Funeral Vehicle

I thought it would be timely to write about death. A lot of crying has been covered lately on TV and prints for the death of over thirty students at Virginia Tech. In the Philippines, the list of journalists being killed is growing and leaving pictures of families left behind wailing in grief. There was this news about an innocent 2-year old child that was hit by a stray bullet while sleeping in the comfort of his room. Yes, in this column, I will be detailing a chronicle of death. Unless you are not afraid of the word, stop reading.

Few years ago, the surprising death of my young professor in law school made my classmates and I realized our own vulnerabilities. He was just as strong as anyone else the day before he died, laughing and throwing his daily punch lines in class and even joked about health. Little did we know that he’d die the next day. His passing confirmed the verity of how susceptible anyone is to death.

Having already experienced the death of my grandpa’s sister, who happened to be my closest ninang (godmother), I had gone through a deeper way of investigating, feeling through, and attempting to formulate sense of just what passing away means. As a youngster that time, it was never a straightforward thing to believe and to accept, nor, it was something that I could uncover all of the answers for my minor questions.

Mama Tintay, my ninang, after being diagnosed with cancer of the breast, was given just as much as needed time to get her dealings organized, to cry her goodbyes to her families and to spend what little value time she had remaining, struggling to convey all of the words and thoughts of wisdom and care that most parents have a lifetime to convey to their children. She did this with so much love and seemliness. Though very hard for her, she opted to somehow spend the little “life” she had left with her nearest and dearest, that being her family. When she finally left us, something was confirmed: it is not the person who passes away that has to suffer with death but those who stay behind. How very true. Everyone cried, even my sister cried for days.

The death of Mama made a difference in the mind of a high-schooler that was me. Her leaving compels me to deal with the profoundness of life. Never before had I thought of the reverse side of living to be significant as when faced with her death, especially when I think of her being embraced by the all-encompassing hands of God, free of pain. In memory of Mama, I might have paid attention on the loss. But having known and loved her, I realized I have only gained. Her love continues to stay alive and provide me and all in the family with the might to do what we can with our lives. The last time I visited her grave, I reflected at the hyphen located between the dates on the tombstone and thought of all the wonderful things that lie in between.

Mama Tintay had lived. She had fun, laughed and cried, felt love and loved so genuinely, for many million things. Since I believe things happen for a reason, the dying of Mama or my law professor for that matter was never a loss. Well, I can only picture Mama in heaven having a grand old time. She is home.

Lastly, I share the thought of President Chicoine for all those who have lost their loved-ones in the Virginia Tech tragedy – may we all pray for healing and wholeness of life to come.