Last year, between the 7th of May 2014 to the 24th of May 2014, my dad was hospitalized for a seemingly ‘normal' cough – he has been coughing for a while, and as Louise and myself had just gone for a 2 week delayed honeymoon (we married in 2009), and just came back to visit him and family.
It was the last time that we would have a normal meal together.
I think he also thought that it was just a routine cold and cough, and so he didn't see a doctor to assess and follow up; so during the weekend we were there, I could still remember, we literally had to force him to go see a GP whom he trusted, and even during that GP check, he didn't want me to go into the room with him as he saw the doctor.
I made him a thick cup of Manuka honey water, in hope to aid his recovery.
This was May 4th, 2014.
May 7th, my mum texted me and told me that dad was hospitalized, and I thought it's to settle the issue. And by the 10th, she told me that he was in ICU. Alarm bells rang in my head, and I rescheduled all my patients and left for Malaysia, and went to the hospital in JB.
My dad didn't want to burden any of us to take the time and effort to visit him, so he had told my mum not to tell the girls, because he didn't want them to worry, since they're in KL.
I'm glad my mum told me.
When I saw my dad, I told them to immediately call the girls to come back, it was urgent – when anyone is in ICU, IT'S ALWAYS URGENT AND IMPORTANT.
His condition got bad to worse as time went by, and I stood and stayed by his side. This was one of the times I was glad I had my own business, so I could just put it on hold and just attend to him. We had lots of silent time together, as he was having so much difficulty breathing. We had our silent lunch and meals together too.
He couldn't breathe properly, so he would sleep in sitting, with pillow in front of him so that he could breathe better, and try to catch his breath. He couldn't really eat cos he kept coughing and choking.
Looking back, I wonder why I never thought about bringing him to Singapore earlier. Perhaps, it was his trust of his doctors in JB. Perhaps, we thought he would “get better soon.”
This would make my heart sink, even till today.
All the “what if” questions that surfaces and resurfaces.
The doctors later encouraged him to be sedated, so that he wouldn't suffer so much and so that his body could rest and heal better. This was the 17th. And that was the last time we had eye contact and proper conversation. He never had the chance to wake up to speak and say good bye. Painful as that was, looking back, he probably couldn't say or speak, given that he'd likely be choking and coughing terribly.
But he'd be aware. But…
But papa, he passed away on 24th May 2014. It is and was and still is a terrible tragedy, and it was so surreal and painful, everyday I wish it was all just a dream. But the painful part was remembering and realizing that it's truly not a dream, and that he was truly, gone.
It…is truly an event that is likely never to be forgotten, though occasionally life gets busy and things distract me from it, but whenever the memories come around, though it's not as painful as before, yet…
…it feels as though life there's many things I should ignore, for many are just distractions, which in the end are futile.
It was a very difficult time for my family; my mother, being the foremost affected, losing the man she had known for more than half her life; my sisters, whose emotional strength and meaning in life anchored in this man in many ways – he was, after all, their solid rock of hope.
It was a very sad day and season.
Pa, we all miss you. I miss you. I love you.
Looking back, sometimes, it feels as though there's so much and many futile things that we focus on, that really isn't important after all. What's the point of that, when the people whom you love is gone? Of course, not all, but I think the point is to focus on those who are alive, and spend time with them, in our limited time span here on earth.