Call it a wake-up call. Call it an epiphany. Call it therapy. Call it what you will. But as I was wallowing in my sorrows as 1st November 2017 began, and knowing that in 24 days I was going to meet my 34th birthday without my beloved Dad for the very first time, I thought to myself that I need to do this for my own healing.
Yes, I lost my Dad this year. He left to be with Allah at exactly half of this year, on 16th June 2017. When 2017 started I honestly thought it would be a great year. I went on my solo trip, I was on probation for a promotion at work, I was going to the gym, my family was in good health, everyone was happy. It was a great start of the year.
Then like the 2004 Tsunami, my whole world and life unexpectedly came tumbling upside down and inside out. All of a sudden my family had crises. *Note the plural form of the word "crisis"* And it started on a rather fine day on 28th April.
I was on edge that day as I did my colleague's wedding makeup. Part of me screamed at myself to go back to Ipoh immediately. But part of me was saying, Mum would call me again if Dad was really doing poorly. She did say that he was feverish the night before. So maybe the fever had broken. But that night after the wedding, as I spoke to Dad on the phone and hearing him literally struggling and crying out in pain to take a deep breath due to a pain on his side, I had an instinct that it wasn't just a fever.
Dad being the person he was, never wanted to worry us kids. So he actually tried to convince me that it was a torn muscle at his side that caused the pain making it hard to take deep steady breaths. Torn muscle, you ask? I asked too. And he said that he got the injury from practicing his golf swings.
"Bapak nak Zima balik ye?" - was what I said to him in a loving / joking way. He tried to say there was no need since Mum had already taken him to the clinic. The GP did say that Dad had bronchitis where there was a lot of phlegm "deep inside". So he had two things to do; break the fever and cough out the phlegm as much as possible. The GP did say that if Dad was still feverish by Monday, to go back to him. But regardless, I told Dad that I would get to him in the morning so that I can take him to the Doctors... the hospital if needed to. And I promised him I would.
I made my journey home at first light on 29th April. When I reached home in Ipoh, I immediately went up to my parents' room and found Dad sitting on his wooden lounge chair, struggling to breathe. Mum and I spent the rest of day trying to coax him to let me take him to the hospital. But he was adamant that he wanted to rest at home and get well before he has to go back to Kuala Lumpur for his cataract operation. I tried every reverse psychology trick that I could think of but because those were tricks Dad did on me growing up, he always got the better of me. I did however managed to convince him that if he wanted to get better he needed to eat. And Mum and I obliged with all the food he wished to have, no matter how little the amount was.
That night at around 2AM, things took a turn for the worse. And despite his insistence that he could withstand the pain, he finally relented at 4AM that we could go to the hospital but only in the morning and not there and then. Come 7AM, we got ready to go to the hospital. Dad insisted on following his normal routine - choosing his outfit, planning for clothes to pack, putting on his watch, taking his credit card from his wallet, taking his medicine and finishing his drink. I think he was trying to calm his nerves. He never liked hospital visits. As I helped him walk across the living room to the front door, he took a good long look around, as though he knew that would be the last time he would see the inside of our home.
We had contacted a friend's father who was a Specialist in KPJ Ipoh and he assured us that the team was already on standby at the Accident & Emergency. So as soon as we got Dad in the car, I sped off to the hospital. I tried not to show how panicked and scared I was. Didn't really succeed but we got Dad to the hospital where he was rushed to the red zone for treatment.