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I can still remember the scenario at home exactly seven days ago. My younger sister Maika was getting all hyped, while everyone at home was relaxed and normally doing his and her own stuff. I was at the kubo sitting infront of my laptop waiting for dearest hubs to go online, when all of a sudden a group of four young men were ushered inside our house by Maika. So they’re pushing through with the photoshoot. And, we finally got to meet a cousin (second degree) from our Papa’s clan.
Kuya JM was one of the photographers who took the photos later that Saturday. You can see that shutterbug-passion in his eyes while doing his craft. Meticulously fixing every detail of the gown or patiently instructing my sister on her poses and facial expressions for that longed-for picture-perfection. He exudes vibrance and energy through his laughters and conversations with everyone around him. A bubbly guy. A success-hungry and goal-driven artist. People like him will definitely have a long way to go, and for sure will get on top of his game in no time.
Only, things don’t always happen the way we expect them to.
Earlier today. We went inside their house. I went to my uncles and aunts and one by one took their hands to my forehead. Their smiles were brief. Their eyes empty. I felt the sudden awkward silence. I turned around and there he was. Brightly smiling and radiating the same warm and friendly vibe we felt the first time we saw him – but now, only in a blown-up picture. Next to it is kuya John Mark himself. Lying. Inside his coffin. At the age of 30.
Holding on to Mama’s hands, I looked at him through the glass. I couldn’t recall what and how I felt exactly, but I do remember one word that sprang in my mind at that very moment: why?. I silently took a seat and listened to the conversations Mama had with my aunts and uncles. “There were definitely no clues about who might have done this and why they did.” “Everything was so professionally done.” “But why? He was a good man.” “No. The police still haven’t got any lead.” It was all disheartening. I decided to go outside for some fresh air.
Their family house sits on top of the hill, surrounded by trees. My niece Francheska was busy playing with her newfound friends. There were other groups of visitors seated around. The hammock was inviting, but I decided to sit on one of the monoblock chairs facing the house. That’s when I saw the displays on the wall. Posted there were some of his achievements, photographic obras, and written articles. Aside from being an artist, he was a passionate writer. Reading through his literary masterpieces, it was apparent that it was the pen and paper who kept most of his company whenever he hadn’t anyone to talk his depressed thoughts to. I smiled. Somehow I felt glad knowing there was someone, and prolly a few more people bonded to me by blood or friendship, who loves writing for emotional and mental release the way I do.
Later that afternoon, before we left, they showed us a photo-video presentation of the life kuya JM lived. A passionate photographer. Dog-lover. Quirky singer and fun-loving friend and cousin/brother. Everything seemed too perfect to our dear enthusiastic friend. But then again..
Photo grabbed from Poor Man’s Photography‘s facebook page.
I looked outside of the bus window on our way home with so much thoughts.
First, it never hurts to confide in real people. Oftentimes we’re too afraid to speak our minds and share our problems. We’re scared that what we’ll get is judgement instead of acceptance. Blame instead of help. But then surely, there’s that certain person in our lives to whom we bare ourselves to without that thread of doubt or hesitation . A lover, a family member, a friend, a mentor. For it’s the first and foremost developmental task even newborns learn to accomplish. TRUST. And when we share our thoughts and emotions to people, we secure a part of ourselves as well. Not that it’s gonna happen, but just in case we end up in the worst scenario, people will know or at least might get a lead of what went wrong and perhaps be able to do something about it. Well I guess what I’m trying to say is: Nobody’s an island. And that was never an overstatement.
Next, always find ways to spend time with loved ones. No matter how short it is. Quality never came next to quantity. At least that’s what I’ve always believed in. Living in a materialistic world like what we have now doesn’t give us the license to be the same. I know most of us work, study, and got other important businesses to mind. But since when did those inanimate objects – money, car, house and gadgets, become more essential over those people breathing? What kind of satisfaction do you get from the former that you don’t reap from the latter? I know people who got the latest smartphones, sport signature bags and clothings, have a hefty five- or six-digit sum safely sitting in a bank somewhere, got some three more suffixes attached to their names as proof of their degrees and intellectual achievements. They’re high and happy sure. But nowhere near the elation of a granny reliving memories to curious pre-school kids; the relief of a homo teen finally accepted by his tough dad; the giggling of two teenage girls watching the cute basketball rookie during the practice game; the excitement of a wife finally video-chatting with her husband who’s in Anchorage over Skype. Emotional bliss. Long-lasting.
Ultimately, live every day as if it’s your last. Only the Father knows when your time on earth is up. So while you still have that breath in you, no matter how fresh or odorous it is :P, go,celebrate! Dance like it’s the club’s final hour; sing your best notes like you’re in front Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, even if you know they’re going to clash against each other right after; rid your wallet of those excess bills and coins and give them to those who need them more; smile like you’re doing it for your Facebook profile picture; play like you’re a kid; eat like it’s the no-diet-day; work like it’s Friday; make love like it’s your first honeymoon. Stop hating, keep laughing. Someone out there’s breathing his last breath at this very moment, lucky you you’re still alive, so you might as well cherish every second of your life while it still lasts.
We all are in that big stage. We all are running our own race. We all are playing this one game. Kuya John Mark’s curtains are already down, race finished, game over. And the fact that he came to see us, for the first and unexpectedly final time, a couple of days before, made us think that it was with a purpose. We may never know what it is exactly, but it’s one good thing undeniably.
Thank you Kuya JM. You’ll be missed and forever loved by the people whose hearts you’d touched. We know that in God, justice always prevails.
“Death is not ultimately extinguishing the light. It’s just putting it out because the dawn has finally arrived.” -Anonymous