I drew this at the Heart Center that first week after your 16 hour surgery. It was done on a wooden bench that I would soon get acquainted to for the next 3 weeks. I even drew a few details on the type of surgery you had.
"Papi" (or pappy) was how you wanted Ali to call you. "Lolo" (grandfather) sounded ancient and belied your outlook on seeing life through youthful exuberant eyes. I admit that my thoughts were on wanting to see you enjoying Ali's company as you watch her grow up.
I don't think I gave you the best eulogy. I'm not one to be shy to speak in front an audience, but like always, my worries about doing you proud got the better of me.
Yesterday, on Father's Day, I visited your grave alone for the first time since the funeral. What I will remember that day is how hard it was to walk back to the car at the end of the visit. I turned back twice because walking away reminded me of the last day I saw you.
It was a Friday morning. I was finally flying back to Davao after 4 weeks in Manila doing hospital night shifts for the family. I remember getting up from that now familiar wood bench & opening the door to say goodbye to you. From that small crack of the door, I saw that your eyes were closed, as they normally were the past few weeks. There was a nurse in the room, her back to me (and you).
At that moment, I convinced myself two things: One, that you were asleep and you needed the rest and Two, that saying my goodbyes would symbolize more than what it normally meant. I closed the door, walked away and told myself that there was no need to bid you farewell. You needed the rest and I will see you again rested & recovered.
You passed away 3 days later. It never dawned on me until yesterday how much walking away that Friday morning affected me. I'm not one to dwell on regrets, but to be honest, I think about taking those extra four to five steps into your room and speaking to you.
It would be tempting to end with some cute line about maybe I didn't have to say goodbye that day because, in some way, you already knew and that I will still see you again in some form of higher plane, but that wouldn't be honest of me.
Yesterday, at the cemetery, turning my back to you reminded me about failing to speak to you when I had the chance.
I wish I spoke to you. Told you I'd be back, to stay strong & that everything will be ok. In hindsight, I'd thank you for everything you've given me and, even if I didn't admit it, how much your approval meant to me. I may have tried to be different, but I wanted to emulate you in more ways than you can imagine.
Last year was the only time we shared Father Day together. I just wish Ali will see me as highly as I saw you. I have big shoes to fill, but you've prepared me for it. Thank you.