There is only a before and after.
September 7, 2015
I lost a dear friend that day. She was the most lively person I’ve ever met and she was beautiful and nice and she’s the person who I thought will always be present in my life. She was family to me, to MD. She loved quoting Lilo and Stitch so she’d always say that we are her Ohana, her family, and that it means no one gets left behind.
But that day, she committed suicide. That day, she decided to leave and never come back. And that, was also the start of the after.
The first stage – Denial
The after didn’t take place right after I found out she was gone. It happened days after that. You might think that when I heard the news, I broke down into tears or something close to that but, no. I was in shock. I was in this full stage of denial and no matter how much my instincts tells me that it’s true, I just kept on hurling it away from me.
Even as we rushed towards her house, even as I heard the voices of the bystanders and the onlooker, even as I saw the police car and the damned yellow line, I still couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking, “Shouldn’t we be on the hospital right now? Because that’s where she is, right? This was just an attempt. She’s still alive. She is still alive.”
I wanted to shut the mouth of the police officer asking me personal questions about her. I wanted to yell at the people around her house to go home and leave us alone. I wanted that night–that day to be a lie. I wanted it so badly but the universe just won’t listen.
The second stage – Anger
There were more than a handful of reasons for her decision and I would be lying if I tell you that I wasn’t angry with those people who gave her unbearable and suffocating pain. I was angry. At those people, at the world, at me. But I wasn’t angry at her. I guess what I felt was betrayal, the kind that seeps through skin and never really go away.
The thing is, we knew what she was going through; she was honest with her feelings to us. So it gave me more reason to be angry at myself. I was angry at myself for believing that she was okay, for falling for her smiles, for not answering her last message and most of all, for not saving her.
I was angry, confused, lost and hurt and I begged and begged for someone to bring her back. Because somehow, my brain can’t register the fact that this girl as warm as sunshine is gone forever.
The third stage – Bargaining
I think that the most evil word in the English language is, “If.”
If only I called her when I woke up that day.
If only I told her how much I love her one more time.
If only I talked to her more.
If only I convinced her to stay, to live.
So many ifs, so many regrets. The rational thing to do is to remove them from my mind but I dived and swam into the ocean of ifs and in the end, I drowned.
The fourth stage – Depression
I don’t really know if I went through this stage, but I like to think that I passed by it, realized I don’t want to stay there and left. Don’t get me wrong, I was devastated with everything that happened but at the same time, I began to see and hear. You see, I wasn’t the only one who lost her, MD lost her too. Just like that, the rational part of my brain woke up and began to function.
There was nothing Jameng loved more than MD and that got me thinking about the org. Because as much as I love Jameng, I love MD too and I was sure that they need me so I lent them all the strength that was left inside of me and they did the same thing to me.
The fifth stage – Acceptance
Once I realized that I need to be strong for the kids, I slowly started to accept the fact that she is gone.
I am not going to lie. I’m not completely okay. There are still days where I think about her and feel my eyes well up with tears. There are nights where I hopelessly cry and ask the universe the abominable “why?” And there were countless of moments in the jeepney where I happen to listen to a sad song and I remember her or when I pass by the place she was lodged before her burial and I can’t stop my stubborn tears.
But the thing is, she wasn’t just her death. Jameng was so, so much more. She was brave and honest and smart and reliable. She was Oreos and sunshine and cartwheels. She was girly dresses and black bonnet and messy hair. She was my friend. The person who told me that I can write. The person who constantly calls me “Tita Jr” with a ridiculously happy smile. The person who loves to see me wearing skirts, dresses and makeup. The person who used to asked me about random things. The person who always have a piece of her life to share with MD. We love her so much. I love her so much.
If there’s one thing that I accepted it’s this: There will always be a before and after. Or maybe just more of the after. I cannot erase her death in my life or escape it. It will always be there and I will always think of these days as the aftermath of it.
But here’s a secret, the after doesn’t have to be about the sad things. The after could be about living and surviving and staying. The after could be about supporting each other through the toughest time and silently whispering words of comfort. The after could be about Jameng finding peace and happiness and us, mending each other’s scars. The after could be about finding a family out of all the unfamiliar faces. The after could be about helping the people who are experiencing the same thing as her.
The after could be a new beginning. Or a rainbow especially colored by Jameng from above. I don’t know. I just know that the after is much like the before. One minute, it’s a silky smooth road but the second you turn your head, it’ll become a bumpy and bushy one. All I know is, I can live in the after. Especially when I have the greatest people by my side.
And that, is the truth for now.