A year of grief and anger

A year ago yesterday, my father-in-law died.

I was in the middle of my virtual team-building when the caregiver said that Dad was unresponsive, I told my manager that we had a family emergency. Ten minutes later, I told her and the family that he was gone.

For a few nights in the past week, Lucas would start crying at bedtime, saying, “I miss Papa.” The first night, it was a full-blown lament, his chest heaving as I held him. The next few nights, it was just “I miss Papa” a few times, a few tears, and then he would fall asleep. I told him to think of happy memories with Papa Boy, and to ask Oneal for his favorite memories.

To be honest, what happy memories I may have of my father-in-law have been overshadowed by trauma. I remember how, early in the pandemic, I would post pictures or videos of Lucas on Facebook, and Dad would add a heart or like reaction. It made me so angry, so upset, and I couldn’t understand why. When I spoke to my therapist, he explained to me how seeing the interactions with my posts were triggering trauma that I had suffered over a long period of time.

PTSD. It was PTSD. Only then did I realize how long we’d been living in fear and anxiety.

I cry as I write this. I know many people have fond memories of him. I know many friends and relatives remember him as funny, sweet, affectionate. Sure, he was that to me too. But he was also cruel, unkind, mean, and not just to me and my husband, but to my mother.

In the middle of 2021, Oneal and I decided to move back to Paranaque, because we knew Dad could no longer live alone. In the car, from Antipolo to Paranaque, I could feel the anxiety rising in my throat, like bile threatening to spill out of me. When we arrived at the house, Dad embraced me, thanked me for choosing to come back. I said nothing, and I could only manage a small smile. He apologized for the way things were before, and asked me to forget what happened.

I wish I could. But even today, it’s hard for me to think of him without feeling pain, resentment, anger.

I embraced my son, apologizing that I couldn’t always comfort him when he missed his grandfather. “Why, Mommy?” All I could tell him was that it made me sad to think of Papa Boy.

I can only hope that will change someday.

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