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Losing my Dad on April 5th


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This turmoil of events that taken place this past month has been very heavy on me. Since my Dad's unexpected passing in the Philippines, the "WHY" and "HOW" has been eating me up inside. My Dad being gone has put me in so much pain, that I've never felt before. It's unbearable. The feeling of GUILT, disappointment and most of emptiness has brought me here. I needed some guidance and support.

A few months before my Dad moved to the Philippines last year in May, I tried to talk him out of not moving to his homeland. There were, some reasons into why he had to move. My Dad, and I had gotten close a few years back and I maintained that father daughter relationship, therefore he was getting older and I wanted my kids to spend as much time with their Grandpa. I know we all will parish this earth at one point, but I definitely wasn't prepared for this....

On March 24th (Sunday evening) I received a call, which became a missed call. It appeared to be an international ph#. A voicemail message was left. It was my Uncle, my Dad's younger brother...his message was that my Dad is in the hospital and to call him back. Apparently, my phone does not allow long distance calls. A minute or 2 later, he calls me back. All I remember him saying is that, "your Dad, had a minor heart attack and has difficulty breathing". I remember, saying to myself, "this is it", I have to get to the Philippines somehow. My Uncle, said that it would be nice for my sister and I to come see our Dad. Since, my Dad moved to the Philippines, he and I would Messenger / Facetime each other quite often. There were a few times I would congratulate him, for winning the bowling tournament. See, my Dad has been a bowler way before I was born. Bowling was my Dad's passion. He Loved to Bowl. When my sister and I were kids, he would bring us along with him to the bowling alley. I remember, back in the early 80's, I watched my Dad on T.V., it was some kind of tournament bowling league he was on. He had the afro hair do and such. My Dad, was a humble and sweet man. He helped a lot of our family members come to the United States back in the 90's. He helped a lot people in our town in the Philippines as well. He was a well known man. 

Since that call, I had to do something in order to get plane tickets. I knew I had just started my new job with this worldwide company. It's only been a week of training. I was up all night, crying, thinking to myself this could not be happening yet, my Dad is only 69 years old. No way could this be happening to my Dad. I was on my phone the whole night desperately looking for the cheap flights out of SFO - Manila. Though I didn't have the money to pay the plane tickets, I knew I had family that will lend me the money. All throughout the night, I received a text message from my Uncle, stating that my Dad had gotten worse, so they decided to transfer my Dad to a better hospital,  which was an hour or two away depending on traffic. My Uncle originally wanted my Dad to be transferred to a much better equipped hospital in Manila, but they were 4 - 5 hours out. Which was way too far, my Dad probably would not have made it. 

During that whole night, I knew I would not be going to work, so I left voicemail messages, text, and emails to HR and informed them of the situation. I couldn't believe, how understanding the HR and several of my supervisors were. So I was put on Leave of Absence, although it's only been a week of working with the company. 

My Uncle, was supposed to be flying back home to California the next day, but had extended his stay in the Philippines, due to my Dad. He wanted to make sure he was better before he returned to America. 

My 4 year old daughter and I arrived on Philippine soil on Wednesday, March 28, late in the afternoon. From Manila all the way to my Dad's town, was 4 hours out or so. Cousins that I haven't seen for quite sometime had picked us up at the airport. They have been there for my Dad since his arrival to the Philippines. As soon as we arrived to my Grandma & Grandpa's house it was already night time. My Uncle, had waited for us, made my daughter and I dinner. It was already late, we knew it would be best to go to the hospital the next morning. So my Uncle called my Dad's wife and informed her that we would be coming the next morning, so my daughter and I could rest from being on the plane. There wasn't any new details or updates about my Dad so far yet.

While having dinner, at a place I once knew when I was 13 years old, looked so different. I asked my Uncle, what happened with my Dad...he said..."His smoking all these years may have caught up to him", he answered. My Dad, has been a heavy smoker throughout his life. 

The next day, we arrived at the hospital, my Dad on the hospital bed tubes all around his mouth and nose and a rubber glove that nurses and doctors use was attached to his breathing tubes.The sight of my Dad in that way, was so unreal. I broke down in tears in front of everyone. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. No way could this be my Dad, not this good man. No way. I was talking and talking to my Dad telling him to get better now and once he gets better, we will take him back to America to get the medical attention he needs. My Dad, looked like he was in pain, he was asleep but I knew he was uncomfortable.

I was told my Dad had pnemonia and had difficulty breathing. He had so much fluid in his lungs. As the days passed, my Dad was getting much better. He started talking and eating through tubes. Although he looked uncomfortable, he gradually was getting better.

And so we thought.....

When my Dad, tubes were taken out from my Dad, the doctor stated my Dad, will probably be going home in the next couple of days. My Dad, kept telling us, he is feeling much better and that he couldn't wait to go home. He spoke to his siblings on the phone, and letting them know he was doing much better...My mom calls and wanted to talk to my Dad, I can hear my mom telling my Dad, "to get better"... in our language (Ilocano).

My plan was to be in the Philippines for only a week. On April 3rd, which was a Wednesday in the Philippines, I had asked my Uncle if he could drop my daughter and I off to the hospital so we can spend the night there and spend time with my Dad, since my daughter and I are flying back home on Friday. My Dad was already in the recovery room, so we were actually allowed to stay over. My Uncle had dropped us off to the hospital and would return the next day to pick us up. That evening when we arrived, my Dad was asleep. He woke up and was in and out, due to the medications he was given throughout the day. 

The next morning, my Dad, his wife, my step-brother, myself and my daughter were in the room, making sure my Dad was comfortable and was doing okay. The doctor comes in, and says if his stats are good and stay at this pace he'll be going home in a few days, which is Saturday. When the doctors asked my Dad, if he was feeling any pain anywhere, he told the doctor that he only feels pain when he urinates. He says he has been having trouble urinating. The doctor said that it might just be a cut, since he had a catheter for almost a week and it was recently pulled out. The doctor had requested to have an x-ray the following morning. I spoke to my Dad, told him when he gets much better, we will be flying him back to America, which he agreed. I told him, as soon as my daughter and I get back home to the states, that I would talk to my husband so we can start looking for an apartment or home to rent. So that my Dad has a place to come home too. 

Later in the afternoon, my Uncle arrives to pick us up from the hospital, so we can head back home, since our flight to go home was the following day (Friday, April 5th). We took a few pictures with my Dad, talked some more and I spoke to him and told him, to just rest and get more stronger, so he can finally go home in the next few days. I started to cry, he said in his very strong Filipino accent..."I know it's all my fault"..I interrupted him and told him..."Dad, it's not your fault, it's okay, Dad". I told him just hurry up and get better so we can go home. He said okay. My 4 year old comes right next to me, and I pick her up so that she can give her Grandpa a hug. Without any hesitation, she climbs up the hospital bed, and lays right next to her Grandpa and gives him a big hug ( see photo ). That whole scenerio was the cutest.

The next day arrives, and we are headed out to the airport, which is 4-5 hours out. My Uncle stayed behind for another day or 2. My Uncle, had to head back to the hospital to speak with the billing department, since my Dad did not have medical insurance and see what options we have on paying the almost $1M peso hospital bill.  My 4 cousins, 4 aunts and 2 uncles came along to drop me and my daughter off to the airport. 

During the long drive to Manila, I decided to Face Time my Dad while we were on the Expressway. He answers the phone alongside his wife. My Dad, sitting up on his hospital bed. He said, that he just got done eating a lot of food. My Dad in all smiles as he can see that my 4 year old is sitting right next to me. My Dad waves bye to my daughter. I told my Dad, as soon as he is released from the hospital, to take some time and rest in our province. He said okay. I told my Dad..."I Love you" and that he will be going home...he waved at us again....(Not knowing that would be my last conversation with him).....

We arrived in Manila, and we decided to go eat, since we had a lot of time to spare. We were quite early. We ordered food, went to find us a table. As we were sitting down, I realized one of my older cousins was not around. So I decided to look for her. She came back in before I could even look for her outside of the restaurant. I asked what was wrong...she didn't say anything and just sat down. She got up again, so she can answer phone and went outside. She came back inside and  that....she said it's Uncle and that he wanted to talk to me. My cousin said to go outside and talk....

I went outside, to take the call, my Uncle on the other end didn't sound right....All I could remember him saying...."The doctor's are trying to revive your Dad, they've been reviving him for almost an hour and a half now".... I broke down on my knees...screaming and crying. My cousin's husband comes out, my cousin behind me, I knew she was crying too..and he asks what was wrong?...He picks me up from the ground so he can sit me down....I couldn't move...I felt weak and numb. I tried to ask my Uncle, "what happened"...Dad, was fine when I spoke to him on the phone a few hours ago. He asked me, if I wanted to come back and that he will call the airlines to cancel our trip.

People, staring at me, wondering what was going on. I was crying histerically. So many emotions and feelings all at the same time. I picked myself up went straight to the van, my family trying to console me. I was frantically looking for my phone, since it was being charged in the van. I was on the ground inside the van, my Auntie's trying help me calm down...I couldn't I kept shouting, "He said he was fine", repeatedly as I was trying to call my husband, my sister and my daughter. But no one answered. It was about 3am in the morning in California. I kept on trying and trying until someone picks up. Finally my husband picks up the phone, I was non-stop crying, angry, shouting while on the phone..."My Dad's gone, My Dad's gone". I told him to give the phone to my sister, and as soon as he enters her bedroom...she hears me crying frantically. I screamed, our Dad's gone...she broke down and woke up everyone else in the house. I can see my mom, barely waking up starts crying. 

While trying to compose myself from the devastation, I look up while I'm still on the floor of the van, and as I looked up..I realized, that I've seen this picture before. That's when I remembered right then and there, I had a dream of my Dad passing away and I was inside a van looking out the windows. This dream I had was a month or 2 so ago. This was literally dejavu. 

When I had that dream, I didn't tell anyone. In Philippine culture, when you have a dream like how I did, you are supposed to tell someone so it does not come true. 

I got myself up and sat down, I can hear my daughter asking me what was wrong? I pretended not to hear her. My younger cousin took hold of her as we were leaving the parking lot. So I decided, to just go back and not make our flight home. 

I remember the tense quietness in the van. I couldn't stop crying. All these thoughts racing through my head. Why, did my Dad say he was feeling and getting much better? All I kept saying was that, "He said he was fine". Then my Uncle calls and tells us to not come to the hospital, that my Dad is already in the hospital morgue. I said I wanted to see my Dad. My Uncle said that no one is allowed to go in the morgue. He said to just wait for us at the funeral home. They were waiting for the folks at the funeral home to pick up my Dad's body. 

We arrived at the funeral home almost 12 am. My Uncle and the men from the funeral home were nearby. So I exited the van, my daughter asleep. I waited and cried some more while waiting. About 30 minutes later, I hear someone say, "they're here"..A white truck pulls in to the funeral home. I see a long table covered with a blanket and some man standing up holding my Dad. I started to run towards my Dad, tears and sweat flowing down my face. I start screaming and crying as I was running.  My older cousin trying to hold me back, I can hear one of my Uncles who had arrived at the funeral home with the men who picked up my Dad from the hospital, tell my cousin in our Philippine language (Ilocano), "just let her go ahead and cry". My cousin then lets me go, and I start running again to my Dad, who was already in one of the rooms. I remember seeing family members outside talking and crying. My Uncle, my Dad's brother had not arrived yet. My Dad's body covered in an orange blanket, just laying there all covered up. I step into the room took the blanket down from his face and broke down all over again....

Complete anger, SADNESS, SO MUCH PAIN took over me. I remember, screaming at my Dad's lifeless body...A big statue of Jesus on the cross hung on the wall beside my Dad's feet. I just stared....

"Dad you said your were FINE", you said you were FINE"...I hovered over my Dad, telling him to wake up...I shook the table to wake him up...CRYING my heart and SOUL out..."Dad, you said you were fine"...I kept repeating myself. Looked at my Dad's face, asking him "Why"...."Why"...I can hear my relatives crying outside. I held my Dad's hand, not wanting to let go....I told him, that I asked Lolo & Lola (Grandpa & Grandma) not to take you yet, but they did.  I begged for my Dad, to "WAKE TO UP"..."just wake up, Dad"!!! The pain I had felt that night, in my chest was sharp.....I can remember the feeling of sorrow and my heart breaking into so many shattered pieces.

I couldn't and wouldn't believe my sweet, sweet Dad was GONE....I just couldn't. As I was crying and in so much pain...over my Dad's lifeless body, I feel someone trying to grab me and hug me. I looked up and it was my Uncle, my Dad's youngest brother trying to comfort me. He along with my step-mom and step-brother finally arrived. They were in the room sobbing alongside with me. I had to leave the room, and try to make sense of everything. Pacing back and forth, I soon realized, more relatives arrived, sobbing as well. 

My mind in many different places. Going back and forth to the room. All I can think about was my Dad. What happened? What went wrong? All these unanswered questions.....

I stood outside the funeral home, and made a call to HR, told her I had to stay longer. I broke down sobbing on the phone. She told me, to take as much time and that I had an extra 5 days. I was so thankful. She tried to console me over the phone. She knew I was in so much pain....

As soon as I hung up the phone, I remember looking back I see my Uncle now inside the a building where the caskets were. I went in, a beautiful, Ivory-white casket caught my attention, so I went straight to it. Inside the casket, it had a picture of a white Dove and above it, it said....""GOING HOME"....right then and there....my Dad did go home alright. My Dad, went home to Heaven....(see pictures).

My Uncle, who took care of the funeral arrangements came out to be, $120 thousand pesos. At that price, they called it a package deal. The package deal, included the casket, flowers, tables and chairs for the guests, pictures / banners, setting up at our home for viewing, my Dad to be brought to the home, preparing my Dad, a 24 hour band to come to the home on the wake of my Dad before the funeral, carriage w/a horse and men to assist with the procession. 

Saturday arrived....still at a daze I was told my Dad would be coming to the house, for the viewing to take place. My mom, sister and husband flying out and will be arriving on Monday night. I need my husband there with me. I couldn't handle being alone with my daughter. Although, I had so much relatives in our town, it wasn't the same. I needed my husband here with me.

While waiting, for my Dad to be dropped off, I wait down the road at a relatives store. I hear a kid, yelling in Ilocano, "they're here, they're here". I stood up and see a van coming up the road, as the van passes me by, I see the casket through the windows of the van. I ran up behind the van crying out....Daddy, Daddy!!! They stop in front of the staircase going up to the house. I remain by the van sobbing, as kids and other relatives look and sob with me. I just stood there around the van. My Dad still in it. 

I just waited, crying out to my Dad....my Auntie's told me to go inside the house, that the men, will be bringing my Dad in...I refused to leave my Dad...I just waited. When 6 men came out from the house from preparing the staging area, they opened the back door of the van, and slowly pulled out my Dad. All of them, carefully carrying my Dad into the home, while he lays inside the beautiful ivory-white casket with gold trims. 

I remember, seeing a big banner being displayed with my Dad's picture. I remember, telling myself this can't be real...this isn't actually happening...

In the Philippine culture, they go all out on a funeral. A lot of preparing food for the next 5 days, to feed the guest. It's like a celebration. To be happy. I was not happy at all. There were times where I laughed with my cousins, but inside I was eating up inside. Before my Dad's funeral which was Wednesday, April 10th, my mom, sister and husband finally arrived. As soon as they made it to the home, my mom and sister went straight to my Dad's side. Sobbing. My Dad's casket was open from the top. Relatives from near and far, came to pay their respects as well. My Dad's sister's and brother in law flew out to the Philippines to come see my Dad. A 9 day prayer was lead each night. Many many relatives and some of my Dad's bowling bodies, even flew out to the Philippines to see my Dad. Even his bowling friends in the Philippines heard the news and came to pay their respects as well. No one could believe my Dad was gone. 

Tuesday, arrived...which is supposed to be a 24 hour gathering. Stay up all night and just be around for my Dad. The band came along with 2 singers. They set up to start playing music, a lot of singing in tribute to my Dad was conducted. In the backyard all the way to the front of the house were packed with many guests. The place was crowded. I remember drinking and getting drunk that night. I sang for my Dad, did a little speech as well. I was absolutely wasted. I remember my husband telling me to slow down on them shots...mind you I don't even drink, but that night the last day before my Dad's funeral, I had too.

It was the day of the funeral....everyone dressed in white clothing. I wanted white for my Dad. Not black. As the men and band arrived, we knew it was time to lay my Dad to rest. I went inside, everyone gathering around saying their "goodbyes"...I stood right next to my Dad, broke down and tried to rest my head on top of the casket....

I whispered to my Dad..."I love you, Dad..I'm sorry for everything and Thank you, Daddy..I will never forget you. !!! The anguish and pain I felt was so unbearable. It felt like my heart dropped. I was LOST. The grief and emptiness. 

We had a procession, from the house to the church right down the road. Everyone gathered. Had a little mass. The priest blessing all around my Dad. My Dad is actually gone....as soon as the mass was over, we had another procession from the church all the way down to the cemetery where my Dad's parents are laid to rest. Walking in the heat a little over a mile to the grave sight. While walking I look back, so much people walk along with us, on the main road. My mom and my Dad's wife riding in front of the carriage while my Dad's being pulled away by a horse. I remember telling myself, this is nice. 

We arrived at the grave sight, by Dad being buried in at the foot of his parents. I screamed, "I love you, Daddy". I will forever Love you...as soon as he was being put into the whole. I knew, he was gone but had not accepted the it. We released white balloons in honor of my Dad....this was "Goodbye".

Friday, arrived and this was our time to fly back home. I remained quite the whole time. I kept to myself. I prayed and talked to my Dad, in my head. Hoping he would hear me. Since we arrived back home here in the states, nothing was the same. I cry and cry, praying for my Dad to visit me in my dreams. The emptiness and the pain. That Monday, arrived I had gone to work, but it was too soon. I cried even more, thinking about my Dad while I was at work.

I couldn't go to work the next day. I stayed home....I don't think I can ever accept the fact my Dad is gone. The guilt, regret, the sorrow I am feeling is eating me up inside. My mom keeps telling me to let him go. Cousins, on facebook telling me to be strong. I can't be strong. My Dad is gone. I lost my Dad. I will never know why.

I will always, hear him say that, I'm fine, I'll be coming home. How can I get over this. I miss my Dad so much, it hurts me even more. I cry in my car. I haven't eaten much when I came back nor have a slept. This feeling of losing a parent, is unbearable. So much hurt and pain. I"M LOST!!! 








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Nicole-my grief journey

Dear RowRow,

I am heartbroken for you and you have my empathy. The love is so apparent in your pictures and all you shared. What great memories regarding bowling and what a gift to have the “I love you” from him. I know that there is zero comfort to be found right now. It takes time to process profound loss like you’re experiencing. I had and still have dejavu. With mine I kept getting upset because I felt like I was supposed to know what was going to happen next, that I should know what the next step with medical decisions I had to make for my mom. It is so intense to lose a parent. I have found it hard to eat. I wanted to shout “I lost my Mother!!!” a lot. When people talked about being strong I felt like “don’t put that on me, I’m falling apart and don’t feel strong”. The truth for me had been realizing that people don’t know what to say. If they’ve lost a parent then they know our deep pain and if they haven’t lost one they’re trying to help (even if they say the wrong thing). They see our grief and want to take it away but only by feeling and talking about it can we eventually start to have more manageable days. Honor your grief, honor his life, cry as much as you need to, try and eat at least something small several times a day, and if you have the resources then maybe see a grief group or counselor. Be gentle with yourself during this time. I know decisions, thoughts and the shock of it all may be on loop in your mind, but it will dissapate in the coming months if you keep writing and expressing. You have our support. I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. 



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Dear RowRow,

My deepest sympathies and condolences. I am so sorry for your loss. I know its horribly shocking and sad time to lose a beloved father. 

Like Nicole, I wanted you to know you are not alone and we are all thinking of you and your family.

Sending my thoughts and prayers.

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