A few months ago, two of my friends lost someone in their respective families. I knew it was devastating. I knew it hurt them. But I didn't know up to what extent. No amount of saying "My condolences" or "I am sorry for your loss" and no matter how much you sympathize with your friends' loss can you ever truly feel their pain, unless you experience it for yourself.
When I was only 8 months old, I had my very first case of dengue. Back then, my parents couldn't afford to have me checked by my pediatrician because frankly put, we didn't have enough money dedicated for purposes other than education and the basic necessities. I would've died then but my Tito Roy took off from his meeting and followed us in the hospital. He paid the remaining balance. After a few days, I was out of danger. This story made a huge impact on me because of two reasons. First is because it became a wake up call for everyone in the family. Since then, my dad worked twice thrice as much as he did. He leaped from one project to another just to ensure that never again shall any of his children be put in a near-death experience the way I did. Second is that, it was the first lifesaving I ever needed. And it was Tito Roy who helped me get through it. I've read in a few books that there are no accidental deaths. Death envelopes a person because at a particular time, someone has to die. If you're still alive, that's because another person has taken the death seat for you.
Tito Roy never had a family of his own but when the family is as close-knit as ours, who needs a wife when he has his mom, his sister, and his sisters-in-law to share his success and sorrows with? Who needs kids when he has his employees-turned-housemates whom he has supported since time immemorial? Who needs commitment to someone when he has a company with which his time, money, and efforts are committed to? He didn't have a family of his own, but he had found families in ours, in his older brother's family, in his sister's family, in his company, and in his multitude of friends. He had touched and changed a lot of lives. He had made huge sacrifices just for others not to feel they're alone. His friends came from all walks of life and if you'll ask them why they stuck with him throughout these years, they'll tell you that it's because he never judged a person based on his past nor did he ever thought of himself superior than them. He lived by the motto that everyone, absolutely everyone, deserves a chance. That's the thing about self-made men, they know where to really look at because they're aware that greatness comes from all walks of life.
His employees said that he's a strict boss, that he was hot-tempered, that he demanded perfection at all times. Ask any of his 8 nephews and nieces, including me, and we'll tell you that he's actually the opposite. He was sweet, he was understanding, and he never said No to any of us. My younger brother graduated from HS last March. He wanted to celebrate it with our first cousin Mark. When it's about the boys, no one really gets bothered when they want to drink their kidneys out. Not even our moms. Tito Roy with his reliable driver cum personal masseur cum personal assistant cum stress absorber brought Gio and MC to Ilocos, to Vigan, to Baguio, to Ilocos. Absolutely anywhere in the North! After their escapades, the boys said it was the best two weeks of their teenage lives. Every Christmas, we'd all get together sometimes here in Manila, sometimes somewhere in North. It was always fun because Tito Roy and his siblings were a riot. They made fun of everything and they saw to it that everyone's included, from our Nanay down to us down to our 'angels'. Each year had always been very memorable in the Peralta family. What made them memorable was the thought of giving our uninhibited selves the chance to escape.
He knew what his nephews and nieces want - a room to be fickle-minded. He allowed us to do whatever we wanted in hopes that we'll learn from them. He knew what I needed the most - the means to get the things that I want, not the things themselves. He knew that even if I'm just an arm-reach away from what I've set my eyes on, there's still the possibility that I'd change my mind about it. I've never needed an instant prince. What I need are the gown, the glass slippers, and the opportunity to either want or not to get the prince.
Then came Wednesday (15 Aug). Coming from my 8-9:30 am class, I went straight to his house cause I wanted to check on him. His fever had been on and off for 5 months already. I marched to his room, ready to show him my frustration in his condition, only to find him shivering and his teeth chattering, even if his aircon wasn't turned on. Over the years, we've had a lot of family vacations because for every event someone is celebrating, there will always be an outing. The rooms he occupied have always felt the insides of the fridge. He was so much like my Kuya Gian, they seem to have been polar bears in their past lives. Seeing him shivering in his room made me wonder, how can a polar bear find a desert so cold?
Thursday, 16 August. He went to see his doctor because as how he put it, he needed a dextrose. He said it was nothing serious. He just wanted to find a cure to his incurable fever.
Friday, 17 August. All of a sudden, he had a cardiac arrest. He was sent directly to the ICU. His BP rate went down to a 0. So did his heart rate. It's funny when you see movies or a soap where an actor is being revived to life again. But it's not anymore funny when you see it for yourself. Even worse, when you see it being done to someone whom you're very attached to. After a while, he made it back to life. His doctors told Nanay and my mom to be on call, that at anytime of the day, they might be summoned to the ICU. None of Tito Roy's three siblings were in Manila during these times so it was my mom who took over.
Saturday, 17 August. The phone at home rang. It was from the hospital. They said Tito Roy was conscious already and that he had something to tell my mom. Mom and Kuya Gian went to him. Everyone was thinking that he's out of the danger because the thing that he wanted to say was, "Transfer me to a different room. The aircon here isn't cold enough". That's my Tito, always a whiner. The doctors said that it was the most crucial 24 hours. Those hours will determine whether he'll make it or not.
Sunday, 18 August. The phone at home rang. My mom was being summoned once again. Tito Roy had another heart attack. 2 minutes. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. It took the doctors 10 full minutes to bring him back to life. The doctors said that in those 10 minutes where he was dead, some parts of his brain had already died. That even if he recovers, he wouldn't be able to retrieve the part where his memory lies. It was also the part of the brain that makes Tito Roy Tito Roy. In other words, the only remaining part was that which commands the body to breathe even when we're sleeping. In short, he's pronounced brain dead.
Sunday, 19 August. The phone at home rang. Tito Roy had the third cardiac arrest. If you're just someone who's observing, you'd say, let him rest already. That's enough. His ribs, no doubt, are nothing more than broken and shattered bones due to the CPR. But if you're someone who badly believes he'll make it, you'd say, go ahead. Revive him once more. From 10 minutes, it became 20 minutes this time. It was painful to look at, yes. But it was the only chance he'd survive. Came night time. The phone at home rang. The doctors informed us that Tito Roy had slipped into coma. There's a certain level of consciousness we are all under. 15 is the highest and 1, the worst. Tito Roy was in stage 3 meaning, he can already be assumed as dead.
Monday, 20 August. With Kuya, Mom, Nanay, and Tito Rolly, we went to check him out in the ICU. In every hospital, they have a protocol that 30 minutes is the longest time possible to perform CPR on a patient. If the patient doesn't make it, they can't do anything about it anymore. The way I see it, it means after 30 minutes, you have nothing else to do but watch as life is slowly taken away from him. The doctors have asked Nanay to sign the waiver which says that at the next attack, they won't revive Tito Roy anymore. "Does that mean that I'm permitting them to let my son die?", Nanay asked. In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child (My Sister's Keeper). We went home for a while, just to eat dinner. In that short span of time, my cousins from Canada called the ICU in the hospital and requested that the phone be placed on Tito Roy's ear. Among the organs, it is the ear that die the last. The patient might be unconscious but he can hear what you're telling him. Hospitals also have a rule that mobile phones cannot be used in the ICU for they interfere with the machines and other equipment. The nurses allowed my relatives to say some words to Tito, which was against the rule. But do rules still apply in times such as this? Just as we were eating at home, the phone rang. Tito Roy was declared dead. I never thought that a call could be traumatizing. But I found out, it could be the scariest warning.
Ask any of his nephews and nieces, we'll all tell you that Tito Roy was our second dad. Ask my Kuya Gian. There was a time when we thought Tito Roy was our dad. It's not easy to accept the death of someone whom you cared for so deeply and cared for you just as much. It's not easy to live life pretending that there's nothing wrong when in fact, there is already a hole which no one else could ever fill in. It will never be a Peralta outing like before.
Some people are born to be leaders, I guess. It's in their personality to command and to direct others. Tito Roy was one of those men. In his 20s, he already had a company of his own which until now, is thriving. Why else would he be called by everyone else as Boss Roy? It's just so unfortunate that he died when he hasn't produced or molded an heir to his throne yet. He could've waited a little more. That's one of the things he was best at, "making anyone become someone". He had left a lot of legacies. Living legacies at that. But no matter how strong willed a person is, he will never be stronger than death. You can fight all you want, but it will always be a losing battle.
After a few thinking and a lot of kind words from our relatives, I've accepted his fate. He may have survived this but there's no guarantee that he'll survive the coming ordeal - his fight against cancer. A month ago, he was hospitalized for a week. And in that week, the doctors did all the tests a person could humanly possible undertake. There were cysts the size of a fist found in his pancreas, in his kidney, and smaller ones just floating in his stomach. I guess he's both prepared and unprepared to die. Prepared because he was able to leave Nanay a handsome amount of money, all thanks to his insurance. Unprepared because he hasn't even witnessed any of us graduate from college yet.
I would forever remember the many times he sat me, Alissa and Kuya down just to talk about life in general with us. I would forever remember the times he picked me up from my university just to bring me somewhere he thinks I'd like to go to. I would forever remember him. He may have left all of us here but his legacies and teachings would forever be remembered. I love you, Dadoods!
Engr. Roy B. Peralta
29 January 1967 - 20 August 2012