1. He told the story no prouder father could. His son went to an impoverished nation and came back with only the clothes he was wearing. Everything he left with was gone. Asked where his belongings were, the son said he gave them away to those who needed them more. With tears, he embraced his son in gratitude and love. He made him a better father. The father made the son a better man.
2. The mass ended in a far away place with the disheveled and toothless stranger telling his story of a ten-year incarceration, his mother dyingof stroke due to a broken heart, his unjustified guilty verdict and that he was lost, hungry, homeless and penniless. Twenty dollars gave somewhat of a sparkle in his eyes, the rush to go to Jollibeeand “Manong” ringing in one’s ears. Was one had? In retrospect, perhaps. Still, compassion must not come with judgment. Fools and angels deserved the same salvation.
3. It was the run of 12 miles or so called Bay to Breakers. More than a run, it was a spectacle of the funny, the nude, the absurd and the simply outrageous. Elvisgot resurrected at least 20 times in the full spectrum: young to old, straight to gay, man to woman. All in honoring the king, but disgraced his memory instead. The nudes for propriety’s sake should have covered up. And the young? Who cared about the young when insanity ruled?
4. He was a boy with problems. Then he was a man thinking the problems were gone and that he would be a soldier. He stopped taking his medications and wrote his doctor a short note about not needing the services and the guidance anymore. Six months later, he killed himself. There could be no footnote to a life unlived, no closing to a door that never opened. The effect of another being depended a lot of times with proximity and attachment. His effect was because he, too, was a man who once lived. His end would be shared by all.
5. He split the cookie with the cream in the middle and dipped it in dirt. Looking for any reaction from strangers and passers-by, he slowly put it in his mouth and ate it. He did the same thing with the rest of the cookies. The mini bus to Caviteended the absurdity. The view from the mirror was distorted and fleeting. Still the mind would not forget more than 30 years after.
6. My first snow fell on the last day of 1986. It was moving day. As celebrants partied to their hearts’ content, I was driving a 3/4 truck with the meager belongings we accumulated after 6 months. I did not see the danger on the highway nor felt the slippery roads. I was looking forward to the next day, the next year. I got home with my wife sick and my daughter asleep. Tomorrow would come. The night would end and the snow would melt. It was both belief and fate. Either way, failure did not have a chance.
7. We have been playing racquetball for a number of weeks. He would beat me then I would beat him. On my last night in Fort Bragg, as he would always say, after the matches, see you tomorrow. No, I said. I would be flying out the next day, back to the Philippines. He gave me a smile and a pat on the back. God bless you, he said. God bless you, too, I answered back. He waived goodbye, and gave me a salute. I acknowledged the soldier as I would my own. Not knowing his name mattered not.
8. There is a monastery in the loneliest of one’s consciousness. It is where the heart will settle to spend the remaining days when dying can not come any sooner. One visits this place to hide. To get a glimpse of elusive peace. In one’s mind, pain is not what matters. Insignificance is. It is the death before the dying, the total loss. Insignificance though is self inflicted. The sun rises every morning. To face it or to turn one’s back, is one’s choice. Truth and consequence afterwards will be well deserved.