Death and its Lessons

Auntie Belen and baby Sabrina spent part of their summer vacation here in Manila and my mom and Auntie Pau couldn’t be happier. There’s always something nice about seeing your close relatives; a certain feeling of peace and aura of home.

Meanwhile, yesterday, my cousins and I celebrated Matel’s 15th birthday. We had a little cookout and singing session, which our family always does because music has always been part of our bonding.

I don’t want to spoil the happy moments but although these past days have been a blast, I can’t help but feel sad and nostalgic.

I miss kuya Ron and lola Soling.

The thought of not seeing them in future family gatherings always brings tears to my eyes. The truth is that I still picture them out with us…sitting in some corner, cooking, telling stories or belting out their favorite songs.

Death has never been my favorite thing. But whether we like it or not, it is unavoidable; a chapter we cannot escape, an old friend that we’ll surely meet at the end of the road.

They died in different ways and in different circumstances in my life. One passed away unexpectedly, the other left with the obvious signs. But despite the disparities, both of their deaths still bear a hole in my heart. Maybe, it will never go away. Or maybe there will come a time that I will get used to them not being around.

Kuya Ron died on May 18, 2010. I was in my second year in college, 17 years old. I woke up to the sound of my mom crying. In a broken voice she told me that kuya Ron was shot while at work. My heart sank. I didn’t want to believe it at first. I refuse to recall the details because it still hurts. He was 36. He was one of my favorite cousins.

My lola passed away earlier this year, January 12. She was 90. My mom called me from Cebu and all I remember was thinking that I’ll never see her again. No more short talks, no more delicious breakfasts every time I visit Camotes, no more grandmother to welcome me and ask me how I’ve been. I still feel like she’s still around though, watching me to see if I follow her advices.

Paulo Coelho said in his book, “The Witch of Portobello,” that the only consolation we get from the death of a loved one is the thought that it was all for the best. Not a comforting fact, if you ask me. But I need to hold on to something.

So now when I think of them, I choose to remember the good moments we had…because frankly, it eases the pain a bit.

I want to remember how kuya Ron carries me on his back, how he makes the best iced tea in the world and how he cracks the funniest jokes out of the smallest things. I want to remember how lola Soling talks so calmly and tells me that the most important thing in this life is to be good and inspire people with the things you do.

Death is a tragedy; no matter how it comes and how prepared we are. It is a tragedy especially for those who are left behind because they are presented with the struggle to continue on with life while carrying the burden of loss.

However, ironic as it is, death is also the bitch slap that tells us to live our lives to the fullest because we’re not going to be in this world forever.

Death tells us to love recklessly, forgive, take risks, be happy, find peace and grow. It urges us to tell the important people in our lives that they matter. It asks us to change the world even in the smallest way possible. Lola Soling once told me that we may not live forever. But the things we’ll leave in this world will. So might as well leave behind a legacy that you know you can be proud of.

I miss you both kuya Ron and lola Soling. I think it’s a feeling that will never go away.

PS. I feel that my blogging pace has been very unproductive. I used to post entries at least twice a week. But with work and graduate school this August, I think I’ll only get to write if there is really something blog-worthy. Or if I feel the need to really share something.

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