Two deaths this week. I had no personal interaction with them, yet I am moved. I know at least one of those each one left behind.
It’s that feeling you have when you see someone in extreme pain and your stomach turns, your skin crawls--it’s not painful, yet it’s extremely uncomfortable. Whenever I realize that someone has lost something similar to or the same as what I have, I feel uncomfortable.
It’s so easy to say things intended to comfort the bereaved but finding specific words and messages for them is difficult--especially if you don’t know much about their relationship.
During my father’s wake, and two years later in my mom’s, I noticed that when priests asked to come to say Mass, they’d say “generic” things--and whatever they said was far from comforting because it was obvious that they’d say the same things in the other chapels--sort of like wearing RTW (ready to wear). I do understand though, that no one can say for certain where the souls go and that only faith can give us the assurance that they are in a better place.
I realized that what gave me the most comfort was the thought that when my parents passed, they were no longer in pain. My father was bedridden for months and had to be fed through a tube. I knew how difficult it was for him physically and I could only imagine what his condition did to his pride.
He had always been self-sufficient and tried his best to instill that in us. He frowned upon “pagmomolestya” – anything from disturbing to practically exploiting the generosity of others--not molesting (sexually or otherwise). He used to say that many events in our lives are foreseeable and/or inevitable so that one can save for them and not have to take out loans when they happen.
He would joke about our being so extravagant that we may not have enough left to give him a decent burial--which would mean we’d wrap his remains in a banig and leave him in our backyard to rot!
What he did not say--and which I realized--is that life is short and that being happy does not mean being irresponsible. Without actually mentioning the word “mortality”, the underlying message in all of his lectures was that life was finite, and that living it well by being prepared could make us happy. My father built a house for us and made it a home, he put us through good schools from kinder to college and bought us books and magazines to read; he encouraged us to learn music and allowed me (although only briefly) to try my hand at painting. He bought brushes, canvas and oil paint but would not allow me to take painting as a major in college.
Indeed, mortality itself should be enough reason to find fulfillment and happiness!
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