Tatay had been away from us nine Fathers’ Days ago. His absence, as it’s turning out for me, makes my heart wonder.
It took me two years before I gathered the courage to tell him he can go. I rarely entered his room everytime I would go home during weekends. Sometimes, I would not go home for weeks. Most of the time, I would just peek to see how he looks like.
I never took my turn in feeding him. Or cleaning him up. I preferred not to enter his room whenever others were around. I couldn’t bear seeing him like that. And it’s not as if I tried to make sense of everything. I just let reality wrap me in numbness for two long agonizing years.
On the day the doctor told us that Tatay would not be staying with us for long (two to three months, to be exact), my mind was blank. I turned my head toward the small window of the ICU door, thinking whether I should run inside and cry my brains out, just like how they do it in a teleserye. But I stood there, staring at the glass window, my right hand rubbing my Nanay’s back. I didn’t shed a tear. My voice didn’t crack one bit when I told the doctor that we will bring Tatay home. That’s how he would prefer to go, if indeed he would go.
I was confident that God would still give us a miracle. That one day, Tatay would just stand up from his sickbed and play with his grandchildren. But he never did. He stayed for two more years, not able to move, talk, or eat by himself. I asked God to stop his suffering. Do His will, whatever it was. Just don’t make him suffer any longer. Don’t make my Nanay take all the pain of watching her husband slowly slip away.
And then on Fathers’ Day of 2003, I went inside his room and sat by his sickbed. I talked to him like I never did before. I never told him I loved him when he was strong and healthy. We were never brought up that way. We grew up implying love, not saying it. But at that very moment, I finally told him I love him, and it felt natural. I told him he needed to rest…that he had done more than enough for us…that we would take care of Nanay. About a week after that, he passed away.
Today, I still wonder if I had made him proud. I still wonder if I disappointed him for not having my own family. That would be our mystery, I guess, until we meet again in heaven. I never really knew him that well, but I love him. I am my father’s daughter, and I would like to tell him now that I’m keeping my promise.