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5:45 PM. The beep of the cardiac monitor and mechanical ventilator were complementing each other, sounding like an ensemble in a crescendo and decrescendo. There were intervals wherein the alarms were hitting the high notes echoing inside the gloomy and quiet room. I was astounded seeing the shifting colors of different kinds of tracings, from red to green in numerous screens. I don’t have any idea what it meant. All I know is that I’m inside the medical intensive care unit.The white walls of the room were more like clouds, like a glimpse of paradise, and the one lying on his bed might be on his trip to afterlife. But in my thought, the person that I’m attending that time didn’t deserve the promise of paradise but the otherwise. The only hue that gives life to the room was the red rose, placed inside a porcelain vase above the bedside table. I could hear the ticking of the white clock hanged at the center of the wall, just above the foot part of the bed. The room was very cold, yet I’m perspiring.
A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Good evening sir.”
“Hi nurse.” I replied in a soft and low tone of voice. I didn’t even notice that the nurse was already standing next to me. He was broad and tall with fair skin and fine, black hair. “Are you sure with the order sir?” He was holding a piece of paper with the bold heading: DO NOT RESUSCITATE DIRECTIVE. He stared at me intensely. I could see some tears forming in his eyes, clouding his brown irises with deep black pupils. I’m guessing he was trying to soften my heart.
“We would like to reiterate, in the event that his heart will stop to beat and he ceased to breath we will not give any type of measure to resuscitate him.” the nurse said.
“Yes, I understand.”I replied, avoiding his eyes.
“If that’s the case, kindly sign here sir.” the nurse said. He handed over to me the form. As I gripped the pen, my fingers trembled. I understood that very moment, that once I sign the form, I’m giving up the battle for his life against bone cancer. I’m allowing the grim reaper to take Hades without giving a good fight.
“We are even now.” The words came out from my mouth spontaneously. I signed the DNR order. I noticed a couple of tears fell from the nurse’s eye, glided along his angelic face. The clock pointed to 6PM.
I could smell his alcoholic breath as he approach the door. The reverberations of his heavy footsteps were like thunderclaps,frightening everyone inside the house. I would always warn my mama that Hades is already at home.
“Hades is here!” Upon hearing my voice, mama would usually rush to the kitchen and fix the food for dinner. With only one slipper loosely fitted on her foot, she would run like a chick frightened by a snake. My task is to unlock the door, since Hades would not mind to knock. Instead he would just kick it for a welcome note.
“Pak!” that’s the kick from his powerful thighs. The door opened wide, receiving the tyrant for his ostentatious entrance. I and mama did the curtsy. Instead of appreciating, Hades chose to turn on his music player, his amplifier and his 400 megawatt speakers. He searched for his favorite rock music disks, usually by the famous Air supply band and Beatles. He turned the speakers on to its maximum volume. The roof of the house started to shake. Spoon, fork and plates started to disco, generating their own symphony because of the vibrations. Staring vacuously on the TV, Hades listened for an hour while drinking numerous bottles of beer.
“Rex, go now.” mama said softly, while vigilantly looking at Hades drowning himself on liquors. She was referring to my special place where I study my lessons once Hades comes home.
I grabbed my notebooks and walk fully tiptoed outside the house. I climbed above the 20 feet, 14 year old mango tree beside our house. This is my study place. Its branches offered me support especially during my final examinations. Its, green, heart-shaped lavish leaves concealed me from the wrath of Hades. Its branches absorbed the sound waves coming from his speakers. The light illuminating from the nearby street post serves as my study lamp, sometimes the bright moon and shining stars that smiles and sheds additional light.
I smelled the scent of the coffee. The cup sitting above the table near the couch was already cold. I slowly opened my eyes. I looked at the clock; it was ten minutes passed 6 pm. My ears were already expecting to hear his music. A few minutes passed, I hear none. This time, what I could hear are the alarms of the machines and apparatus attached to his body. I just experienced the most peaceful 6 PM of my entire life. No rock music. Hades could not kick the door. He is in the state of coma. And I’m not used to this. I feel different. Then my lips started to open and sing his favorite song.
“Lying beside me, here in the dark…” My fingers started to tap and my feet started to stomp unexpectedly like drums. Hearing my own voice singing this music, I started to laugh. Hades is asleep. He seems to be in peace. And my heart wants to interrupt his slumber, like the way he did to us before.
After an hour display of his eardrum damaging music, my mama carefully arranged the plates above the table. She filled the glass with cold water from the pitcher and aligned the utensils. There was nothing delicious to anticipate for dinner but only dried fish swimming solitarily with sliced tomatoes and onions. She placed the uppermost layer of the boiled rice to the tyrant’s plate.“Is this human food?” he asked. He was like a volcano ready to burst. His eyes were fixed at mama’s face. His rigid hands lifted the plate of our only viand. After a few moments, the plate was tossed on the air and smashed to the cement wall. Our viands kissed the wall before reaching the floor. My knees trembled in fear.
“That’s all that we can afford.” Mama replied with her lips quivering.
Hades grabbed the glass on the table. He looked at us fiercely in the eye. We cautiously looked at his hands. We felt the warm fumes coming from his angry soul. I and mama did not utter any words. Our breaths were even shallow. I could fell the increase in my heartbeat. He removed his hands from the glass.
“I’m giving you money every day!” he said.
“But it is not enough!” mother answered.
Mama was right. Hades gives her only 100 pesos a day. 30 pesos is allocated for my daily allowance for school. Mama allocates the remaining money for our food for the entire day. Barely could I recall the taste of pork, beef and chicken. Most of the time, mama would buy dried fish, vegetable and rice for our meal.
“What else can I buy for 100 pesos?” mama asked.
Hades ran out of words. His face became red like the tomatoes. He stood, grabbed the table and placed it upside down. All the things on the table swam on the ground. Mama embraced me, as we stepped back to protect ourselves. I could hear the fast paced heartbeats of my mother.We accepted the action, as always.
The dietary personnel knocked twice and silently entered the room. He carefully placed my food for dinner on the table. “Enjoy your food sir.” He smiled. I smiled back. He went out the room. His masculine smell remained inside the room. Hungry, I opened the cover and I saw a slice of expensive fish garnished with herbs and onions. Tears fell from my eyes. The situation was different; I could now eat without fear of being hit by the flying plates and falling table.
Silence filled the house after Hades stole all the happiness we have. As soon as Hades left the dining place, mama picked up the broken glass, shattered plates and wasted foods on the floor. I picked up some rice and dried fish; I blew to remove some dust from it, without second thoughts I ate it. I saw the racing tears of my mama fell from her exhausted eyes. She smiled at me, the kind ofsmile that was full of positivity and oomph.
“Let’s leave this forsaken place ma.”
“No. We cannot abandon your father.” she said.
“Why not leave him?” I didn’t receive any answer from her.
She finished cleaning up the mess on the floor. The broken glass and plates were set aside away from the house. Then, she feed our ducks and hens with the spilled food from the devastating dinner. The ducks and hens ate the foods with gusto.
“These ducks and hens are lucky; I think it’s better to become one of them.” I said. We laughed while watching the animals enjoy their meal. A disdainful silhouette covered us, as Hades stood in the doorstep, only seven feet away from us. He tossed his used clothing to the floor. Mama immediately picked it up and placed it inside a basin. She started to wash our clothes.Mama did it manually.We don’t have a washing machine. The veins in her hands and arms were like worms-dilated and full. She could not even squeeze the clothes properly.
I returned my notebook inside my bag. The scene crushed my heart;given the fact that mama does all the house chores in the house. She does it from dusk until midnight. I was about to help mama when Hades tossed again his underwear to the basin.
“Ma, let me help you.” I grabbed my school uniform.
“No. Leave it Rex. Let me do it for you.” she answered.
“Ma, let’s abandon him.”
“I wanted too Rex.” She squeezed the clothes of Hades very hard.
“So, what is keeping you here ma?”
Her face became serious. She kissed my forehead. “You.”, she answered.
“But ma, I’m not happy here with him anymore.”
“Without him life will be more difficult for you.” she answered.
“But this is already difficult.” The thought came out from my mind, which I didn’t utter that time. I really couldn’t understand the point of mama. I’m considering that maybe it was fatigue and hunger, that prevented her from making an upright decision. Or maybe she was still in loved with Hades. Is she? I never witnessed any sweetness on them as a couple since I was born. Unlike other typical husbands and wives, who are using their personal words of endearments; mama and Hades are calling each other using their proper names, like a superior and of a subordinate.
“Sir, I’m going to change his diaper.” the nurse said. The nurse lowered the head of the bed and the side-rail on his side. I saw some drops of sweat glided along the left side of his face moving towards his fine black mustache. I stood up from the couch and offered some help in turning and lifting.
“Thank you sir.” the nurse said.
“No problem.” I replied.
The handsome nurse immediately left the room. I looked at Hades from above. He seemed comfortable in his newly changed linens and diaper. His toned muscles were already gone, his strength most likely. “You are very lucky; you still have your slaves.” I said in a high note. Still he didn’t responded.
Sited like a king on his throne, Hades watched his favorite action movie. He had these collections of foreign action films byJacky Chan, Stallone and Jet Lee. He was fond of warfare, clashes and violence.
“What movies do you like?” he asked while drinking a bottle of beer.
“Fairytales, vampires and mermaids.” I answered.
“These kinds of things do not exist!”
“I believe they do exist.” I replied.
“Reality is something that you can touch, see, smell and taste.” he said.
Mama who was hiding beside the curtains signaled me to stop arguing with Hades. I did not.“How about something that you can feel like love, joy and hope?”
He laughed and didn’t give me any answer. I looked at him closely. His eyes were fixed to the television screen. I left him alone watching the movie. What I heard next was the empty bottles of beer rolling on the floor.
The same nurse checked the vital signs of Hades. I observed for his reactions. His charming smile vanished from his face. His rubicund face became pale. “The vital signs are within critical level sir.” I felt a little fiber of anxiety.
“Will he last through the night?” I asked.
The nurse looked at the window. I could sense some hesitancy. “I really can’t approximate sir, I’m sorry.” he said.
After the nurse went out the room, I stood near the bed and observed Hades. I can feel the cold blow of the air-conditioning unit. I want to hug him but my mind was preventing me.
“He is wicked! “He ruined your life!”
“He was absent in most of your birthdays!”
“He was absent in all of your graduations.”
“He was absent during the funeral of your mother.”
“He is Hades, he condemn you for being gay! He is the master of cruelty!”Those were the voices whispering in my ears.
I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and went outside the room. I left him alone. I decided to let him go without watching his death. Right on that moment, I smelled a familiar scent. It was like fragrance of flowers and candles. I guessed,it was the smell of the grim reaper ready to seize his soul.
I went directly to the chapel. I kneeled down and pray. I asked for signs. When I was about to sit down, I noticed a pregnant woman with his husband sitting inside the chapel. The husband embraced his wife, he baby-talked on the abdomen of his pregnant wife and kissed it afterwards. I witnessed that very moment how loving is a father to his family, especially to his child. As I bowed down my head to the altar, my vision was captured by a flying yellow butterfly. It hovered in front of me. I enjoyed watching its wings in a close-open-close-open motion. I tried to reach for it but it flew towards the altar. The butterfly rested on the shoulder of Jesus Christ. Suddenly, I felt that tears begun to cloud my eyes. I cannot see a thing, only the sculpture of Jesus at the center of the altar.
An unfamiliar word came out from my mouth- Papa. I immediately ran to his room. In the hallway, I was confronted by the nurse.
“What happened?” I asked while running for my breath.
“We are losing him sir.”, the nurse said while hiding his tears.
Upon hearing those words, all my body parts numbed. My visual perception was blocked by series of flashing memories. Those were the memories that I unconsciously kept within me for a long period of time. I saw papa cuddling me when I was three years old, I saw him going home late at night bringing a box of milk after a tiring and hot day riding a Padyak, I could remember his fresh odor every time he cuddled me, I knew it was his shadow defending me from the deadly mosquitoes and the one taught me how to walk in my own.
“Sir?”It was the nurse.
“Save my father.” Upon hearing my command, the resuscitation team composed of doctors and nurses rushed inside my father’s room. Nurses pushed the emergency cart while doctors in different uniforms came in simultaneously. I was left on the hallway. I couldn’t initiate a single step.
“Start defibrillation!” “Give epinephrine 2 units.” “Given doctor!” “Start CPR!” I started to initiate few steps toward the room. The shouting voices began to increase in intensity and frequency. I stood up silently at the entrance. I was not allowed to go inside. I saw the male nurse rapidly and heavily compressing the chest of papa. The tracings became flat, followed by a long, uninterrupted alarm. A bigger male nurse jumped on the scene and delivered rapid compressions. Tears continuously fell from my eyes. If only I could hold his heart, I will manually compress it. “Pa, breath. Please.” I silently whispered while controlling my outburst.
“No pulse, no breathing!”The medical team stopped from what they were doing. I saw hope escaped from their eyes. I immediately rushed inside the room. I compressed the chest of my father. “What are you doing? Please don’t stop!” I saw blood escaped from my father’s nose and mouth. The various tubes attached to him became bloody. I was hugged by one of the nurses. “Papa! No!”
“Time of death, 10:05 PM.”, the doctor said in a low tone. My world stopped from spinning.I immediately hugged papa who is now cold and dead. “I love you. I’m sorry.”
I saw tears fell from papa’s eyes. I saw colorful butterflies flying outside the window. In four hours and five minutes, I chose to forgive my father. I don’t want to die from this world with full of hatred, therefore, I must learn to forgive and forget the miserable experiences, those who wounded me, my father and above all myself. I am conveying these to the most merciful God, who is always gentle and affectionate, the one who protects and guards those who love and being loved, those who were banished, were disappointed and were unsuccessful, including the vivacious roses, fragrant Sampaguita, fallen Kalachuchi, dehydrated Cadena de Amor, lost and forgotten orchids and all-all-all things and happenings on Earth and above.