November 18, 2012, around 9:10am, a call was coming in from my sister Brenda in the Philippines. While the phone was ringing, I was all smiles thinking that my sister was calling to greet me a Happy Birthday. But the tone of her voice tells me that something was wrong. There was a problem with the communication line and all I heard was that my father was missing. I told her to update me by sending a text message.
My father had been living alone in Pangasinan to look after my brother’s rice field. (Pangasinan is around 3hours from Baguio City – where our home is). He decided to stay there not only to look after the rice field but also to avoid drinking alcohol. His liver was half burned because of too much drinking. In the morning of November 18, 2012, his neighbors didn’t see him walking around so they got concerned. They sent a message to my family in Baguio City saying that he is missing. A neighbor’s kid went to where my father was living and saw my father still in bed. The child tried to wake him up but he was not responding. My father died of SUDS (sudden and unexplained death in sleep or what we call “bangungot”).
Around 9:30am, I received a text message from my sister informing me that my father died. , We were on a songthaew on the way to church when I received the message. I started crying and showed the text message to Val who was beside me at that time. Losing a loved one is very very difficult. I honestly asked God why, and why on that day? We went straight to my apartment instead of going to church. I thank God for my friends Eartha, Val and Joy who were with me at that time. I thank God for Ate Ellen who accompanied me to book my flight and for all my friends who visited me during that day. That day was supposed to be a celebration of my birthday. I started making calls to certain people if it was possible for me to go home. I thank God for all the favor He bestowed upon me during that time. I was able to go home.
It took me two days and one night to reach Baguio. I reached home at around 2am and I saw my father’s body on the floor and he looked like he was only sleeping. In our culture, it is prohibited for anyone’s tears to fall on the coffin so they waited for me before putting him in the coffin. I embraced him and his body was hard and stiff. No warmth from him and reality striked that my father was really dead. Death is inevitable. He was buried on that day around 10am. I thank God for the provisions He gave us. I thank Him for families, relatives and friends who mourned and prayed with us.
During the first few months, I cried everytime I hear people celebrating their birthday. Birthdays remind me of my father’s death. I didn’t show my emotions because I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s birthday. I was happy for them but I was sad at the same time. There were also times that I didn’t like seeing candles because of the same reason.
Tomorrow will be the 1st death anniversary of my dad. There were times that I wished November 18 would just skip but of course that can’t happen. I remember the lines from a song that I posted on my facebook wall on that morning of November 18, 2012: “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”. I wanted to delete it when I learned that my father died but chose not to do so. Because I know that whatever happens, God is a good God and He will always be.
I was listening to Ptr. Joel Osteen’s message this morning titled “Move Forward”. In his sermon, he talked about a man grieving because his wife died in an accident 10 years ago. Ptr. Joel said this: “If you lost a loved one, they are up in heaven celebrating. You know what? They would want me to tell you move forward. Quit mourning over something that is over and done. Quit mourning over what you cannot change. If God wanted them to be still here, they will still be here”…. That is what I like about God. Whenever I need comfort, He is always there to give it to me. What comforts me is the thought that my father is in heaven and he is not suffering from alcohol addiction and not suffering from his health condition. God is good no matter what. Sometimes things happen in life that I don’t understand but I choose to always believe that God is good. He is my Father and I am His beloved daughter. I will always miss my dad but I know that he is in a better place now.
I miss you daddy.