Remembering Grace

Dr. Leo Buscaglia, an Italian born American psychiatrist, once said: "Death is a friendly word, because it reminds us that we don't last forever".  But how would we deal the pain of losing a very good friend?

With Grace. at the Mine's view Park during our retreat in Baguio City, April 2008

When I received the sad news that Grace had died, it felt like there's a terrible storm that suddenly hit the surroundings. Its effect, usually, is not right away seen or felt until the storm subsided. So I returned home contemplating how to ask other friends about it without breaking in tears. Then I went on with my usual nightly routines: flipping books, writing case assignment then drifted to sleep.

Then morning came....and still thinking how I would visit her wake. When I exchanged words with some of our friends, a strange grief slowly swarming underneath. Sadness. Sorrow. A mix of distress and silent pain of missing a dear friend. I struggled to hold some ball of tears that popping through my eyelids. But then I remembered one line of Dr. Buscaglia in his book "Living, Loving, Learning" --- What are you holding on?

Death is inevitable, it is our ticket to travel to another dimension where there's no more sorrow, no more pain, only happiness and that's eternity, and in order to go to eternal life, we must pass death. But how can a human brain comprehend its complexities? No one. not even the mightiest and the geniuses. We gotta deal with its effect, with its consequences.
Dinner time one beautiful July evening of 2010

When someone you'd known in life passed away, it's difficult to understand the real meaning of sorrow and acceptance and no matter how you would force yourself to comprehend one reality that life on earth is just temporary, a sting of loneliness still clench somewhere in your heart. That's a human thing. A weakness of the mortals. But we gotta deal with it, because that's what life is all about....

Death, as well as life, teaches us how to appreciate great things in our surroundings,how to deal with the people we encounter everyday and how to value our existence, why we are here and what are our missions. This is just a borrowed life and we just leased a tiny portion of this earth to breath and to find our own niche, but then later, these things will be stripped away from us.

Grace was a very good friend, we worked in the same university, sometimes we spent dinner together with other friends, shared important lessons in life and laughed at our silliest future plans. There were plenty of laughter and humour and teasing. She was so vibrant and lively, so full of life. But those wonderful fits of joy were eventually taken from her when she suffered a terrible, chronic illness which forced her to give up her work. The smile was gone and her energy droop eventually. I saw how she struggled to survive, her willingness to breath another fresh air and hopefully see the beautiful morning once more.

But God has His own plan. A kind of plan that's beyond our control, beyond imagination. I am glad I was given a chance to see her before she went back "home", a kind of home only God knows, something that we cannot visit, not even in our dreams.
Archive meeting, August 2006

I visited her twice during the last few months of her life and chatted about few things. I knew then how she suffered so much, her energy was lost and her vitality was no longer there.  I prayed for her recovery, but towards the end of the day, I realized, there are things that we cannot barter and negotiate from God. We are only children of circumstances.
During our retreat in Cagayan. April 2010

All I have now are memories of a beautiful friendship, that at one point, I met Grace and shared moments of fun and laughter. May she will find genuine happiness in the after life. Read the rest of MY STORY ABOUT GRACE

Below is the beautiful poem from Kahlil Gibran:

You would know the secret of death?

But how shall you find it 
unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day 

cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, 

open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, 

even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires

lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow

your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, 
for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king 
whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.

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