death has always been inevitable in this world, it will take us by surprise, and sometimes, we greet it like an old friend at the end of our road.
i have been too many funerals and had felt the pain of losing a relative for as long as i can remember. but i have never felt pain as much as a death of a friend.
i met her when i was transferred to the new department at our head quarters. she’s the sort of secretary and records keeper of our unit. she practically grew old in the service, but she’s not a regular employee, rather she was there by job order, since she didn’t finished her high school.
at first i was wary of her, but that’s just me, i am mostly aloof by first meeting. however, as we are often the two who were always left behind at the office, eventually we had gotten close. i fondly call her “nanay” though she never married and never had any kids. such was our closeness that she treated me as her child as well. barely 5ft tall, with a fair complexion and thin body, you would think she could be pushed around by other people, but she had me, and in our everyday interaction, i would always look out for her, as well as she looks out for me too.
most of the times, we eat.. as we have nothing else to do to kill time after i finished all my reports. so food is life for us, and i feed her often since she seems not to keen in eating on time, and drinks softdrinks at least 3x a day, by which i often remind her not to, since it will really affected her stomach in the future.
nanay lived with her mother and niece, who is mute. her meager earnings mostly went to the house and family expenses, which explains why she used to skip meals to save money. i had not known how many they were in the family, nanay was secretive that way. you would feel you are close, but she’s as mysterious as the moon. it was only so much later that i learned about her family, and not in a very good light.
going back, she usually waits for me to eat, so she could accompany me to the cafeteria. by which, i always tell her to eat anything she likes, and put the tabs on me. even though i was financially struggling at that time, i can never say no to nanay once she tells me she’s hungry.
i got transferred again after almost two years in our unit, and even though we were still in the same head quarters, i got to see her less and less since my new department is one of the most hectic unit. oftentimes, i get to see her at the cafeteria, and i never stopped reminding her to eat well and if she don’t have any money, to just put the tabs on me. i still look out for her. she’s still my nanay after all.
it seemed like work has taken toll on me, and i seldom see her in the grounds, until one day someone told me she was admitted to the hospital. it seems like she’s not been feeling well lately and was experiencing dizzy spells. it does not help that her office was at the farthest end of the corridor, where seldom anyone can go and pass by. it was reported that she collapsed in the rest room of the office, and no one was there to help her. at some point, she regained consciousness and asked her fellow employees to excuse her and take rest at home. her health did not improved, and it was then that i found out that she was hospitalized. the sad thing is, months before, her sister passed away because of cancer, and she was one of the people who facilitated her interment. the stress and sleepless nights has taken toll on her frail body. she had ulcer.
i visited her once when she got home, i took the only time i had in my busy schedule. that was the week before i took my mandatory leave. as i alighted from the tricycle, i could see her by the window of her house, looking out to the gate. she was thinner than i expected, her eyes bulging out, and her voice a bare whisper. but as i sat beside her, her grip on my arm is tenacious and strong. she gave barely a smile, but her eyes brimmed with tears as she gaze at me longingly. she has been looking for me, and has asked her friends to inform me. i felt the guilt creeping as i looked into her eyes. i had not made more time with her, and it gnaws on me that the person who replaced me in the office had not looked out for her.
a few weeks after, i heard that she was at the hospital again clinging on to dear life, but i was not able to take the time again to visit her. that morning after i got off from work, i planned on going to her house, but i need to travel home early that day and i hurriedly went on my way, with her in my thoughts.
little did i know that day, she drew her last breath.
i found out later from a senior who posted in facebook that nanay was gone this morning. i cannot weep, i was not able to weep. i felt sad, and guilt. but i still cannot weep.
it went on for days, that i go through the day without feeling anything, and i don’t really know why. however, when the time to finally lay her to eternal rest, i went her interment on the last day. there was a mass, and the choir had asked us if we could help in the singing of the songs. at that time, my heart was bursting, and it was all i could do to keep my self together. seeing her inside the coffin, just like she was just sleeping gave me mixed emotions that i barely hold it in. but the last song of the mass did get to me finally, and i did not finish singing before bawling and let go of what i’ve been keeping inside from the moment i entered the hall.
i remember those times we spent together, the way she laughed at my silly jokes, the way her eyes lit up when i say i’d treat her to ice cream or to any food she choose. i missed my nanay more than anything else, because she never see me less, and she always did believe in me whenever i felt like i can’t make the reports. she was the one who encourage me, to say that i can do this. my nanay, my friend.
it was my first time to experience the death of a friend, and it felt like a part of me died that day, and got buried with her. the painful memory of taking her to her final rest. as i’ve said, it was mixed emotions.
sad because i would not be seeing her at the head quarters.
but joy as well cause i have seen her struggles through the years we were together, and now she can rest.
rest well, nanay. after everything you told me about the struggles of being the bread winner of your family, of always being the one who provides comfort to others, may you rest in comfort at last.
rest well nanay, i miss you but i’m thankful of your time with me.
you’re with God now nanay, i hope you are happy now.