It's been six freaking months since the Great Exit of the Great Love of my life.

We should be celebrating his 77th birthday in a week. But the birthday man won't be anywhere near.

I still feel weird looking at his pictures. He's still here. He ought to be, with presence feels oh so strongly. 

And at the same time, my eyes get wet, my throat feels lumped, when I pass by random places and am reminded of the last time(s) we were there together. The small restaurant we frequented. The flyover bridge. 

Or the pieces of paper with his hand writings. 

Dang, I miss him so very much.

Company in Loss

Divine Intervention

After all, the blog still exists. It withstands the test of time, and several posts that have never been published. As I opened Blogger, I saw six, SIX, drafts. It is actually kind of refreshing to reread them one by one, each only contains a paragraph or two, and most are unfinished sentences. I was toying with the idea to delete them, but then decided against it. They are, after all, the proof that I never meant to surrender this blog, nor the desire to write at all. It's always been there, the passion. And all I need to do is find way to resurrect it, to capture the very moment that will move my fingers, with the hope that it will restart a routine. It doesn't have to be a daily ritual. Weekly is probably even a bit generous. I am not optimistic, but I know it has to start at some point. 

It is also fitting that this particular post is written a day after I celebrated my birthday. The first birthday in the home country. I've been back for ten months. On surface, there should be a lot of materials to ponder upon, or discuss about. There should have been, say, a culture shock, right? It's not, however, the case here. I had been assigned twice to the same country, and - to be exact - the same side of a country. I knew what I should expect prior to going there. And when it was time to return, I think I also knew what I would be facing. The difference is that, this time I didn't go sentimental. I didn't make special trip to places that I had been. It was chaotic in between meetings and packings and completing administrative affairs, I had no time for mundane business.

But the memories struck me months after I left New York. I hate to admit it, because when I came for the assignment I had carried with me a kind of preserved rejection. I didn't want to love the city, as my first impression had not been that glowing (not literally, of course -- it's the city of lights, never sleeps!). Then I gradually accepted it wholeheartedly. I still have some issues with it, I still resent its arrogance -- but I now don't hold back from voicing my aching heart for it. I miss exploring its parks, strolling on its wide pavement, the carefree attitude, the little coffee shops, the struggling musicians in dark lounges in the dungeons, the muttering and the yelling in two hundred different languages. 

That aside, since I rejoined the folks in the headquarter, there has been only little down time. I'm entrusted with issues that I did a little years, years ago, when I just started it here, so I'm learning again. A string of new institutions that I have yet to get the hang of. Couple it with a series of high level visits, this has been a continuous educating journey. But life is indeed a neverending learning experience.

The return also brought before me the new aspect that I have been witnessing in the past but was never in one. A few days after I stepped on Indonesian soil, in a lighthearted dinner, as I exchanged stories with my parents and caught up with family issues, they broke the news: my dad has prostate cancer. And it's already in the mid phase. They had known about it for a while but it was the first time they disclosed it to me. My mom reasoned that they didn't want me to get distracted during my final works in New York. Fair enough, not necessarily sensible. As an adult, I must take the news like adults.

Long story short, following a few months of trying and retrying various kinds of medication, lab tests, and one small surgery, my dad's urologist came with the conclusion that it's progressive and my dad should seek the possibility of undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy. After asking around and consulting the oncologists, my dad decided to choose chemotherapy, despite his initial resentment, generated by the traumatic experience of watching my late aunt painfully enduring her chemo. He was rather optimistic, hearing other cancer patients' stories.

He became rather weak after three chemo sessions. July 18, he was admitted to the hospital as his temperature rose. July 22, the doctor sent him to ICU. His heart pulse was way above the normal rate; he was awfully low in oxygen, natrium, albumin, which turned his nails blue; his temperature ranged between 38 to 39; and both his lungs were affected with pneumonia. The ICU doctor said, based on his vital statistics, that they would try their best, but couldn't promise anything.

It was one of the lowest point in my personal life, and my family's. My mom couldn't stop crying and kept blaming herself for not taking care of my father better. And she was the one who had been by his side always, while the children -- working and living in different city -- only communicated via our phones. 

It was a big challenge to my faith.

Those were the days when we had to keep ourselves afloat, by hanging on our faith to God. We prayed and prayed. We sent our praises and hopes, with tears streaming down our cheeks and noses running. My dad was fed not only with medicines and liquid food, but also sleeping substances, to prevent him from moving his body parts, as it would be too energy-consuming for him.

The silverlining of the situation is that we are reminded that we have families, friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances, who supported us. Families and friends visited in groups, bringing food and praying with us. I had reunion in Surabaya with some friends whom I haven't seen for perhaps ten years, all came to show their sympathy and gave words of encouragement. My Canadian AFS sister, who was with us for only seven months some twenty years ago, wrote a lengthy message sharing her heart and well wishes. Outpouring texts almost crashed our phones. We were overwhelmed with love and compassion.

It was Divine intervention. They became the answer to our prayers, as we asked God to strengthen us.  

He showed His miracle again, that after a few days, my dad showed rapid healing progress. Ten days after he got hospitalized, lab tests and the numbers shown on those machines next to his bed display heartening result. On my birthday, my dad was able to sit and eat, and had short conversation, albeit being the receiving end. 

Divine intervention. You can't get a better gift, ever.