EMOTION BUILDER. For starters, I lost three friends last year and this year, 2015. First there was Cesar, an athlete and active in sports. He ran marathons, running up steep mountains. Suddenly, I heard he was ill, and then he was dead. I was shocked! I had just stumbled upon him some time somewhere in Cubao near Ali Mall. He called my name and was glad to see him when I turned around. We shook hands: “Hey! Long time!” I said. “Yeah!” he returned.
I didn’t know that would be our last. Cesar was an officemate back in my advertising days, and we were buddies then, discussing clients, projects, and our favorite sport then–martial arts. So, it was a shock to hear that he was gone. And I regret I wasn’t there in his funeral.
Then there was Winnie. Not my close friend, really (wife of a friend, actually), but the few times we met, we had some blessed times. One was during our college campus fellowship reunion at SM North. She was vibrant then, always happy and laughing like she didn’t have cancer. We also had a little project when she started buying purple corn juice from our company when I was marketing manager then.
Last December 24, she died of bone cancer. I felt sorry for Dan, her husband. Dan was a friend in college, sharing with him the same course and campus fellowship I attended. Winnie was from the adjacent UE and belonged to a campus fellowship there, but I’d see her now and then in our campus. Sometime after college, they married and went to live in Australia.
Then, there was Nars. I met her and her husband at the marketing company where I was marketing manager–they were freelance sales agents then, or what they call “networkers”–and I liked their company and friendship, especially Nars who was very friendly. Quite a fine, simple young lady. We became FB friends and remained online friends even when they and I were no longer connected to the marketing company I worked for.
Early January this year she died of AVM–Arteriovenous Malformation, a grave illness that has to do with the arteries and veins going haywire and affecting the nervous system, says Google. I couldn’t believe it–such a fine, gentle, and thoughtful young lady. Pretty, too. I’m going to miss her on FB. We’re not that close, really. I just see her posts and comment a bit now and then. But a friend is a friend.
I know life’s like that, but you realize it more once the events come to you face-to-face. It used to be that the major events in your life were birthdays. Then it became graduations. You heard your friends finally graduate in this and that course. Then you heard about them getting their jobs and being promoted. Then you heard about them courting this or that girl, and then getting engaged or married, having their first offspring, and having their kids go to school.
Then their kids grew up, graduated, got good jobs, got married, and had children. Your friends then became grandparents (and so did you). And then, slowly, the excitement faded. In fact, all life’s excitement ground to a halt when a friend dies. You realize how fleeting life is, how delicate and short it is. Then you wonder about death and suddenly you feel vulnerable, even old.
Things get a bit different. I mean, you hear about friends getting seriously hospitalized, diagnosed with this and that ailment, taking maintenance medicines, and complaining of this and that illness. Then, when you gather together for reunions, the talk isn’t much about who got married or who got promoted in his job or whose kid got married anymore. It’s who’s sick or who died. You start hearing about this or that friend passing away. Then you find yourself attending your friends’ funerals.
My uncle once quipped: “They die around you, one by one.”
That’s life. I often hear from senior citizens, “I never thought I’d get this old.” When you’re young, it seems youth is eternal. You see middle aged folks and you think they’ve always been like that, because you see yourself as always young and immune to old age. “I’ll never be old!” you tell yourself confidently. You never think you’d get to be middle age, never get old, until truth meets you face-to-face. And then, you realize what life is.