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My Father Died After My 18th Birthday
It's a dream for every girl to turn 18 but not exactly this way.

I know every single girl dreams of turning 18 with a grand debut on that special day of her life. Who wouldn't love wearing those fancy gowns, dancing with 18 of the most important men in your life? We not only do this to celebrate but we do it to have fun and make wonderful memories with friends and family.

News came in July of 2008 and I didn't know how to accept it. My father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Renal Cancer. We were told that he had only 6 months to live. When I found out, I didn't know what to feel. It felt like I was carrying the weight of the world.

Months passed and Papa lived a normal life. He would go to work in the morning then he would sometimes go out with friends (minus the vices). Then one early morning of December 2008 Papa's condition got worse because he could not breathe anymore even though he had an oxygen support. We immediately rushed him into the hospital and he was admitted in the ICU. We all thought that maybe anytime now he will be gone. But God is really good because 2 days before Christmas, Papa was discharged from the hospital.

I remember being told that Papa would only live up to December. But January came then February and then March, which is my birthday month. Although Papa made himself strong and he had surpassed his "deadline," I could see that each day he was becoming weaker and weaker. I remember 3 days before my big day, he would vomit blood and I wasn't sure if he could still be with us on that special day.

Then March 6 came. Through the efforts, help and support of these people (Lola Herming, Daddy Tony, Tito Bing, Tito Barry, Tita Connie, Tita Miriam, Tito Daniel, Tita Kling and Tita Naomi), I was able to have my party. It wasn't as grand as any debutante ball but it was a fun party filled with family and closest college friends. I loved it because it was simple yet intimate. At that time my problems were forgotten for a moment because I was actually enjoying every moment of it. Papa was inside the room sleeping while the party was happening but I was happy to know that he was able to eat lechon. For the past few days, he wasn't eating anymore.

Little did we know that those happy moments we had that night would be replaced with sad ones the next day. Papa was already comatose. I had a class the next day so I had to go but before I left Mama said: "You say good bye na to your Papa because you don't know if andiyan pa siya when you arrive later."

On my way to school I got worried, I was afraid that I would get a call about Papa. During class, I wasn't sure if it was a coincidence that our topic was about death and dying. I bravely listened to the lecture. Minutes later, my phone rang. I answered it right away. It was Mama telling me to go home because Papa was seriously getting ill and he was looking for me. Right after the phone call I went home and went to him then I hugged him tightly. It was my first time to say "I love you" to him.

Everyone told me that maybe Papa was just waiting for my birthday to come, his last wish. Maybe he was happy seeing me enjoying my party before he passed away.

This is my simple offering for Papa since it's Father's Day and wherever he may be I do hope that he knows I love him very much because I always have and I always will.

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Karla Aguiling
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