THANK GOD for long weekends. It had been A while, and seeing my high school tropa made me realize how much I missed the old days. Although we enrolled in different universities, we managed to keep in touch, keeping the flames of friendship going.
Stories were exchanged, both funny and frustrating, peppered with new experiences and views absorbed during the first few months of college. I saw myself in their faces: we are young, barely making it in the world, still filled with fresh innocence, and open to the possibilities of life. I wondered how long it would take before life caught up with us and changed or shaped us into new persons. Thankfully, the thought soon faded as we continued to tell stories.
We strolled along the path that led to our former school. I was quite proud to be among many members of our family who finished there. My mom graduated there, and so did all of her brothers and sisters. Located in the center of our town, just right behind the Plazuela, it is near all the important places: the public market, the municipal hall, the church—even the cemetery. Through the years, renovations have changed the façade of most of these buildings. But not the cemetery. It merely expanded, and last year, a new memorial park was built.
The idea of strolling over manicured grass underneath tall ornamental trees was very inviting to our group, and so we went ahead and did it.
The park was almost empty when we got there. We saw only two workers right next to a newly dug hole in the ground. The ground was a bit wet since it rained earlier that day. We parked our butts under the umbrella of trees and watched as a procession of people entered the park, following a bone-white limousine. Of course, this was a memorial park, and although loitering was free, some people had to pay big bucks to be buried where the grass remains green all-year round.
It was a bit creepy—us enjoying the afternoon while a burial was a taking place. One of my friends made her way to the burial site after seeing someone she knew in the mourning throng. The rest of us watched in silence, absorbed in our own thoughts.
I stared at the clouds that layered the skies. The afternoon sun remained hidden behind the canopy, yet its bright light managed to seep through, like a heavenly light shining on another soul departing to higher planes.
It’s not my habit to think of such melancholy. I guess no matter how pretty the park may be, with its manicured grass and decorative trees and plants, it remains a graveyard, a place where tears are mixed with the earth.
Our friend made her way back to where we sat, her eyes still brimming with tears. She said she had not known until then that a classmate in grade school had lost his dad.
“Oh,” was all we could manage to say in response.
We lingered there for a while, all silent and in deep thought pondering. About the future. About the things we missed while we were not around. About the possibility that we may not be there for each other when we needed each other most.
It was almost twilight when we decided to leave the park. I said a silent prayer, hoping that somehow time will wait for us.
Crystal Mary I. Mendoza, 16, is an accounting freshman at the University of Santo Tomas.