It’s been seven months since my sister Sorene left us. And while we have slowly been adjusting to life without her, there are certain circumstances where we still wonder how things might have been if she were still with us. Since she left, the extended family in Cagayan de Oro has celebrated birthdays where her presence was significantly missed.
My sister’s sudden departure from this world had caught us all by surprise as just a month before she left, we were still trading thoughts on weekend activities, vacation plans and life goals. But a lot can change in a month. A lot can happen even in a minute.
Remembering Sorene has become a habit for me, especially on weekends, when we would usually check on each other, being that we both live far from our parents and sibling Abe in Cagayan de Oro. Our jobs have us settled in cities far from the embrace of family and old friends. But we always thought it was part of growth in the professions we chose, the passions we have and in our search for self-fulfillment.
Like all siblings though, we too had our differences. We too had our disagreements. And many of our family and friends have been witnesses to how we differ in perspectives on issues, life pursuits, dreams and ambitions. What many outside our small family however do not know is how despite all these, we are still able to bridge misunderstandings, simply with the notion that we are family.
A few weeks ago, while in Lingayen, Pangasinan for work, an office mate told me how surprised he was to see that I am doing well just a few months after Sorene left. I told him that I am still coping with it, but you can’t go around dealing with people and working with grief written all over your face. I said that it may not show in my demeanor with other people but that doesn’t mean that I no longer am grieving. Grief, like depression which it sometimes causes, is personal and you deal with it in the privacy of your own time and space.
Despite what everyone says about recovering from a loss when the time comes, the reality is this: No one recovers from a loss of a loved one, because once a loved one passes on, they are gone forever. As a Roman Catholic Christian, I am taught that I may see my sister again when my time comes. It is a comforting thought which somehow makes one hope in a future encounter. But as an ordinary human being who has witnessed death as a journalist far too many times, it is difficult to look forward to an event which is uncertain. I hope my Jesuit mentors would forgive me if the years in my labors have imbibed in me that tinge of cynicism.
Beyond the teachings of faith though about eternal life, I do believe that my sister lives on today. While her corporeal self has returned to the earth, the memories of her live on whenever I and others who shared their lives with her, remember her. As Marcus Tullius Cicero once wrote, “the life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” And this very much is true.
On weekends life this, I remember Sorene through messages sent through Facebook or short message service; I remember her whenever I pass by places in malls where we would sit, drink coffee and exchange updates on life goals; and I remember her whenever I hear tunes to which she and I, as well as the rest of the family danced to or sang with.
We all constantly miss you Sorene. And we continue to ask how things might have been if you were still with us. But we all know the very difficult time you also had to endure in your last few weeks with us. Those trying, confusing and depressing weeks we can only surmise, must have been very difficult for you. And we comfort ourselves that you were saved from the misery it has brought upon you.
While many may have moved on and lived their lives in these past few months since you left, we your family, will always miss you and remember you whenever we gather for one reason or another. And while we continue in our pursuits from day to day, we do remember you in moments when we recall the times you shared with us. You will always live in us.