Ask Your Doctor
Vietrez P. David-Abella, MD
Diplomate, Philippine Board of Surgery
Fellow, Philippine Society of General Surgeons
Fellow, Philippine College of Surgeons
Fare thee well
July 09, 2008
For months, I had struggled with my father’s (Fredegusto Gueco David’s) imminent babang luksa this July 13. Is this society’s way of saying that mourning is over? That by this time one should be able to get on with one’s life? For me, it seemed, night had just begun.
True, I breezed through denial-anger-bargaining-depression by throwing myself into my work. And thankfully, I found a lot of work to do. Exhaustion was the balm for pain. The few times that I wasn’t exhausted enough were when feelings got the better of me. Although my rational mind had accepted that my father was gone, in my dreams I was still struggling to come to terms with it. I had accepted that his time had come to rest, and yet, I wanted just a little more time for the two of us, for me to hear from him that this is what he wanted. I had accepted that his work in this world was done, but how come he still had dreams for coming days? And had he really concluded that he had finished preparing his eight living children to face the world in their own terms, and that they would succeed doing so?
I railed at the thought that I’d have to officially end my mourning in a few days’ time. Searching for answers, I turned to my faith. This time, it wasn’t about picking up bits and pieces of Bible passages to relate to my life. It was a conscious effort to find out why we believe, and how we came to this point in our belief. And I found such a systematic study in the “Catechism for Filipino Catholics.” (It is an on-going study, so there remain unanswered questions.)
It was during this study that I finally believed and accepted: yes, my father has gone on. He might have died, to us, but he has moved on to another plane of existence. He needs no pity or mercy from us. He had done a superb job of teaching thousands of students in his 45 years with the University of the Philippines Diliman, Department of Psychology. He had provided for his family by the sweat of his brow. He left behind some writing: poems, essays, and more importantly for me, letters that speak from the heart and touch the mind and soul. A lot of what he was trying to tell me from 35 years ago, I finally understand only now. And yes, he had been preparing us for his death for the past 20 years. Even so, I had prayed a lot that it would not come sooner, and it seems God had answered those prayers. We, the family, are quite blessed to have been sustained in our needs and esp. in our studies. It was indeed time for my Dad to rest, having spent 70 fruitful years on this earth.
But what about us, whom he has now left behind? What about me? Words alone cannot comfort a heart that is raw from being torn apart. And yet…we continue to face the challenges of life. The world will not cease to turn just because one is undergoing a major crisis. People marry, beget children, and they grow up to be parents themselves. The circle of life, indeed, goes on. I must go on. I have my own load to bear, responsibilities to take. I have children to raise, a husband to share my own time on earth with.
Yes, enough about me! It is time to move on.
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