Remembering all those who have departed helps keep them alive

Eric Ariel Salas

Eric Ariel Salas

I thought it would be timely to write about death. A lot of crying has been covered lately on TV and print for the death of more than 30 students at Virginia Tech. In the Philippines, the list of journalists being killed is growing and leaving pictures of families left behind wailing in grief. An innocent 2-year-old child was hit by a stray bullet while sleeping in the comfort of his room. Yes, in this column, I will be detailing a chronicle of death. If you are afraid of the word, stop reading.

A few years ago, the surprising death of my young professor in law school made my classmates and I realize our own vulnerabilities. He was just as strong as anyone else the day before he died, laughing and throwing his daily punch lines in class. He even joked about health. Little did we know that he would die the next day. His passing confirmed the verity of how susceptible anyone is to death.

Having already experienced the death of my grandpa’s sister, who happened to be my closest ninang (godmother), I had gone through a deeper way of investigating, feeling through and attempting to formulate sense of just what passing away meant. As a youngster at the time, it was never a straightforward thing to believe and to accept. Nor was it something that I could uncover all of the answers for my minor questions.

Mama Tintay, my ninang, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, was given enough time to get her dealings organized, to cry her goodbyes to her families and to spend what little valuable time she had remaining struggling to convey all of the words and thoughts of wisdom and care that most parents have a lifetime to convey to their children. She did this with so much love and seemliness. Though it was very hard for her, she opted to somehow spend the little “life” she had left with her nearest and dearest – her family. When she finally left us, something was confirmed: It is not the person who passes away who has to suffer with death, but those who stay behind. How very true. Everyone cried, even my sister, for days.

The death of Mama made a difference in the mind of the high-schooler that was me. Her leaving compelled me to deal with the profoundness of life. Never before had I thought of the reverse side of living to be significant as when I was faced with her death, especially when I think of her being embraced by the all-encompassing hands of God, free of pain. In memory of Mama, I might have paid attention to the loss. But having known and loved her, I realized I have only gained. Her love continues to stay alive and provide me and my family with the might to do what we can with our lives. The last time I visited her grave, I reflected at the hyphen located between the dates on the tombstone and thought of all the wonderful things that laid in between.

Mama Tintay lived. She had fun, laughed and cried, felt love and loved so genuinely. Since I believe things happen for a reason, the dying of Mama, or my law professor for that matter, was never a loss. I can only picture Mama in heaven having a grand old time. She is home.

Lastly, I share the thought of President Chicoine for all those who have lost their loved ones in the Virginia Tech tragedy – may we all pray for healing and wholeness of life to come.

#1.882516:2780114954.jpg:ericsalace.jpg:Eric Ariel L. Salas, Foreign Eyes: