I attended a dear family friend’s cremation ceremonies, Atty. Pete Pagay.
Atty is my youngest brother’s ninong. I’ve known him for the longest time. He’s one of papa’s drinking buddy, and mama’s confidante.
He had been sick for a few years before he succumbed to death.
His wake lies at St. Peter Chapels in Quezon Avenue. I braved myself to go alone since mama has already been with the family from Day 1 he was confined in the ICU of The Lung Center of the Philippines (one of his nurses was Edhene, a highschool friend).
Mama was with Atty’s estranged wife, Tita Dels or Auntie Chat. Due to health reasons, Tita Dels has to go home last night, and was told to rest, she didn’t make it today, mama’s still with her.
Husband has office errands so the most he can do was to drop me at the chapel, say hi and condolonces to everyone I know there (most of them was his first time to meet & greet, not a nice place, I know).
I was literally dragging my feet on our way to the third floor. I was holding my breath. I am not comfortable with the scent of the flowers and candles and the sight of people mourning. It still brings back a lot of painful memories of my papa’s death.
The necrological service has just started when I entered the room. Then the relatives started paying their last tribute and respect.
I held back tears till my head ached. After the second speaker (Atty’s sister), Manang Esmer tapped my shoulder and asked me to sit beside her. Then, we both cried. Hard. We both were mumbling words we can’t understand. We hugged and she said, “magkikita na sila ni Uncle” (papa) and I cried more. Tears were endless.
Then it was Manang’s turn to speak. She looked after Atty from the day he was diagnosed in 2006. It was only Malaria. Then Dengue. Then Kidney Stones. Then Leukemia. Diabetes. The list goes on.
Atty’s kids are abroad. USA. Both grown-ups. They relied on Manang Ester’s calls and text for any update on Atty’s health
The Pastor (Atty’s bro-in-law) asked for anyone who’d like to pay their last respect, after 5 speakers, we still got time.
I don’t know what occured to Manang Esmer, his brother Manong Alfie and cousin Manang Dimple because they were volunteering me. I knew I can’t – eyes swollen, hoarse voice, uncontained, I just can’t. The 4 of us were already making a little commotion (the entire room fell silent), so Ninong Fred (Manang Esmer & Manong Alfred’s dad) tapped his kids to let go of me.
The services went on. There were more tears. Atty Gaad, Atty Pagay’s unico nephew left a message which struck me the most. He says: ” Death of a lovedone is painful. Just like love, there are no words to express the bizaare feeling. It’s a loss that’ll leave a mark no one can ever fill. For me, it is a gift. Gift of chance. Chance to go see old friends, relatives, long-lost acquiantances. We hug, we kiss, we console each other. We make each other feel that we are not alone. We get to give our departed lovedones all the due respect they deserve. We are too busy living our lives and during death, we realize a person’s worth.” Sobs. He thanked everyone. He thanked his uncle. He thanked God for lending us his uncle.
Ninong Fred decided not to attend the cremation services and asked me to join him outside the chapel…
Attorney, on behalf of mama and papa, and my siblings, esp Kenneth, I would like to say thank you. Thank you for making yourself ALWAYS available for my parents. You were always a call away. Thank you for all the legal battle we’ve fought and won together. Thank you and say hi to papa, tell him we miss him badly.