And on your 40th, I wept

STOIC. Strong. Brave. Someone who’s got it together. One who can handle it; a person who’ll pull through with flying colors, anytime, every single time.

These are terms utilized by friends and family who have sent messages of encouragement, empathy, sympathy and love after learning of your untimely departure.

Many have asked if there were any signs at all that would have indicated you were about to make an exit. There was none I could recall. There definitely was none at all. Questions included “was he unusually affectionate or sweet days leading?”, or “did he seem to be foretelling, or making ‘bilin’?”. Well, no on both counts.

You being extra affectionate or sweet is normal. It is who you are. It is how we are towards each other. We hold hands, hug randomly, plant kisses anytime we feel like doing so and even tickle and pinch on a whim. It is who we are.

But who would have thought you would leave the way you did? The day – or night – you did? The sight of you in a seizure spun me around in terror, confusion and shock. Not long after that, there was only your earthly body left. You were gone. In a heartbeat, I was husbandless, and our kids, fatherless.

People were talking to me but I couldn’t remember which of what they said was getting through to me. They were asking for funeral arrangements. Details. Funeral. Your funeral!

My senses were too shocked and my heart too numbed. I just couldn’t make any decision. I couldn’t make sense of it at all. I couldn’t understand why I was being asked about your funeral, and why there needed to be a funeral to begin with. Thankfully, we have very good friends who made that decision for me. Coherence and comprehension just weren’t with me then.

The outpouring of love, comfort and support was overwhelming. Friends from far and near came to have a glimpse of you. They held our hands, gave us assuring hugs, shared colorful stories of times they best remember you by, and such reminiscence drew a mixture of sweet tears and painful laughter, alternating with painful tears and sweet laughter. Your friends (a lot of whom I’ve never met before) sought you out, comforted us and even extended their help. It was unbelievable!

Flowers came in one after the other. Before we knew it, the flowers made a beeline from your ‘room’, to the garden and almost all the way to the main entrance of the funeral home.

As in a choreographed dance or a scripted play, we went through the motions of the wake (with each night highlighted by a mass), cremation and the inurnment. Through this entire period, I would remember asking myself what is really going on. Why we were doing what we were doing. And why you weren’t physically with us anymore as we were going through each moment.

On Valentine’s Day, we had a candle-lit breakfast ‘date’. I brought you flowers and lit a nice candle for you. I did the same thing on our 18th anniversary. In both instances, I caught myself crying. However, I noticed that in both occasions, and also in the duration of the wake, all the way to the cremation and inurnment, I have shed tears, but all momentarily. The tears, I have observed, would be almost instantaneously substituted by me staring blankly into nothingness.

Before we realized it, the 40th day of your passing happened. After the mass, we gathered at home to celebrate you. We had food, drinks, karaoke and fun remembering you. Yet during this supposed period of revelry, it is when I totally wept, shed a pool of tears, and felt my heart get torn into a million pieces all over again. I guess I was not stoic after all.

It has dawned upon me that, while I still say good morning to you when I wake up, goodbye before I leave for work, and good night before I sleep, I won’t hear you reply. I won’t ever!

You are gone. That is the sad, painful reality. It is something I have to remind myself every single day. No matter what I do, say or believe, I could not reverse this. I just couldn’t.

I will never be the same ME without you.