Technology has changed our lives
When I moved to Toronto in 2004 from Los Angeles, I was worried my nephew and niece Austin and Skye would forget me.
They didn’t have a chance. Six short months after, they flew in to see me and came back when Alexander turned one in December 2006. We took turns visiting. In between visits and on top of phone calls we would chat on the web. Then, in 2010, came another nephew, Gabe. We went to California to meet him on his christening day. We found ways for the kids to play together using the game consoles; we even battled on some occasions. Then came the Ipad and Facetime. My sister, Lyd, and I would call each other on Facetime and most of the time would just leave it on as we go about our day. I even babysat them online while my sister and her husband were out running errands or on their weekly date night. Dont worry no laws were broken, Austin was old enough and Skye was mature enough to stay home with Gabe. Me babysitting them online means I watched them play on the Xbox or DS.
In 2014, we decided to give Kuya Bot and Ayin Ipads as gifts; Ayin for her college graduation and for Kuya Bot, just because; it would make communicating with them easier.
When I was in the Philippines taking care of Kuya Bot, I stayed in contact with Jahan and Alexander using Facetime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber or whatever app worked best at the time of the call. My boys especially Alexander would tell me stories about his day which consisted of school and lots of video game and drawing time. Alexander and I would always fall asleep together on Facetime.
I left the Philippines on the last week of January after so much grief and a heavy heart.
I had my family and work waiting for me in Canada. Despite Jahan and Alexander being supportive, they also needed me. It wasn’t an easy decision but I knew I had to go home. Before I left, I showed Manang Cita how to use the Facetime app on Kuya Bot’s Ipad to call me. I gave her instruction when to call; with time difference plus daylight savings time, I scheduled it so that in the morning when Kuya Bot was having breakfast, they would call me when I get home from work. And before Kuya Bot goes to sleep at night, they called when I was be getting ready for work. There were some hits and misses but eventually Manang Cita got the hang of it. I welcomed the day and ended the night with Kuya Bot just like when I was still in Manila with him. One morning Manang Cita being the caffeine addict that she is, was panicking because she ran out of coffee. No one was home to watch Kuya Bot so I asked her to leave Facetime on so I can watch him. I made sure he could hear me and instructed him not to move while Manang Cita stepped out. He snarkily said “Where do you think I was going to?” Kuya Bot had been immobile and had lost his eye sight due to AIDS. We talked like how we used to before he got sick. We talked about the kids and other, mostly mundane, things.
In March 2016, Kuya Bot got worse; he was frailer.
I never thought he could get skinnier than he was. On March 6 2016, Alexander was using the Ipad when Manang Cita called. It was the first time Alexander saw Kuya Bot sick. I was trying to shield him from it. I didn’t want that to be his last memory of Kuya Bot. They spoke briefly and they told each other “I love you”. Was I glad for that call! The next day, March 7 2016 would be the last time Kuya Bot would ever tell me those words.
A couple days after, he got even worse. His eyes were closed and he could barely talk and move. I knew it was just a matter of days even hours before he would pass away.
I asked Manang Cita to put the Ipad closer to him and make sure the volume was up, I wanted him to hear when I told him goodbye. I told him I knew he was so tired and asked him to stop worrying. I told him it’s time for him to rest and be with Mommy. I told him I love him so much. Without words but with his tears, I knew he heard me. The next morning at 5:30 am as I was getting ready for work, Manang Cita called. She told me Kuya Bot was having a hard time breathing they had to give him oxygen but the oxygen tank ran out so Lyd had to step out to get it refilled. I asked her to hold Kuya Bot’s hand while I talked to him. I told Kuya Bot to squeeze Manang Cita’s hand if he was in pain. I kept talking to him and telling him “It’s okay Kuya Bot. Its going to be okay.” I said “I love you Kuya Bot.” Manang Cita said he squeezed her hand. I told Manang Cita to hold on for a few seconds as I was going down the stairs. I looked away from the Ipad and hadn’t even made it to the stairs when Manang Cita started crying uncontrollably. She said Kuya Bot stopped breathing and had no more pulse.
Kuya Bot passed away on March 10 2016 at 7:10 pm Manila time (6:10am EST). I may not be physically beside him when he died but technology made it possible for me to be with him when he took his last breathe.