The wake was how it should be - hushed, solemn, somber. The mood was tangible but it did not prevent me from conversing, and laughing with classmates and friends, who also came to show their love and support to my best friend and his family. We all tried to listen well to my best friend’s stories and fond memories of his father, while we kept our own stories light, and sometimes even strayed away from discussions of loss towards more pragmatic situations - how we have been since high school, our works, and yes, setbacks
I would not go out on a limb and say I’ve been tremendously affected by his father’s death. But the experience comes close enough to revive my fear of it, that it’s been the subject of what I write the past days. I know this period is particularly hard for anyone who has to deal with loss. The first few days are often surreal. When I lost my grandmother, I cried buckets on the first day. In the succeeding days however, the more practical matters pushed the reality deep inside the head, existing but not forgotten: funeral arrangements, financial plans, welcoming relatives and friends to the wake, entertaining conversations full of heartfelt sympathies. You don’t really have much time to grieve during the first week because you’re too busy having to be strong for everyone, too busy thinking rather than feeling. Yes, you cry as you recollect memories with friends and family, but it’s only after the funeral, when the visitors decrease and are soon gone, and it’s just you and your family, that the pain sets in. When the chaos of the wake and funeral is over, the loss seeps into the silence and reverberates in deafening decibels.
Loss is such a big concept. It’s something I have trouble dealing with, as we all do. But it’s also something that keeps me up on my toes, and guides me in my ways. I know sooner or later my parents will die, my friends will die, the rest of my family will expire. Heck, I might even go first, and the separation will be just as hard. But even if you do know, you never know enough. And even if you’re prepared, you’re never prepared enough. There is always the fear of what comes next, regardless of how deeply faithful you are to your beliefs regarding death or life after it. Often times, when I’m in a wake, there is always that brief moment where I succumb to an unmistakable sadness. Seeing the coffin, I ask why something so beautiful, so full of vigour once, so combative in existence, can be just a body, lying in a state of mercy from his religion, virtues, vices, and Gods. There is the hope of seeing them again but there’s also the battle of letting them go, as we wage our own wars and try to return to any form of normalcy after the loss.
Rest in peace, Tito