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“Man lives freely only by his readiness to die.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

I had a class last Jul 28 (Tue) that lasted  until 7:00 pm.  It was a laboratory class where my students need to cook and prepare some food products they needed to sell.

He was there as usual – working.  Not like other students who would just hide in a corner and play with a PSP or cell phone during lab hours.  I knew him for 4 years and his reputation as a hard-working student, jolly, funny, and nice is unquestionable.

” JM, dagdagan mo nga ng sauce etong luto ‘nyo.” (“JM, could you add more sauce to this dish).  With a smile, he immediately took my plate and did add more sauce.  “Ma’am mas mahal na ‘yan. May dagdag sauce e.” (“Ma’am, that’s more expensive, now that I added more sauce to it.), he chuckled.

The next morning, Jul 29 (Wed), the class president texted me and informed me that JM was in the hospital and in coma.  There had a been a blood clot in his brain stem.

So the sauce request was my last conversation with this fine gentleman of 19 years old.  He is in his senior year,  a graduating student.

I was able to visit him in the hospital when he was still in coma.  I told myself not to be carried away and cry.  But when I touched his hand, already with edema, tears were impossible to hold back.  I told him to wake up so that he can climb up the stage with his classmates, that his family and friends  is so eagerly waiting for him.

He passed away the night of  Aug 1 (Sat). The same date as with a great lady’s death – Pres. Cory Aquino.  Our Father called his son to finally come home.

Yet again, Death, like a thief in the night, had taken one of my students,  my student so young and life so promising.  I could hardly fathom the depth of the pain for the bereaved family.

After his death, life will go on for the rest of us.  For our lives are filled with papers to finish, piles of laundry to clean and endless schedules to meet.

JM, wherever you are, thank you for reminding us how fleeting life really is.  That papers and laundry and schedules are but mirages of what is truly relevant in life.  Thank you for reminding us that when stripped of everything else, it is the amount of love we had given by which we will be judged and remembered by people.  Thank you, JM, for letting us realize that we are but temporary and everything else in the world is. That what matters is to love the people who made us who we are and share that love to those who greatly need it.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

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