Firsts and Lasts
As we get older, the potential for “firsts” decrease. Long are the bygone days of the first day of school, first crush, first dance with a boy, first kiss, first heartbreak, first taste of a particular food, first time jumping out of plane, first job, you get my drift. And then when you have kids, you get to go through all the firsts again. First step, first shoes, first birthday, first day of school, and on and on.
But today, I stopped short. I was sitting at work when I realised I was about to have another “first” and it just about broke my heart.
Tomorrow is my first Father’s Day without my dad. And I haven’t felt his loss as keenly as I do today. Sometimes to survive, our brains will compartmentalise things in order for us to function and sometimes, we even forget. Forget the grief or forget the pain, just for brief snatches of time so that we can live our day to day. And time really does heal; it just takes a long while.
My last first was also about my dad. The first time I stood shaking, as his doctor outlined all the things that was wrong with him, end stage heart disease, end stage renal failure, end stage Lung disease, end stage liver disease. The first time I had to make international phone calls to my brothers to break the news, waking them from their sleep. The first time I held my brother in a hospital corridor as we tried to comfort each other. The first time my dad looked me in the eye and he whispered that he was tired. And it was also the first time I realised after all the years of close calls, that there might be no bouncing back for this one.
Since all those firsts, just over a year ago, I became very conscious of my “lasts”. The last time I held my dad’s hand while he had dialysis. My dad’s last birthday that I got to spend with him that was also the first time he didn’t know who I was. The last of the endless days I traveled over 24 hours with a young baby to be with my dad, for one last time. The last time I left Manila, the last time I whispered good bye. The last phone call when they propped the phone against his ear and I talked about nonsensical things just so he knew I was thinking of him. The last trip home we made for his funeral.
My heart is breaking and yet I am so grateful for all the last stolen moments we had with him. Riona is nearly 2 and she’s been to the Philippines 5 times. The first year of her life was nothing but a blur for me between traveling and the constant grief and I know she won’t remember any of it but I am still so grateful for the chance we had. Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Pop.