FOREST LAKE CEMETERY, General Santos City (MindaNews / 29 September) — It has been 31 days since you passed away. I can still remember everything. I was planning to visit you that night at the hospital, after supper, thinking that you would be feeling better after your dialysis and that I would be able to converse with you again. So as soon as I arrived from work, I prepared supper for Mama and myself. As a habit, I checked on my phone just before Mama and I were about to eat. My call log showed missed calls from Caca and messages telling me that the ICU medical staff were giving you a CPR.
While I know what CPR is, it took my brain a long time to process what that three-letter acronym meant in relation to your life. Literally, I wanted to run to the hospital but I could not do it because I do not like rushing Mama when she is preparing herself to go out of the house. It also took time to get a taxi; add to that the traffic was heavy. We were almost at the hospital when I got another call from Caca telling me that you were already gone. I wanted to cry out loud but considering that Mama was with me, I did my best to control myself. In my mind, though, I kept telling you, “Why did you not wait for us, Pa? Ang daya mo!”
On my last visit to you at the ICU, I witnessed how uncomfortable you were with all the medical device connectors attached to your body. I admit, as soon as I was out of the ICU, I talked to my God and asked Him “Lord, sige na kunin mo na si Papa because I do not want him to suffer any longer.” God heard my very simple prayer, indeed. He took you back last August 29. However, even if I prayed for it I was not prepared for that moment.
I have been continuously visiting you here for three Sundays already. It is always heartbreaking coming here. I sit here, at the empty lot next to where you are buried. (I thank Mama for buying this lot, too, because I do not have to worry that I am stepping on somebody else’s grave). Here, I silently talk to you. I tell you all that has been happening in my life from the time you physically left us. You may not be totally happy about what I have been sharing to you but I know you are there, with your listening and understanding heart and your smile. Yes, Pa, I miss your smile… especially that smile every time you approached the dining table and see the meals I prepared. Yes, that smile when you told me how terrible my fried sili leaves tasted and never again to cook that recipe.
Earlier I told you that it is heartbreaking coming here, but I find this place a place of love, hope, and connection. Despite the heaviness, this place gives me light and life, too. Here I allow myself to spontaneously express my grief. Here I continue to ask how I am I going to live the rest of my life without you. Here I find the strength to think and work towards achieving the things that I know would make you proud of me. Here I continue to say “thank you, Papa, for your life and for mine, too.” Here I continue to find the light in darkness. (Maria Margarita Diaz is the middle child among nine children of journalist Patricio P. Diaz. The 93-year old Diaz passed away on August 29, 2019 after declaring in his hospital bed “I am dying” followed by “I feel better.”)