It’s been a year since I started writing blogs. To mark the first anniversary, I’ve decided to post the eulogy that I’ve given during the requiem mass for my husband, Ian O’Neil. It was held on 09 March 2015 at the Main Hall of St. Mary’s Church at 1900 hours.
Disclaimer: I don’t own or hold any rights. The information about pulmonary hypertension was taken from medical websites.
Born to be a Hero
Good evening everyone. Tonight we’re gathered here to commemorate my late husband’s life. It is indeed an overwhelming feeling to see everyone in one place to celebrate his wonderful and fruitful life.
Ian and I have met in one of the activities of the SFC- CFC Family Ministry seven years ago. We immediately became friends; we fell in love and then decided to get married.
He was my lover, my best friend, my soulmate, and of course my personal chef. He was my all, my everything. He was God’s greatest gift to me. I could never ask God for more. He was the answer to all my prayers. And the seven years of togetherness was my most treasured memory. It was short but it was the happiest moment of my life.
Like any other ordinary couple, we too had our share of ups and downs. Despite of all those, he remained steadfast. He was my pillar of strength. He was faithful to God and he’d always believed in miracles.
We may not be financially abundant but we were happy and contented with what we had. He’d provided everything that I needed. He’d showered me with so much love and care. He’d accepted me for who I was. He was faithful to me and he believed in me. He’d supported me with all my challenges and potentials. And most of all, he’d brought me closer to God.
Yes, I was truly happy… deliriously ecstatic, straight to the bones blissful.
Our marriage was tested a lot of times. In the first few years of our union, I’ve had three recurrent miscarriage. He pulled me from the pool of despair and self-pity. On 2013, I got pregnant again. However, my water bag broke on the fifth month of my pregnancy. I was then put on complete bed rest for two months. He took care of me. He did all the household chores. He cooked our food, managed the laundry, he even gave me a bath and changed my diaper. On top of that, he also reported for work. I never heard him complained. I’ve felt his unconditional love even more. He’d never lost hope. He’d believed that our baby will survive the ordeal. Unfortunately, Isaac Lemuel died thirteen hours after I gave birth to him.
Regardless of what happened, he did not waver and trusted God only. He’d always chosen to see the positive side of every situation. He comforted me and said,
someday we’ll have our own child. We just have to believe. We’ve been very careful with Isaac; so the next time we get pregnant again, we’ll double our effort. We don’t know the reason, but God is gracious and merciful. He’ll grant our hearts’ desire.
While I was having a difficult pregnancy, he’d also found out that my mom was suffering from liver cancer. He’d kept the information to himself to protect me and our son. He didn’t tell me that my mom only had six months to live. Instead, he showered me with love and support even more. I could only imagine what he had gone through as he carried the heavy load of worrying about me, our son and my parents.
I’d only learned the truth about my mom after Isaac died. And on the second month of year 2014, my mom also died. Again he was my source of strength. He was a constant charger which steadily gave me the tenacity to carry on and to have more faith in God.
All the while, he was suffering from a rare, progressive disorder. It is called pulmonary hypertension or PH. It is a lung disorder in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. As a result, the blood pressure in these pulmonary arteries rises far above normal levels. This abnormally high pressure strains the right ventricle of the heart, causing it to expand in size. Overworked and enlarged, the right ventricle gradually becomes weaker and loses its ability to pump enough blood to the lungs. This could lead to the development of right heart failure.
There is currently no cure for PH. It’s a progressive disease, which means that it can advance quickly. If left untreated, the disease can be life threatening within a couple of years.
However, the disease can be managed. Some patients can make lifestyle changes and monitor their health. But for many patients, PH can lead to heart failure and their overall health can be in great danger. Medications and lifestyle modifications are intended to slow the progression of the disease. There are two ways to manage the illness: one is by medicines, but these tablets relieve the symptoms only. Unfortunately, there is only one medicine available in the country. The second is through heart and lung transplant. Healthy organs can be implanted, but transplant surgery has its risks. It’s a complicated operation, and there is always a waiting list for healthy organs.
Statistics show that it takes patients about 2.8 years from symptom onset to diagnosis. PH symptoms are often confused with asthma or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Thus, they usually spend 2.3 years seeking an accurate diagnosis. They need to see three doctors before they are properly diagnosed. And by that time the disease may have progressed already. So basically, the life span of a PH patient is 2.8 years with or without medication.
And yet, God is a generous a God. He loves us both so much that He prolonged my husband’s life for another two years.
To have an idea how a PH patient feels, you may want to take the PH Straw Test. All you need is a straw. First is unwrapped the straw. Second, hold your nose. And third, breathe through the straw for a minute. This is how a PH patient feels one thousand, four hundred and forty minutes a day.
People with PH often don’t look sick. And that was how he projected himself. People who weren’t aware of his condition will never realize that he was suffering from this rare disorder. He was always smiling, full of energy and he loved to make people happy. In addition, he’d always had a positive outlook in life.
Yesterday while I was browsing his mobile phone, I saw a page where he compiled all his favorite quotes. On top of his list is the quote of Mr. Vince Lombardi. It says:
I believe in God and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
My Ian has fought a good battle and he had won. He was able to touch lives in his own special way. He was born to be a hero. He became an inspiration to all of us. He didn’t want to be remembered as a person who was very sickly. Instead, he wanted to let other people know that despite of all the trials, we should always hold on to God. And to never lose hope.
Papa, I know that you’re so much delighted today because the people you love: your family and friends, your officemates, schoolmates, flatmates and especially the Couples for Christ Family Community are all here. I could clearly imagine your ear to ear smile and your endearing gesture when you are embarrassed.
Even though I am grieving, I am still thankful to God because you are now free from any illnesses and anxieties. I know that you are also with Isaac now. And I’m sure you couldn’t get enough of him.
Papa, I know that it is very hard to pick my shattered self up, but I will try my hardest to live the kind of life that you wanted me to have. You’d wished for me to be closer to God, to be more faithful and to always trust Him. You’d also wanted me to serve Him in all possible means. You’d also wished for me to never lose hope and to be positive always. I’ll strive to be your living legacy, so people will know the kind of influence you’d brought into my life.
My words will never be enough, but I know you know how much you mean to me. I love you very much with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my body, and with all my soul. You may have gone physically but you will remain in my heart till forever.
Papa, please be at peace because I am going to be fine. I will work hard to be a good person so when my time is up, we will be together again in heaven. And our family of six will finally be complete.
I am extending my heartfelt gratitude to everyone. To our families and friends, colleagues, schoolmates, flatmates and especially the Couples for Christ Community, thank you for your overflowing love, kindness and support. Everything that you’ve done is engraved in our hearts. Everything is deeply appreciated, especially when he was in the hospital fighting for his life. You all have come and offered prayers for his healing. You all have become our support. Everything will be eternally remembered. I believe God will bless your hearts more.
Papa Ian will live on forever, in the hearts of those whom he’d touched.