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Monday, March 7, 2016

Something Divine on being Discomfort and Disconnected: Lessons I Discovered in my Papa's Death

When we have to make a decision to pull my papa's life support, things started to unravel. Here are five lessons I learned from my papa's five year ordeal on his deathbed while I live a normal comfortable connected life in Virginia and California.

1.  Life is precious.

Winter of 2010, along Arabian Coast, I was called that papa's life "maybe" coming to an end with some sort of lung cancer, so I was flied off my duty on-board USS Nimitz on emergency on a COD C-2 Navy plane.  Everyone in the Philippines seems so focus on my papa's precious life as I was leaving some important military duty just to be with my father.  When I was at the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with the doctor and family, we declined the doctor’s advice to prolong his life with further hospitalization and sort of chemo, fortunately he survived another five years.

2.  Enjoy life responsibly while it last.

During my remaining four years in the Navy, I enjoyed the perks of military benefits and time traveling cross country on my move from California to Virginia, before that our travel to Hawaii and several road trips then twice in Europe.  I explored what I can while I can and cherished it while Sam and Myla still excited about it.  For few years I was able to create good happy memories for my family, while I had the time.

3.  Life has cycles and it ends.

As I retired my military uniform after 23 years, my ceremony in 2014 was bittersweet. My wish that my mama and papa could be together again at least through Skype and projector on the ceremony like they were on my Navy oath taking in Subic Bay even though they were apart throughout my life growing up in Manila.

A year after I retired I struggle in finding my true calling, it's hard to let go of my true calling and really listen to God what he wants and what I really want and let go of my two decades of experience as military counselor but it has to end.  I have to make a choice.  I started all over again as an entrepreneur just like when I started in the Navy boot-camp, it wasn't easy.

4.  Life has Déjà vu, here we go again, and so don't be surprise.

As we were packing our final move to our new house and working on school research deadline on Valentines weekend, I received a Facebook private message that my papa was in coma.  This could be the last moment, again.  I have to fly and leave my wife alone to finish the rest of packing of almost 10,000 lbs. of household goods (with some help from two hired movers).  I wasn't sad nor shock, just weak, unfocused or nauseous. Total lack of emotions like my wife usually say.

I went straight to my papa's ICU along with my two luggage by midnight.  My papa was paralyzed with three tubes attached to his mouth, nose and belly.  Most of his obvious organs nonfunctional. I was still emotionless but disturbed.

5.  Life is about decisions and getting accountable.

Five days after 12 hours of watch duty (me and brother Ben got the day duty) at my papa's hospital, I invited all family member who cared about my papa's ordeal at Max's near papa's hospital.  Instead of "welcome home balikbayan" lunch date it was to discuss my decision on pulling out papa's life and convince all for more support.  Two days I did unseemly outside the emergency room - even hospitals and doctors did not want anything to do with it.  Six of us cramped inside with my papa including the paramedic's while pumping oxygen still to get his life extended with a 161 (equivalent of 911) Ambulance I arrange to take his struggling body home.  I ask, what's the point of rushing the traffic with loud siren bringing my papa home?  

We decided to still keep him alive with just one home life support instead of three, an oxygen tank.  Everyone gathered at his bed at home with love ones wailing, that is when it sink in and I thought I made the right decision to pull the plug because he started moving his mouth and responding to our fuss and weeping.  He survived another day, the tank run out of oxygen so we rushed but when it arrived it was too late.  

There is right and wrong decision and we always learn.

We did not even get a chance to hear his last words because of the bruises in his mouth from life support BUT I think the most important decision is to MAKE a DECISION and by pulling his life support created by men, we let our papa died in natural cause and did not play "god" by extending his life (and pain) even further.

During the wake and funeral, as I mentioned this on my Eulogy or "parangal" we saw the outpouring of love to papa but also my detachment from all the comfort I had in the US:  phone (my Samsung Note died the entire time - so no connection with outside world like I am used to), walk in the beach, driving and family I left behind (I also lost my California driver's license).  All these comfort I had in the last five years while my papa is sick until his remaining years and never had a chance to bond with him.  But I did not feel any guilt with that, I think my papa wants me to have more quality time and spend the rest of my life with my family because I saw in myself and others that irresponsible actions leads to chaotic life.  


All these I survived not just with expected help from others but from the divine intervention through other people.  I chose to live a more comfortable life but I could not do it without making responsible decisions daily.  I hope to reap the benefits of comfort by making responsible decisions without relying on people alone but relying on God and myself and the "angels" - who are the friends, relatives and people around me.

With all my discomfort from American lifestyle, disconnected from the internet, I discovered to heal my discontentment in the past three weeks grieving with my papa.

Next blog:  How my life Went On without a Phone and Internet for 10 Days.

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