Never Again

No one knows the day and the time when these things will happen, not even the angels in the heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. –Matthew 24:36

I am staring at the curtain; behind the curtain is his lifeless body.

Just as the curtain hides the burning truth, I too, concealed the pain.

The formalin sting my eyes, his passing strike my heart.

This is not the moment with him I picture in my head.

I picture him bringing or fetching me with his bike to somewhere,

clad in his uniform because I am so proud of him,

and I want everyone to know.

I picture the few moments we had in my mind.

Those moments I wish I stretched to more minutes.

Snap back to reality, he is gone.

Instead of words, I prayed with sobs.

Instead of words, I comfort them with a pat in the shoulder.

Then my heart betrayed me; it became weak to hold the pain that it needs my eyes,

from there gushed a thousand pails of tears.

I breathe hard, the pain remains.

I breathe hard, the reality lingers.

Days passed and some things haunt me day and night,

the could haves in the morning, the should haves at night

and the what if’s in between.

They are crushing to the heart, unforgiving to the spirit.

Days passed and I learn more things about this guy.

Why do I learn about him only now?

Why only now?

From then on, I vowed,

Never again.

Today, I will go the extra mile – find time to drop by, send that text message I have been putting off,

tell a compliment, share a joke, always find time, be present.

I will be there; I will try to always be there, because I promise to myself…

Never again.

The Death of my Cousin and the Things that Really Matter

Exactly a week ago today, I received the most dreadful news one can ever take – my cousin’s dead. He was shot in the head and was immediately rushed in the hospital in the hopes of saving him. But we still lost him. I can only imagine what happened to him from my relatives’ tales – his blood flowing all over the place and over his companion’s body who was with him during that time, how he was rushed in the best hospital in our town, how my mother hoped he will be fine and how he totally said goodbye. In an instant, he was gone. He was young, not to mention good looking. He had lots of dreams to pursue on top of the success he has accomplished. But he was gone. He will never return but he left me thoughts and things that I think, really matter.

Some people around me who learned of the sad news asked, “Were you close with him?” I cannot help but feel sad and somehow offended by the question. I feel sad because the truth of the matter is, we were not close. Being both introverts of the family, we were both the quiet ones who will just laugh along and smile along. However, I think that it is ridiculous to base my grief to the frequency of our talks or meeting. Maybe to some, learning about a death of a person who’s not close to them does not break their hearts into pieces. But my heart is different. My heart that breaks with the simplest injustice in our society mourns deeply in his death. Does it matter if we were close? I think not. What matters is that I love him.

On the day he died, nobody saw what really happened. Even if our neighbor gossipers talk of what happened as if they were in the scene, believe me, nobody saw what happened. Nobody knows the entire story and so the first question that baffled us was how did he die? I personally grapple for answers and tried to come up with a story that my mind and my heart can accept. But all I want to hear is the truth, the truth that may never reveal itself. Does it matter how he died? I think it is more important to think and always remember how he lived. He lived with passion for what he does. His friends told us how hardworking and committed to work he was. I also remember my mother telling me how my cousin got irritated at someone who was offering him money in exchange for something. Wow, I said to myself then, I have a new inspiration in serving in the government. He was an upright public servant, a decent man and I am just so proud of him.

My cousin was generally a silent person. Does it matter if in his lifetime, he talked so little? I don’t think so. I know behind his silence is a great love for his family and for the nation – two of the best things that fuel his everyday life. I would like to believe that in his silence, there are hardships he endured, successes he savored, pains he overcame and love he deeply felt.

On the day when we said our last goodbye, all I managed to say were: Bye. Rest in peace. Till we meet again.