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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Farewell, Jude


(My cousin and his wife)

As most of you already know, yesterday early Sunday morning, I received one of the worst and saddest call that I’ve ever had in my life. My cousin Jude (based in California), a 35 year old guy, had a heart attack and died within a few minutes. In the hospital where he was taken, they discovered that he had a huge blockage in his heart of a blood clotting called embolism (which can travel to any part of your body, from your lungs to the heart or to the brain). This disease apparently, is a silent-killer.

My cousin appeared to be all normal and healthy. He was very active and wanted to do everything from mountain climbing to swimming, from biking to hiking, kayaking, scuba diving. He loved the outdoors. Not only that, he had a good sense of humor – he was always the life of a party, a one-man act. He was also a handy man, he loved to tinker, to dismantle mechanical stuff inorder to learn how to put them together. His recent feat was when he was able to put together his car’s engine/motor parts just by reading and asking those who know. Most importantly, Jude had a heart to serve. He was always ready to be of helping hand, especially to the elderly. Above all, he loved his family and he loved God. He was, in every sense, a good man.

Apart from coughing last two weeks ago, which the doctor thought to be asthma, he was not complaining about anything at all. So his demise came as a huge shock to all of us, especially to his wife and 11-yr old son.

Jude was one of the closest cousins to me. I still remember our heart to heart talks and moments when he came to me for advice. I would surely miss his calls on weeknights or during weekends when he would make me laugh so much just recalling about fun and good times at CFIF where we worked together. And I do remember him also sharing with my grief, him on the phone sobbing over the loss of my mother.

His untimely death will be felt greatly, not only by his wife and son, but by his mother and siblings in the Philippines (whom some of them he was financially supporting), his relatives, as well as by those who knew him as a friend and a co-worker.

To Jude – we love you and we are greatly saddened by your sudden passing away. You will be remembered fondly and missed terribly by all those whose paths you have crossed during your short journey here on earth.

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So Long, Mama

The dreaded time came so very fast– my Mother’s funeral. September 30, 2007 was the hardest day of my life. I sobbed as men carried my Mother’s coffin out of the house. This would be the last time that she would enter or exit the house, ever.

The funeral march began at 1:30PM. Joseph and I, along with my family and friends marched behind the hearse carrying my mother’s coffin on the way to the (Catholic) church. We were walking in the middle of the roadway and proceeded at a snail’s pace. Along the way, people passing us tossed peso coins (by the hearse) from their vehicles. This is a Filipino practice that has folkloric origins to it. People here believe that it is bad luck to pass by a funeral march while driving, and that tossing coins would break the curse and prevent the vehicle from having any accidents on the road.

At the church, we found out that we were the 3rd in line. There was another funeral mass going on inside, and another one waiting before us. Somehow, somebody was late. My mother’s funeral was scheduled at 2:30PM but it finally started at 3:00PM. I was seated in between my father and my husband in the church, right at the pew where my mother used to love sitting when coming to the church. My father was teary-eyed as he shared this memory with me.

The mass was all in my dialect (Cebuano), so I was busy trying to translate everything to Joseph. The 30-minute ceremony was over before I knew it. The priest then asked the family members to gather around the coffin while he was blessing it with holy water and incense. I was staring at my mother, fighting the sob that was rising up my throat. One of my mother’s sister started to weep, and when I felt my father wept as well, that did it – — I couldn’t hold my tears any longer and I broke down along with my family. My husband, who is usually reserved also cried along with us. He, too, is missing my mother.

When the mass was over, the funeral march resumed. This time we were headed to the cemetery. The walk was just maybe about 10-15mins. My steps were heavy. I realized that we were nearing the end of my mother’s earthly journey.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally standing in front of my family’s burial lot. We waited until the men brought the coffin in front of my mother’s tomb, her final resting place on earth. We were again given a few more last-viewing minutes…. This would be the last time that I would ever get the chance to stare at the face of the woman who loved me and cared for me for most of my entire life. That’s when deep sadness overcame my soul and I wept so very much, wishing I could just have my mother back, but I know this is not possible. Inside of me, I was whispering “Mama, I hope you know how much I love you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t here with you during your last moments.” As I’ve said before in my previous blogs, this is my greatest regret and to be honest, I still am having difficulty coming to terms with this.

All of my family were weeping (again) with me. Joseph, too, “lost it” when he saw my mother’s name inscribed in the headstone. Then I felt my father’s hand go up my back and said to me, “that’s enough, let her go“. And so I said my final goodbye. “Buh-bye, Mama, so long. I will see you in heaven someday”.

A minister from my (Christian) church did the committal prayer before they finally closed the coffin and pushed it inside the tomb. Indeed from dust we came and from dust we return. As Christians, our beginning and our end doesn’t matter so much. What really matters is the in between — how we lived our life and what legacy we leave behind. Both my father and I agree that my mother lived her life as best as she could. She gave her best to us as a wife and mother and we both are thankful to the Lord for her life. We will greatly miss you, Mama.

To all my family and friends, thank you so very much for all your sympathy, support and prayers. May God bless you all.

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