By MICAH JESICA INDIOLA
I used to hear so many stories about people who have lost their parents. I even have a best friend whose mom passed away a few years ago. I know their stories but I never completely understood their pain – until it happened to me.
Words are not enough to describe how close we are as a family. My father worked abroad and we were miles apart while I was growing up but he didn’t fail to show me what an ideal father should be.
I graduated from college with honors and I wanted to excel in my career so I went here in the UAE while my dad continued to work in Taiwan. My youngest sister is still studying and he insisted that it was his responsibility as a father to support her.
I’ve always considered myself blessed in all aspects of life. I have a very supportive and loving family; a rewarding career abroad; a long-term secure relationship, and a strong faith. I was sure of what I want in life. I had my five-year plan and I was so wrapped up with the idea of excelling in my career to make my parents proud.
It was October 8, 2017. I was in the middle of an overwhelming pressure at work, when my aunt suddenly called and asked me if we could eat lunch at home. I told her I couldn’t but she told me she would just visit me at the office.
I greeted her with a huge smile but when I went near her, she was crying and shaking. I asked what the problem was. It never crossed my mind that it had something to do with me. It was just a normal busy day and I didn’t have a clue that it would change the course of my life.
I was told that my father had a massive heart attack and did not survive.
Without even giving me the chance to say goodbye.
The very next day, my brother and I flew to Philippines. The only thing I had in mind was to be with my mother. When I finally saw her, I wanted to break down. I was hurt but I knew that she was the most distressed. I crumbled into her arms and she crumbled into mine. I realized then that we needed to be strong for her even if it meant holding back our tears whenever she’s around.
But the struggle continued because the day after, I flew to Taiwan to arrange my dad’s papers for the repatriation of his body. I was on my own and I was scared.
But I had to bring my papa home.
I was accompanied by his church mates to the morgue. I was nervous because I didn’t know how to react. I saw my dad again but this time it was far different from what I was used to.
I saw my dad but this time, there were no hugs and kisses from him anymore. I only felt hurt and pain. I cried louder than I ever did in my life. I shouted at the top of my lungs. I told him that we love him, that we will take care of mom, and that everyone was waiting for him back home.
I wish he heard me.
I stayed in Taiwan for a week because processing his repatriation documents was far from easy. I was grieving but I had to hold myself together. I had to keep my presence of mind.
I told myself not to break while doing all the things that I had to do. I went to his accommodation to get his things; signed the papers for his last salary; got interviewed by the prosecutor and mandated to watch the CCTV of his last moments; stood in front of his lifeless body for verification; and attended the memorial service that his Taiwan friends had arranged for him.
I felt emotionally tortured and drained but it’s still far from over. We still had to wait for a few days, so I flew back to Philippines while holding his picture frame the entire trip.
It took us another week to process his papers. We begged for consideration in DFA, Manila City Hall and the Taiwan Embassy but we were told that they couldn’t do anything to expedite the process.
I was holding back my tears because I didn’t want my mom to see me crying. It was hard but I felt stronger because I was with my family.
Another week passed and we finally got all his papers for repatriation. We also arranged his wake and burial. We weren’t allowed to have his interment on the day we planned because it was All Souls Day so we had no choice but to have a one-night viewing and internment the very next day.
The night before his arrival, we went to Dangwa to buy flowers for his wake. My Dad used to arrange flowers for people’s wake and all of a sudden, we were arranging flowers for his. I couldn’t help but think how ironic life can quickly turn things around.
After weeks of waiting, there he was. My brother, little sister, my uncle, friends and boyfriend convoyed with St. Peter Funeral to airport cargo for Dad’s arrival.
I ran towards him — or rather towards the box where he’s in and whispered, “Papa, you’re finally home.”
It was inarguably the most heartbreaking moment in our lives. My brother stood up and held me and my little sister. We kept crying because in that moment, it felt like the world suddenly stopped turning.
But it was more heartbreaking when I witnessed how my mother saw my father in his coffin.
“‘Til death do us part.” I finally understood what it meant.
They remained true to their promise but it was time for them to part ways.
My father’s death completely changed our lives. I never imagined how things will work out or if they ever will. My perspectives in life were no longer the same.
It’s hard to believe a year had passed since we lost our father. I didn’t know how it was possible to make it through but God worked it out.
The first few months were a blur. My brother and I went back abroad but all we really wanted was to go home but we don’t know where that is anymore.
After everything that happened, I finally realized what truly matters. I learned to value the little things because I came to know how short life is.
My father is not with me anymore but I will continue to make him proud. I will continue to make him happy by loving my mom and my siblings more each day. And most importantly, I will continue to be strong and prove to the world that his greatest legacy was being a great father to me.
Micah Jesica Turingan Indiola, 23, graduated Magna cum Laude from the Far Eastern University. She is now working at the United Arab Emirates as an Events Manager.