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Marlon. His name means Little Warlike One, Mighty, Eagle, Falcon. He was born in difficult circumstances. At an early age, he became an adult. As a soldier, serving for the Philippine Navy, he had to go where his orders took him. Sometimes that meant surviving in physically harsh conditions. He was a leader, independent and mission minded, while he focused his life centered around the family. When he embraced his faith being a Christian, he served under many church ministries to continue God’s work. It wasn’t easy, but he helped people in dire spiritual need. He always believed that he would be part of a greater mission- one that will help many for God. In his last weeks, he fought his greatest battle, the infamous virus that has turned the world upside down, creating ripples of political, social, and economic turmoil. Our dad fought the virus for a total of two months. That is eight weeks. Six of them were in the ICU. Fifty-six days fighting on his hospital bed to heal. I look back to my text messages, and all I can see are the messages of orders and commands from him to get hand sanitizer, disinfectants, alcohol, wipes, Tylenol, and delivered home cooked food. He was trying to get better in quarantine so he could go back to work. He was also trying to help my mom and sister who were sick, healing in self quarantine. I had a personal conviction that he needed to be treated right away in the hospital, but, we still didn’t know how covid affects people, so we relied on the leaders of our government to issue the right protocol of when testing can be done. We listened, believed, and trusted that they know what they are talking about and what to do. He should have gotten tested right away, but there were many conditions. In this time of the pandemic, you need to be in a serious state of sickness before you can take a test. He should have been hospitalized before the fevers, but one needed to be in a dire state before they can enter. How the leaders of America have responded to the virus, has been our family’s utmost disappointment. The nation’s orders to the medical field were not properly executed. It was like, every hospital, every family is on their own to fend for themselves. In the early weeks, I remember we silently battled with our dad as we knew we would be judged. Terrible times. In these weeks, we supported our dad in spirit. There were many limitations, but there were even more graces. We could not be with him physically to help him fight, but God’s grace is so good that he was sent to a top of the line research hospital. They received him with welcome in the Adult Heart Surgical Unit of Advocate Christ Hospital in Oaklawn, IL. They put him on the needed machines to help him breathe. Moved by what they did to help dad, we brought doughnuts and food every Sunday to the medical team and prayed in front of the hospital. We could not speak to him at every moment. Doctors were working around the clock to assess him and other patient cases. We missed him. Then, God’s grace intervened when we were given the go ahead to Skype safely with him, we were happy to be able to cheer him on with our words and pray for him. There was a moment when he was awake with his eyes open, he struggled with his breathing tube as though wanting to speak to us. We felt the limitation, but utter love poured out on him. We missed his voice. In his last days, when my mom wanted to come to the hospital to visit dad, (She worked as a Medical Frontliner in another hospital) she wanted to suit up to comfort him, but we were cautioned not to because of the riots and protests. They were on lock down. Instead, we decided to pray. So we went, planning to social distance in masks heading to our aunt’s home where they were leading a prayer vigil. It was critical. I remember taking my mom and brother there, as protesters stopped the roads in front of the police station. I waited patiently in support of their cause, but when it was my turn at the front line of their blockade, they ordered me several times to turn around. A line was drawn in this protest. I rolled my window down and spoke strongly to let me pass so we could pray to help our dad who was critically declining. I literally had to show my cellphone to have them see my dad on his hospital bed. They believed and let us through. Later that night, we found out that the fires rose from the protests. Everything was on lock down. This went on for two days. Peace was scarce. The roads on our father’s last day were perfect. No troubles, no limitations experienced on that day. My sister wanted to drive as I sat next to mom on the passenger’s seat, with our family. I saw her bracing herself in strength. The hospital let us Skype overnight to see and be with our dad on his last night, until morning. It helped us to be strong. I thanked God for giving us this grace to be fully present in the moment, without needless worry. Upon arrival at the hospital, the staff took us upstairs as we met with his doctors and nurses. They told us that our dad fought with such spirit. They could not however, save dad. He was experiencing multi-organ failure. We were learning that the virus is not a lung disease, but that of a cardiovascular one that at the last stages affects the blood. It starts with the lungs. He left his vices of smoking and drinking a long time ago, but since our dad heavily used cigarettes in his prime, the virus resided there longer due to remnants of nicotine in his lungs. We felt that when he was able to open his eyes and his numbers were getting better, he recovered from the virus, but his toleration of all the medical treatments had weakened. It was his liver and kidneys, and intestinal track that was not strong enough and it gave. He was literally receiving blood and plasma every day. The medical team has been like an extended personal family to us. Everyday, when we called for his updates, we took down the names of the nurses working with our Dad and put them and all the doctors in daily prayer. We asked God to give them divine protection, new wisdom, creativity, and strength to continue their work. Our hearts grew to love them as they washed, fed, and checked his vitals. God intervened again. We were granted permission to be in the same room as him. It makes me so teary and grateful of this kind courtesy they allowed. At this point in spiritually fighting the virus with him all these weeks, with our family- our mom and sister that had the necessary antibodies, and the rest of us boosted immunity, we were unafraid. Many people were praying. God was with us in the moment. We all suited up safely in medical PPE (Protective Personal Equipment) to witness his final moments. From hair nets, masks, face shields, jackets, gloves. I felt so honored and proud to wear their gear. My younger siblings and aunt went in first and prayed for him. He was still on the ventilators. Beautiful prayers were last spoken by them as I felt the room lifted up. I witnessed everything in the corner. It was my turn, I paused briefly at the door. I barely recognized the shell of the man left in the bed, his face sunken and hollow and contorted. His eyes slightly open in a weak haze. His mouth open, with lips dry, skin toughened as his face in fighting. His hair grew out white as snow. I placed my hand on his head ever so gently and caressed his hair. I placed my palm on his heart. Life was leaving his body. We understood his battle. Bitter-sweetness was felt when the doctors turned off the machines to let him breathe on his own. Mom was by his side, holding his left hand. The nurses put an injection of pain medication so that he wouldn’t feel a thing. Our father took his last raspy breaths at 1:30 pm of June 2, 2020 on his hospital bed. It was finished. The medical staff of the unit gathered around to see. Everyone was touched by his fight and the moment was an honorable one… ‘ To read the rest please, go to https://bit.ly/3lfScYW. Thank you

Mary Anne Yanos,  Illionois 

Yanos, Marlon