Note to JeffLu : Deconstructing Death & All His Friends


[ Notes : Thanks loads for the Fujian tea, BroSonny, acknowledgments again for the insane jokes, RobinTong and maraming salamat for the early greeting, QueenHedy ! ]

Dear Jeff :

I’m not sure if the news I received in the e-group from BrotherKirby almost two weeks ago was correct, especially since no one in the batch has responded, at least electronically. Far away from home, most likely I’m just unaware that all who wished to pay their respects to your mom just went to The Sanctuarium without much fanfare.

Regardless, may I just belatedly express my deepest sympathies for your loss.

It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that your mom was a remarkable individual, capable of so much love and being loved, that you had no choice but to love her back. Anyone who raised a fine kabatch like yourself and your sister must have been a wonderful person, and I wouldn’t mind betting my bottom peso on that.

I confess I can’t readily relate to the twin events of profound sadness in your life, especially with one coming so soon after the other. I can only begin to imagine the void it must have created in your heart. The weird thing about Death (do you mind if I capitalize it? Seems a little more respectful that way), in my dyslexic mind, is that despite its consuming inevitability, starkness and finality, so many of us put off thinking about, dwelling on, or even planning for it.

Not just because it by its nature is not a pleasant subject (who wants to discuss Death? As in Oh, by the way I almost died today? Really? What a coincidence, I thought about dying naman ) but because human nature detests thinking of tomorrow’s complications at the expense of today’s pleasures, no matter how ill-advised, prudent or reckless.

Not even the promise of justice and retribution in the afterlife that all religions dramatize is enough to make us prepare for this event.

Circa 1970s, and on the far end of the island where my mother was born near Masbate, I saw my then 101-year old great-grandmother only once before she died, bless her soul, and between incoherent lapses and ponderous pauses, she told me about being a young girl in Rizal’s generation, the cruelties of so many economic, military and cultural upheavals, and last but not the least, how she missed smoking.

Through it all, the most urgent question my naive toddler’s mind wanted to ask her was : Are you afraid to die Mamay? I realized though that it was unneeded. Her exuberance as well as the palpable relief with which she faced the end of her earthly existence was for me, enough sign that hers was a life well lived.

But enough of my rambling.

Even when he is so close, breathing down our collective necks we deny Death’s presence, sometimes especially when the end is near. Why is that? Is it because since Death is a thing that can’t be truly felt except as a first-person experience, we can’t comprehend it until our own final moments in this world?

Which brings me coincidentally to another aspect of human existence that is difficult to describe unless it is actually experienced first hand (a redundancy).

Do you agree kabatch that Love, like Death is by nature a journey of the self ? You can read about it all you want till your eyes water, but it is more or less undefinable unless and until you’ve fallen in love.

As always, I hope you excuse my rambling as a haphazard and disjointed expression of sympathy Jeff. But one last thought I have while thinking of your mom is that, happily, she gains the eternal pleasure of rejoining your dad. I can’t help thinking of Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve in Somewhere in Time, the last scene, or Mel Gibson and his character’s wife, the execution scene in Braveheart, and, not the least, Leonardo de Caprio and Kate Winslet, the “flying” scene in Titanic. Choose from anyone of these and you capture how I see them now. Mushy, but effective.

God bless you and your family always.

YLB NOel

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