The other memory
By Virginia Jasmn Pasalo
I was having conversation with my father, then he suddenly fell on the bed and stopped breathing. I pumped his heart, but to no avail. I called for help, but no one heard me. Then I woke up, panting, like a tired horse. It was the first time that I dreamt of my father again, since he passed away in 2012.
I wonder, with so many memories, good and bad, over the years of his life, why does this dream appear, something that is even farthest from the reality of how he really died?
Before I slept, I was reading the feed on Facebook, and found an FB friend had died, Virgil Antonio. I have never met him in person, and all I know about him came from another friend, Bong de la Torre, with whom I met occasionally to share thoughts, analyze current events, or just share our most inane experiences. Bong was facilitating a meeting with me, upon request of Virgil, who was a lama. Virgil had this impression that I could be part of a spiritual journey with them.
Sometime in July, Virgil sent me a request:
“Your soul inspired me. Is it possible that we meet soon for reasons of profound importance… Many things ahead… Looking forward to your response… Good day.”
Because my schedules were tight, I told him that maybe at some future time, we could do so, after I am done editing two books on Human Rights. Then he followed up and Bong too, reminded me of the importance of this meeting. July passed and I totally forgot about this request, and he sent me this message, two quotes from Ludwig Wittgenstein:
“What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” (from Tractatus Logico-Philisophicus)
“Silence tells no lies. Silence does not deceive.” (from The Duty of Genius)
Months passed, until in September I heard he was hospitalized for COVID, so I decided I would meet him, as soon as he recovers, and sent him this note:
“Get well soon. May fate conspire to bring you back to good health. Praying for you.”
No reply. Just the silence. Eternal silence.
That silence spoke in a dream, through the memory of my father, with whom I could have spent more conversations, until he could no longer speak, intubated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Lung Center of the Philippines, for over a month.
We often think we hold eternity in our hands, that there is always tomorrow, or more days ahead, and to find it slip away, all of a sudden, with nothing but the silence.
If I knew the forthcoming silences, I would have acted differently, with urgency, with more contemplation. I would have told my father the most intimate things that a daughter just keeps to herself. I would have met with Virgil “for reasons of profound importance.” I would have. I could have.
But now, there is just the silence, slicing thinly, pieces of my heart.
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