“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras
I wasn’t supposed to come on this trip. It was initially a trip planned by two of my sisters, but when the other one decided to come along, my mom thought it best that I did too. My last visit to America was in 2004 and I was still in College then, so it was due time. The only problem was I hadn’t renewed my visa yet. But when I had a successful run at the embassy and was blessed with a 10-year multiple entry, it was clear: “I am kasama” (I am going).
Nothing ever does, I think.
Two years ago, in 2015, I was quick to declare it my year. We do that. And I learned my lesson the hard way because, 2015 wasn’t my year at all–it was far from it.
On the 22nd of February 2015, I saw my 2-yr old dog die in front of me. She was attacked by another dog and barely survived the travel back to the house. Eight months after, on the 29th of October the same year, I found myself driving through bumper-to-bumper EDSA traffic to rush to my dead father, before he’s taken to the morgue. 2015 wasn’t my year at all. And in July when we first took my father in for confinement, I should’ve known that.
But No One Expects These Things
Of course no one does. Actually, around the time when we were bringing my Papa in and out of the hospital, I remember thinking about fixing my Globe postpaid account. You see, I’ve maintained the same mobile number since College and as I was unemployed then, it was under my Papa’s name. All of our Globe accounts were under Papa’s name, but all my sisters changed account ownership a long time ago–I didn’t. Around August 2015, I remembered my Globe account and I thought to do it but I said, “What for? Are you afraid Papa’s going to be gone soon?”. So I never fixed it.
Last Christmas, a classmate of mine died if a heart attack. I remember seeing a random post on Facebook and I shook my head in disbelief, then decided to call his friend to get confirmation. He died that morning. And in the following days people from my class talked about being gone toon soon, suffering traitorous heart attacks, and the value of making healthy life choices. You see, he was always a hefty lad. After College, he lost some weight, but the autopsy revealed a blockage–so clearly some things were missed.
Regardless, no one really thought he would go that way. Not his parents, not his wife, and surely not his daughter.
I remember a few weeks before my father died, I was in the shower. I usually give him his morning meds along with breakfast and when I did that day, he looked so frail. The shower was loud enough to muffle the sound so I cried. In the next days, I would imagine scenarios of how he would leave us and many times I stopped myself. I dreaded every phonecall I got from my mom. During those days, I’d breathe a deep breath just before I say “Hello”, as if preparing for the worst.
Still, nothing could’ve prepared me for for that day. When I got THE call, I barely heard what my mom said. I screamed. I screamed so loud that nurses came rushing to me. I don’t remember putting the phone down or even telling my mom goodbye. I don’t remember even saying anything, but I remember the screaming. It is still loud today in my heart as it was that day.
I have never reblogged another post before, but when I read Teri’s entry, I wanted to write about it, right away. Please take time to read it. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve read in a long time.
I am walking my dog when it happens. The woman does not see me. The woman does not see my dog. The woman points her car my way and guns it, and when I see she doesn’t see me—doesn’t see my bright blue shirt nor my arm waving ‘hello neighbor’ in the air nor my big yellow lab standing at the side of her driveway—I dive to my right and the bumper of her car clips my hip and I tumble down and over the newly-mowed grass of her lawn and the next thing I know I’m lying there, just lying there, pushing to get up and looking at my dog looking down at me with her tail wagging, wagging wagging wagging. The dog licks my hand. We are alive, the dog seems to say. We are okay.
For the last decade I’ve been walking my dogs in a downtown…
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I missed Papa the most yesterday. I don’t always think of him, I confess. I think I’ve compartmentalized a big chunk of that reality to cope… so most of the time I forget about him and then surges of memories come at different times of the day, especially when I’m driving or when I pass by his office. When this happens I feel a deep hurt in my chest and I cannot breathe. Then I remember he’s gone and I’ll feel tears run down my cheeks, and I’ll wipe it right away. Sometimes I even find myself shaking my head, like when you’re trying to get rid of a bad thought. I don’t like being sad. I know my being sad won’t really bring my Papa back, so I don’t want to remember him that way.
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except Death and Taxes”
During Papa’s wake I had a momentary lapse while I was talking to one of my girl friends:
Friend: I think your dad knew my husband’s dad, he was a military doctor. I think they were assigned here in Villamor around the same time.
And within seconds I slapped her hard on the shoulder. I slapped her so hard because after she gave me the name, I made a mental note to ask my Papa, and then realized that I couldn’t do that anymore. Papa is gone so he could never answer my question. For a moment there, I immediately jumped to a familiar practice and forgot that he is gone. Papa is gone… and there is no remedy to that.
When I was younger, we used to go to Baguio every year. My dad was a PMA graduate of Marangal Class of 1974 and as one, we always looked forward to attending annual homecoming events that happened around February. As we grew older, however, visits to Baguio became scarce and although I had family in the city, I hardly saw the place. In fact, it has been 4 or 5 year since I last visited Baguio. So it is quite sad that when I went there last week, I did, so I could bury my cousin.