Just barely two weeks ago, I lost a dear friend of mine from college to cardiac arrest. He was 26 years old when he died, and his name is Marco.
Marco and I were not close in the sense that we went out every weekend, or had stories from way back about our families and all that. But we were close. In that we are true friends and could count on each other for support kind of close.
And we did. After graduation, Marco would still email and text me about what was going on in his life. I would also do the same. During the times that I was battling depression because of problems with friends, he would make me laugh with his self-esteem-boosting-texts. At a time when he was going through a difficult trial with his family, he asked me for prayers.
Marco and I never got to go on our coffee date. It’s funny, I cannot drink coffee really because of my ulcer, and it’s not good for him either due to his heart condition but we often would say we would have coffee in those big Starbucks tumblers and not finish it so we would have an excuse to sit there all day.
Marco would not get to attend my wedding anymore the way he and I daydreamed about as well. He was excited about the hairdo I would have, and the length of the trail of my gown. I was just excited about those things he was excited about. I was just excited to see him on my wedding day because he helped me get there. He was one of those people who told me to remember my worth, and that there is a best man out there for me. Marco loved fiercely like that. His heart broke and he got upset when the people he loved were not treated well or did not make the right decisions. He was one of the people who smiled at me when he met Luis, and said “Totoo na ‘to” that encouraged me more than he could know. That is why I want him to be there on my wedding day. But he won’t be there anymore.
I found out through Facebook about his passing. All of our mutual friends were posting on his wall. I had to read it over and over again until I found the courage to verify what happened. I cried for most of the day. I was late for an appointment because I could not step out of our unit without breaking down. In very Marco fashion, he didn’t tell me that his battle with his heart was becoming serious. He just enjoyed his life, loved the people in it and lived it full.
I still get teary eyed at the reality of him being gone. My heart aches as I type this entry. I would love for him to be here – I know he would just have something witty, and funny to say about the Napoles / Pork barrel scandal. I know he would have loved to attend the million people march with me with his booming voice that rang through the campus during rallies back in college. I mean the memory of him with red and white ribbons in pigtails on red shirt (rally) day still makes me smile. I know that if he could see this now, he would say ang bongga na may isang post dedicated to him.
It’s really painful for me to know that Marco’s gone. We did not see each other often but it turns out it’s true – it’s different when you know someone is just out there for you. Now that I know he won’t be within reach, it truly feels like a loss.
Marco was one of those few friends who really believed the best in me. Even when he knew the things I have thought of or have went through, he always saw something beautiful in me. I mean, he did call me ganda. I used to think in the earlier years of our friendship that it was just a fun expression and may be it is but the more I got to know Marco, I realized that he really did find me beautiful, in whatever season of my life he saw me in. It’s ironic. In his last email to me, he even said I remind him of Jaime Sullivan from A Walk To Remember and that if I were to get sick, or die, sasaktan niya ako. Marco, ang daya mo.
This loss just reminded me of one thing and I thought of this when I was standing at the mass for his funeral. I looked out the window and saw a ray of light parting the rain clouds. Everyday is a gift. Whatever you’re going through, whoever you’re going through it with or not, today is a gift. And it is meant to be cherished. It is meant to be lived with the people who truly love you back. It is meant to be lived with passion, whether your heart is in grief, in pain, in happiness or in hope… even when it is just wandering. The seconds we spend on this earth can never be brought back. Ever. The words we say, the choices we make, they impact who we are and who we will be. They make a difference on the kind of people our loved ones will be when it is our time to leave.
It’s so cliche but it’s true — the pain of loss reminded me what matters most in life and it’s the people in it. It’s one thing to know someone loves you, and an entirely different thing to feel it. In the same way that it’s one thing to assume that someone knows you love them, and an entirely different thing to go out of our way to make them feel it.
To say I love you more often, to forgive more often, to be more understanding, to be more patient, to be more active in standing by what’s right, and what the truth is — that’s what life is all about. We can’t really take life for granted. Loss leaves a mark on us, and we are never the same again.
Before it’s too late, it’s best to give room for more I am proud of you’s, I appreciate you’s, I miss you’s, I hope you’re okay’s, and I’m here for you’s. I know I’ve told Marco all these every time we touched base but I still feel that I never said it enough.
Thank you, Marco. Ang daya mo iniwan mo na kami pero salamat pa rin kasi kahit sa iyong paglisan, may natutunan pa rin ako. Mahal na mahal kita, ganda. Palagi kitang mamimiss.