November 02, 2021
Earlier this year, I opened Facebook and was greeted with a sea of black.
People who I am connected to, but don’t necessarily know closely, would put up a black profile picture. Sometimes they would include a caption. Sometimes, they wouldn’t. Either way, especially in the last 19 months, it meant someone passed away.
More often than not, it’s because of COVID, but there are times, it’s not. Yet, in either situation, the pain, grief, and sadness are all there.
Last year, it all felt distant. Then this year, it wasn’t.
Now, whenever I see pictures of people with a specific loved one, I have to read carefully because a “happy birthday” may accidentally join a chorus of “condolence.”
It’s heartwarming to read messages of people who are able to muster the words and strength to honor their loved ones in spite of the pain they feel. It’s just as heartwarming to hear friends who couldn’t post publicly, but in private conversation, celebrate small steps towards recovering from their grief and learning to grow through or around it.
I’ve seen, read, and felt through my fair share of eulogies and obituaries online this year.
And I’ve had my share of eulogies, too, because I lost two loved ones to the virus also.
I think this whole pandemic season has made us confront more pain, loss, and grief than we ever had to deal with ever before.
Pain, because of all the things that became exposed externally at home and internally in ourselves.
Loss, because of the pre-pandemic lives we used to experience and of the loved ones we miss the company of.
Grief, because of the love that could not be received by the people who have now gone.
And then November 1 comes around.
Whether it is the busyness of daily life, the load of work or acads, or just the progress of healing, some of the pain and grief are not as consciously felt.
Pero eto na naman tayo.
We can’t help but take some time to remember those who have passed away.
Oo nga pala, masakit.
Oo nga pala, miss ko na kayo.
But, November 1 doesn’t have to be dominated by pain and grief.
With the pain and grief comes the good memories also. While it’s true that we all have different pacing in terms of healing and recovering, I think we can still afford moments where we can reflect and rest on celebrating the life our loved ones lived.
As I write today, I am in our province. It’s been more than a month since my lola passed away. With November 1 coming up, we wanted to avoid visiting with a lot of people around for safety reasons.
As I gazed upon the afternoon sky, appreciating the beauty of the canvas painted in front of me, nagbalik ang mga alaala. I remembered her last words to me:
“Dave, love na love ka ni Lola.”
It was her personal parting gift to me, but it was also God’s grace to let her consciously and wholeheartedly say that. It was a moment even more beautiful than the sky in front of me.
And it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Little did I know that those few words would give me closure and comfort so much so that letting go was a little easier.
It even gave me closure to the passing of my Lolo three months earlier, because I never received closure from him nor any final words because he was intubated then.
For a moment, the grief and pain sprang up in remembrance, but it’s because for a moment I forgot I was given closure.
Nung naalala ko ang pagmamahal niya, naalala ko ring ako’y malaya na.
And from there I began to dwell on other memories of Lola, like the food she would cook (which we cook now in her honor), the times we would travel to other places, and the quiet and small acts of love and service she would do for our family.
I haven’t done this in a while (I will by the time you read this), but I’ll be asking for stories of what Lola was like and take a moment to appreciate and celebrate her life. I’d do the same for Lolo as his wife is still with us (hi, Lola, if you get to read this!).
I’d also remember that my prayers for the healing of my loved ones were answered, just not in the way I wanted. Being with Jesus now means that there’s no more pain and no more tears. That and they’ll be so occupied with His presence they’ll be fully fulfilled. I mean for sure they now know what it means that one day in God’s court is better than a thousand elsewhere.
Matanong nga sila pag nagkita-kita kami muli. Noted.
And this could be for the rest of us, too. We can take the time to remember every so often because the Bible has shown us time and again that we’re a forgetful people.
Our loved ones live on in our memories, so long as we remember and we celebrate.
And this leads me to remember another loved one: The One who willingly gave it all on the Cross for love.
And in that exchange, I found freedom.
Yet as forgetful as I am, as we are, He never tires to remind us.
Even in the passing of our loved ones, we’re led to our Loved One.
Nung naalala ko pagmamahal Niya, naalala ko ring ako’y malaya na.