April 23, 2024

When the scenario developed that we were going to stay in the hospital again, we were swabbed for the second time at two in the afternoon. I was going to stay with Ed again upon admission. This was done six hours after Deke, our second son, and I alternately waited at the adjacent room of the emergency or isolation room that fateful day of Jan. 25, 2021. We brought him in at eight in the morning.
The first time we were swabbed was when we entered the hospital in December 2020 for Ed’s operation. Unknown to my family, I think Ed was treated as a Covid-19 patient or suspect sans the swab result. He was subsequently transferred to the Covid area. I was called to the isolation room prior to his transfer. The doctor explained his condition.
Aside from the feeling of shock upon seeing Ed in a very deplorable state, a feeling of gloom swept over me. Nanlambot ako. I thought we brought him in to the hospital to lessen his chills and to raise his oxygen count. From the Ed who could still communicate with us when we brough thim in that morning, he could hardly talk when I saw him six hours later. When I asked him what he wanted, he mumbled, “I am feeling cold,” and so I covered his hands and feet with the blanket that we brought. And then he was wheeled out of the area through the ramp with the seething afternoon sun on his face. I requested them to please cover his face as the sun was shining on it. Nasisilaw siya.
In my confusion when Ed was being transferred, I forgot that I was holding my phone and it was opened. My children could hear him calling our eldest son Nashi. I followed him being wheeled to the Covid area and requested that I be allowed in. I was willing to sign a waiver. They said I was compromised since I was a senior citizen. I did not care. My children and I wanted that I stay with their papa so I could comfort him. I thought we were going to stay together in a room just like the first time he was admitted. After an hour or so of waiting outside I was finally allowed in for awhile. I was advised by our kind doctor that they were going to intubate him and I said yes.
When I saw Ed again, though he was not intubated yet, they were still working on him. I had a feeling of foreboding. I felt he was no longer there, but was still there. Alam mo ‘yun? He had that glazed look on his eyes. Staring, but not moving. So I touched him and said again, “Papa, I know you are still there, but if you are having a really difficult time, please just follow the white light. We will be okay. Your children are waiting outside. We love you.”
I must have sounded strange to the nurses and doctors attending to him. And so I left the area to go to my waiting children. It did not take 30 minutes of waiting when we got another call asking us to proceed to the area where papa was. The doctor explained the situation and asked us how long we are willing to have papa resuscitated – there is a maximum number of times doctors are allowed to inject medicine to help jumpstart the heart. As we were deciding if we should continue to try to get our papa back, my children and I were at the Covid area when we heard a loud bang on the roof where we were standing and we all said, “Tama na, ayaw na ni papa.”
At the same moment, the doctor went out to consult with us, and we said, “Tama na.” That was around five in the afternoon. We all stood transfixed where we were. The feeling of loss is a combination of shock, numbness, extreme sadness, disbelief, and despair all rolled into one. Para kang sinuntok, pero ‘di ka nawalan ng malay, nahilo at hindi maintindihan kung ano ang nangyari. And to think I even told papa Ed to follow the white light and that we were going to be okay. We waited two more hours for the swab result and finally decided to go home first and prepare for eventuality. The swab result was the basis of whether he was going to be cremated or if we were going to have a wake. At around 11 in the evening we got a text – both Ed and I had negative results.
Prior to this, we gathered at home as Kawayan and Nona, my renowned artist nephew and famous niece, prepared a beautiful installation for their tito Ed as we waited for the swab results. Because God works in mysterious ways, Kaw found an old negative in his files. He was not sure what it was. It was full of molds and had it developed just the same. Voila! It was our wedding photo that auntie Gene must have taken. He wanted to give it to us for Christmas, but since we were in the hospital, decided to give it sometime after. The occasion turned out to be a fitting gift for Ed’s passing.
They brought the wedding photo and the beautiful white orchid flowers. A small tiny white butterfly flew and circled around us passing Kaw and Nona, settled momentarily at the flowers and flew one more time around and rested on the flowers as if acknowledging and thanking Kaw and Nona. That was the first sign that made us feel that Ed was still around, trying to communicate with us.
My children said that in the wedding photo, it looked like Ed was being called home. And though overwhelming grief hung in the air when we got home. A few family and friends who are dear to our hearts rushed to our home to share this moment of silence. And as soon as the butterfly appeared, it was like a small glimpse of light, a fleeting feeling of warmth, we knew that Ed was still with us. Throughout the night that fateful day, my children and I, our family, and friends closest to us, shared stories of his life.
It took me a year to write about our coping with grief, as the memories were too painful, and yet God makes everything bearable.As they say, the Lord will only give you a cross that you can carry. I can now smile and look at the photos and videos of my late husband without crying. Dahan-dahan, konti-konti.
(To be continued)