Twenty-five years ago, I was present when the nurses removed all the life support gadgets attached to my mom’s body. Kuya Junior was there, me, then came Kuya Romy who was surprised that Mama had stopped breathing. He cried and rubbed his eyes. Kuya Lito and Ayleen came and we gathered around our mother’s bed silently weeping.
I watched her blood pressure and oxygen dropping, then her heart stopped followed by a flat line with a beeping sound, as if announcing to the world that a soul had departed this earth. I saw Mama take a deep breath, parang nagbuntunghininga, her last breath, but that moment didn’t traumatize me. A feeling so deep and powerful enveloped me and for some reason, I told myself, naku, orphan na kami. Wala na ang papa, wala na ang mama. Both our parents were gone.
The cables, tubes, monitors, and dextrose were choking my mother’s soul. My mom was the prettiest if not one of the prettiest I have ever seen, and seeing her immobile and distorted face stripped her of the dignity a true beauty deserved. One by one the tubes were pulled from her body, and slowly her face went back to her gorgeous self. Watching her face transform back to her once beautiful being, I saw that even in death, devoid of any facial powder or lipstick, and unfiltered, she was truly one of God’s beautiful creations.
Several days ago, the nurses and doctors advised Kuya Romy’s family that he was brain dead and not even the slightest brain activity was detected, it made them all believe that there was no more hope. With the heaviest of hearts, Kuya Romy’s sons were scheduled to remove all life support at 10 am this Thursday, February 1, 2024. My sister Ayleen told me she didn’t want to be present or else she would be traumatized. Hindi daw nya kaya. I planned on going. I wanted to be there during his last moments or seconds on earth. He is my brother for life, and I want to bid him adieu and wish him a good journey to his next destination.
Wednesday evening, at around 6 pm, my sister messaged me that Kuya opened his eyes and moved his hand. I shed tears of joy and exclaimed it’s a miracle. I took it as a sign that he was not ready to depart.
I visited Kuya Romy yesterday afternoon at around 2:30 pm. I wanted to catch him while he was awake. I was the only visitor. I met his son Sherwin on his way out to go back to his office but he and his brothers would be back in the evening. All parents out there, if there’s one person you would want to be your son, it’s Sherwin. His goodness, generosity, love, kindness, devotion, and dedication to his family, parents, and brothers are commendable. He is his family’s hero.
Kuya miraculously woke up from his deep slumber on Wednesday night as if he knew what was imminent if he didn’t show signs of life.
He responded to questions such as “Pa, gusto mo na bang tanggalin itong nakakabit sa katawan mo? “Itaas mo ang kanang kamay kung gusto mo ng tanggalin.” And he did raise his right hand a little. I told his son, he raised his hand to say he wanted to be free of the great discomfort caused by the gadgets. He wasn’t saying “yes, pull the plug because I am giving up.” He still want to live and he is fighting. The guy is still alive. If they ordered to pull the plug, eh di parang pinatay na sya? Hindi na pwedeng, “ay sorry, ibalik na uli natin yung respirator, dagdagan natin ng 100% oxygen.”
When I walked into his room, his eyes were closed but there was movement. His eyelids were occasionally moving.
When I said “Kuya, Kuya, kuya, si ____ ito.” His eyes opened and looked in the direction of my voice. I walked to the other side of his bed and called him again “Kuya, kuya, hello kuya”. His eyes looked toward where I was. Then I went back to his left side, and his eyes followed. His head moved very slightly. His eyes pinned on me. I wasn’t sure if his eyesight was clear enough to make him identify that it was me but I was 100% certain he recognized my distinct voice. I continued to call him. “Kuya, Kuya, kuya, si ne, kuya….” Then I saw his shoulders shaking. He was crying but no tears. I knew he was crying.
I controlled my emotions and continued to call him and made kwento who came to visit him in the past few days. “Kuya, narito ang Kuya Junior nung Lunes, kasama ang Ate Linda, Dito rin ang Kuya Lito, si Dimple, si Ailen, Bong, si Nyke,…. dito kami lahat.” His eyes were still on me, occasionally rolling, probably tired. I ran out of things to say to make him feel better. I wanted him to listen to music because I know sick people feels relaxed when listening to the right music. I couldn’t turn on my cellphone baka bawal.
Instinctively I started singing Bahay Kubo. I continued singing for at least 10 to maybe 15 minutes. I just stopped kasi baka nakukulili na sya sa boses ko. I felt he enjoyed my singing and probably wondering what on earth my sister was doing singing Bahay Kubo? I thought it gave him comfort and a sense of familiarity. He would remember when he was still little, with our mother singing Bahay Kubo to him. And that was a good way of giving him comfort, like a little child cuddled by his mother. I hope I entertained him and made him feel loved. I was singing but crying from the inside. It felt like goodbye.
The Filipina nurse came and injected his left hand with two vials of medicine. I asked what they were for, she said for his lungs. Then she moved to Kuya’s right arm to extract blood. “‘tay, kukunan kita ng dugo.” I saw her extract half a vial of blood but she started rotating the needle. I saw Kuya Romy reacting. Nasasaktan! He also started kicking and shaking his right foot. I was there, he not only is alive. He is kicking. If he is brain-dead he would not be able to feel pain and kick. He is not brain-dead.