Wednesday night, I was busy with writeups like I usually am. My younger sister went to our room to inform me that someone in the family was already unresponsive. No more pulse. My parents were already frantic to re-check. Emergency calls were made in a sorry attempt as it’s already late at night and quarantine curfews were in place. My dad even had to go out just to look for people who can help. Wails and tears started pouring in. That night, I didn’t get to sleep.
Whenever I close my eyes, vivid images start pouring in. I can clearly remember the scene, the words spoken, the smell, and even the time. As the sun started peeking through the windows, I miraculously fell asleep for a bit. I dreamt about it all over again, but I knew I was resisting to replay it in my mind.
Waking up to see the usual blue sky left a lump in my throat as I thought about how the world will continue to look beautiful, how the Earth will continue spinning, and how work will resume as always – with or without us. I tried opening my social media apps in hopes of escaping the reality that I’m in, but seeing how people talked about their “great day” made me close the pages again. I also wanted to have a great day, but being fully productive is not part of the options at this point. I took a stroll just to escape for a bit, just to erase the visual images stamped in my brain, which managed to pull out my archived memories of other dead people whom I have touched and guarded while on their deathbeds. It’s not an easy thing to do, but to some extent, I can say that my family was somehow “blessed” with peaceful passing – people crossing over as they sleep. Painful, yet easier to grasp. I cannot imagine the pain of others who have lost a loved one through an accident or violent means… That kind of pain may have hit a hundredfold.
I took my time before heading to the funeral home. Weirdly funny how we call it a “home” when the deceased only spend a few days there. Maybe that term came up because it’s the only place where we can gather all family members and friends for one last meet-up and feel some sense of “home”, eh? I don’t like funerals, I never did. I find it annoying when people talk about their regrets or how they want to extend as much help as they can now that a person is gone. I always wonder where those feelings were when the person was alive. I guess there are things that I just fail to grasp at this point. However, this funeral – just like with our other departed loved ones whose bodies I’ve touched or guarded before, gave me a bit of closure. It’s a bit comforting to see them all “dolled up” again, mouth closed, hands on the sides as if at peace, or as the elderly would say, they look like “May lakad kaya nakaayos (They’re dressed up because they’re going somewhere)”. I hope they really were ready to walk towards a problem-free world or dimension or heaven, wherever they envisioned themselves to be in when they were alive.
Losing a loved one during a pandemic, may the cause be COVID-19 or not, is more painful than the normal ones. Viewing days at the funeral home will be very limited and the body will automatically be cremated after, regardless of the person’s views about cremation. Not a lot of people are physically well to go out during a pandemic and not a lot would risk their safety for a glimpse of someone in their casket. Another pain in my chest. At the end of the day, family will be the only ones we’ve got. They’ll be the only ones willing to risk their safety just to see a loved one for the last time.
I’ve long accepted the fact that we will lose everyone close to us one day. That, or we’ll pass on earlier than they do. As for the emotional heartache it brings, maybe let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Until then, we’ll have to keep on living. Until then, let’s continue to hope, wish, and pray that we can all get the chance to enjoy and live life to the fullest.
Sending digital hugs to everyone who lost a loved one this year. My thoughts and prayers are with you.