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|| Wednesday, January 03, 2007 ||


the agony
Last Christmas, Pyro arrived with his parents at our doorstep with a huge oxygen tank. He was already having such a trouble breathing so his parents bought a tank, to make things easier for him.

He looked too fragile and sick... but he ate a lot of spaghetti and managed to accept his Christmas gifts with thanks and kisses.

He even attended Mass with us, something he insists on any time it could be done.

That whole time, I was greatly irritated with his cries. I never fully understood what 'mewling' might sound... but there it was, incessantly coming from him as he struggled to breathe and eat and sleep.

I was irritated. Not with him... but with the fact that I could never remember a time that he seemed beyond saving. And I couldn't remember a time where I was really utterly helpless.

I was irritated. And I wished the mewling cries to stop. And for one brief moment, I wondered if maybe I shouldn't ask God to just end his pain by taking his life back.

Then I felt guilty.

December 26, Py was confined for routine chemo. We were again faced with decisions to be made because we were really running out of funds. I again raised the possibility of Py being admitted at a charity ward the next time, just so we can cut down on expenses. The fundraising thing was not yet working out because we still couldn't figure out how to make paypal work for us.

Py managed to finish one of two chemo treatments that night, and was even chatty. But then, he couldn't pee despite (or because of?) the catheter and got really upset... which proved to be the last straw for his heart. He was admitted in the ICU around 3 in the morning. We got the call to come at past 4:30 AM. We got there at 5:30... and he was declared officially dead at 10:45 AM.

Looking back on all the times I cried all day, due to a broken heart or a missed gimik or whatever triggered the melodrama in me... I cannot help but feel shame. For here WAS real sorrow.

There were moments when I thought i've used up the tears of my lifetime... but more will flow. And as the hours drew on to a close for my beloved nephew, I kept debating with myself if it was really my place to pray for God to end his suffering and just really take him. I was not his parent after all. I was still the person looking through a glass window... only, the first time I did that for him, it was to meet Pyro as a newborn.

The pain and loss overwhelms me so much that I am actually half-amazed that the world hasn't stopped for my grief. Multiply that grief by a hundred, and you might get an idea of how my sister must feel. Multiply that a hundredfold more, and one might begin to imagine what Pyro's parents, my brother and SIL, are going through.

Weirdly enough, I was too choked with grief that I ended up vomiting on the ICU floor... missing my nephew's last breath, only hearing my wailing SIL and my screaming brother... crying like a child several feet away, wondering if my husband was comforting my sister.

My sister kept the shirt he died on... but I convinced her later on not to hold onto something that will forever remind him of Pyro's suffering... especially when, despite the cancer, there were more good times to be remembered. That shirt ended up being washed and buried with Py.

Py was changed into the pajama set (Sponge Bob) that my MIL gave him for Christmas. He got it in advance and has loved it ever since. Call me cruel for making my loving MIL cry all the more by sharing that piece of tidbit with her at the wake. But see, the important thing was, Py loved the gift.

His uncle bought him a suit to cover up his frailness, his thinness, as he lay in his coffin. And during the days of the wake, we danced the mourning dance, getting teary-eyed with every visitor, repeating stories and reminiscences, crying to friends and family, missing meals, missing sleep, seeking comfort and assurances, praying, blaming ourselves and each other, getting mad, getting sad, and finding the love and the God that made Pyro such a happy child.

Later on, his wake would become a testament to how greatly he was loved, and how greatly he lived his short life, through the pictures and videos and trinkets that colored the wake. It was made more interesting because my SIL"s family was Christian, while we were Catholic, so traditions and superstitions and rituals kept getting confused and combined. And his cousins continued to play and create noise amidst all the grieving adults and sympathetic visitors.

Py's head laid on a pillow my husband gave him, a pillow Jojo kept as a souvenir from Thai Airways, a pillow Py never goes anywehere without.

the love
As I said before, let it not be said that it didn't take much courage and even greater love for his parents to let him go. My brother admits to raging against the thought initially, especially since it was Pyro who set him straight and taught him about responsibility.

More importantly, Py was blessed with so much love that even strangers showed up to comfort us. I especially thank my DOF colleagues who I haven't seen in years, but who took a morning off to pay their respects. Special mention also to my husband's colleagues and old bandmates and friends of my brother, sister and SIL. A guy my SIL met in Korea who lost an in-law (who had her wake next door to us) even had his choir sing for Pyro too. And belated gifts like the bubble machine he wanted, and coloring books, and balloons adorned his casket.

But the love I really want to talk about is the love that comforts those of us he left behind, manifested in the fact that we knew we did everything we could... for him. Of course, there's always something we could have probably done more or differently, but we know that everything we did, we did out of nothing but love for him.

Heck, we even fought over how best to love the child! How many kids, nay, even people, can claim the same privilege?

That's why, when it was time to say some last words, I faced everyone and reminded them how blessed a child Pyro was. How, when he was a child, there'd always be at least two people hovering over his crib. And how, during his last hours, there were ten of us at the hospital to see him through. And I appealed to them to be inspired and love some more... those people who are still in their lives. Our time, our presence, our forgiveness, our strength, our love... those things are what make people happy. And having given all those things, we at least cannot regret not having loved Py.

Indeed, the thing that grieves us most is not being given more time to love him.

the manifestations
I do not believe easily in the supernatural but neither do I deny nor dismiss them.

Pyro's main playmates were cousins Jopy and Lat. Jopy is turning 4 years old this January 8.

The afternoon Py died, their Mom heard them conversing as if there was a third person/child with them. Lat actually said the words, "Pyro, diba pango si Jopy?"

The next day, Jopy will tell her Mom about how Py complained that he was not able to watch the Wish Ko Lang segment we were showing the mourners because the screen was turned to (away from?) his coffin, and that Py wanted her to open the casket (she did try prying it open), and how they just talked and ate cotton candy, and that Py asked her to tell his parents to eat a lot... of cotton candy. Jopy/Py also used the word PAROL to refer to the coffin. Py supposedly also said that he hugs the pillow his Ninong Jojo gave him (so it should rest on his chest), and wanted his SpongeBob pillow for his head instead.

Then the next day, Jopy seemed possessed, sometimes telling things that Pyro did and said, sometimes sounding as if she was Pyro. My sister couldn't look at her when she heard her sound like Py...

One of the freakier things about it was Jopy laughing Py's laugh and saying, "Haha, si Tita Mec, pinutukan ng lobo sa mukha". Exactly the way Py would have said it. And Jopy doesn't really know me, by the way, what more by name. And this has reference to when I was tying up all the balloons Py's cousins were playing with, concerned that they'd pop in someone's face and hurt them, when one balloon just popped in my hand.

The morning of the burial, Jopy asked her Mom why Py resembled a bird. Her Mom was confused why the association with a bird, to which Jopy asked again, why was it that Pyro had wings?

She saw the winged Py during the Mass, when we were all 'dousing' (?) his coffin with Holy Water.

Jopy is only 4 years old. I suspect that part of her stories are her way of coping with the loss of a playmate. But I believe that she couldn't possibly make it all up. She just doesn't have enough life experience to string thoughts together and create these storiers... especially since she gets exasperated when asked about them, complaining of having to repeat what we should have also supposedly heard and seen in the first place.

And such stories comfort us... even dreams of people where Pyro was featured happy and playing with other kids. Pyro has had so much suffering in his last year, he has no other way to be but happier where he is.

Another friend, a psychic, was visited by Pyro. He saw Pyro with wings and in white. Pyro thanked her, and told her he's saying hello to her, and would be his angel as well. Pyro also told him that he kissed his grandmother goodbye because she couldn't come home. But am not telling my Mom that just yet, because she's still really a crying mess right now. It's really hard that she's mourning by herself in the US.

To friends I owed so much kindness from, i've always said before that Pyro will thank them when he's finally able. Of course, I envisioned a grown-up Pyro, studying to become a doctor (or a priest), able to read this blog and the comments left here. But what if, in his passing, and because of his suffering, he was really transformed into an angel? And isn't it at all possible that the child who gave a lot of people so much joy when he was alive could continue putting a smile on our faces and in our hearts?

My cousin, who helped take care of Py and who forced Py's pedia to perform the x-ray that would let us know of the tumor, talked to us about a growing suspicion. She said that when she's alone at home, she feels Py's presence too. Only, she's scared by it. Being a Christian, she fears that the devil might be using our love for Py and playing with our feelings. She also told us that it doesn't feel right that Py is not crossing over.

My sis, on the other hand, feels bad and sad all the time... and doesn't want for Py to manifest to her. She wants him to move on and be happy.

I told them that so long as Jopy isn't getting scared of Py, we can at least rest easy that the Pyro she sees and converses with is the angel Py. But of course, i'd like for Py to leave Jopy alone too... lest the little girl starts thinking that people only like her because of Py.

So, Yapeeyee, be our angel if you must. Be the bringer of good tidings when there are, and of comfort when it's needed. But move on and don't worry about us.

the religion
It was honestly the first time I saw my brother reading a Bible... what more, he was reading it to my SIL... or during the early morning hours where we're the only ones left to watch over Py. It would have been funny if the reason wasn't so tragic.

But it was there. In losing Pyro, he has discovered God. And not only him. All of us were reminded that there is a God. My brother and SIL, though grief-stricken, surrendered their child and accepted that Pyro's life was God's.

And I sort of felt pity for those who didn't believe in a God... wondering where they would turn when they find themselves on their knees in sorrow, and desperation, and lack of answers.

Like what I said, I was traumatized by Pyro's last moments. Maybe because I expected a child to be given the sweet mercy of passing away peacefully... quietly... gracefully. But Py's last moments were a struggle from one breath to another. And I felt cheated and offended and violated for him.

I asked friends to pray for me... because I was raging inside against the manner in which he died. And I was scared because whenever I looked at him in his coffin, I couldn't see the handsome, peaceful child people were speaking of. All I could see was pain in his face. And I didn't want that. I wanted to recapture all the wonderful moments that came before his dying.

And God is merciful. He sent a pastor with a gift of eloquence that soothed my shaken faith, my broken spirit.

I don't know the name of that pastor, and he's pretty young at age 31. But he spoke gently of various scenarios wherein prayers are answered in different ways. He reminded us that there is a greater plan, and that Pyro has served his purpose as part of that plan. And then he said something about how it doesn't matter to God how one dies... whether it be from a crime or an illness... regardless of what age or status in life. What matters is that we'd be joining him... and because Pyro was too young to have really sinned... and because Pyro was too young and yet had a sense of the divine ever since... it shouldn't matter that Py suffered for 1/3 of his life because he is joining Him.

The pastor also reminded us about four things about life:
Life is a gift, which we should enjoy and cherish. Life is a chance, which we should make the most of. Life has an end and the end will seldom come the way, or at a time, we like. And each one's life will be judged, and there will be rewards for those who walked the right path, both here on earth (loving reminiscences) and in heaven.


The telling, though it doesn't diminish the sorrow, at least validates a life well lived, and a child well loved.

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