how he was. I could not bear the pain anymore. The tears have run out. I just wanted to rest.

Thursday, July 30 – I woke up to a new hope.

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He was mobile even the left side of the body (arms and legs). His eyes wide opened. Although he was not “back” yet and eyes were not focused, we had the feeling that he hears and understands. My siblings and I talked to him and we saw tears fell from his eyes. Regarding his fever, he was referred to a doctor from the Infectious Disease. They said he had blood infection or Sepsis. From the Lungs then led to blood infection.

Friday, July 31 – Alone in the room. I was writing this:

I can’t stand to see him like that. Going through a very painful experience, that is, seeing your loved one in pain, sick, dying. And that there is nothing that you can do but to hope and bear the pain. I feel I was losing my father and that is somethings so difficult. I did not really see this coming. It feels so surreal. After six days, I feel so numb. How will I know if I need to let go? I hope and pray that he does not feel scared or he does not feel the pain. I pray he does not know he is suffering. And If ever he is…. I would ask the Lord to take his hands and comfort him in every way. I look in his eyes. He is lost somewhere inside, and I miss him so much… I sit in this room. I savor every moment. I see what he saw. I am in this place where he often went when he regularly had his kidney dialysis Monday and Thursday for more than half a day. He was walking in this room, hallway, rode this elevator, been to this driveway, this road, this hospital, this place, this route.

Saturday, August 1 – We moved to a smaller private room to be more practical.

smaller room

We are losing hope. Multi organ failure: lungs, kidney, heart, Brain damage, diabetes. Treating Pneumonia. Blood infection. Immune system down…thinking of the quality of his life after when he survives…

This has been physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Never knowing what to do. Hold on or Let go? He was seen by at least 6 doctors. 20%, 30% 50% survival. Left us confused. Not knowing what to do. Our family had an open forum. Weighed things. What to do? Conflicting Ideas.

You are still here but you are not really here. A doctor prayed over him. She said that he has lived his life to the fullest. The achievements for 82 years. His family, grandchildren, enjoyed his days. She said your family has given him all the best. He was blessed in everything. Then I thought, is God really calling him now? I will surely miss him…

He was not getting any better. We even saw a Neurologist. He said for the 15 minutes his brain was not with Oxygen, definitely a damage to his brain is expected. Maybe this explains his involuntary movements, his facial expressions, his eyes, detached.

I thought he is still here. Physically. I savor every moment. I try to remember his eyes. How it looked. And feeling his hands on mine…

my hand

Sunday, August 2 – Conflicting views within the family. Our common ground is our love for him.

Monday, August 3 – Hopelessness. Reality. I am trying to capture as much memories as I can.

Happy to still be able to touch his face, his arms, his feet, his hands..

Be able to look into his eyes, staring, gazing, and blank.

I wonder how you feel.

I wonder what is in your mind.

Do you want to fight or do you want to rest?

The will is strong but the body is weak…

A painful reality we all have to face.

If you will rest my love,

I implore our Merciful God and our Sweet Mother,

To hold you and embrace you

To take away all the pain and the fears away

I have already grieved these past few days

My soul and heart have cried so hard

From the day I set my foot in here

And until the day I will have to say goodbye

I will carry you in my mind and heart

No matter where I go and as long as I breathe.

In every waking moment of my life.

One day my time shall come too

Like everybody else

When my journey is through

I know you will be there for me

To comfort me and to take my hand

Until we meet again

Bring our love, take it all with you.

Tuesday, August 4 – So many things happen in a day. Turn of events are fast. Last night it gave us hope. Tatay was showing that he was calm. And we had the notion that there is a chance. That there is hope. The whole day too, he was just calm. This whole morning Mommy Eve and I were by his bed. I sang a lot of songs for him. Praise songs and all his favorite ones. I ran out of songs. I felt so happy. Around 6 priests came (close family friends) to anoint and pray for him. We saw that as a blessing.

Wednesday, August 5 – At 12:06 am, Tatay passed away. He had his second cardiac arrest. July 19 was our last conversation. We never got to speak to each other again. I was there the whole time when he was dying and was trying to bring him back. When it was over, I was so overwhelmed. I was heart broken. I had to break the news to Mommy Eve who was waiting upstairs and I had to call my brother and sister to inform them. He was there on the hospital bed without life. Words will never be enough to describe the moment when we were gathered watching him, waiting for the funeral service to take him.

 I had to go home for the first time to the place where I grew up. Each thing reminds me of my Tatay. And the place felt so empty.

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Thursday – Friday, August 6-7 – It was my Tatay’s wake. Family and friends came together. It was very heart warming to see the love and support.

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Saturday, August 8 – Tatay ‘s interment. My daughter’s 3rd birthday. After the burial in the morning,I had to fly back to my family in California that afternoon.

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It is night-time. I am now at the airport going back to California. The longest 14 days of my life. So many things happened in 14 days and now I feel so exhausted. It is all sadness in my heart. Exactly two weeks ago I was sitting here on the plane and I could not stop crying over my sick Dad. Now going back home, I am not shedding as much tears like I did before. My heart is numb and sad. Recalling each moment and memories , the images in my head so vivid. My eyes have seen it all. From his suffering each day, to the time he was having an arrest, down to his wake, and was put into his grave. I know this experience has changed me forever. The experience of pain, suffering and overcoming them has mold my character and my understanding of life and living.

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As I look up on the heavens and gaze at the white glowing clouds, I wonder where he is right now.

Am I closer to you up here?

Or are back down there at the cemetery or lingering at your home?

Can you come with me here in the plane and fly to the US?

I wish you can see where I live

Please come visit in my dream and tell me how you feel

10 days of staying with him in the hospital

3 days of wake

1 day interment

My 14 day Journey

Lifetime of Memories and Love…

Acknowledgment

I would like to thank the Divine Grace Hospital ICU Nurses who took care of my Dad: Jeff Koyama, Eman, Che Che, Gab, Jeff, Cresta, Frank, Kristel , and Mindy. You have been a part of this very memorable journey and you will never be forgotten!!!! All the family and friends who helped us and prayed for us.

Unconditional Love of Mommy Eve for Tatay. In sickness and in health…

mommy and eve

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You will be missed…

InstagramCapture_13d10096-bd51-4752-8ab2-e71f690d5b65_jpgwith tatay

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We will see each other someday

homeskies