Overcoming Death

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Overcoming Death
It was a week after Mom and I visited my uncle when we received the call announcing his death. Uncle Lito, my oldest—and favourite—uncle from Dad’s side, had been battling against cancer for almost a year and he had been coping up so well that we all thought he would survive. His passing was a shock for all of us, especially to my father, who was working abroad at the time and was the closest amongst the siblings to Uncle Lito. I remember Dad lamenting over the phone, telling Mom that he wants to go back here to the Philippines to attend the funeral—to see Uncle one last time. However, due to some hitches with his contract and money, Dad could not return in time for Uncle’s burial. The wake was held in our family complex in Bulacan, with my father’s sisters taking over the whole service since Aunt Aile, Uncle Lito’s wife, was too distraught to do so. It was a hectic affair; my aunts and older cousins were scrambling around the compound the whole time, switching between finalizing Uncle’s last rites and greeting the guests while we, the younger ones, were busy serving as errand boys and girls. Seas of unfamiliar but similar faces streamed into the wake, all of them bearing consoling smiles and sympathetic eyes. Most were distant relatives of ours, while some were friends and co-workers who wanted to bid Uncle farewell. I admit that amidst the family traditions that were waiting to be fulfilled and the guests that were expecting to be accommodated we did not have much time to mourn truly for Uncle. It was only on the night before the burial, when the last of the visitors had left and the living room where Uncle rests was somewhat tidied, that we felt the burden of Uncle’s loss. It was past midnight, and most of my cousins were either asleep on their beds or passed out on the couches. Those who were still awake, myself included, gathered in the living room with the adults. Aunt Aile finally came out of the bedroom—the one she used to share with...
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