2002,Daddy Bebot passed away. It was the same day,November 1. We were all planning to go and visit the graves of our relatives,but he stayed behind and said he was not feeling well.
I remember that day. I asked my aunt if we can go home early and not stay overnight in our family house. Something was not right. It was night time when we arrived,Nanay Marlyn,his wife was home.
She wasn’t crying. She was trying to be brave,but her voice broke down and said,”Awan ni Daddy Bebot mon balasang ko,adda suna ken Apo Diyos’en.”
We rushed to the emergency room of our provincial hospital. Covered in white cloth,he was laid to rest on one of the hospital beds,waiting for the funeral home to take him away. He was declared dead upon arrival at the ER,nothing can be done.
I was 12 years old,the finality of death to me was not yet fully grasp. But that night,I felt it. It was like a train wreck of feelings. I pulled the cloth covering him,looked at the man who was easy to give praises,kindness and love. How could someone so special,so kind and loving be taken away? Why does it have to be so sudden?
He was our favorite uncle,a father figure to some of us. He was one of the first to say,”Naglaing to balasang mi/baro mi.”
The day he died,older cousins who was also loved by this man,came. Ate Karen hugged him tightly,as if the love for this man can bring him back to life.
It was a cold November,a sad reunion for all of us.
But it did not stay that way. I remember stories of him,of how he was a good soldier,a loving husband,a patient brother and friend.
I listened,we cried,we laughed. We celebrated his life.
For a man who survived dangerous mountain excursions and multiple vehicular accidents,dying quietly in his sleep wasn’t how he was expected to go.
But that is death,unexpected. It creeps out to both young and old.
Whenever I visit cemeteries,I look at graves of strangers and see how old they were when they died. 12,16,25,30,50,85 years old. Just numbers to me but a lifetime to them and their loveones. Years spent on learning,loving and hating,forgetting and forgiving.
I was 12,he was 53 when he died. I got 12 years of his life and I can only remember good things. That’s a good way to live I think,to do good,to be someone kind.