Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thank you, Daddy!

I wrote the article below in the morning of December 7, 2006. Daddy passed away at 7:25 pm the same day.

When he breathed his last, we thanked the Lord for releasing him from his final agony. Seeing him suffer that way brought us more pain.

Just as we begged God to finally take Daddy home with Him, we urged our beloved Father to move on as our final act of love for him.

Praise God for His mercy!

Reflections ... in these trying times! (First Part)

When I first started, I wanted this column to be light and cheery, easy reading for a leisurely Sunday. I believe I managed that most of the time.

Considering recent events in my family however, I cannot write that way, at least, for the moment. When one’s spirit is down and out, it is difficult to get off the ground, particularly when no one else is there to give that needed boost.

For today, I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve been having lately...

To tell or not to tell …?

This is the big question that inevitably confronts every relative of somebody who’s been diagnosed with a deadly illness. With the Big C rearing its ugly face almost everywhere we turn our heads to, more and more people are being forced to meet this dilemma head-on. So how do we decide?

When I learned that my Dad has lung cancer, I gently probed his readiness for the truth. His “so be it” summed up what seemingly was his attitude towards that possibility. Thus, despite my earlier trepidation that when faced with the truth, Daddy is the type who would just curl up and die before his time, I told him about his tumor without however elaborating about it’s advanced stage. I thought that it was his right to know, so should he want to, he could start putting his affairs into order, and most importantly, make his peace with God.

Daddy took it well at first and seeing him that way buoyed up my spirits! Here’s my FATHER, I proudly announced. His body may have been battered but the man inside remained whole and strong.

I was wrong! When the full import of his condition finally hit him, he wilted right before my eyes and from that day on, I’ve had nothing but fleeting glimpses of the man that he used to be.

Daddy became terrified when he was told in no uncertain terms what was happening, was going to happen and how he would be losing his life in the process. That day, he really started dying on us.

I am now regretting my decision to let him know the truth. But with so many considerations that had to be made then, I made the decision that I thought was best for him. Foremost in my mind was his need to prepare himself spiritually before he meets our Maker. Did I do right? I honestly don’t know.

So, should we tell or not tell?

I think it depends on the person concerned. There are those who knew right on that they couldn’t handle the truth, and we’d know this from their attitude towards death in general.

Then there are those people who think and believe they could. Of these, some would prove themselves right! But most, I believe, would fall short of their own estimation of themselves. Most would crumble upon staring death at its face.

For some people, a life-threatening illness is a challenge that arouses the fighter within. Present them with the truth and they will switch into fighting mode, summon up all their energies, and then lean on God for that much-needed strength.

But others, I think, would rather not know or are better off not knowing. The mind is all-powerful and what goes on up there affects everything in the body. Once the mind gives up, the body will soon follow. Convince it that there is still hope, and maybe, the body would have held up longer.

I’m not a doctor but I believe that Daddy’s psychological mind frame sped up his deterioration. Had we withheld the full truth and made him believe that there is still some hope, maybe, just maybe, he’d still be talking, laughing and praying with us. But just as I initially feared, he curled right up and now gazes at us with those lifeless eyes. Right now, not even his beloved Abby could rouse him up from his own private hell.

What have I done? I should have trusted my instinct when it told me Daddy couldn’t handle the truth. How could I have bungled this way? How I wish I could tell him how sorry I am but I’m too scared.

1 comment:

pau said...

dear olga,
my deepest condolences first and foremost.

you see, my uncle died a year ago due to steven johnson syndrome. It's a rare disease, and a painful one too... you get burned from the inside to the outside... my uncle was in the hospital for so many days, he couldn't move, couldn't see, could barely speak. we were scared to tell him that his skin was sloughing away, and that he looked like he was electrocuted. So.. he was lying there, not knowing what was happening and all. Then one day, he screamed: ano ang nangyayari sa akin??? and he let out this sob that haunts me until now.... It was my father who told him everything-- that he was in the ICU, that his kidneys failed him and dialysis is going on... that his heart gave up but he was able to surpass it twice, that his condition is comparable to that of a burn victim, that he will be put under respirator coz his throat was severely burned... all those time that my father was telling him everything, he was just nodding his head. when he asked how much time he got, all my father could say was, we don't know... Three days after that, he passed away.

i also agree with you that the mind is powerful and all that... but you know the cliche- the truth will set you free.

Nobody, i think, could handle the truth well... but we all deserve it. We deserve to know what the real deal is.

telling him the truth, olga, was the best thing that you did. in my humble opinion, you did the right thing. though the truth hurts, keeping it could be so much worse.