Posts Tagged ‘death’
I recently attended a funeral of a friend’s twin sister, Charity, who died at 27 of osteosarcoma, the most common type of malignant bone cancer, in Batangas City. Such a tragic loss of a beautiful, young mother of 4! While everybody was paying respect as fresh cement seals her tomb in their family mausoleum, I gently touched Charmelle, her cherubic 2 year-old daughter, who was being carried by her mother’s twin brother’s girlfriend, Joy, next to me and whispered to her, “Say goodbye to Mommy now.” To my astonishment, tears fell on her beautiful face for no reason, for she was not obviously upset about anything, as if to silently grieve for her mother. Wait, she was silently grieving for her mother! She didn’t make any sound — not even a whimper — as she just teared up and leaned her face on Joy‘s right shoulder.
Everyone soon started to notice this heart-wrenching scene of what I can probably surmise as an unexplainable daughter’s bond to her mother. Instinctively, the women, most of whom were mothers, gathered around her and kissed her and comforted her and caressed her and stroked her hair though she still remained soundless, her face tear-stricken. I cried a sad tear, too, behind my sunglasses, emotions flooding my heart as I grappled to make sense of this incredibly touching spectacle.
One thought raced prominently in my head: an admiration for what seemed to me was an amazing display of tribal bond between women and how they respond almost instinctively and in unison to such an emotionally-charged moment. They surely know how to grieve gracefully and how they can make you feel the beauty, agony, and depth of a cherished relationship, even for a two-year old!
God bless the world for Charmelle. God bless the world for all the women in our lives who make us feel complete, or whole, or vulnerable, or stronger. They are what make any relationship — as a mother, daughter, sister, lover, friend — intricately more complex yet simply, intimately more rewarding… a relationship worth taking to your grave.
What is 20 U.S. dollars worth? I actually googled this query. Results : your own meme of “Stop Shooting” shirt, a Hello Kitty toaster, DIY Bendy Straws, Penguin Teaboy, and a Bike Chain bottle opener to name a few. To the upwardly mobile set, burning 20 bucks is a no-brainer: a 12-servings pack of Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew Colombia Coffee, and while they are at it, they might as well throw in a copy of the Talking Heads Opus CD (okay, that’s a little over a Jackson, but hey, you could afford Starbucks, right?). Perhaps a lower-grade copper Probus coin on eBay?
How about gasoline money for a truck ride home so you can be with your kids a few days before you die?
On a hot and humid late February morning, we decided to park our van underneath a tree along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City as my niece, Grace, went out to pay for her IELTS exam fees, while my sister, her husband, and myself waited. From his rear view mirror, Rosell, my brother-in-law, noticed a man in his 60′s walk draggingly. He cranked his window down to ask him if he was alright. The man, clasping his stomach, obviously in pain, said he was just trying to make it to EDSA, a good couple of blocks away. Without much thought, Rosell prompted my sister, Helen, to hand me a 500-peso bill (roughly $10), to give to the man for his taxi fare and a decent lunch as well. I alighted, approached the old man, and–curious that I am–talked to him before I gave him the money.
A brief talk– all 5 minutes short– but it seemed like eternity to me…he was recently diagnosed of a late-stage colon cancer, and with it a death sentence, or so it seemed to him, handed by his doctor: he had until the first week of March to have an operation lest he would die. I began to rattle off names/organizations/agencies/foundations, the whole alphabet soup of so-called charitable institutions, including ABS-CBN (a major Philippine media network where he just came from) and our country’s President‘s office, that he could go to. “Been there, all of them,” he said, morosely. “I either got empty promises or hallow sympathies,” his eyes resigned to the inevitable. His were a man’s who slugged it out with the world and tried to out-maneuver fate as well. Whatever glimmer of hope left in there, however, was extinguished by the anguish he felt for being abandoned. In spite of the stabbing pain and the measured breaths, this man walked his way one leaden step after another , in search for any freaking help that he never got. Imagine a bed-ridden old man who awaits for his time: emaciated, in physical agony, yet doggedly determined to get out of bed, carried his deathbed, and walked for miles on end in pursuit of an elusive purpose. He was determined to beat the deadline– only a week away. Tried he did to go beyond the limits of his dying body, but, alas, his dead hope and defeated spirit got the better of him: “All I want is some gasoline money for the truck that my friend offered me as a ride home to Tacloban (some 360 miles by land SE of Manila). I want to be with my children when I die. I want to be buried in my hometown. One thousand pesos (about $20). That’s what keeping me away from my children and my burial plot right now,” his words laced with bitterness the aftertaste of which I didn’t mind at all. Thank you for the 500 pesos; and would I mind if he had to move on (walk the two blocks to the bus station) to catch his bus? Of course, I didn’t. I handed him the amount he needed. He held my hand and thanked me again, his eyes– I had the gnawing feeling that that would be the first and the last time I will ever see him– bade me farewell.
Yes, I did mind him leaving, in a way. I wished I could have done more. I didn’t even get his name. However, to God he will never be a nameless, faceless son of His. My heart is with him, knowing he was with his children to celebrate life and love with them. Priceless.