I’ve been to a funeral today. It’s for the bestfriend of my 6-year-old brother, a little boy whose cheery smile and energetic antics have grown into me. He had always been a sprightly boy, the first one to crack a laugh over a dumb cartoon stunt in TV, but displayed surprising maturity and patience for his age. His death from pneumonia was a horrific nightmare to all of us. When he died, it’s like a a tiny cheery candle light had been snuffed out and we are left in a deep dark despair and questions. When he died, I felt like I lost a little brother…and I can’t imagine how his own family would cope over this nightmare.
Funerals are such sad affairs and we are no strangers to them but somehow, attending a funeral for a boy who wouldn’t make it to 2nd grade or for a girl whose hair hadn’t grown long to braid it makes the affair infinitely more heartbreaking. Death is something that’s inevitable to mankind and it encompasses all of us but it always strike me as unfair when the one who had his whole life ahead of him is the one who was ‘prematurely’ taken away.
From a parent’s view, it’s like, life granted you your bundle of joy and you tenderly accepted him. Raised him. Tucked him to bed. Nurtured him. Dote on him. Turn your whole life around him. Made dreams for him. Hoped he will grow into a fine, happy young man…but then the unthinkable happens and before you knew it,you found yourself standing beside his body, gently arranging his hair and clothes, lovingly touching his face, whispering tearful goodbyes to his ears and giving him your one last goodnight kiss before they nail shut his coffin.
It’s like the universe played a very mean joke on you and you are unable to fight back. Its form of torture can drive you mad. It knows that nothing is more painful for a parent than to bury their own child.
The same sad scenario is now being shown in our televisions and newspapers right now. Death and hopelessness reeks in the Visayas in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda as mad-with-despair parents cradle their dead children in midst of all the mud and try to honor them with a simple, burial site of worn plastic bags and driftwood. I’ve watched an interview of how a mother of three lost all her children during the storm surge but still tried to smile waveringly in front of the camera. I’ve heard the painful story of how a couple lost their son while they were busy helping other people. Or how a mother keeps a tearful search for the bodies of her missing children among the debris seven days after the typhoon.
Rather than why should the good die young, why should the young die young anyway?
I know shit happens and it happens to anyone regardless of age or whatnot. I am still keeping my faith that everything happens for a reason, that it’s some part of a grand plan, but when you witnessed life being snatched away from a little kid, it’s really hard to cope, to believe that this death is for a reason, that this loss is temporary and necessary. It’s such a tempting moment to turn cynical and let your faith be tampered with cold, hard logic that perhaps, God couldn’t care less. It’s tempting to throw it all away, but whenever I’m in the brink of doing it, I eventually realized I couldn’t do it because I would be left alone with nothing but despair and helplessness. My strength comes from faith and hope and I couldn’t change who I am. If I did, I wouldn’t be of use to any life.
When that precious light and source of joy has been taken away from us, we are left in darkness of torment….but we didn’t know, failed to realize at first, that through this ordeal, we are uncovering our own strength. We are shining in our own light of hope. It may be dim at first, but eventually, it will grow brighter and louder, until other people would also find solace in our own light, in our own loss with their own. Those who have lost something precious and stood through it will be a guiding light to all others who are going through the same thing.
Seeking justice for all of this would be pointless…lamenting over the loss again and again is just miserable. It may be very difficult at first, like swallowing a bitter pill, but the only choice we have is to move forward. No, not forget, but to carry on, for as much as we cry for justice for all the painful losses, we are blessed or cursed with the gift to live on.