THE DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE
I could have never imagined that what happened to many other daughters would happen to me. Not in a million years, Like a fallen leaf and no one knows why. I could not understand it. "Why, God? Why?!"
I woke up at 3:55 on the morning of November 22, 2008 to find my whole world changed. I checked my phone, 14 missed calls! A cold feeling chilled my spine as I jumped off the bed and hurried outside of the quiet room of our office where I spent my night. Stunned by the still unknown yet, expected news, I held back my tears from falling. I never knew how I crossed the street when my whole world was collapsing; all I remember at that moment was my sister's clear message on the phone.
“You need to come as soon as you can..."
"Why?" My stomach was tied in such painful knots.
"Tatay is gone. He's with Jesus now...”
"Damn!" How can this be happening to us?
I lost all control. I wasn't ashamed to scream and vent my anger and frustration. People passed me by, with a confused look on their faces. I let out all the pain I felt inside through all the swear words I knew. Finally, a taxi arrived, and I left for my uncle's house.
After 9 months of struggle against his (terminal) illness, my father gave in to extended renal failure, uremia and cp arrest at Capiz Emmanuel Hospital at 2:25 am.
The moment I'd seen his smiling, lifeless face inside his casket, my tears erupted into uncontrollable sobs. I felt robbed- robbed of my father's company, his love, his life. He looked so peaceful, so much as rest, which it took some of the hurt away.
I stood for a moment gazing through blurring eyes at his still form, "Tatay, I'm so sorry if I ever let you down. I am not perfect, but I always tried to do the things that can make you proud of me. I want you to know that I always love you," I wailed endlessly.
Until fathers' death, I had never questioned my role in life. When others grieved, I'd sat at their side comforted them with the knowledge that whatever had befallen them was part of God's will. The words came back to haunt me, slapping a cold hand of reality across my face. Several had issued the trite platitude to me and I quickly grown to hate such meaningless clichés.
I had given up believing all the religious jargon I'd been raised to embrace. If God was so loving and so good, then why had he allowed my father to die? It made no sense to me.
I could not move on, none of my siblings and I could. We all had the same strange notion that if we stood there, clinging on our father's memory forever and ever, we could keep our family the way it was. We would like to think it was just another nightmare and it was someone else's real life and for once it wasn't our father - but, indeed, it was our life, it was our father, the only one we were going to have.
I could never understand her, but despite our loss, my mother remained steadfast in her faith. For her, our life was as simple as bearing the tag in our sleeves: We had the Lord's protection; she always says that, because we're here on earth according to God's purpose.
I heard her wailing in grief and pain, and minutes later, I saw her reborn, with a new hope reflected on her tired, smiling face. According to her, God was testing us like Job, and like Job, we too could overcome with bountiful lives in the near future.
On the second night of father's funeral, I blurted out, "God hates me!"
"Don't hate God for what is happening to us," Mother said in a low, hard voice.
"What does that mean? That it is fair? That it is right to hurt people? That it is all right that Tatay's gone?"
"You do understand what's right. God had helped us in more ways than our family could ever track of. He's been good to us, especially to your father that he freed him from the fetters of his illness and to save us from future heartache. If you think we love your father very much, God loves him more than we do," Mother's voice was quavery but brave.
"If God loves Tatay, He should have healed him!" My sister’s voice was filled of resentment.
"Things are not as simple as you think," mother said, sounding neither upset, nor especially gentle, "this is not a time to explain God's mysterious works to you. So, stop bringing up your unreasonable ideas."
"I don't care!" I continued ranting in, "We are all going to die anyway, so I'll talk if I please. I used to believe that God will always be there for me, whenever, wherever - but, He is not! Why did He let Tatay die? I begged and asked for another chance not for Tatay, but for me to let him know that I love him, but God did not grant me that one last prayer I had. God wasn't there for me at the time I needed Him the most. He abandoned me. He's so unfair!"
"Don't try to make life a systematic problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. Whatever you say, still, all things work together for good, and God is still good." Mother walked out on us with a heavy heart.
I felt the breath of God grew cold on my skin.
Later that night, I had my very first open and honest prayer to God. I cried out all my angst, not trying to phrase my words in just the right way to impress Him. My heart was too broken. He heard the real me - afraid and alone.
My father's death brought a terrible pain to my whole self. I reached the pinnacle of harrowing pain - such an excruciating experience that left me no choice but to surrender to a higher power greater than myself - greater than my understanding and far greater than my own strength.
One thing about my father's death, i can't try to make sense of it, I just have to realize it was his time, and God needed Tatay to be with Him.
Now, I look at death as a final stage for the body but a transitional stage for the spirit. I believe that Tatay is with God, looking down on our family, protecting and guiding us, waiting for our tears of sorrow to turn into tears of joy, and use his passing to bring the family closer than ever.
I am a 22 year old college drop-out; I dream of becoming a writer, if God permits.