Resenting my father no more
There are times, I have to admit, that I am tempted to resent you. And I wish you were here to hear all this.
Had you only taken care of yourself — controlled your smoking and drinking, among other unhealthy habits — my reality would have been different.
It’s been almost a decade since I lost you. Nearly a decade since I used the word Papa. Already a decade since I last felt a child before you.
I guess no amount of time can ever completely heal my grief over your loss.
I still remember how that heart attack snatched you out of our lives without notice. It was literally your first and last. All it took was an evening when Mama heard you snore unusually and breathe your lungs out.
As soon as I realized I could lose you, I ran as fast as I could to seek for help. You were much aware I was scared of the dark, but I braved the night to try to save you.
The next thing I knew, though, you were declared dead on arrival, despite the hospital being only minutes away from our house.
What happened in a snap would forever change our lives. In as much as you gave us no hint of your illness, you also left us no idea how to proceed.
Your leaving rendered us weak and vulnerable. After your passing, Mama often woke up at night with hands trembling and her body shaking. She felt aimless and lost in the depth of her agony and the breadth of her responsibilities toward the family.
Wherever she went, she always felt the difference, because these spaces were no longer the same without you. I also sensed the need to continuously situate myself, unable to pin down what I was seeking and waiting for.
I strongly yearned for a manly figure who could take the place of authority and safety you provided. For a time, I did not know who I was apart from you.
Your death robbed us of a firm provider. I was only in second year high school then, and my two older siblings barely in college. Mama earned humbly from our small food business, but it failed to cope with the demands of our college education, such that the succeeding years were spent borrowing money from relatives and acquaintances.
Mama significantly advanced in years from the pressure she had to endure single-handedly bringing us up. Kuya had to stop his studies to pave way for Ate’s and my own.
Right after Ate graduated, she had to exchange places with Mama as the family’s breadwinner. I then followed suit, to settle our unpaid debts.
Your passing stripped us of an avid supporter. Most of our significant achievements went unnoticed, without you to brag about and celebrate them.
Ate became a Certified Public Accountant on her first take, and she now works in the second highest government office.
Kuya finally finished a communication degree after deferring his studies for us, shifting from one course to another until finding his fit in the end.
I graduated with the highest honors in the country’s premier university — our dream school. I happened to make it to a leadership position — an instant junior manager — in my first job. But no one in the family has your enthusiasm to boast of these feats, and to use them to encourage us in trying times.
Sometimes, I can’t help but think: What if you were still alive?
There could have been more freedom to choose and direct my life. I might not have been forced to grow up as fast and become the adult I now struggle to be.
After all, I hardly experienced any burden while you were with us. You protected me from every imaginable discomfort and failure.
I wish you were here to hear all this.
For all that your absence made me bear, I must confess, there was a time I resented you.
But I no longer do. I will no longer do. I can no longer do.
This is because I’ve realized that while your presence afforded me comfort and security, your absence gave me far more learning and growth.
Striving to be emotionally intact amid my own anguish taught me a kind of strength that fortified my ability to care. Taking on your position as the family provider taught me a kind of love that inspired me to make sacrifices.
Cheering the family up in the face of challenges taught me a kind of hope that empowered me to fight through life.
As I learn to develop more in character and think of others better, I believe I am transforming into the adult I would like to be.
These are times I would want to remember you and honor you.
You might not have taken good care of yourself in some aspects. But you took great care of your family in many more ways. Your time with us might have been cut short, but it was more than enough to make me grateful that I had you as my father.
Papa, I resent you no more.
* * *
Faye B. Zipagan, 23, a junior manager for operations at a local bank, lost her father at 14, and continues to strive to be as selfless as her father used to be.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.