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That Heart Wrenching Sunday

I couldn't sleep much the night before. Sunday would be my turn to be with my father from morning till my Abg Ben comes in the afternoon. I had a script in my head of the things I wanted to tell my father.

9am: Hubby and I reached Hospital Serdang and had breakfast. For me it was a few spoons of soggy meehoon and a sausage. My brother Azlan came down from his shift to hand me the visitor pass. He told us of my father's condition from night till morning. He clearly didn't sleep much. I then went up to Level 7. My father looked like he was sleeping but I knew he was actually in and out of consciousness. His oxygen level had dropped to below 85.

9.30am: The first doctor came. I followed him to the terminal and he showed me my father's chest x-ray. It was almost white. His chest was badly infected and his shoulder blades were damaged. I was told my father was supposed to go for a scan but they decided it was not necessary because they had already found the problem. My father had acute lung infection and leukemia. I suspect my father already had leukemia when he was admitted 2 years ago. I was asked whether I understood my father's critical condition and asked to actually say what I understood. Since my father didn't need to fast anymore, the only thing in my mind was to get my father to eat.

10am: The 2nd doctor came. My father's oxygen level had gone down to 78. She replaced the machine to the most powerful one, she said. However, my father's body couldn't take it. His oxygen level went down to 76. The doctor then removed the new machine and put back the 2 previous machines. The doctor told me what the other doctor had said before. She also asked me whether I understood that my father was critical and again asked to explain what I understood. I knew the doctor wanted me to be clear that they wouldn't resuscitate if my father's heart were to stop, but being asked to say out the words was really painful.

I spent the next few minutes fussing over my father, dabbing wet tissue to his dry lips. He opened his eyes once in a while but drifted off just as fast. I sat next to him, my eyes glued to the number at the machine. 79, 78, 79, 80, 81, 79, 80... I recited "la ilaha illallah" over and over. I opened my mouth to tell him the things I had planned to say but no words came out.

My father opened his eyes, smiled and said that last words. I felt my heart dropped into my stomach. I continued to fuss over, trying to make him speak, trying to calm myself down. He said weakly, "lapar...". I said I would get the nurse to put a tube for him to drink some milk.

My cousin came up and said his wife was downstairs. I went down and gave my pass to her. My knees were so weak, my stomach churning. I walked to the entrance of the hospital lobby, leaned against one of the huge pillars, doubled over and cry. It's been such a long time since I last cried that hard. I then went to the surau. Alhamdulillah it was not locked. I performed solat sunat and made a teary doa for my father. I then waited for my cousin, staring at the garden outside the corridor with tears still streaming down my cheeks. I sent messages to my brother and my nephew Along, telling them I was not strong to face this. I needed help.

11.15am: The nurse said they couldn't feed my father yet because the next "feeding" time will be 12noon. I begged saying my father was hungry but they had to follow the schedule. She then injected medicine into the tube. Every time my father said he's hungry, I promised him - just a few more minutes, very soon, they are preparing... The numbers now read 77, 76, 75, 76, 75... The numbers were slowly dropping.

The last doctor came and took me aside. He said they will administer morphine to put my father at ease and calm. Just like the previous 2 doctors, he started saying the same familiar words. I put out a hand to stop him, told him I understood with shaky voice. He stopped, gave me a weak smile and pat my shoulders saying, "Harap Puan bersabar...".

12.20pm: My father was still not fed. I got a nurse to come over and she injected water instead saying she's testing with water first to see if my father can accept it. The medicine injected into the tube that morning didn't go well. I whispered to my father he'd be fed soon. That was one the string of lies I told him. He won't be fed till 3pm because the nurse wanted to monitor some more. He nodded weakly but still said he was hungry.

My Kak Long and my nephew Nizam came. In tears, I told my sister that my father's condition was not good. Their presence gave me some strength. I think it's about time we call all siblings to come. A short while later my brother Azlan came with his family. He was supposed to come back at night but fate has it that he couldn't get any sleep at home and decided to come instead. I took him aside and tried to tell him what the doctors said the whole morning. Just at that moment, we both looked at the machine and saw my father's oxygen level had dropped to 70. I ran to the nurse station, telling them the number had dropped drastically. The number then went down some more - 69, 68, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, then it turned to ?.

Out of nowhere there was a team of nurses and doctors surrounding my father. They asked everybody to step out, pulled the curtain and only let one family member present. My brother went in with them, and then I went in too. I didn't care. My brother called my father, he didn't respond, and my brother started to recite the syahadah at his right ear. I was at his left, shook my father a few times but he was still not responsive. I then too started to recite the syahadah at his ear. The nurses attached another machine to track my father's heart beat, while the doctors took his pulse. I moved to the end of the bed, touching my father foot. His foot was warm. I just looked at his face. The mask was clear, no longer clouded with moisture from his breath. Deep inside I knew he was no longer with us. But I watched too much Grey's Anatomy. I believed that any moment my father would choke a bit and started breathing again. I believed it would happen.

After 3 times of printing the graph of my father's heartbeat, the doctors turned to us and pronounced my father's time of death at 12.49pm.

12.50pm: Only one nurse was left with us. My brother spent some quiet moments with my father. He then went out to break the news. I went to my father's side. I whispered at his ear - that I wrote a book. I am a writer just like him. I wrote a children book about Islam and science. It was to be launched next month. Why didn't he wait? I wanted him to be there. I wanted him to be proud of me.

I hope he heard what I had said. I hope he's proud of me.