At 6:23 P.M. on Friday, May 4, 2001, my father passed away from pancreatic cancer. He was 66. On July 25, 1995, a cancerous portion of his pancreas was successfully removed, and we were all well aware how close to death he'd come. We were able to make the most of the time we had, to accept the possibility and reality of his death more readily when it happened.
My mother, his sister, my brother, and I were all present when my father breathed his last. I had stopped praying for a miraculous recovery and simply prayed for an end to his pain, accepting that it could come in death.
As a practicing Catholic, I celebrated the Lord's Ascension this past week. The idea of fulfilling one's purpose and moving on is fresh in my mind. Some relatives are in from the Philippines for my cousin's wedding at the end of May, and we'll probably visit the cemetery where my father's body is buried. Before he died, my father told us not to visit often. For us, his family, his soul left his body with that last breath.
I think of my father often. I remember the arguments we had and the quiet moments when neither of us had words for what we felt. At the very least, death is the end of earthly existence, and so end all our flaws, every misinterpretation that leads to miscommunication. I have nothing but love for my father, and I believe he can feel it fully. If I'm somehow cosmically wrong, it's enough that I feel it and allow it to make me a better person.