Today marks two years since the day my father died. We laid flowers on his grave on the way to bringing my daughter to youth group, and I can tell that a shrapnel of pain of the sudden loss is still in the minds and hearts of my children. He was a great, great grandpa to them and they miss him dearly.
I was thinking of writing something about what took place on September 10, 2009 and the manic days that followed, but I think nothing can top the blog post that I wrote right after it all happened.
Since many of you, if not most of you, have not seen that post (the blog, on Multiply, was just a personal journal that was frequented by my friends only), I will re-post it here.
Now here it is, made two years ago. Enjoy:
It’s been a long, long time since I blogged, and there’s lots of writer’s rust swimming around my head. But if there’s a reason to express myself through my keyboard again, it’s the topic at hand. It’s taken me a while to muster up the energy to write even this, but I have to get this off my mind before too much time passes and the moment is gone.
Before I go on to write about my dad’s death in more detail, I’d like to sincerely thank all of you for sending us your heartfelt condolences. Whether you visited us at the wake, you sent messages electronically, or simply thought about us, thank you. A special mention to those who never left our side through this crazy time; those who took up the cudgels of food, refreshments, and other administrative tasks; those who blessed us with song, God-glorifying messages, and testimonies…thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You know who you are.
Some of you think it’s the cancer that killed him, but it wasn’t. In fact, two days before his death he visited his doctor and was given a clean bill of health: no evidence of the disease. My dad was playing tennis with his buddies, was getting ready to serve, and then just collapsed on the court. That was it: sudden cardiac death was the official cause. (He used to have a heart condition)
God is so, so good. It’s as if my dad was so dear to Him that He gave him the best possible way to go out. Heck, the tennis court was already heaven in my dad’s mind. Then there’s the quick demise. Papa was spared the slow death that he was so fearful of, a death that the stage 3 cancer that struck him just 2 years ago made a frightening possibility. We’d joke around that he’d be the crankiest invalid on the planet if he would die through the cancer. Even joining the ranks of the senior citizens was not a pleasant thought to papa. But instead, there was no sign of struggle, no screams of pain, he just fell down and that was the end. He was a year short of the senior citizen benchmark.
I’d like to think that God sent the cancer as a heart prep for all of us. He wouldn’t use the disease to kill my dad, but it was an instrument to make the family, especially papa, aware of our own mortality. While he has been a true blue believer for quite some time, he really dove into his relationship with the Lord since the disease. People have noticed his spiritual side bloom. He has been quite devout since we started worshiping at CCF, but lately he truly was a spiritual leader in the family. He gave a testimony at our church, boldly proclaiming to all in attendance that God healed him (he even sang the Don Moen song, I am the God that healeth thee). There was not a dry eye in the building. Yes, God healed him of the cancer, and then mercifully brought him home Sept. 10, 2009.
It is interesting to note that I felt a lot less grief than I expected. In fact, many noticed how we, especially my mom, were holding up quite well. I remember years ago, as my friend and church mate Ian Kwan lay dying in the emergency room, his mother calmly told the doctor desperately trying to save his life to let him go. And during his wake and funeral service, I see “Mommy Nene” smile, warmly receive guests, and bear the death of her only son admirably well. Then I think of another CCF friend, Neil, who said that when his dad died, they were singing praise songs in the hospital. Now it was our turn to bear the brunt of the passing of someone we so dearly loved. And the wonderful God who gave both Nene and Neil the strength to bear this great loss was also the God who held us close and gave us this strange, supernatural sense of peace and fortitude that I can’t effectively describe here on this blog.
Nene mentioned in Ian’s funeral that “it’s easier to let go when you know where he’s going.” Amen. One thing that gave us so much strength through this whole ordeal is that we’re so comfortable with where papa is now. I don’t mean to come off as preachy or religiously haughty, but if the Bible that we believe in is true, people who have Jesus Christ in their lives, as my dad did, are promised Eternal Life the moment they leave their earthly life here.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12 NIV)
I can’t point this out strong enough. While the grief of losing my dad is quite great, the joy that we have knowing that papa now is in the most privileged place in all creation outweighs and nullifies that grief. Furthermore, there’s also a future hope that we, who also have been given eternal life, will see him again once it’s our turn to cross that canyon.
Now I know firsthand how the following verse feels.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55 NIV)
We may not have papa around the house anymore, but death was not victorious on September 10, 2009. My dad is at this very moment in the most enviable place imaginable; and we will see him again one day. And to that, I say Hallelujah!
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