Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fading memories ... from INQUIRER.net



arleigh <arleighmac@yahoo.com> wrote:
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 17:43:24 -0800 (PST)
From: arleigh <arleighmac@yahoo.com>
Subject: Fading memories ... from INQUIRER.net
To: arleighmac.blog@yahoo.com

YOUNGBLOOD
Fading memories
By Renette Glory R. Domingo
Inquirer
Last updated 01:25am (Mla time) 01/27/2007
IN A few months, I'll be turning 26, exactly the same age when my "kuya" [elder brother] died of lung cancer. I was only 11 years old then, and at that innocent age, 26 seemed, well, old. Not exactly old enough to die, but old enough to have done whatever you wanted to do in your life. After all, you've already lived a quarter of a century. But now that I'm approaching that age, I realize that 26 is way too early to have to deal with your mortality.
Sadly, 13 years after his death, I discover that my memories of Kuya Ezer are beginning to fade. I am both ashamed and bothered by it, but that's the way it is. Apparently, seeing a person every day for 11 years is not enough to ensure that you would remember how he looks like when he's gone. If it weren't for the many pictures we have of him (he was thankfully into photography), I probably would not remember his face now.
But I do remember some things about him. For one, I recall that he had an acne problem when he was younger. He would pound penicillin tablets to mix with his astringent and use a special kind of soap for his face (I think it was called Neko or something). I don't know if I remember the penicillin or the soap because I actually saw them among his beauty products, or from stories told by Diko Rey, my other brother, who is a year younger than him. But strangely enough, I distinctly remember the acne itself, those flaming red spots all over his face.
I remember that he had a curious way of cupping my chin when he was feeling affectionate. My favorite picture of us together was taken when he was already bed-ridden and in his pajamas. It shows me wearing my favorite red shirt and lying beside him, and he is smiling a little and cupping my chin.
Kuya Ezer was a voracious reader. He would underline or highlight words that he didn't understand so that he could look it up in a dictionary later on. He was obsessively concerned about correct grammar and spelling and pronunciation. Once he prepared and taught a summer program on English proficiency for my sister and me.
Every day he taught us a new word, its meaning and its proper use. I think he scoured the dictionary and selected interesting words to learn. We began with A. We learned the meanings of "alight," and "averse," and "adverse," and "altogether," and other interesting A words. I think we reached C, but we had to stop because he got sick then. The Big C is such a spoilsport. If it weren't for that hateful, traitorous disease, I'd now be adept at using words beginning with Z.
I remember that he was a skillful writer as well. He was always writing news articles and opinion columns for the newsletters he produced for our church. After he got sick, he wrote open letters to churches asking for prayers, and personal letters to his doctors.
On his last night alive, I went home with a copy of the University of the Philippines Integrated School's high school newspaper, in which a poem I had written was published -- the only grade-school contribution in the entire paper. I went to his air-conditioned room and looked at him, but he was breathing out of an oxygen mask, and he seemed to be asleep, so I didn't tell him I got "published." But my parents were there, and I told them, and now as I remember the moment, I hope he heard what I said.
Maybe if I knew that that would be the last time I'd see him alive, I would have done things a little differently. Maybe I wouldn't have been so proud of myself because getting a poem published isn't nearly as important as losing a brother. Or maybe I would have awakened him to tell him about the poem, because he was a writer as well, and he would have been proud of me for sure. Or maybe I would never even have mentioned the poem altogether and I would have just gone to him and thanked him for encouraging me to read and for teaching me grammar, and setting an example of what faith really meant. Or maybe I would have said goodbye and kissed him and told him I loved him, and that he didn't have to worry about my parents and my brother, and my sister and me, because we would be OK, and that we would see him again someday in heaven.
It was a blessing that all this happened when I was only 11, because at that age you don't really understand much of what's going on. Even so, the death of a brother still scars you and scares you about going through another death in the family. Because death means you'll never see a person again, and you'll never be able to talk to him again. But now I realize that memories gradually fade over time, but feelings never do.
It seems unfair to me to write about Kuya Ezer, and some of my memories of him, when I have another brother who died two years before I was born. Sangko Rene was only six years old when he died of hemorrhagic fever four days before Christmas. He was sick for less than a week, so his death came as a real shock. I was named after him.
I'm sure Sanko Rene was thrilled when he saw our Kuya entering the gates of heaven. I've always pictured him running toward the familiar face and tugging at Kuya's hand to show him around. Then he takes Kuya to go see Jesus and all questions are answered and everything is explained and nothing else matters because they are face to face with their Savior, their Master and their Healer.
Renette Glory R. Domingo, 25, is a Bachelor of Science in Economics graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and now works at HSBC in Makati.


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