White Roses

I am finally home. To be away when one’s family is under great sorrow is painful. I just wanted this week to end. I just wanted to go home.

We buried Lola Binay today. It was a simple day, the sun was shining, the clouds were hovering above our heads. We were all wearing white. We set out after hearing a final Mass with Lola. I had the honor to play my guitar for her. Come to think of it, I don’t think I played my guitar for her until today. I hope she heard it.

On the way to the cemetery, I saw people going on their own lives. The funeral procession ran at about 20 mph. We passed by major highways along the way. I felt pissed at the jeeps and cars that cut into the procession. Felt pissed at those who blared their horns to rush us on the way. The world doesn’t stop for anyone. We passed by marketplaces, and I saw people haggling for fish and vegetables. We passed by gas stations, and people were filling up their cars and motorcycles with diesel. A funeral procession in the midst of life’s monotonous goings-on.

Did no one care? I don’t know. Death has become such a common experience that everyone has grown desensitized to it. Or is it because death seems like a foul stench that’s best to be left behind? Is death a sin that a blind eye must be turned to?

Someone once asked me, who would feel more pain? Is it to be the one who leaves, or the one who gets left behind? Who can compare the two, but one who has both left and has been left behind? Days before Lola passed away, my cousin told me that she kept saying: “Land of the Rising Sun! Mommy, blanket me!” To be the one left behind, and now, the one who leaves. Lola’s life is complete.

Along the way, I saw the trees that I haven’t seen in months. I saw the mountains, I saw the skies. To be honest, I felt bitter at the world. It was as if the world didn’t care. It’s as if nobody did. They just kept walking and talking and buying things. I felt that I had lost hope in people. But then I saw, as we passed by, a man making a sign of the cross. That moment, tears flooded my eyes.

We buried Lola today. We each had a whisk of holy water on her coffin. Then all felt silent. We cried.

As Lola was being lowered into the Earth, we put in white flowers. My Lola’s name is Albina. It means “white” in Latin. She loved flowers, by the way. She once grew roses in a large tin can of powdered milk filled with Earth. She once told me that Papa would pick her flowers when she wasn’t looking to give to Mama.

When Mama put her white rose into the Earth, I heard her saying “Byebye Ma…” I remembered when we buried her mother, my Lola Corazon, when I was about two. Back then, I didn’t know what death was. I thought Lola Corazing was only sleeping. And now, eighteen years after, I still don’t know what death is.

We all ate after the funeral. It was as if a wedding took place if you saw how we were all laughing and smiling. We shared stories about Lola. How she tried to keep “secret” stuff in easy to see places and how she used to take care of my cousins and me when we were little. I got the chance to see some of my cousins who came from distant places. My Tita Cely flew back from the US to join us; the last time I saw her was over more than a decade ago. I had a good time with my nephews and nieces. They were playing the garden as my cousins and I watched; years ago, we were like this, little ones under the watchful eye of adults. Now we were the ones doing the watching.

Today was a bittersweet day. Yet in all of this hurly-burly, I feel stronger. Lola’s going away has made a gash in the heart of my family. But life goes on. We shall heal, yet we shall bear these scars and cherish them.

Lola, I will miss you very very very much. One of the reasons why I am so serious in my studies was because I wanted you to see me become a doctor. I realize that I won’t be seeing your smiling face when I do become one; but I hope that wherever you are, you’ll always be proud of your apo. Watch over us Lola. Though you are not here for us to give you a big hug or a kiss, may we never forget how much you loved all of us.

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  1. Sop

     /  August 9, 2010

    Have peace, gay. I’m sure you’re lola was always proud of you. Hindi mo kailangan maging doktor muna bago mangyari yon. Hugs. πŸ™‚

  2. Condolence, Jian.


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