First Christmas Without Her

When we go to church every Sunday, I always notice a couple who I think are on their 80’s. Although they’re very old, I can definitely still see and feel their love for each other. They look very happy.

I remember in July 2016, they had to sit close to us because the church was packed. I could hear the old man singing so beautifully. Before leaving, the old man handed us a prayer pamphlet. It was a devotion to St. Joseph. The old lady had a very sweet smile.

Sometime in October 2016, the church recognized all the couples who celebrated their wedding anniversary. This couple was one of them. I heard they celebrated their 57 years together. So after the mass, I came up to them to congratulate them. I told them that they are an inspiration to young married couples like us. I saw the old lady’s face beaming and they proudly talked about their kids, grand kids, and great grand children. I gave them a hug and said bye.

In November 2016, I noticed that the old man was alone. For a few weeks, I wanted to come up to him to ask how he was but never got the chance. I had a feeling and I hope I was wrong.

Last night, my eyes were fixed on the old man. It is a week before Christmas and I decided to greet him a Merry Christmas in advance after the service. His name is Raul. It is the first Christmas without her after 57 years. He said he always sees her in spirit.

We talked for a while. I mentioned about my Dad who passed away last year. Somehow when I see Raul he reminds me of him. Same age. Both wearing their favorite beige/khaki jacket. After mentioning about my Dad, Raul said at age 82. I was so shocked how he knew that my Dad was 82 when he died. He said it just came to his mind and that the spirit works in mysterious ways. I gave him a hug and told him that I’ll pray for his  beautiful and sweet wife.

I know I will be seeing Raul by himself every church time, and I pray that I will see him for a very long time. I can’t help but think again about the bitter reality of growing old, death, dying, and being left alone. And for us who are left behind, we have to live and keep going.

I also remember my Tatay (Dad) and Mommy who were together for 53 years. This January 2017 is supposed to be their 55th Anniversary. Here is a photo of them taken by my sister that year  before he passed away. One of the most beautiful and meaningful photos I keep.

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Random Thoughts On CHANGES

Change is the only permanent thing in this life. We have seen it from books, photos, and films how the world around us has changed. Industrialization. Technology. People. Way of Life. Everything changes. Everyone does.

Based on my own experience, there is something else that has remained constant. It is the “inner SELF”. I am not sure how it is called. It maybe a person’s spirit or soul.  I feel exactly the same way ten years ago and even twenty years ago. And as far as I remember. I am me.

I grew up and learned more things  from school. I am continuously learning from my everyday experiences. Although there have been changes in the environment, in my situation, status, in the physical world, somehow there is still that core being which  has remained the same all through the years.

I close my eyes and I have always been that same person. Although when I look at photos of me, I look different each time. I am getting older. And that is something that we can not escape. No matter how rich and beautiful we are. We all do our best to prolong our life. We take care of our bodies. We exercise. We try to look our best. Some are even more fashionable. More luxurious. But we can not stop nature. We will all look old someday. And we know what happens next. Then we are all the same…

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Photo Credit: www.cylviahayes.net

 

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.

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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.

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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