Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Death of My Father: 29th January 2011

Today my father, whom I called Aciok, passed away. He is 68 this year. My heart sinks very low because he is not on earth anymore, but yet elevated knowing that he is with the Lord Jesus Christ. I dreamed about him last night. I saw him young and strong. God showed me a vision of him happy with the Lord. I saw relief in his eyes that the burden he carried for so long is now left on earth. This paradoxical feeling is hard to explain. If you have ever felt happy and sad at the same time, then you would understand what I am trying to communicate here. Deep down in my heart, I still want him here. But on the other hand, having known his pain and suffering while on earth, my heart is liberated for now he suffers no more, and this time, for eternity. I saw him smiling at me, waving goodbye, and I told him: “Goodbye my father, you have been a good father to me, until we meet again, soon. But not yet, for I still have some things to do here. So Aciok, goodbye for now, we will meet again in the house of our Lord.”

Two weeks ago I was there beside Aciok’s bed, holding his hand. It was the day he was admitted in the hospital. I flew from Jakarta as soon as I heard the news that his condition has worsen. He was weak, lying on that hospital bed. I told him I came. He woke up and asked for water several times. So I gave him water to drink. My mom was there too, and also my brother and his wife, my cousin was also there. I stayed there for some hours before heading back to Jakarta. In the period of two weeks, his condition was up and down. Yesterday, I checked again, and I got news that his condition has improved. He was conscious. He talked to my cousin and my sister in law. I had planned to go and visit Aciok bringing my wife and kids on the Chinese New Year. But his time is up and God had called him sooner that I would hope.

I remember Aciok was very strong. He carried me when I was only a boy. He taught me chess. He taught me how to drive a car. He told me folk stories, stories about heroes of old. He taught me Chinese history. He taught me our Chinese heritage. Most importantly, he taught me how to be a man, although he himself was a simple man. I remember him clearly and vividly. Then he got sick. His body was betraying him. His body refused his command. He could not move as swiftly as before. He was not as strong. But he never complained. I never heard him complain to God about his condition. He took it with great endurance. He faced his pain with courage. He endured his suffering as a man.

One day, after my first year of study at Calvin, Aciok expressed his willingness to go to church. I was very happy. God answered my prayer. We had a long conversation. I found out that he knew the Lord when he was young. But then he was disappointed with the church. Now he wanted to come back. I gladly brought him to GRII Ngagel Jaya. I introduced him to Rev. Andi Halim. Aciok felt very comfortable there. He faithfully went to church every Sunday even when I was not there, because I had to go back to Calvin to finish my study. After I finished my study at Calvin, I got admitted at the University of Michigan. But then I had to come back due to my father’s serious accident. Aciok fell from the second floor, on the stairs. His neck bone was broken and he had to have a major surgery in China. So I left University of Michigan to go back to Surabaya to be with Aciok. I was glad I did that. I finally had to forfeit my enrollment at University of Michigan because I decided to stay longer with my dad for his recovery. He never asked me to stay. He was the same strong person I knew when he was still young. Only this time it’s not the body strength, but the strength of his soul. I admired him for that.

Then at the end of my two years after I graduated from Calvin, I got married. My dad was there with my mom, healthy and sound. It was one of the happiest moments in my life. We had to be separated again soon after because my wife and I had to go to the US for my study. At the airport, my dad escorted me until the gate. I hugged him knowing that it would be long before I could see him again. We managed to communicate on a weekly basis via phone. Thank you technology. My first daughter was born in the US and she grew up there. We visited Surabaya again when my daughter was 1 year old. We celebrated her first birthday together. Aciok was very happy to see Sasya, my daughter. He hugged her and carried her around. We were very happy.

I had not finished my study, so my wife, my daughter, and I had to go back to the US one more time. Again, Aciok and I were separated. But we both knew it was necessary. Three years later I came back to Indonesia. I stayed and worked in Surabaya, one of the reasons was to be with my family, mom and dad. We rented a house at first and finally bought a house in Citraland, thinking that we might settle down there for good. Aciok visited our house often, even though it was quite a far trip from his house to mine. We had lunch and dinner together when we were there. We also visited Aciok often. Oh yes, Aciok gave us a present, he bought us a small car, a Chery QQ. Aciok loved China, so he was proud of the product from China. We were happy with that gift, so we used it every day. But then we had to move to Jakarta. We couldn’t bring the car with us because we were afraid that it wouldn’t survive Jakarta, for I have heard about the routine flood. It seemed that Aciok was a bit disappointed, but he understood the reasoning. The last present he gave me was also a car, which we used for more than a year before we thought it was time to trade the car for a newer one.

Aciok’s death was sudden. It was unexpected in a way because just yesterday his condition was improving. I missed him… In the first week of January, I visited my mom and dad in Surabaya. We had a dinner together. It was a good dinner. That was the very first time, Aciok, my mom, and I had dinner together, just us. It was like a goodbye dinner by my dad. It was the last proper food he ate. My mom told me that Aciok did not feel like eating actually, but because I came he ate until finished. I loved him just like he loved me.

Death is our enemy. The only hope I have is in Jesus Christ. For in him death is defeated. The total lost in death has been changed to glory in the eternal life with God through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. With such hope I will meet Aciok again. When I meet him in our Father’s kingdom, Aciok will be young and strong again. Aciok and I will enjoy life to the fullest eternally in God with the new body, the new heaven, and the new earth. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36).

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