On mortality

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This morning, I woke up to the news that K’s dad had passed away. So it goes.

I was surprised when my phone rang at around 9am. It was S, and she asked me if I had read K’s text. I said no, I just woke up. S said she wasn’t sure if K was joking and I groggily asked, “Joking about what?”

“Her dad’s dead,” S said.

Fuck.

K is probably the most ladylike friend I have. She never goes out of the house without mascara or eyeliner on and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her swear. She’s not a straight-up prude who never wears anything shorter than knee-length, but the way she speaks and conducts herself reeks of exclusive catholic school upbringing.

This is why it never occurred to me that she could be joking about her dad’s death. After the very brief exchange, S and I hung up and I read K’s message. She was asking for prayers; she and her family did not expect her dad’s demise at all.

It was a struggle for me to draft a reply to K’s text. I believe I ended up typing something like “hugs K, really sorry to hear this.” She replied about how hurt she was. Heart attack, apparently. No chest pains, just sudden tummy ache and vertigo and bam, he collapsed. Few hours later, he was declared dead.

As much as I wanted to be as helpful as possible, it was really tough to come up with the right words to console K. Maybe nothing could, at least not now while the wound is still fresh and throbbing with pus and flesh. I might have told her that I would pray for her, which was only half-sincere because er, I don’t pray.

At one point I also considered telling her, “now you’re one step closer to being Batman” but I don’t think she’d appreciate the humor.

After the bad news had sunk in, I started picturing my own dad’s death. Maybe it would be as sudden as what happened to K’s dad, or it could also be a late diagnosis of some bitch-ass disease like cancer. My dad has had many health complications in the past. Even our family doctor has told my brother to not leave home yet because my dad does not have many years to live.

But despite a heads-up, I guess none of us could ever be really prepared for the passing of loved one. We’d all be hurt, and the pain may never go away. And while kamatayan is yet to knock on our door in all his punk black glory, might as well make the most of the time we have with the people we love and even with those we don’t.

As per Kurt Vonnegut’s rule, “God damn it, you’ve [just] got to be kind.”

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