God finally took Rafi Zakkari Faigao Feliciano home. Little Zak passed away at around the same time he was born — exactly two months after he was born. He no longer suffers. He now breathes freely…without the tubes…without the syringes…without the meds…without the pain of seeing the anguished faces of his daddy, mommy, and kuya.
Grace and I were silent for a full minute over the phone. I didn’t know what to say. I felt that I have already told her everything there is to say about faith, hope, love, and healing. I know my words will never be enough to give her comfort. I couldn’t bear the silence coming from the other end of the line, but I felt that she just needed to know I was there.
How do you make sense of something like this?
Last week, Grace and I were talking about preparation on our way to the hospital. I told her that nothing will ever prepare you for a death in the family. I told her about how I thought I was prepared when Tatay left us six years ago.
Tatay took two years at home before he finally said goodbye to us. I thought I was ready because of the long time that Tatay gave us for preparation. When he died, I didn’t cry. I was actually getting confused as to why I couldn’t cry.
And then it came. Just when they were pulling out Tatay’s casket for the funeral march, grief covered me like an unexpected storm. My mind was empty, but I was crying to no end.
Every now and then, I would cry whenever I hear a Nat King Cole song. Or Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are”. I remember Tatay in the most unexpected places, under the most unexpected circumstances. He left memories for us to remember him with love and kindness.
There is nothing much for me to remember about Zak except that he made me become a better friend to his mommy. On my last visit, I wanted to touch his tender hand, not knowing why. Now I know that I wanted to do that as a sign of my gratitude.
Is Grace prepared for Zak’s departure? How will she be able to hold up under her health condition? Grace has gone through so much for the last couple of years. She doesn’t deserve all the pain, but sometimes pain is what we need to make peace with ourselves. There is always a reason why. And I think Grace gets the message. Zak was the angel who delivered that message.
And now Zak is home…to God’s merciful hands…to our hearts.