Six rulers under your feet

Even if I don't really go out on weekends, the last Friday night was unusually slow for me. The siblings were left alone at home, and the middle sister hasn't arrived from a day out she's always been having. I found myself flicking through the channels until I saw the last scenes of Maalala Mo Kaya - that time it was Diether Ocampo and Bea Alonzo on top billing. It actually isn't a new episode - I've seen Diether lose his hair, and I've seen Bea as a nurse - but for some reason the scene I saw struck me.

I was in the middle of Diether on the verge of dying, probably from cancer, as signified by hair loss. He was in a hospital bed, and Bea, the nuse who presumably knows the patient, and maybe loves him too, is looking over him. He starts crying uncontrollably, until he finds a need to get up from bed and go to the nurse. I don't know if he saw something, and if he did, whether it's real or imaginary. Oh, the heck - he cries on her shoulder, and she couldn't take it. The answer: call for the doctor.

Obviously the entire drama ends with his death. There was Charo Santos reading the letter, talking about the nurse moving on from the death of the one she loves, and eventually marrying and raising a family, and how she learned much more from him rather than her dreams of touring the world. There was the episode title, the closing credits, and the ubiquitous text promo, with someone from Davao winning. As the news blasted on the screens, with yet another rally taking half of its airtime, I was thinking of something else.

When you die, who will be the first to cry beside you?

Of course, the answer lies on whether you'd take a particular investment, so to speak, on that someone. And maybe a dash of luck, too - if things get worse, you'd find yourself dying among the mountains, and your last memories would either be in a warehouse, in a car, or on the mountainside, your vision blurring as you grimace in pain, remembering the gun that was blasted in your chest.

Or, if things get worse, you'd find yourself sleeping tonight and, well, not waking up. You'll never know who will be the first to cry, because you would've spent the hour in which you slowly lose your sense of hearing to nothing at all.

They do say so. The last thing that a dead person loses is his hearing, which explains, apparently, why when one person dies in the company of family, everybody crowds by the departed saying all of those cheesy I-love-you's and why-did-you-leave-us'. But, probably, you only hear things, but not comprehend what it means to you. If you do get shot in the head, whoever shot you can do an evil laugh, open his CD player, put in Papaya and do an evil dance around that song, but it all wouldn't mean anything. Thus the question is basically moot and academic. Or is it?

I sometimes daydream about my death. Morbid details aside, I usually daydream about my funeral. Say, if I die now, and my body is lying in state at some rented funeral home, who will write their names on the guestbook that comes with the funeral services? Weirdly enough, I enjoy imagining people I tried to reach out to actually try reaching out to me, even if all efforts are futile. Say, all of my friends in DLSU assemble at the South Gate and decide to go to where I am.

Let's say the wake is held at my home. It's an hour and a half away from school on a good day, but they're going there anyway. Everybody decides to make a convoy, and leading the pack could be any one of those who I rode the bus with.

"So, anong dadaanan natin?" Y2K would probably ask Marcia.

"Coastal Road," she'd probably answer. "Tapos pa-Las PiƱas, tapos Moonwalk... bahala na! Magtanong na lang tayo."

Or maybe they'd have Jason and Cuyeg lead the convoy. Besides, they're my thesis partners, and they know the easiest way to my subdivision, pending you're willing to pay a toll fee on the highway.

"Daang Hari daw, eh," Cuyeg might answer. "Dinaanan na namin 'yun nung nag-shoot kami, pero hindi ko maalala, eh."

Or maybe they'd have Les do some figuring out. She knows a third route, that through Bacoor itself, which she learned from me when she started to text me for directions to Sarah's house - I don't really know, to be honest - all when I was in Baguio. But she'd probably have forgotten. And besides, she would've taken Daang Hari instead, since it's closer to her.

Nevertheless, they'd arrive at my house, park their cars outside Mustard Street, and stream into our small house. They'd say hello to my grieving parents, and introduce themselves. They'd look at my body - by now the make-up would've negated the pimples on my face - and then they'd sit somewhere, taking up the refreshments we have, and maybe tell stories to my relatives. Oh, those stories I never told my relatives. Since elementary school they never know that Ale followed, then Kizia followed, then Sarah followed, then... you get the point. They'd laugh, and chuckle, and throw eggs at my non-existent reputation.

Non-existent. That's what I'll be. I'll never enjoy all the compliments they could possibly say.

After all the drama comes the transition. Everybody's got to move on, and maybe, the moment they leave the house, they'll work on their theses and maybe get a diploma. They'd probably get together and mourn the death of that student who was so noisy, yet so bright. You know, cult status. Quickly forgotten soon after.

When I was young, I feared death. Actually, I still do. I don't like the feeling of seeing nothing, hearing nothing, not being aware of anything and everything - basically, being some discarded wrapper on the sidewalks they always struggled to clean. Then again, I wouldn't really feel it, because my mind would melt in fifteen years anyway, and there's no sense in waiting if you couldn't.

Maybe I should die now, instead. Aside from saving myself from anything that could go wrong - termination, public humiliation, injury after getting a finger stuck on my Altis, maybe Misha dumping me after so many years? - I'd know, even if from above, that people do care. The thing is, though, I would've lost my sense of hearing, and they wouldn't make any sense at all.

So, when you die, who will be the first to cry beside you?

And, better yet, will they move on with a tribute, or just write on the guestbook and forget about it?

Maybe I'll have a thousand names on the guestbook. The folks from elementary school, high school, college, maybe the obscure people I've met on my random journeys. Hopefully those names are the ones that mattered to me when I was alive. That would hurt the most, probably - the hurt you couldn't feel anymore, because, well, you just couldn't.

And your responses...

the more painful question is, will anyone be there right beside you when you die?

Anonymous Anonymous3/06/2008     

You just made me remember my terrible fear of dying.

Anonymous Anonymous3/08/2008     

"Maybe I should die now, instead. Aside from saving myself from anything that could go wrong"

see? isa sa mga constants mo to. haha. tsaka na lang ako magcocomment ng mahaba pag ol ka ulit :P

Anonymous Anonymous8/22/2008     

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