The gift of life

Yellow Pad

 

I lost a new IPhone. Worse, I lost it on the day of my wife Mae’s third death anniversary.

I asked myself: “Is Mae playing a joke on me?” Years ago, I likewise lost an IPhone, to Mae’s consternation. It hassled her that I asked for her phone, which she was comfortable with, as replacement. In exchange, I proposed buying her a new one.

She eventually found my phone, but it was already damaged. She was trying to figure out what caused the clogging of water in the toilet bowl. To her surprise, she discovered that my phone was the culprit. She had no choice but pull out the submerged phone from the toilet bowl. Perchance, losing my IPhone this time was Mae’s way of reminding me how my carelessness troubled her.

Like my sis Tata who would implore our departed dad to help her find a missing item, I asked Mae to help me find the phone. I needed the missing phone, especially on that day. I had to make calls and send messages to the Sta. Ana and Manalang families regarding the mass and dinner in remembrance of Mae.

In addition, the phone contains valuable recent photos, which I connect to Mae’s life. There’s a photo of Mae’s favorite grandniece Belle and her bubbly and chubby younger sister Bianca. Bianca reminds Lola Yeb of her sister Mae’s babyhood—a happy and hearty baby.

There’s a photo of the couple Cynch and Boying, taken when we had lunch at Casa Daza. Cynch was Mae’s bosom friend. On the day Mae died three years ago, Cynch found a symbolism. Mae died on her birthday. This signified love, togetherness, and continuity.

As I was struggling with the lost phone, I asked myself how Mae would have reacted to my situation. Mae was telling me not to be distracted and distressed by a missing phone. Be cool. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

The phone is replaceable. I can still communicate with family and friends through other means. The lost photos will not erase the fresh and vivid memories of my being with Belle and Bianca; with Cynch and Boying; with Freita, Mae’s friend from college who is likewise grieving over the death of her sister; with my grade school and high classmates who were also Mae’s friends.

I reminded myself of what friends have been telling me—“Mae wants you to be happy despite your grief.” Hence, on her third death anniversary, think of happy moments.

Indeed happy moments preceded the misfortune of losing the IPhone. I had fun with old pal Doc Eddie. My colleagues and I visited him regarding the universal health care advocacy. Eddie casually reiterated his invitation for me to join him in monkhood. But his idea of being a monk is different; one where he can still make love with his wife Oyen.

In the evening, I attended a get-together of my and Doc Eddie’s classmates. In that gathering, I was surprised to see Ody, who, despite his intelligence and his math wizardry, dropped out of high school because of conduct associated with being stoned.

Ody approached me and confided that though originally he did not intend to be at the gathering, he opted to go upon learning that I’d attend. Ody wanted to thank me again for a eulogy that I wrote about Mae. My story about Mae and our relationship—the ups and downs, the joys and disappointments, and ultimately the eternal love for each other, gave new meaning to Ody’s life. The life of Ody is a testament to how we transform and redeem ourselves, how we can change for the better.

It was nearing midnight night when the group called it a night. Meong, our inspirational guy who on that occasion gave me a book about a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola, was in deep slumber. He had one drink too many. For he was unfit to drive home, Noel and I accompanied Meong, with me as the designated driver.

Meong was asleep during the whole trip. Noel, who lost wife Ditas a few months ago, and I had the time to talk about the life of being widowed. For a spiritual journey, Noel would like to do the Camino de Santiago. The book that Meong gave me might likewise interest Noel.

Noel got off first, and I safely returned Meong and his Innova to his place on Katipunan Avenue. I was of course relieved that Meong got home safe and sound. To return home, I took a Grab vehicle.

Before going to bed, I wanted to check my e-mail and messages, and I realized my phone was missing.

It was upon reflection that I banished the negative feelings about losing the phone. Mae was telling me: ”Be happy. You did good today. You gave encouragement to Ody. You gave Meong a helping hand. You comforted a grieving Noel.”

I affirm what I learned from Mae, from her departed sister Ginny, and her departed mom Cil: theirs were little acts of kindness. Little acts of kindness are as important, are as noble as grand heroic acts like fighting and dying for our country.

That was what the homily was all about when I attended the mass to honor Mae. The message was about the gift of life; that we live to fulfill a greater purpose.

Postscipt: The day after Mae’s death anniversary, I recovered the IPhone. The friendly driver of the Grab car, named Sunday Botero, was very kind to go out of his way and deliver to me the cellphone he found inside the sedan. Indeed, it is the people’s little acts of kindness, like Sunday’s, that make a wondrous, beautiful world.

 

Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III coordinates the Action for Economic Reforms.

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