Being Surrounded by Death
During the age of global pandemic (2020-22), I was surrounded by death. People were dying with all sorts of sickness and disease ranging from cancer to diabetes, heart stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer, and dementia. The victims of Covid-19 came to its highest occupying almost 100% of many hospital beds. Non-covid patients had to wait in the lobby just to be admitted to the emergency room. Other non-covid patients were queued outside the hospitals, dying unattended to by any of the already much occupied medical personnel, some of whom became victims of the deadly pandemic.
The conditions during those times were not very supportive to promoting a decent and safe life. Hospital bills for Covid patients at the place where I was quarantined was estimated by my attending physician at around $30,000, exorbitantly expensive for families receiving the daily minimum wage of less than $100.
The economy was suffering from stagflation to say the least. Business corporations were laying off workers and even closing because of bankruptcy. The global gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) continued to plummet. International trade was only favoring the rich with export declining and imports rising over time. And so with international finance. The daily movement of stock market prices was more on the downside than upside. As weeks and months went by, more and more financial institutions were declaring bankruptcy. Remittances from abroad were the only source of income for families whose members were working abroad, but not for long because many countries refused entries of foreign workers.
Unemployment plummeted while the prices of basic commodities rose meteorically. Many health clinics and social services were no longer functioning because of dwindling resources. Loans were defaulting; mortgages on real-estate properties could no longer be paid; and many were suddenly finding themselves homeless and starving.
The Great Depression in 1929 in the USA not only resurrected. This time, it was affecting the entire global economy. The worsening global conditions set the stage for its own destruction. Even then, a few enterprising elites were making their heyday, making profits from a dying economy and impoverished people. Nobody was in control and the nation’s coffers became instantly empty mired in greed and corruption by many of our unconscientious leaders.
Worse, we continued to desecrate our world. The luscious and serene place I used to live became a haven for smoke belchers, reckless chauffeurs, carriers of deadly corona variants. Mining and oil drilling continued, supported by a populace who are in dire need of work.
Fake news, twisted news, corrupted news, lies, and deceptions inundated the innocent and naïve minds of many people that it was becoming extremely hard to discern which among them spoke of the truth and were sincere in working for the good of the people.
Living has become stressful, uglier, and deadlier as weeks and months go by. The world I'd known was taking a trip fast down the memory lane, now a fairy tale, with little hope of coming back to its normal state before Covid-19 again. For what used to be normal before the global pandemic has become abnormal.
Whatever or whoever was behind this were indeed successful in crushing and asphyxiating the once highly motivated and courageous souls of many people. Compulsory isolation was becoming a death sentence.
Not ready with this kind of crisis, many government machineries simply collapsed with their staff and personnel knowing not what to do. The immediate government function was limited to chronicling the number of deaths, their causes, and measures applied. The procurement and procedure for vaccinations became a big business that only profited those in power. Many deaths fell off the public’s radar eye that there were times that families were simply told that their hospitalized one passed away and whose body can be claimed at their designated funeral parlor.
Yet, the people were made to believe then that everything was still normal, and the situation was under control, when in fact, the opposite was true. If for anything else, the pandemic was creating chaos, disorder, confusion, violence, and crime, offshoots of the instinct to survive. It was a world of others’ own making, wanting us to believe that it is the only sane and real world we could have. People were simply herded like lambs led to their slaughter. It was an insane world and was really maddening.
Lewis Carroll picturesquely described a similar situation then during his time in his Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland in this dialogue:
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat.
“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do I know I’m mad?” asked Alice.
“You must be,” said the cat, “or you wouldn’t have come.”
And who are the people behind all this?
If viewed from my perspective, it can be anybody: politicians, economic elite, religious leaders, our teachers, our family, peers, the media, the pharmaceutical industry, etc. It can also be us. Every nation is frenziedly building their own phantom world and arsenals, in a race to protect themselves and rule over other people: the United Nations, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Great Britain, the Soviet Russia, China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Indian Continent, the African Union. Every nation was all-out to subdue and conquer the other, politically, economically, religiously, culturally, militarily, and geographically.
It goes without saying that the kind of life constructed by others during the great global pandemic did not consider at all the common people’s longings and aspirations. It was not a free and democratic world. There’s no freedom, only slavery, dictatorship, authoritarianism, and militarism. And it is still kind of world we’re living in today. Take it or leave it.
Crossing Beyond the World of Religion and Science
Anyone’s personal search for meaning and purpose in life always opens a path that may never have been trodden before. On their own resources, many have crossed beyond the threshold of their 4-D existence and found a new world, which has been unknown to them for too long a time. In the process of experiencing this new world, their awareness about themselves and the world expands. The more they know and experience, the deeper and expansive their consciousness becomes.
For the first time, one can experience what it means to live in peace and harmony with creation. And this experience is real, not a product of one’s fantasy and imagination. It is no longer a utopia. One feels fully loaded with knowledge that becomes the guide for the remaining years of their lives. 4-D ambitions and preoccupations mellow down in favor of the 5-D spiritual realm, where the individual becomes more animated and enervated, caused probably by some invisible forces emanating from the new world of the enlightened.
My deeper research into the reality of death and afterlife has widened my horizon of the world that lies beyond 0ur 4-D format. Having been brough up as a Catholic, I have read the Holy Bible from cover to cover many times. Yet, the many information I gathered for the past 30 years have taught me to be critical and discerning of what is written in the holy scripture, especially in the interpretations of many biblical texts unscrupulously done by philosophers and theologians, as well as in the dogmas of the Church hierarchy.
It so sad that the Catholic echelon still refuses to acknowledge the many inconsistencies and genuine truths that are contained in the bible. The proofs of our origin and destiny as well as the compassionate and fallen extraterrestrial beings that are competing to control our world and us humans are all contained in the bible. Worse, the Catholic hierarchy is hiding several secrets in its huge archives that are not divulged to the entire humanity for reasons only the power holders know. One can only entertain the idea that they are part of the great galactic well-synchronized conspiracy to maintain their authority and power over their respective disciples and followers.
But I refuse to admit that Catholicism, together with its hierarchy, has fallen. My experience points to the existence of a supreme being, which is the Source of everything. I refuse to abandon my perspective as a Christian despite my strong suspicion that its structures and the people lording over them are the descendants of the sons and daughter of Babylon. Babylon will be redeemed; its armies will be vanquished.
I can say this with authority because the spiritual truths have now been revealed to us through those more evolved souls who are able to access what has been written in ancient times. Their names are written in the bible, bolstered by the intensifying cosmic events and natural calamities that have been happening more frequently at regular time periods. All this had been predicted and prophesized by the prophets in the bible and concurred by science recently. Again, it is just so sad that these are kept secret and hidden from the public by those who are afraid and scared of their negative repercussions on their lives and security.
My Experience of Death and Afterlife: My Most Defining Moments
I was witnessing the deaths of my loved ones. First, it was my brother-in-law, a retired U.S. Air Force. Then, as I was preparing for my travel to the USA, I had to go directly to the Hospice where my sister was just hanging on waiting for my arrival. I had enough precious moments to be with her on her death bed. The following day, she joined her Lord. Then, on November 6, 2021, I received the sad news that my beloved wife had to be hospitalized to undergo some life-threatening surgical operation. On December 17, my daughter Aileen and son Erik traveled hurriedly from the Philippines and arrived at Omaha in Nebraska where my wife was staying with my youngest son Junjun and his family (Cailin and their two daughters Lucia and Kattie).
It was on December 19, 2021, that I received the shocking news that my wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that has spread already to her lungs. Right there and then, we had an impromptu online reunion. I was in Seattle while they were so many miles away, myself deciding to fly to be with them the following day.
But I also had my own life-threatening moments. While in the Philippines, I was advised by our family doctor to go to the US since hospitals in Metro Manila were full of Covid-19 patients and can no longer accept non-covid cases. Besides, my doctor said hospitals in the US have better facilities and supportive health-care system that could respond effectively to my ailments. Once given the health clearance and the needed vaccination for my travel, I immediately booked myself a plane.
Already very much stressed and worried, my health continued to deteriorate when I arrived. Traveling quickly across multiple time zones can be discomforting and dislocating. Arriving in Seattle after 2 to 3 hours was most excruciating. Science says that it takes one day for every time zone for the body to recover and adjust to the new surroundings because of the jetlag.
The time difference between my place of origin (Philippines) and my destination is about 16 hours, which meant that my body was still somewhere traveling in the Pacific Ocean when I arrived in Seattle. My eating and sleeping regimen were completely disturbed. It was my body telling me when to eat, sleep, and be awake. And my mind was still restless because of the sudden change of environment.
Weather was aggravating my disorientation. Sunshine rays seldom penetrated the thick gloomy sky that were just ready to turn their flurry into raindrops anytime. It was better to stay in bed all day long. My Saturday online classes were becoming a great challenge. Giving online lectures was troublesome because I was feeling terribly drowsy and sleepy as a result of traveling backwards in time. Forcing myself to stay awake only made my presentations shallow and haphazard as my mind still wandered elsewhere in time. It took 16 days for my body, mind, and spirit to come together again intact in a synchronous way.
The depressing atmosphere had its toll on my already deteriorating health. Within a span of one-week, I literally fell three times headfirst on the tiled floor, making me always unconscious. It always happened between midnight and dawn after trying to get up from my bed. I was lucky my sisters were always around to hear the sudden thudding sound as a result of my fall.
I did not remember anything when I fell. But I was in terrible pain. I felt dizzy, sensing everything around me was swirling fast at a dizzying speed. I did not know where my spirit went then during those moments. It was a total blackout.
The emergency doctors could not accept me to the hospital since the place was full of Covid patients. Everything had to be done online. While I was familiar with using zoom consultations in the Philippines, they had a different platform that required long and tedious protocols, making me more stressed and worried. I was having frequent sporadic panic attacks. The entire situation was just too overwhelming. What was worse was that the whole family where I was staying became inflicted with Covid-19.
It was in this terribly sad condition that I received the sad news about my wife. I could imagine the intense state of shock my children had to bear, knowing that their parents were both in critical condition. I could not visit them, neither could any one of my children visit me since Omaha airport then was closed from incoming travelers. Even if by some twist of magic and luck I could get through, I could not still stay close to my wife since doctors could not risk the danger my wife would face because of my presence.
Wishing to be with her family in the Philippines, my wife practically expressed her last wish to be brought back to the Philippines. I could only watch in silence and admire the heroism of my children in trying their utmost to make this wish happen. At first, the doctor refused to give a clearance for my wife to travel. Even if he would issue this clearance, travel by air was almost impossible. The Philippine health authorities refused to allow travelers from the States to enter the Philippines without prior health clearances that, fulfilling it, would entail a long and complicated process, oftentimes circuitous.
We could only pray and storm heaven for some blessings. Daily, we invoked the healing power of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mother (the Lady of Second Chance), and the miracle healer Padre Pio for my wife’s last wish to be granted. Slowly, when we least expected it, miracles after miracles started to pour down like rain from the heavenlies.
A muted voice from nowhere was heard. The doctor announced that there is a small window where my wife could travel through but that they must leave immediately. They must find a plane that could allow them to travel, given my wife’s condition and the various gadgets attached to her body. They must prepare the necessary travel documents. They had to synchronize their travel at a time when the Philippine government would already allow entry to US travelers.
The news uplifted the spirit of my wife. Her condition greatly improved. Her cancer cells and platelets levels drastically went down, which was considered by her attending physicians a miracle. We all saw how calmly and peacefully she accepted her impending demise. All the while, it was even my wife who was more upbeat and enervated, happy at the prospect of seeing her entire family back home. She was encouraging and inspiring my children to move on joyously despite the odds.
To make a long story short, the Lord granted my wife’s wish to go back home to her native land. I could only watch in excitement how the heroism of my children unfolded to realize her wish. All this meant they had to travel a grueling journey of 38 hours, including a layover in California and a 10-day required quarantine at a specified hotel in Manila.
My family left December 26, 2021, after completing all the travel requirements and the doctor’s permit to travel abroad. On January 4, 2022, they proceeded to our family farm resort (Lilim-Casa Sombra) in Nasugbu, Batangas on January 9 for the much-needed rest and re-acquaintances with the entire Dejillas-Gracilla clan. After all, it was this farm that she strongly suggested to our daughter to purchase. All were present for this one of the most defining moments of our life. But I could not be with them.
I could not give the details of what happened during the few days they were in the farm. I could not bear to see the photos that chronicled her short stay there. How happy she was, even to the point of kissing the ground upon their arrival. It was very moving to see a dying person so happy to be with her siblings and close relatives all around her. It was a grand reunion. Yet, I was deeply inspired by her to face death so calmly, even describing the kind of afterlife waiting for her when she was on her deathbed.
In the past, she did a lot of things beautifying the farmhouse, not knowing that she will be leaving an imprint that only reminds us today. She has become one of us even in death. She gave us an example of how to live life both in times of joy and in times of trials and sufferings. She has become a model and a saint to me. She will give me the courage and inspiration when my turn comes to cross over to the next life.
The months from November 2021 to May 2022 were the most trying moments to me. I was told by my attending nurse that it will take six months before they could give me a clearance to travel back to the Philippines. It was Seattle’s time to storm heaven and earth so I could be with my wife.
I was finally able to get my travel clearance on April 14, 2022. Traveling on Japan Airlines, I reached Narita around 5:00 p.m. My daughter said their mother was hanging on expecting me to be with her on time. I was positive I would see her before she would pass away. But something unexpected happened. My flight to the Philippines was delayed by one hour, leaving at 7:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m.
At exactly 8:15, we were cruising at an altitude of 33,000 miles, when the light for the cabin attendant above me suddenly turned on. I had no idea at all who or what turned it on. But the young lady stewardess immediately came to me and politely asked me if I needed anything, to which I responded “No,” telling her that I did not turn the switch on. After a few minutes, the light turned on again and immediately the flight attendant was back asking me the same thing. It happened three times and the stewardess, now with a concerned look on her face, asked me if I really don’t need anything at all.
I’m not a superstitious believer, but I learned later that my wife passed away exactly during those time when the light turned on and off three times. Was it her way of bidding her goodbye to me? I believed it was, accepting it teary-eyed recalling in an instant our memories together in life.
It could have been providential that I was not with them. My arrhythmia has been becoming more frequent since I have not completed my executive medical checkup in Seattle. Since I arrived there, my heart’s irregular beating worsened that I became more prone to stress, panic attacks, and manic depression at the least provocation. Given this precarious condition, I was not even sure if I could stand seeing my wife on her deathbed.
Upon arrival, I immediately went to Heritage Park in Paranaque where her body lies in a cubicle along a narrow dimly lit hallway. It was just the right atmosphere and moment for me to spend my time communing and conversing with her alone. I could have spent the whole night alone with her, had I not been alerted by the park attendants that the body had to be placed in a freezer. I remember I was with her alone for an hour.
So many thoughts came into my mind. What now that my wife who has been so loving and patient with me is now gone! What now that my wife who had been very close to our children, who was responsible for keeping the family together both in joy and in pain, has passed away? I am the loner, reticent type, preferring to be alone in silence than be with others. I cannot take her role, impossible! What will the future of the family be? Who will keep it intact and together for the remaining days of our earthly lives?
But it is usually in times like this that a leader emerges to fill in a gap. And it was my eldest child Aileen that is now taking over the responsibility of managing of the entire Dejillas-Gracilla family. We all listened to her. For my part, I continued to live a hermetic kind of life, alone in my Antipolo residence, continuing my passion to chronicle the story of my life and preparing for my journey to the next life.
But my story is far from over. Instead of worrying and wallowing in self-pity, the entire incident challenged me even more to pursue my interest and curiosity about death. Will my experience of the world beyond be supplanted by other defining moments other than death? Am I looking for some defining moments more blissful and spiritually enriching to move on to my coming ascension? What should I do to make that happen?
To be able to envision the kind of life I wish for the remaining years of my life, I have to confront the following questions: “What is death really? What dies? Is it possible to defy death? How about the afterlife? What is it? Is it possible to experience the afterlife again even while still on earth? Is it possible to defy the afterlife? In what way?”