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Brightness beyond dark |


Brightness beyond dark

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
Brightness beyond dark
Maxine when she was a baby with grandparents I mpee (Felicitas) and Inkee (Reynaldo J. Paguio)

It was shortly before Rizal’s birthday 2023. That’s when my son Gino’s father-in-law, who they called Inkee, suddenly passed away. My mother was widowed when she was 24 with a six-month-old baby: me. She didn’t remarry until after I got married at 18. She married Maxwell Donovan, a tall, heavy man who also worked in advertising. Max or Papoo, as we called him, loved Gino. But Papoo died in Canada many years later and donated his body to medical science. He didn’t believe in spending money on a funeral. He donated his body for further study. My mother was happy with that, too.

My son Gino and his wife Faye have only one child, a girl whom Gino named Maxine, after his step-grandfather, Max. Maxine is now 24, working as an influencer, a new title that means work on social media, creating TV shows and acting in them or endorsing advertised products — many things that today’s world desires. She is wonderful, very pretty, talented and very smart. Part of her intelligence is a gift from her maternal grandmother, whom they call Impee, who spent much time with her from birth up until the time she graduated from college.

Inkee and Impee are Paguios from Bataan. Inkee was taken by a sudden heart attack. Impee moved into Gino and Faye’s home. She is younger than me but with much less energy. She had a difficult time walking but she still ate well. I was sure she would live a lot longer, have a happy life of her own. I thought that, now we were both widows, we might have fun together. She was generous enough to lend me her wheelchair when I had to go to the hospital for major surgery. My son Gino, who escorted me patiently through my entire operation saga, said we could get through the hospital sentries better from a wheelchair.

Three days ago I received texts from Gino saying Impee was rushed to the hospital. She had flatlined when they got there. She was revived twice. They gave her the sacraments and then she passed away. It broke my heart. Impee was a wonderful lady, soft-spoken, smart, shy, humble and beautiful. I don’t understand why she went. Also I felt helpless because I couldn’t be of any assistance to them as I’m still recuperating from my operation and am essentially housebound.

I watched YouTube, caught a show about an old Buddhist monk who talked about life and losing it. In essence he said we should not be so deeply disturbed about someone’s passing because nothing happens in our lives that is not intended. Everything that happens to us is a gift from God. Maybe we don’t see it because it hurts and the pain prevents us from seeing that the passage is a small part of our lives. It is painful, yes, and the pain blinds us to the bigger picture — that life will go on and it will be different but it will bring us new joy and happiness that we didn’t know before. The monk said we don’t see it but the passing of someone close to us is a silent gift from above. We should remember to look at it that way as we grieve.

This is very meaningful to me as I grieve over so many people close to me who have passed on, most especially my beloved husband, Loy. When I pray I thank God for taking him, for setting him free so now he can fly, walk, sing again, be happy once more. But I also say that I miss him so much, that I am still adjusting to living alone again. It occurs to me now that I should change my grief to gratitude, be grateful that both Loy and I are free albeit in different dimensions. I am still in life and he is in afterlife. I think we have to open our eyes to our commonality. He is free from illness and I am also free — after I get over my operation’s wounds — from illness, his and eventually mine. But we still talk somehow and still love continuously.

Did I not know all this before? Yes, it was in my mind as a concept but it had not descended to my heart. When it happens so close to you, your inside life gets jumbled. It feels like an intruder rummaged through your closet, upset everything then ran away with a diamond ring. You feel angry, hurt, helpless, desolate. It was from your grandmother; now probably is in some pawnshop. You do not see that maybe the intruder desperately needed money for his sick child, who is now better because of what he stole and pawned from you.

Maybe we should teach ourselves to open our eyes wider so we can see the brightness beyond the dark, so we can value our tremendous loss against the more silent gift from God.

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