Saturday, June 10, 2006

Farewell to a friend


Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true
friends will leave footprints in your heart.- Eleanor Roosevelt

I just got up from a wonderful dream. This was my first time to dream of Joji after her passing. She was in her most beautiful self. Clad in white and topped by gossamer silk long enough to join her beautifully groomed hair cascade with the gentle breeze. She had a distinct glow that radiated to obscure a background of flowers in bloom that emanated very sweet scents and of tiny birds singing an epiphany of dulcet notes while winging around her. It was the perfect picture of Snow White in a lovely morning after the 7 dwarfs had gone hi-hoeing to the mines. Her gentle eyes, like I've always known them to be, are not judgmental as if probing what my character is like, but rather, looked at me with great understanding. Matched with her pleasant smile revealing her pearly white teeth, she did not have to say a word. She was saying, "it's so nice to see you again." She always did that. She made me feel at ease with her gestures that always indicated pleasure with my presence every time we met.

If people's belief that the stars deciding our fate is true - that the 5 minutes or so we consume reading the horoscope is not useless for they can really tell us what and who we are, then, I am much closer in attitude and character, share the same sentiments, practically make the same decisions as my friend, Joji, than I could imagine. This could be so for we were both born on the same month and the same year. As a matter of fact, I am only a day older than she was.

I do not know but somehow, the thought that we are alike makes me feel happy. Why not? She was, for me, the epitome of what a wonderful person truly is. She was not only very beautiful outside, but even more so, inside. Her heart was pure. She always found something positive in people and focused on those rather than pick up negative vibes from them. In Tagalog, we say walang masamang tinapay sa kanya (there is no stale bread for her) meaning she believed every person was good. This is probably the reason why she never lost her cool even in the most trying situations she was in. I saw her work inside and outside of the classroom from her junior prep years until she was assigned to high school and in those years that we have been together, all of twenty years or so, never have I seen her angry. Her patience with her students was impeccable, her patience towards me, admirable.

If there's anyone who had benefited from her generosity throughout the years, it would be me. No, it is neither the free lunch that I always had the pleasure of eating with her, nor the free rides to what is now known as ATC, I and my eldest daughter, Kraiganne, had on her car when we were still commuting to and from school. More so, it is the generosity of true friendship that she had gifted me with. It was the unending support she graciously offered every time I needed one. All these, she willingly gave in spite of my shortcomings as a person and as a friend.

How should I view her going to the great beyond? There are two ways by which I can do that. I can cry my heart out in grief until my tears run dry or I can celebrate her life knowing that she's now in complete peace and safety with the Lord. I know she would not have been happy with the first scenario. She had always been a happy person. We always had fun every time we were together, eating lunch, telling stories of what the day was like or anything under the sun that cropped up on a lazy afternoon. No, I should not grieve, but on the contrary, should rejoice for her problems, if there had been any, are no more. I should rejoice that her pain, if there was any, is gone. I should rejoice that she's now with the Father, earning her wings to become a soldier of Michael, the archangel, with whom she always had a fondness for. I should rejoice that she's now with the Blessed Mother, with whom she celebrated her date of birth.

Joseph Roux once said:

We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.

But what is in a name? It is not that important. All I know is that Joji will always be there wherever I am. That I will almost hear her hearty laugh, find comfort with her soothing assurances and feel her hold me with her helping hand. I am just glad that I woke up with my dream in tact. Or was that really just a dream? It may have been true. What is truth anyway? If I will go with the metaphysical subjective definition of truth which states that, the truth or falsity of all propositions depends, at least partly, on what we believe, then, I would, as any man would, be entitled to believe what I want to believe. And for me, she came to visit me this morning to tell me everything is alright. That she is happy where she is for there is no other place a person with a pure heart and gentle soul can be but in heaven with the Father Almighty.
I would like to share in part a very beautiful and fitting prayer written by our mutual friend, Suzette, who was her best friend and confidante, for she encapsulated what Joji was while she was still here with us. The prayer goes:

Thank you, dear God, for bringing into this life my friend Joji. Thank you for moulding her into the person that she was - God-fearing; a steadfast devotee of your loving Mother; a loving daughter to Daddy Sonny and Mommy Naty; a selfless wife to Teng; a loving mother to Mike, Veda, Kiel, and Ping; a very caring and loyal friend; a dedicated teacher; a steadfast worker; an almost perfect person. For without you by her side, she would have been nothing.
Thank you, dear Lord, for making our paths cross; for giving me a chance to be her friend. Thank you for the twenty-one years we shared knowing smiles, childish pranks, and spontaneous laughter. . .

… Bless also the people whose lives she touched so that we may continue to remember her with fond memories and to pray for the eternal repose of her soul.
All these I ask of you, Father God, through the mighty name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

Godspeed Joji, my dearest friend. I will truly miss you.

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