On that day when father Philip died, a somber cloud hung low. The air smelled of wet soil. Not as sweet, not as homely as it always was. The rain hit the roof in a sad, slow rhythm. His coughs were dry, loud and continuous. It kept sucking the life out of him in front of my eyes.
Phil, who was more of a parent than a guardian to me, had battled throat cancer for twelve years. Braved his way strong like an armed soldier. He had taken me in when I lost both parents at age 3. He was solace enough when solace was all I needed.
On those nights when the coughs persisted and I had to spend the night in the room next to his, he would narrate biblical tales to me and every other day, I loved the work of the church.
Raised as not very typical a boy, I would serve in the church from basic work like cleaning to serving at the altar. I grew to love the clergy, its course and the role it plays in the community. It amazed me. One would notice my zeal to serve at age 12.
With the right mentorship from Phil, I studied theology right after my high school. Four years later I was ordained and received as the priest who would serve in the local Catholic church. The very church Father Philip had served for the better time of his life till his death.
I always tried to fit in his shoes but on other days, I wish I would still have him around for guidance. When he was receiving home-based care, I was his caregiver and that raised my interest in the medical field.
At the beginning I consulted our Diocese’ Bishop and he was kind enough to even encourage me towards the path. He explained how serving humanity was just like serving God and I instantly knew what I loved from an early age.
On one particular Sunday I was overwhelmed by the sermon I was giving and even opened up how I wanted to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in medicine and the church roared with chants of support.
That week I did procedural formalities and my desire was convincing. I felt like Cancer had robbed me of the most valuable thing in my life and I wanted to help cure suffering people.
During Philip’s last days, his skin was becoming pale and his voice was so husky you could hear the pain in it. A fighter was being death-wrestled to the ground. These are still the most memorable days of my life.
Phil would call me to say the rosary with him and we would share a word from the Gospel. Even on his last days, the spark of radiance was still on. He was fully endowed with Grace. Occasionally, he would quote insightful verses in the bible and it was nourishment enough for my spirit.
At the Seminary, I served in the Red Cross and later in the St. John’s ambulance club. The two built my skills and taught me the basics of saving a life, reducing pain and relieving pain. The programs also built my communication skills during admission of care. I train volunteers from my church and within the locality simple skills like admission of CPR and First Aid.
When I first learnt about the scholarship offered to medicine students, I thought it was a good opportunity to chase my dreams. For the longest time, it has been my goal to pursue and serve and I am certain the bachelor’s degree will help me attain the same.
As the adage goes, experience is the best teacher. I have been a keen student of life and my skills have been sharpened enough. I believe that we all have that one life-transforming experience that turns around one’s perception towards life and for sure, Father Philip’s death was my eye-opener.
I would also love to serve and better my community. With the poor conditions at the district hospital, It would be a blessing for the people to have qualified personnel, especially one they know at personal level. Furthermore, it will encourage the youths to put more effort to achieve their dreams like I did mine.
When life’s light was dimming right before Phil’s eyes there is one thing he always reminded me. He said that unless you cannot run anymore, keep chasing your dreams and never settle for less! In pursuit of my endeavor, I keep the goal in mind; and this is it.