The things they don’t tell you about loss

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is the moment after: sitting in his hospital room going through your contacts list and calling.

Telling people the same story over and over.

Having to relive the eight minutes you watched a room full of doctors and nurses attempt to resuscitate your dad before they finally ask you to wait outside. The final image seared in your brain is the doctor getting on top of his gurney for leverage.

You — clutching onto your chest wondering if you should be praying. Do you even remember how to do that? Your mom — hiding in another room. She knows what’s about to happen.

Your call to your aunt will haunt you forever. She was the first one on the call list. She answers the phone with, “He’s gone isn’t he?” The sound of her voice as she breaks down cuts deep into your soul. She was at church. She somehow knew.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is the irony of the surname your dad passed on to you. A surname that translates to nativity. The day of His birth. The day of his death.

You get well-meaning calls throughout the day from people who weren’t on the initial list wishing you a Merry Christmas, but you have to sour the mood when they ask about where he is. You ask them to pass on the message. You get even more calls. You’re exhausted. It’s only 4 PM.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is that when they love you, they wait for you. He was in the hospital for nine days; his condition worsening each day. On the tenth day, you get a call in the morning from the doctor saying they need to perform an emergency surgery. You ask to see him before he goes in. Because of a global pandemic, only your mom is allowed to visit him. But, on this day, the doctors knew. So, they let you all in. The moment your mom lets him know we’re all in the room huddled around him, he decides it’s finally time to go.

Code blue.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is how much noise there is in silence. It’s unbearable. The room where you overhear hospital staff talk about steak dinners as you wait for the doctor to come in and tell you your dad didn’t make it. The deafening hum of the car ride home — unsure about what’s next. The cacophonous clocks ticking at night when all of you sleep together on the couches because you’re afraid of sleeping alone.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is coming home and finding all of his documents and files neatly organized for all of you. Credit cards, investments, logins. When you turn on his laptop, a spreadsheet of important contacts. His employer, the woman who handles his insurance, the lottery group he has with his golf buddies. His last gift for all of you. He did all of this because even he knew.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is the amount of crying you hide from your family. You go to another room to quickly let out a few tears. You do this not because you don’t want your family to see that you’re weak. You do this because you don’t want your crying to start a chain reaction. You’re all weak at this moment.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is waking up the next morning. Feeling an emptiness inside you. Unable to get up. Unable to move.

Day one without my dad.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is you realizing why you are the way you are. Realizing that part of your motivation to succeed is the dream that you could show him his sacrifices were worth it. “Out-succeeding” him to show him thanks. For his suffering. For his loneliness. For his lost time.

Realizing you’re only 26 but you wish your dad could meet you at 30. The places you could be with a few more years. The more you could show him how much you loved him. Because you show your love in Asian households. You never actually say those words.

The thing they don’t tell you about loss is you will remember the last time you saw him. He gently wakes you up; a couple hours after your flight landed. You can faintly see his face. You say goodbye. You go back to sleep. You don’t think much of it because you expect to see him again soon.

You didn’t know.

The thing they do tell you about loss is to cherish the time you have with those who are still here. I was holding his hand the moment before that code blue. I don’t remember the last time I did that.

I hope you remember yours.

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I like writing things and laughing at my own jokes

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Jan Natividad

Jan Natividad

I like writing things and laughing at my own jokes

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