No matter how complicated our relationship had been, it broke my heart to see you in such a broken state.
Eyelids black and swollen from internal bleeding. Caked blood around the tube in your mouth. Another tube taped to your nose. A halo of maroon around your bandaged head that lay on a white pillow.
Your chest heaved up and down in a machine-controlled rhythm. Your legs in a weird angle. You were still wearing the striped blue polo shirt you were wearing when a car hit you.
I was about to say something to you when two nurses came in. They wore pins in cheerful yellow declaring “I am Lee” and “I am Chae.” Lee took your blood pressure. Chae cleaned the tube to your nose. I didn’t like how she handled it. I could see the tip of your nose
being pulled to the side as she held the other end of the tube.
When they left, tears freely flowed. I asked you if you could hear me. I hope you did. I hope you heard the things I wasn’t able to tell you before.
People ask how I feel and I say I’m fine. But sometimes I lie awake at night thinking about how your life was taken in such a cruel way, wondering about the things that could have happened instead. It is during these times, with only me and my thoughts, that my tears fall. It pains me to imagine the pain you went through.
The indignity of lying on the roadside with an injured leg and a fractured head. The possibility that your broken body was mishandled as the hospital couldn’t dispatch an ambulance. How the driver dropped you at the emergency room and then left. Thinking about how private hospitals do not attend to dying people unless they pay upfront. How long did you lie there like that?
When doctors attended to you, they said you were GCS 3 (Glasgow Coma Scale). Severe brain injury. Brain dead.
Your brain stem was broken. And blood has seeped to the deepest parts of your brain. They couldn’t do anything anymore.
I thought the tears would no longer come. But as they dismantle the tarpaulins, the flowers, the chairs and all the trappings of a funeral, it hit me hard. The winds howled as they loaded you to the hearse, so did my heart.
It was a slow walk to the church and to the cemetery. And I realized how it gives the mourners time to contemplate on the person’s life and death, their relationship with the deceased and their own relationship with life and death.
As we walked on, Papa’s favorite songs were playing.
“If I could get another chance
Another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love love love
To dance with my father again…”
I cried for the moments that we shared as father and daughter, but most of all I cried for the times that we didn’t.