My full-time father
I lost my father a week after my 25th birthday.
I was heading home from the office expecting the usual call from Papa when Mama spoke on the other end of the line, telling me to go directly to the hospital. Papa had never been in hospital before—he was in a good state, the sort who’d patch things here and there, who’d resort to herbal and alternative medicines and approaches. He refused to yield to machines and chemicals and negative thoughts, so when I heard Mama sounding frantic and calm at the same time, I had no hunch. She just told me not to worry, Papa’s fine.
I was the last to know that Papa had passed two hours prior: His heart gave in on a single massive attack. The days after that were a blur.
Growing up with a full-time father meant seeing him every waking hour of my life. I was a Papa’s girl: He was there when I was born, when I started to crawl, when I said my first words. He watched me head to my first day at school, saw me wear my first medal, was the guitarist in our first gig together, and even took me to the first day of my first job.
He was there during all the milestones of my life.
He wasn’t the typical father who gets up at six, eats breakfast, rushes to work, heads home after five, takes a few moments to eat dinner or watch TV, and then tucks you in bed. Not that being a father who has a 9-5 job makes one less of a father. But my father was different.
For starters, Papa was a community worker, so he worked from home and spent most of his days in PTA meetings, leading children’s workshops, and being a hands-on parent together with Mama. In the past year, he worked as a music teacher in a school just across from our home. There were very few times that I waited for him to walk through the door; most of the time it was he who did the waiting. He often called to check whenever I headed to work and home. He lovingly scrutinized what I wore to the office, my choices of lipstick shade, and boys. He understood the puberty stuff that girls go through. He knew every detail of my life in and outside the home because more than just a father, he was one of my best friends.
And now I have to get used to being without him.
The concept of time is beyond what the human mind can grasp: An hour might feel like a second, a minute can feel like days. Today he’s been gone for three months—gone without a decent goodbye—and it still feels as heavy as the day he passed, like a slow-motion spin. I wish I could tell myself that it’s getting better, that I could discard the feeling of emptiness, like I did whenever my fingers hurt during my guitar lessons with him, but it’s not easy. I still ask why. I try to make sense of it, but I can’t. I still frown at the future, knowing he wouldn’t be there.
Living through loss, I feel like I am able to put things back together until a huge wave of sadness comes crashing—and I fall apart, I disintegrate, I dissolve into the final moments I spent with him and the things I wish I had said. But this is the most I can do—to try, to hope that eventually I can cope although things will never be the same.
That last morning with Papa, we shared a good laugh. I’m glad it’s the last memory I have of him. I know he’s somewhere happy, peaceful and beautiful, because that’s where all kind people go. I hope that someday I’d be worthy to meet him there.
Until then, I miss you, Papa. I love you so much.
Arishka Nicole Abiog, 25, is a freelance artist and works at a collections agency.
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.