October 23, 2007

In Memory of Ron

Ronald Lay
One friendJune 1980 – June 2006

I never properly said goodbye to Ron. He told me once while he was hospitalized “The doctor said I might die anytime.” I said “Don’t kid me. You’ll get well.” It was my way of evading the discussion on facing mortality. Like the way we had snubbed each other the first time we met. We never really were in good terms because he snapped at me once for laughing with Manny while he was lecturing on computer programs.

And so every time we passed each other, our nostrils and eyebrows start to get bellicose. How the elevator seem to get smaller and deafeningly silent when we were riding in it together. To put everything in three words - we don’t talk. Yeah, we don’t really like each other that much. And heaven knows if we will ever be friends. Until one fine day. After he recovered from his pulmonary illness, I got the chance to talk with him. I said “You would recuperate faster if you take a long-month vacation. Go to Banaue and enjoy its beautiful scenery.” So it just started there. And every time I visited the MIS Office, he would jocosely say “You’re messing and disturbing us again!” or “Why do you miss us that much!”

In one of our office testimonial sharing, he told us to take care of our health because “it’s precious”. He had difficulty breathing then. He was hospitalized several times and was diagnosed with complications in his blood and brain. I felt sorry now that I had only visited him once for the many times he had been to different hospitals around the Metro. I was in Cabugao watching sunset, when I got a text message from Cheng “We’re here at the hospital, about to donate blood for Ron.” A week later he called and I immediately said “Sorry I wasn’t able to visit you and donate some blood.” He said “Ows you would do that for me?” I said laughing “Even though I am afraid of needles, I would gladly do it for you. I heard it makes you healthy and look good. You know I would do anything to look good no matter what it takes!”

It was the last time I heard him laugh. When he was still alive, he often complains. He told me “There was a point in my life, that I blamed almost everybody for what happened to me.” It was at this moment that I empathized with him. He was young. Athletic. Conservative. Computer genius. Without vice. Good son. And he had cats he loved more than anything inhuman-like in this world. He had dreams he will now never fulfill. How can you do everything you wanted in this life when you can barely stand up, face the world and start to lose the one thread that keeps you going - hope?

During our office’s 26th anniversary, he called really upset that he was not permitted by his mom to go to the party. A week later, he celebrated his 26th birthday with us. I swear I almost balked out of the room when I saw him. He was in a wheelchair and was twice as lanky as I am. I could see his body slowly shrinking. His family was with him and everybody was in a festive mood or trying to be, well maybe except for Ron who later complained to his Mom that we were all so annoyingly noisy. When I asked him “What’s your favorite song? We’ll sing it for you.” His head just turned left and right. I could feel he was really tired, unhappy. And If I had known that this would be the last birthday he’s going to celebrate with us, then I wish I had personally thanked him for being my friend. Even in his deathbed, we weren’t able to bid Ron farewell. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors were hopelessly reviving him. His heart was no longer beating. Everybody was crying. His mom kept saying “God just another month please. Don’t take him away yet.”

I shed a tear that day. Despite the loss, I thanked God he took away all of Ron’s suffering. Ron was cremated, just as he wished. We got to see his baby pictures during his wake. He was really a clown. And though he’s on the other side now, I still hold on to things he left me - a cute blue shirt (which I asked during our last Christmas party) and two must-do’s in this lifetime (important things he wished he had done while he still had the chance): buy a piece of land and do everything good you want.

I know the bitterest tears shed over graves are for regrets brought about by letting go without having the chance to tell everything to someone. Farewell my friend. I am sorry. Thank you.
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