Every Thursday morning, he makes a lot of missed calls to me and my husband’s phone. It means that we have to pick him up from the Diplomatic Quarter where he works as a Contractor. He works from 6am to 2 pm, but during weekends, he insists that we pick him up before 12 noon, saying that Thursday is “his day”. He comes to our house during weekend to cook lunch and dinner, sometimes even some meals in between. He uses our PC to chat with his family in the Philippines, long enough until there’ s no more stories to tell. He watches TV the whole day, and he enjoys PBA games to the maximum. Whenever we eat together, he’s the first one to finish his meal. He often takes my youngest daughter from me, so I could eat comfortably. He fondly calls Alia by many names—at which my little girl often beats him back fondly. On Friday nights, we sends him back to his company accommodation. It was all a routine. Last night, my husband received a call that Kuya Donnie passed away. When my husband broke the news to me, I was dumbfounded. I felt as if a pail of cold water was thrown over me. I could not feel my hands or feet. I heard my husband asking me to move fast because we have to rush to his place, to know what happened to him. I remember asking my husband several times if the person who called confirmed that “it” was really Kuya Donnie. I was in a state of denial. I was panicking. I could not believe what my husband was telling. We were in Exit 10 and we were supposed to go to Exit 5 to the Samama Accomodation. On the way, we’re calling his friend’s number, but there was no answer. My husband was driving fast, and he missed several exits. We ended up rounding the City Center. I asked my husband to relax- because I knew he was tensed and I had to be extra strong. When we arrived at his accommodation, a group of Filipino men were waiting for us. They know my husband because they always see him picking up Kuya Donnie from that place. Each of them wanted to hear something- if it’s true that their colleague, Don, was dead. We contacted several persons, from those he were with in the morning, to their company liason officer. They told us different stories. Finally, we were sure that he was brought to Shimesy Hospital. According to his co-player (he plays Basketball in the American Embassy Recreation Center), Kuya Donnie arrived early that day in the gym. He was in his usual, cheerful spirit. He played basketball with them all throughout the first set. He did not complain about feeling anything unusual. On the second set of their game, he said that when Kuya Donnie shot from a lay up, he immediately asked for a substitution. But before somebody substituted him from the game, he collapsed. It was his last shot. It was his last game. The cause of his death was heart attack. I found myself thinking how it could be that soon, and that sudden. He was just eating with us the night before. I was teasing him because I saw him in the kitchen eating alone, while we came from a restaurant to buy food. He said that he thought we would not eat dinner, or we would dine out. I told him that we could not eat well without him, so we decided to bring the food home. Earlier that Thursday, he asked me if he could borrow my digital camera. He said that he wanted to take pictures with his co-players in the Gym. I prepared the camera and put the batteries on the camera case, so he could just get it—but he was not able to bring it the following day. I was used to seeing Kuya Donnie every Friday morning, back from his basketball game. Yesterday, I woke up at 9am, and I looked for him in the house, and I did not find him. I asked Lydene if he came back from his game, and she told me that she had not seen him too. At noontime, I asked my husband to call Kuya Donnie to ask why he has not gone home yet. He said that maybe he spent his Friday with his friends in Batha, or went somewhere else. I called his cellfone number twice but it was closed. Late that same afternoon, my daughter is searching for him too. She asked me why Tito Donnie isn’t home yet. I tried to call him in his cellfone again but it was closed. I joke with my Yaya about him, that maybe he was in a riot or something. Out of the blue, I lighted candles around the house that day. I had no hint that something happened to Kuya Donnie already, but I have asked my husband a million times of what he thinks maybe the reason why he has not come back from his basketball game. It was all too sudden. One saddest part of this experience is the part that I had to call Ate Helen (his wife) to break the bad news. I guess it was early dawn in the Philippines when I called her. When her phone was ringing, I felt my throat dried up. I forgot the words I was supposed to tell her. I heard her voice, and I started to cry. It was not easy, and I hoped that I was not the one to tell her about what happened to her husband. I told her that something happened to Kuya Donnie. She asked me several times what happened, but I ran out of words….I stammered… until there were almost no words coming from my mouth, but my sobs. It hurt me hearing Ate Helen as she cried like a child. She told me that I was lying to her…. She told me that if I was joking, I better stop, because she could not take it anymore…. And she could not accept it…. She asked me several questions at which I didn’t know what to say. Did somebody help him?Were we able to talk to him?Who was with him when that happened?Did he leave a message??Was he sent to the hospital??Why did you not help him?I though he was with you on weekends.Why did you let him play that day?…..…..….. My heart breaks seeing my husband’s grief. Because they spent years since they were both young- he was his closes cousin. He lost his favorite “Ni”. I feel sad for the wife he left, and his kids who look up to him-for a family that he worked so hard to give a good life for. And to me, I lost the older brother that I never had.
October 30, 2008Last night, we drove home our first 4 x 4. Isn’t it great? Being young, and enjoying your life?
This morning, I woke up and found my daughter sobbing from her sleep. It was only half past six a.m, and both of us had barely slept for only four hours because she watched TV till dawn. She was crying while saying, “Mama, please send me to school”.
What makes me happy?
People. Everyone around me who believes and inspires me.
Life itself is a happy experience. The world is a happy place.
I had my own share of struggles, life was not easy for us back then but my Dad taught me how to believe in myself, work hard , be kind and to be strong. He inspired me to go out of my comfort zone. He used to tell me that the possibilities in life are endless and so I believed him.
l Iost him quite a few years ago but he has left me with so much inspiration to follow my dreams - to visit places I have only dreamt of or have seen in the movies when I was little and to do things I thought were only for the privileged few.
Wherever I go, I always remember my Dad, wishing he could see me from afar and somehow be proud of me as I have always been so proud of him. Life is short and I promised him that I would make the most of mine.
Travelling makes me happy and in all other things, I choose happiness. We all should- always..