Chapter 3: Goodbye

My Uncle’s funeral took place on December 29th, on a very rainy afternoon. We attended the last mass and listened to my Aunt’s final eulogy. Aside from thanking everyone who’s there, she basically repeated what she said the other night: To forgive my Uncle in all his shortcomings and give him his needed peace.

Before the trip to the cemetery, I went over to his coffin and said the same words again: I forgive you. Rest in peace, Uncle.

Have you noticed that when on the brink of goodbyes, we tend to just repeat what we say over and over?

Turning around, I saw my cousins (his daughters), and did the next normal thing. I came over to them and gave them each a hug. There were no words exchanged. The hugs were enough.

Over the years my relationship with my Aunt and my cousins has been tainted because of my Uncle’s nuclear temper when drunk. I really can’t blame them. They are his family and they will always choose his side. I think it also didn’t help when I chose to stand my ground and distance myself from them. Not inviting them to my wedding was clear evidence of a broken relationship.

But on that day, I chose to set that aside. And they did, too. After all, we are but collateral damages to my Uncle’s drunken mess.

I was comforted by the fact that they acknowledged my Uncle’s errs. I used to always wonder why they never said sorry to our family. That they always act as if nothing’s wrong. It used to piss me off a lot.

But that day was not the day to get pissed off.

I found myself fighting back tears as we were going out of the funeral home. The past years of harbouring ill feelings came back to me all of a sudden. But it was gone as quickly as it came and I was left with nothing but a relief. It’s as if a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders.

On that day, I bid my goodbye not just to the dead but also to the past.

Chapter 1: Death

It was the morning of December 24th when I got a call from Mommy.

Your Uncle is gone

I was surprised. From what I indirectly heard, he has been steadily recovering post-ops in the ICU. And based on the Facebook posts from various aunts and uncles, he’s been responsive.

I should have been shocked… but all I felt was emptiness. A kind of resolute nothingness that is neither good nor bad.

After all, how do I wrap up years of semi-hatred into an acceptable state of mourning?

For a fraction of a second, I felt guilty that I haven’t properly interacted with that Uncle for several years. So much feeling of indifference has been built between us that I even decided not to invite him and his family to my wedding.

Any positive memory that I had with him has been buried deep within by a series of bad memories, all of them done in his state of inebriation.

They say words can hurt you more than any physical force. Especially if you’re young and don’t fully understand why you have been at the receiving end of such hurtful notes.

It’s true.

Every time I see him when he was alive, all I can think about are those instances when he would be spewing bad words at my brother, my Lola Nanay (Mommy’s mother), me, and even my Daddy (his brother) who has done nothing but save him from his multiple life troubles.

We were supposed to go to the hospital this morning. He requested for us to be there because he will say sorry and ask for forgiveness…

Really?, is all I can say to my Mommy.

Funeral’s on the 29th. Are you going home?

Of course. I’ll look for the next available trip…

The thing about family is you can never truly cut yourself off from them. There are certain things that you need to do for them because you are bonded by blood. Sometimes, family solidarity is more important than any personal principle.

Attending a funeral is one of them.

Blindsided

In life, we are taught basic rules for survival. Like looking left and right before crossing the street. That, or risk being a roadkill. Or worse, a roadkiller.

But there are times when we completely forget about this childhood lesson. We are so much in a hurry to get to our destination that we…

BAM! The door of your cab hitting the motorcycle that just sped by..

Ano ba? Di ka tumitingin sa paligid mo!

Sa susunod tumingin tingin ka muna bago ka bumaba!

You’re frozen for a minute or two, unable to comprehend how this basic rule could elude you. But then you’re reminded of life’s other basic rule: apologizing for your mistake.

Sorry po. Hindi ko po sinasadya.

Nawala lang po talaga sa isip ko.

There are three requirements for an effective apology: (1) humility (to admit that you were wrong), (2) courage (to own up to your mistake), and (3) good timing (to get the other to forgive you).

Right now, you only have 2 out of these 3. He’s still fuming mad, face beet red, eyes blazing; but the lady with him gave you a kind smile.

And it that moment, it’s enough.