I planned this day long before everyone else, but even if it turned out completely different, it gave me a short but significant sense of relief.
I was brought to the hospital last Monday after I vomited blood with my breakfast. Too bad; I had a really nice meal -- I hadn't eaten pinangat na banak in ages. Honestly, I hadn't been eating well lately. I guess the erratic food intake got the best of me and my gut. After about 4 hours in the ER, I was admitted to a room where I would not be able to eat until the endoscopy which was scheduled for the morning after.
Great. Now that I was craving for food I shunned for days, I couldn't eat. Then, Mom had to leave me alone for a few hours because she prepared the hospital documents and had to get my personal stuff from home. Moreso, I missed my friend who gave birth in the same hospital and was in a room directly below mine. I felt very lonely in the room, and I cried myself to sleep.
And then, one July evening, it felt like I was a child again, on my side of the bed, but this time it was Daddy who needed comforting. He had been shivering and I eased myself onto the hospital bed while I rubbed his arm for warmth. He whispered a meek "Thank you", and just when I thought he was about to sleep, he spoke to me.
"Matagal na kitang hindi nakatabi."
"Oo nga. Eh si Mommy naman ang katabi nyo mula nung lumipat kami ng kwarto diba?" He then put his arm over mine and stroked it lightly.
"Salamat, salamat. salamat sa panahong ito. At sa iyo." He rested his head on my shoulder. I held my tears as much as I could, but they wouldn't stop.
Dad and I continued to talk to each other that night, as he tried to remember every good thing that happened in our lives that he was thankful for. He asked me to take care of Mom and my siblings. I asked for his blessing to accept whoever I choose to love; he gave it on the condition that I must be truly happy and that I wouldn't forget what I was worth. Then, he said,
"Naalalala ko kung ano yung sinabi ko noong kasal ni Joy (we just watched the dvd again earlier that evening), at sana hindi kita nasaktan. Mahalaga ka sa akin. Huwag mong kakalimutan 'yon."
I kissed his forehead and I knew that even for one brief moment, I had my old Daddy back. By then, it was not I who was comforting him but rather he who was comforting me.
I opened my eyes and saw Mom was back in my hospital room, with my clothes, my laptop and her own stuff. She read that I was allowed a general liquid diet for the evening, and inspected my food tray of rice gruel, soup and jello. Then, a few visitors came -- my childhood friend, a couple of sports buddies and even my friend's husband who took time out from new daddy duties to check on me. But the best part was when my siblings, their spouses and my eldest nephew all came in to visit. D crawled into my bed and lay beside me while he changed the TV channel to Nickelodeon. It was an all-familiar scene, sans the Chinese food. I felt better already.
As I took off my gloves and packed our stuff back into the car, it occurred to me that it had been 5 months already since Dad's passing. Not a day has gone by without me missing him, and as we tread on without him, we realize that we still have a lot of things to do. Yet I believe he allowed us to enjoy this day to remember him, and to remember that each of us are loved.