The Heart of A Father
Before, whenever I would watch tragic news stories on TV, my heart usually goes out to the victims. And along with the pity comes the feeling of fear–the dread that usually comes from the thought that I could have easily taken that person’s place. Right in the middle of watching the news I often find myself drifting to an imagined world, with me taking the shoes of the person who lost his life, and from the closed coffin I stare back at my friends and loved ones lamenting my sudden demise. And if not for the TV commercial, I would have wandered long enough to being buried.
But with a daughter who, at two months and seventeen days, is now smiling at will, making those nonsensical ga-gas and goo-goos, and staring lovingly back at you when you take a walk, my heart has suddenly metamorphosed into something else. Just now, hearing all the news about the recent bus bombing tragedy in Buendia, Makati last Tuesday, and watching the interviews on the loved ones of the victims, I realized I’m no longer imagining myself as the corpse inside the glass box. The feeling was still the same–of pity and fear. What’s different is that my heart doesn’t feel as much for the victim now than before.
My heart goes out to the parents of the victims now.
Before you go rabid about my seeming insensitivity, hear me out first. Yes, I still feel for the victims. But now that I am a parent myself, I have taken on a whole new perspective on looking at things around me. Before, I cannot understand the grief, loss, and burden that a father feels when they lose a daughter or a son to a heartless act of violence. Before, my clamor for justice usually goes out first in behalf of the victims. Before, my eyes and ears are focused on what the parents say about their child.
I find myself captured not anymore by the testimonials of the parents, but of the parents themselves. I’m glued right on to reality unfolding before my eyes through the parent’s expressions. Her breaking voice as she speaks of the tragic ending of her son’s life. The river of tears falling from her eyes that now has to endure life without seeing the daughter that she loved so dear. The trembling hands of father clasping his daughter’s necklace, the last remaining memory of someone that, perhaps early that morning, kissed his dad goodbye to go to office to take one step closer to fulfilling her dream–her dad’s dream.Hurtfully, indeed, I feel the pain.
And I’m just a viewer at that.
Walking today from our house going to the parking area, I saw Chelsey looking at me sweetly from her mother’s arms. I looked back at her, and smiled. She smiled even more sweetly.
I know my daughter only knows the smile on my face. Someday, when she’s old enough to make sense of life’s beauties and tragedies, I will let her know my heart.
The heart of a father.