Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sa Unang Linggo

Mamayang 10:10 PM, magwa-one week na since nag-last exhale ang kapatid ko. Ang bilis!

Minsan, comforting isipin na hindi siya namilipit sa sakit nung huling segundo niya sa mundo. Basta nag-exhale lang siya. Ganoon.

Pero yung ganitong oras, mga hapon ng Tuesday last week, hindi ko lubos maisip kung gaano na lamang takot ang naramdaman niya. Bago pala siya iuwi sa bahay namin noong Monday last week, nagsabi siya ng, “di ba nila alam na lumalala?”

Alam ni Nichi na malala na siya. Kaya siguro di siya masyado nakatulog magdamag ng Monday hanggang Tuesday. Naalimpungatan pa nga ako kasi sumisigaw siya ng “Peregrine! Peregrine!” Tinanong ko siya kung nandoon ba sa kwarto namin si St. Peregrine. Umiling siya. Nung tinanong ko naman kung nagdarasal ba sya, tumango siya. Bago pa yon, may na-mention syang “mabuting tao.” Hindi ko lang gets kung sino yung tinutukoy niya, medyo mahirap na kasi siya intindihing magsalita noon eh.

Tapos madaling araw rin nang sabihan nya ako ng, “kinakabahan ako” o “natatakot ako.” Di ko na maalala kung ano exactly. Basta ang follow-up niya doon ay, “Wag mo akong iwan.” Sabi ko, “oo dito lang ako.”

Pero hindi ko na-spend ang whole last day niya with him. Kinailangan ko kasing asikasuhin ang isang out-of-office official business. Basta, may inasikaso ako saglit kahit na opisyal na naka-leave ako. Tapos pag-uwi ko, pinatulog ako ng tito ko para raw makabawi sa puyat. Although nandun naman ako sa same kwarto with Nichi, na-unconscious ako ng mga 3 hours straight. Paggising ko, nandoon na sina Ate. Sila na ang nagbabantay kay Nichi. Tapos, may oras na hindi ko rin matagalan na tingnan siya dahil sobrang awang awa na ako sa kanya. Kapag lumalabas nga kami ng kwarto, doon na lang kami napapaiyak.

Pero si Nichi, siya yung tuluy-tuloy ang laban. Siguro kung chineer lang namin sya, lalaban pa yun. Keber kung kumalat na sa utak at spinal column yung mga pasaway niyang mga leukemic cells. Matapang na bata yung utol ko. Handang handang lumaban!

Kaso, parang hindi na dapat ilaban ang ganoong kaso. Halatang pagod na pagod na rin kasi ang katawan niya. Kaya ang sinasabi na lang namin sa kanya, “Kung pagod ka na, pahinga ka na. Pwede ka nang sumama kay Papa Jesus.” Ang hirap nga sabihin noon e. Parang may lump na nakabara sa throat mo na pumipigil sa iyong tapusin yung mga pangungusap na yon. Pero si Nichi, wala siyang takot na tumatango. I’m sure naiintindhan niya ang implications ng mga sinabi namin sa kanyang iyon. Matalino si Nichi. Til the very end nag-iisip siya kahit pa sabihing utak na niya ang natripang tirahin ng sakit niya.

Tuluy-tuloy ang lagnat ni Nichi. Humampas pa nga ng 450C. Ang weird noon, hindi man lang siya nagkumbulsyon, normally kasi pag nag 390C ang lagnat niya e nagchi-chills na yon. Problema pa, hindi na namin siya mapainom ng gamot dahil nawalan na siya ng control sa pag-take in ng water. Tumatagas sa sides ng bibig nya yung tubig. Baka mabilaukan lang siya kapag pinilit yung gamot. Mabuti na lang sinuggest ng tito ko na i-medicine dropper na lang yung tubig. Kahit papaano, napawi yung uhaw ni Nichi.

Noong bandang hapon pa, parang nagsimulang tumulo nang tuluy-tuloy ang luha ni Nichi sa kanan niyang mata. Kinausap siya nina Ate. At kami na rin. Dun na namin tinuluy-tuloy na sabihin sa kanya kung gaano namin siya kamahal. Inassure din namin sya na kung sasama siya kay Jesus, mas magiging masaya siya dahil doon, wala na siyang aray—walang dextrose, injection, leukemia, etc. Tapos doon, pwedeng pwede na siyang mag Magic Sing at mag-Playstation kung gusto niya. Sabi din namin na huwag na niya kaming alalahanin. Naaalala ko na sinabihan ko siya na huwag siyang matatakot dahil siya na nga ang pinakamatapang na taong nakilala ko.

Nabigyan naman siya ng last rites ng pari. Parang after nga noon, mas naging maaliwalas ang mukha niya. Parang hinintay na lang talaga nya yung isa pa naming kapatid na makauwi. Tapos ayun nga, almost an hour after sila mag-usap, ni-release na niya yung huli niyang buntong hininga. Siyempre sinigurado niyang kumpleto kaming pamilya. Ang maganda noon, pagtingin namin sa kanya, para siyang nakangiti.

Hindi naman siguro aalis si Nichi nang hindi siya handa. Kaya malamang, reding ready na siya nung mamatay siya. Sana talagang ready nga siya.

Nakapanghihinayang dahil marami pa sana siyang pwedeng gawin. Marami pa rin siyang gustong gawin. Pero gaya nga ng sabi ko doon sa eulogy ko para kay Nichi, yung 13 years niya sa mundo, sulit na sulit na rin. Kasi naman naging isa siyang mabuting tao.

Generous din siya sa kanyang mga hugs and kisses kaya hindi ka magwa-wonder na “bakit hindi ko siya niyakap/kiniss?” Basta sobrang finlood na niya kami sa presence niya noong nabubuhay pa siya kaya namaximize ang pagiging buhay niya.

Siyempre hindi maiiwasang mamiss namin siya. Kanina lang napapaemote na naman ako. Minabuti ko na lang ngang lumiban sa opis dahil gusto kong lasapin yung mga natitira niyang essence dito sa bahay. Nang makatulog ako, napanaginipan kong inembrace niya ako. Napa-smile na lang ako. Paggising ko, magaan na ulit ang pakiramdam ko.

Ganoon talaga si Nichi. Source ng happiness namin. Makakalimutan mo talaga ang gastos na dala ng sakit niya every time na makikita mong humahalakhak siya. Siguro yun na rin ang same thing na tutulong sa aming lumimot ng kalungkutang dala ng pagkamiss namin sa kanya, yung thought na humahalakhak siya sa langit kasama yung mga bago niyang berks na mga anghel.

Alam naman namin na doon sa taas ang punta niya. At alam naman namin na masaya siya ngayon.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Moving On

Today I return to reality. It seems so easy. I wake up, get up, take a bath, eat, go to work, and continue facing life’s challenges. It’s scary going on with my life stripped off with one big part of me: being a sister to Nichi. I cannot just stop caring for him, annoying him, demanding hugs and kisses from him, loving him, worrying for him, doing errands for him, checking him—things I usually do.

It’s not like he’s here for 13 years, then suddenly he’s gone and I’d be fine.

But I seem to be doing well. Too well in fact, it freaks me out. What if I start missing him so badly? How can I hug him again? How will ever get to talk to him again?

After taking my quick nap during lunch break at the office, I woke up hoping that losing Nichi was just a bad dream. I was really wishing that when I get home, he’d be the one to welcome me. He’d open the door and sit with the whole family for dinner.

But having him around is the dream. He being dead is reality.

And then it hurts again.

I know that it is normal that, for now, I grieve. I just lost my brother. It is an unfortunate, irreversible fact of my life now. Soon I will have to teach myself to move on. To miss Nichi and at the same time be happy for him.

I miss him and I am happy for him. I wish to feel him again. I am relieved that now, he no longer suffers. I hope to reconcile both emotions soon. Perhaps in doing so, I’d allow him to enjoy heaven to the fullest instead of me holding him back.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Our Thanks With Regard to Nichi



Our whole family would like to thank all of you, especially those who have been with us from the start of Nichi’s battle. Thank you for fighting his disease with us. Thank you for being so generous in your support—prayers, concern, advises, gifts, medicine, blood, and money.

We are sure that Nichi himself is filled with gratitude for all that you’ve done for him.

Our hearts will forever be touched by your caring so much for our precious Nichi. With all your help, Nichi felt more loved, not just by us but also by everyone around him. It made his life complete. And the thought that many people were rooting for him always gave him the courage to fight and face whatever treatment was on his way.

Nichi is definitely smiling down on us right now. He is at peace and pain free—exactly something he deserves right from the start. We often imagine him singing and dancing with other angels up there, entertaining the saints and Heaven’s higher inhabitants with his charming ways.

Nichi will forever be missed but the love he had shared when he was still alive will never fade. And so will the miracle he spurred—the miracle of people caring for people, no matter how close or how much of a stranger they are from each other.

Now it is no longer a boy with leukemia who keeps us connected, it is an angel enjoying the victory of his battle that somehow binds us all.

Thank you for witnessing and tagging along Nichi’s journey. You’ve all made his adventures special from beginning to end!

Sincerely,
Delgado Family

Note: We had Nichi’s body cremated last Saturday, July 28, 2007. His ashes are at home right now and will be transferred next Sunday, August 5, 2007, at the Ossuary beside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Pasig.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

End of the Raise

April of this year, I took it upon myself to raise funds for the supposed bone marrow transplant of my youngest brother who is suffering from leukemia. We were come up with around 3 million pesos for his transplant alone.

I've decided to help my family raise the funds by posting this ad at my blog's side bar:

Be one of the 6,200 people to pledge Php 500 for this 13-year-old boy


PEOPLE POWER FOR NICHI is an optimistic attempt to raise the Php 3.1M needed for my brother's bone marrow transplant. Be part of the 6,200 people who'll help free Nichi from his Leukemia. Your Php 500 can make a big difference in his life.


A number of people, friends and strangers alike, responded to my call for help. Help did come as reported in this next element in my sidebar:

FUND RAISING UPDATE

Miracle money as of 2 June 2007 is Php 5,890.00. Remaining amount to raise is Php 3,094,110.00.Thanks to your help, Nichi is 99.81% away from the bone marrow transplant that will save his life.Click here for back story.

The amount of money we received through this effort is indeed big. It may not have served its purpose where Nichi is concerned but rest assured, it will help Nichi in a different means and part of it will find its way to children who are like Nichi, suffering from a life-threatening disease such as leukemia.

Nichi's fight may have ended but my whole family and I will forever thank you for supporting this cause.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Obituary

Our dear, sweet Joseph Nichole "Nichi" L. Delgado was released from his physical pain 10:10 pm yesterday (July 24, 2007). We, his immediate family, were all there as he let out his last breath in peace.

Nichi left his body that bore a smile on its face. He died in the bedroom where he used to sleep, just as he wished. We are confident that he will soon be in the arms of our Lord for Nichi had always been a very good boy.

Nichi’s remains lie at the Memorial Chapels of the Assumption located along Caruncho Ave., Pasig City. It is the chapel found at the second floor of the building next to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (Pasig Church).

Tentative schedule of cremation is on Saturday (July 28). We will announce our final plans as soon as we have everything arranged.

Nichi will most definitely be remembered. And together with the good memories he left, we, his family, will always treasure all of you who supported us—prayed with us, provided us emotional and spiritual support, and gave us financial assistance. You all made it possible for Nichi to enjoy six wonderful years with us after he was diagnosed of leukemia at the age of seven.

Thank you! Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all you’ve done for Nichi and our family. Please continue to pray for him so that his soul may truly rest in peace with the Lord.

Nichi’s 13 years with us had been worth everything, happiness and pain, for he was and will always be one of the best things that happened to our family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In The Midst of It

Nichi is going to die.

Nichi, my 13-year-old brother is going to die. Soon.

The doctor said that it will be a matter of time before he leaves. I heard it myself. Besides, I have to be blind and deaf not to realize that Nichi wouldn’t last for long.

Somehow, the thought of Nichi dying gives a tinge of consolation that his six year bout against leukemia will finally be over. At last, he can rest. He’d be free of the millionth needle that will puncture his young skin in the doctors’ attempt to save his life.

However most of the time, it is impossible to see the good in his impending death. Especially since it would mean that Nichi will be losing a battle he so courageously fought for six years. It seems that all the pain he had to endure at that long a time were futile.

I don’t know.

It crushes my heart to see and hear him in pain. The last time we rushed him to the emergency room, I felt the urge to run away or throw up while he was screaming, “Aray ko!” I ended up popping two mint candies in my mouth after telling the doctor who acknowledged my presence, “I’m afraid.”

Actually, I was not just afraid afraid. I was freaking afraid—probably beyond-words afraid.

But when Nichi called me to hold his hand while a doctor inserts a catheter to him, I knew I had to be strong. If there’s one best thing I can do for him at that moment, it would have to be to stay there, be there, and push my weakness aside.

I caught myself holding back my tears, feigning a pathetic attempt for a smile. It was the most conducive situation to go numb. It was indeed tempting to detach myself from the torturous situation.

As much as being desensitized may save me from being forever damaged by Nichi’s suffering, and even death, I would hate to succumb to it. Otherwise, whatever Nichi had to endure in his very short life span would be two times more futile than it seems to be.

Where Nichi is concerned, “feeling” will most definitely be like being in a rollercoaster ride. I am aware that I am not big on such rides. I normally turn my back to it. But in this circumstance, I would much rather buckle up. I would not settle with merely feeling for Nichi. I choose to feel with him. Perhaps in doing so, he’d live longer, maybe not physically but in some more special ways.

I am not sure if you can accuse me of complacency when I say that what may happen on the coming days may be for the best. In other instances, I would fight for those that matter to me. If I had it my way, I would cling to Nichi and would strongly refuse to let him go but I am afraid that the inevitable is beyond me. So this time, I will allow myself to go soft and accept that sometimes “the best” may also mean losing. Losing something or someone.

Yes, I’ve asked people to pray because there is hope in praying. When all else fails, there is our faith that will shed light to our darkness. But as I have told someone no too long ago, “however this thing about Nichi ends, whether he survives it or not, the thing would have to take place, that will be our miracle.”

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Keeping Mum

Last Wednesday, July 11, I sent out this email to almost everyone in my address book:

Please pray for Joseph Nichole “Nichi” Delgado

Your unwavering concern and help have kept Nichi alive. But once again, my whole family and I are requesting that you continue praying with us for the recovery of the youngest member of our family, Nichi.

He has been battling Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia since 2001. He has undergone chemotherapies and radiotherapy since then. Last year, he survived complications due to his weakened immune system. His undaunted love for life allowed him to get through his few days’ stay at the ICU, several dosages of strong antibiotics, a seizure attack, collapsed veins, diarrhea and a threat for sepsis. Slowly but surely, he worked his way to regaining his strength with the help of everyone who’s been so generously supporting and praying for him. It truly is a miracle that Nichi was almost in perfect health come December last year.

But this year has not been so easy for him. January of this year, his left eye started losing its vision. A retina specialist suspected retinal detachment and leukemic infiltration. Nichi eventually completely lost his left eye’s vision but he never let that get in the way of him pursuing the things he loves to do like drawing.

Nichi has been in and out of the hospital for check ups and chemo sessions which, as his doctors say, are done not for treatment but for palliative measure—he has been receiving chemo drugs to help alleviate his situation but not necessarily to cure him. His attending hematologist along with a number of doctors who have reviewed Nichi’s case recommended that he undergo a bone marrow transplant (BMT). Although the chances of survival for such procedure was below 50%, our family have tried our best to pull strings and raise funds for the said BMT so that he can have it as soon as his body is ready for a more radical treatment.

This May, Nichi’s birthday month, another obstacle arose. He lost full control of his left facial muscles. The doctor’s said that he had Bell’s Palsy and ordered that he undergo rehabilitation three times a week. Nichi wasn’t spared of the pains of his newly acquired ailment even on his special day. We had to rush him to the hospital the day after his birthday to seek the doctor’s assistance in managing his pain.

Later in June, he was confined at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) due to pneumonia that was barely there. Just the same, he received strong antibiotics to avoid last year’s event from repeating itself. He was discharged after a four-day stay at the hospital, with clear lungs but he hasn’t been OK since.

Nichi has been spending the past days sleeping. The strength of his body has been progressively deteriorating. He can now barely move his left extremities. The right side of his body is becoming just as weak. He constantly suffers joint pains. And his ears have been betraying him, too. He’s been having trouble hearing.

The endocrinologist who analyzed the results of Nichi’s blood tests done during the first day of this month said that his liver and other related organs are normal. Last week, Nichi underwent an electromyography (EMG) to find out if there are any problems with his nerves which might be causing his weakened muscles. The initial results are not very promising. Yet we hope that the neurologist who will check Nichi this coming Friday, July 13, will shed light and hope with regard to Nichi’s present situation.

As my dad once said, “Nichi is a nice 13-year old kid—happy, playful, kind, intelligent, God fearing and God loving.” And indeed he is. He dreams of so many good things to achieve in the future, including being the godfather of our future niece. It tears our hearts seeing him not able to live the life he used to live, the life he deserves to live. It is even worse that we can’t help him during the occasional attacks of pain in various and random parts of his body. All we are reduced to is to cling to the power of prayers.

We are calling upon you and everyone within your circle of friends to please continue to pray with us so it will be heard in the heavens up high. God heard us many times before. We strongly believe that He will hear us again this time—for JOSEPH NICHOLE “NICHI” L. DELGADO.

Sincerely yours,
Tyrene Delgado



attached photos:

2006-08-29 At the ICU



2006-12-16 So lively at our sister's wedding



2007-04-27 Winning 1st place at a drawing contest



2007-05-10 Smiling after a rehabilitation session for his Bell's Palsy



2007-05-12 Nichi's Birthday which he later spent crying because of the pain he had to endure



2007-05-13 Spending his 2nd day at being 13 years old at the hospital



2007-07-01 Wheelchair-bound, he waits for the endocrinologist





I postponed posting it here to protect, I guess, my six months pregnant sister living in Singapore. But since, she has the right to know and she now knows about the devastating news about our youngest brother, I am posting my letter here.

For those who ask, Nichi is still spending most of the day sleeping. This morning, he complained that his spinal column hurts. We try to talk to him whenever he’s conscious even if we are having a hard time communicating because, as I have said in the letter, he can hardly hear.

Nichi can’t get up on his own, so we have to lift him up whenever he needs to sit. He eats 3-5 spoons of food. Sometimes he does this only once a day. Something big is really wrong with him. His poor appetite is a major indication that he is not fine.

The neurologist said that based on Nichi’s EMG, Nichi’s nerves have already been damaged, either by his six years of chemotherapy and radiation therapy or by the numerous leukemic cells that have infiltrated his central nervous system. And just as what a number of doctors have said, the neurologist relayed that the damage in Nichi’s body is more likely irreparable. Unfortunately it happens to be progressive so only God knows what awaits in the coming days.

Nichi is presently at home. He has vitamins for his nerves and pain relievers but that’s mainly it. No more chemo drugs for him from here on, I guess.

Honestly, I didn’t know what the word “palliative” meant until my dad told me that Nichi’s pseudo treatments were, in reality, palliative. I somehow knew for a while now that Nichi will no longer be well—that he won’t get the normal life he has been fighting for for six years.

I kept shut. It isn’t the news I wanted to tell people about. I kept shut because I was silently hoping that the inevitable won’t happen any time soon.

Just the thought of bad things happening to Nichi gave me nightmares, one of which I have shared in one of my entries.

It made every second with Nichi more precious than ever.

A lot of things are easier said than done. And I am afraid that Nichi, his unforgiving disease and the predicament our whole family is in right now, have just placed us in a tag-of-war of emotions and rationality. And as I keep telling those who have been asking how we are, “hindi siya madali sa totoong buhay.”

We’ve been through hundreds of tough times yet this one out-toughs them all.

At this point, I guess, all of us are just praying that it be done whatever is best for Nichi. And whatever happens, he will be loved, not just by us, his immediate family, but also by everyone whose lives Nichi touched.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

If I Die in The Combat Zone

Well, cremate me. Please. I wouldn’t want to rot.

I want a service, complete with eulogies but no gambling. Please. Honor my strong feelings against gambling. Also, allow me a last chance to be venerated. Rest assured, I will be there listening.

No crying. Please. I hate soap operas. I got along my life with no one crying for me. No one has to do it for my first few days as a spirit.

Listen to my music. Please. I’d hate to be a cliché and be pulled by a fancy dead person’s car which plays music I won’t even sing along with. Play whatever is in my MP3 player.

And yeah, do recycle my insides. Please. I didn’t sign an organ donor card for nothing. I’d much rather give away things I wouldn’t need anyway.

Read my blog. Please. Even with my heart pumping, I advertise my blog what more in death? When no one can run after me for saying the things I say? Besides, as pathetic as it may sound, my blog probably is my legacy. Indulge in it.

Don’t think I brought secrets with me in my life after death. (Or is it life after life?) Please. Most likely, I’ve distributed every bit of my secrets to those whom I trust. You’d be surprised that there are a lot of you! You may all convene and compare notes during my service.

Pray for me. Please. I may need a lot of your prayers. Even I would never know where I am destined to go. Pray for me and I promise you, it will be the last thing I’d ask from you.

***I just realized (for the nth time) that life is short. I might as well write this now while I can. And, yes, I am in the mood to think morbid thoughts.

Sleep well, everyone!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Cute But…

I had a Dream.

I was in a room-full of 8-year-olds.

One was persistently telling me she’s hungry, tired and/or sleepy. Another asked me to take off my eyeglasses just because she wanted to see me. A naughty one hid behind me, poking my sides from time to time, trying in vain to tickle me. An innocent-looking one intermittently approached me just to ask what time it was, like a catatonic wacko. Another girl made the number three sign. I had no idea what she meant but I let her go the same way I did with the other 20 or so kids who asked me if they can go out—they and that one kid who pointed her finger to her mouth and came with an interpreter saying, “phlegm.” One politely requested me to put her hairpins securely on her bangs. A girl with a ponytail came to me and whispered, “Tomorrow’s my birthday.” A proud one, after boasting her being an awardee, tried coaching me to count to three to get her friends settled. One was disappointed that she won’t go swimming at that moment. I asked her if she brought her swimsuit with her. After realizing that she didn’t, she rested her case. A curious one insisted that I allow her to play with my cellphone. Another kid was amazed after hearing that I know all about the movie, High School Musical. A bashful girl handed me a drawing, smiled and went back to her seat. All these happened, almost all at once, with a bonus of two girls engaged in some sort of a wrestling right in front of me. Of course, one of them fell flat on the floor.

Next thing I knew, the girls grew up three, four, five years older. They must have fused themselves together because now there were only five of them. Five girls sharing their dreams. Not holding back in telling me about their crushes, their monthly period, their dream house, their hunger for the spotlight, their hopes of becoming rich, famous, and powerful. Or was it powerful, famous, rich?

I wish I remember more but that’s it.

I just realized how long I’ve been out of it. The naïve, pink realm. It would have been less damaging if I were stuck in that world. But that’s not how the world works.

And I don’t regret being a slave of the world’s ways.

And so my dream ends, or should it?

Yes, it’s sweet and cute…but?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Blinding Optimism



The re-opening of the Chowking outlet that’s a hundred giant steps away from our home is not the only reason for me to believe that July is a promising month. I know there’s more.

Optimism is seldom my flaw, let alone the blind type. But July is definitely going to be promising.

It has to be.

No, things aren’t going to be easy. They never are.

But things may change. Probably for good.

What I’m saying is, I’m up for the adventure.