February 29, 1972 - March 28, 2008
"It's not about the number of breaths you take, it's about the moments that take your breath away."
Cyril died the way he lived his life -- bravely and full of quiet determination. It was a bright and sunny spring day in Indianapolis, finally, after so many cold winter months. The clouds were high and there were miles of visibility; it was the kind of day he would call "a perfect day to fly". It was a Friday too, his favorite day of the week. And he chose to spend that beautiful day with me, with our favorite music playing on the iBook he bought for me because "My, any writer needs to have a Mac." We passed some time reading a new book his sister Cathy sent me, Jodi Picoult's A Change of Heart. It is a book about miracles, physical ones and those of the heart. I like to think he could still hear me while I read those chapters out loud, if not with his ears but through his soul.
It was 5:45 pm, the room still bright from the sun pouring in from the picture window, when Cyril finally took the rest he deserved and I kissed and hugged my best friend goodbye. My Mom, our Filipina doctor-friend Maddie and I had just finished praying a rosary when it was obvious Cyril was leaving us. They left Cyril and I alone in those last quiet moments, which was the way he wanted it.
After that last time together, I informed his Mom, Dad and the rest of the family who were in the apartment that Cyril had left us. Then it was time to tell the kids. I waited until Anton, Lorenzo and Max came to the hospital and I told them what had happened while they were sleeping off their jetlag. I reminded them of the little miracle on Wednesday, when Cyril opened his eyes, lifted his head, and gave the children this last memory: their Dad smiling at them and motioning them to come nearer. After a few minutes, he slipped back to sleep. The family, doctors and nurses were crowded outside his door in shock because Cyril had no business waking up under all that sedation. You see, Cyril had already been taken off the life support early Tuesday morning, at his own request, and the doctors had only given him several hours. He stayed with us long enough to see the boys, and a few days more. I smile at the thought that, like in so many things he did, Cyril will be remembered for doing something so remarkably unusual.
The kids stayed in the hospital that Wednesday night, and often came to their Dad's bedside. They are their father's sons, so brave for such a young age, and they will be fine. They will grow up hearing stories of their adventurous, handsome, headstrong, accomplished, and determined Dad. He set a fine example for them and they will never hear anyone speak ill of their father because he really was everyone's friend.
Cyril requested to be cremated and we have been having Masses here for him with the help of some truly wonderful friends, including Father Anthony, Cyril's spiritual guide these last months. Special love and thanks goes to my sister Margaret, who generously gave us months of her life and took care of Cyril like he was her own. Then, in a wonderfully appropriate tribute to Cyril's wanderlust, my kids and I, along with my parents, are going to travel and visit friends and family. He wanted the kids to have good memories of this time.
We will have memorial masses in New York and LA, and in Manila when we eventually return home. No schedules yet. My only request to all of you whose lives have been touched by Cyril -- Don't stop talking about him. Let the kids hear all the stories about their crazy, goofy Dad. Their super athlete Dad. Their Dad when he was still a kid like them. They lap up these stories and really enjoy hearing them. It keeps him alive. I will certainly not stop talking about him.
Also, if you have pictures, send them to me. Prints, or digital on CD or via email.... I would love to have them so I can organize a library for the kids. If you are up to it, write me about him and your memories of him, whether by snail mail or email. I will save all those too for the kids so they will know how many people loved their Dad.
Thank you to everyone for your prayers. Mass cards will definitely be appreciated.
All my love,