This story won’t even be difficult for me to recall, I mean, it had just happened this past month.

I remember it was the weekend before the start of school. It had just turned eleven, and my sister and I were preparing to go to sleep. Our sleep schedules were out of order, and I wanted to go to sleep early. That particular day, our family was extremely exhausted.

Harvey Tolibao, a well-known and talented Filipino artist, was planning to come to the Wizard World Comic Convention in Rosemont, but he was extremely busy with his company and his drawings. In his place, a friend of his visited by the name of Jimbo Salgado. Our dad helped him with his booth at the comic convention, and later in the evening we treated him to some restaurants from our side of the world.

Five weeks prior to that day, one of my father’s closest brother’s died in the hospital. His brother “Tana” was supposedly given drugs through a used needle and was found knocked out cold in an alley. According to snippets I heard as he was on the phone, his brother died from choking on hospital food, and his close relatives considered to file a complaint with the hospital. My father was devastated after the funeral, but he tried to stay strong by keeping thoughts of his children in mind. I could tell he was bearing a lot of weight just by hearing his stories as he came home from work every day. Sometimes he would go to the gym twice a day…I guess some days he just needed a place to escape from reality for a bit and calm his conscience.

Work as a TSA security official at O’Hare Airport had not been easy for him either. His new manager kept overstepping the boundaries of her control over the rest of her team. Apparently she would even decline vacation time for vacations that were already planned with plane tickets already purchased. My dad came home one day saying that one of his close coworkers was planning to quit the job after working at the airport for many years. My father’s friend, a kind black lady whose name slips my mind at the moment, was standing on duty when another TSA officer asked to leave early because his brother was fatally shot, and he wanted to drive to the hospital to check on him. She understood his situation and promised to deal with the paperwork required for him to leave with an excused absence. However, the manager did not accept the paperwork and punished him for taking the day off. Managers are supposed to look out for their employees, but this manager was causing my father a lot of stress. My dad kept bringing up stories frequently about how another one of his coworkers was quitting work. Since he holds a manager-level position at work, he probably feels regret for not taking the manager position when he had a chance even if it would cause him a lot more stress.

My father is amazing for the ways he deals with his stress. He has so much energy, and his high spirits are contagious through everyone that meets him. Following the passing of his brother, my dad tried to connect the family again. Those who had stopped communicating with the family suddenly began rebuilding their connections to everyone else. A family gathering was held where members of my family from all over and close friends celebrated their memories and got to know more people. My dad explained it to me and my sister with a smile on his face, saying it was amazing how family members who had not spoken to each other in years began talking to each other again.

Following the divorce of my parents three years ago, my sister and I have been trying to support my father as best as we can. We take care of all or most of the cleaning and cooking in the house while balancing our homework together with our chores. It’s a lot of work, but it’s the least we can do to help. We couldn’t make it without him, and he couldn’t make it without us.

Then it happened. Even today I can hardly believe it. I don’t want to accept it even if it’s true.

On the Saturday before the start of school at eleven at night, merely weeks after the passing of my father’s brother Tana, my dad received a phone call from his sister in law. Her husband, my dad’s closest brother, had passed away after his car collided with another car that ran a red light. He was sixty-one years young.

Moment of understanding

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