It’s New Year’s Eve 2016, the first New Year’s Eve without you. We all wanted to be with you somehow, despite the rainy weather, all of us were complete as we visited you at the cemetery. It has been just little over eight months since you left. No matter what we’ve done, or where we’ve gone, life will never be the same.
I started to write you this letter last week. Dad, it all started with a voice, I thought I heard your voice while I was sitting on the couch last Saturday night. The voice sounded exactly like yours so I turned around. It was Ethan’s voice. I had to stop for a moment because I was startled after hearing what I thought was your voice. That must’ve been the reason why I had a dream about you last night. I’m not exactly sure if this was the first and only dream since your passing. But for some reason, this dream moved me. Made me miss you, so here I am writing you this letter. You were heavily sedated during your last week at the hospital. As painful as it was to look back, I find solace in remembering your last few days.
Dad, we lost you in April, a very difficult loss, and a quick loss. You traveled to the Philippines in January, came back to the US on March 1st. Then on March 2nd, you were hospitalized due to pneumonia. It was at that point when they discovered that you had lung cancer. We were told that you were already at Stage 4. I am now having to revisit the events of March and April.
Dad, you spent two weeks at St. John’s in Camarillo. You were then transferred to two local skilled nursing facilities where you were supposed to regain your strength so you could be strong enough to handle radiation therapy. You had a relapse in early April, and were then transferred back to the hospital. Everything seemed to have gone downhill from there. We made sure to stay with you while you stayed in a regular hospital room. Then on Thursday night, April 7th, we received a phone call that they found you unresponsive and had to intubate you. You were transferred to the ICU. I remember walking in that room and for the first time I saw someone intubated. It was no longer in a movie or a TV show. This was really happening.
So many friends and family visited you, Dad. People held you, touched you, prayed for you, kissed you, most of all, thanked you. They had so many wonderful stories to share why they will never forget you. It was a week I will never forget. We stayed by your side, all of us made sure that you weren’t alone. Dad, your condition never improved. You couldn’t win. I have many vivid images that will never leave my memory. Each day for a whole week when you were in the ICU seemed like we were all in a battlefield and there was no sign of hope. No sign of victory. It was one setback after another. Your condition never improved. You were being kept alive only by a breathing machine.
Dad, it all came down to making a decision not to prolong your pain anymore. That moment came on Thursday morning at 10am. We all gathered as a family. Hard as it may seem, but we had to let you go. We asked the doctor and the nurse to make sure that you were pain-free. You didn’t suffer anymore during your final moment. Dad, once they removed the tube, it only took a matter of a few minutes. You looked at us. Your eyes were talking to us. You didn’t gasp for air. You didn’t suffer. We held you, kissed you, talked to you…and then you were gone. We saw you leave in peace.
Typing this was just as difficult as I remember being in that moment. I thought I was over it. I thought I had gone through all the pain. But the more I think I’ve overcome the pain, the more pain I feel reliving the whole event.
I remember finding myself in tears next to Nancy on our sofa many times after you passed away, the same sofa where you would always sit comfortably. I remember updating my Facebook status just hours after your death. I was sitting on our dinette, I looked through pictures, and found a picture of me and you when I graduated with my MBA. You looked so proud, so happy, so fulfilled. I didn’t know how to pay tribute to you other than to thank you, Dad.
The next few days which led to your funeral services were just as surreal as anything. I hated driving to the funeral home. I dreaded going to that building. I dreaded all the business we had to go through to take care of the services. Picking out your suit, your shoes, the casket, the funeral package….the works. Not exactly my favorite, or anyone’s favorite for that matter. But we made sure to give you the best funeral service that you so deserved.
We chose to have two nights of viewing. Mom wanted the chapel to be brightly lit. She didn’t want it to be dark. It was fitting for how you were. You would light up the room with your jokes. I don’t remember all the messages people sent, the kind thoughts, condolences, and sympathies. I’m sure one of these days, I will read and re-read them all. I remember seeing many friends and family members I’ve not seen in a long time. I wish I saw all of them under a different circumstance.
Finally, your final viewing and funeral service took place on Saturday, April 23. It was so early in when we had to get ready for a long morning ahead. We honored and celebrated your life – Madison, Ethan, Jojit, Uncle Alex, and me. Armily sang two beautiful songs for you. Ryan played “Taps” on the trumpet. We were all an emotional wreck. It was a beautiful service culminated with everyone taking their turns to pay their last respects to see you one last time down to your gravesite.
Dad, life went on. It had to go on. It’s what you would have wanted. Ethan has moved in to your old room. I thought he’d have a strange time moving in since your passing. But I realized, there was nothing he or anyone of us should be scared about. Mom is back performing her duties at church. The kids keep her very busy. But I know that she misses you terribly. As much as it was a lot of work to drive you around to your doctor’s appointments, all of a sudden, you were gone. Mom had no one to drive around anymore. No one to go with her to run her errands anymore. You were always there for her, for all of us.
Thank you, Dad. Thank your loving us unconditionally, for every little thing that you’ve done. It truly means a lot to us. Thank you for being in my dreams. Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.