Life and death

WE lost our cousin last week due to a lingering illness- retired judge Emmanuel “Memet” T. Mationg. He was 70-years-old.

I tried to console myself with the thought that the average lifespan of Filipinos today is 70. If you’re healthy, 80. As my favorite priest, Fr Dave Concepcion would say, “beyond 70, bonus na lang lahat.”

Still, my thoughts when I learned the sad news was “Manong is still young to go.”

The late American evangelist Billy Graham, in one of his talks about death and grief, stated: “No matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still comes as a shock, and it still hurts very deeply.” He couldn’t have said it better.

I have witnessed deaths in the family, including the passing of my own brother a decade ago. Thank God, my parents are still alive, and based on the accounts of people I know, the pain of losing them is another matter altogether. I surmise that the pain of losing someone varies depending on your relationship or closeness with the one who died. What is certain, though, is we mourn the loss of a loved one or even a pet.

If God were to ask me today what is an acceptable age to die, I would say 75 is okay. I foresee that I would have lived a full life by then and would have accomplished most of my life’s purpose. Hopefully.

In the words of my favorite author Paulo Coelho in his book “The Alchemist,” we all have our own “Personal Legend”- our reason for being. The earlier we find it, the better for us so we can fulfill our own destiny.

Finding life’s purpose is definitely not easy. It takes a lot of life experiences, prayers and discernment. In my moments of reflection, I have asked the universe numerous times if I have already found my purpose.

Sumasagot ba ang universe? I guess it does. A few days after throwing the question to the void, I read a post about – yes- life’s purpose. At once, I took it as God’s direct answer to my queries.

Aimee Emejas, a friend from my Scalarprana family, shared this in her Facebook post: “What is my purpose in life?” I asked the void. “What if I told you that you fulfilled it when you tool an extra hour to that kid about his life?” said the voice. “Or when you paid for that young couple in the restaurant? Or when you saved that dog in traffic? Or when you tied your father’s shoes for him? Your problem is that you equate your purpose with goal-based achievement. The Universe isn’t interested in your achievements… just your heart. When you choose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your purpose.”

I think I was just too focused on advocacies and actions that could “change the world” where, in fact, the little things that we do to make this a better world equally matter, too. And from then on, I was at peace.

Looking back at my cousin’s life, I am pretty sure he has done a lot of good and has fulfilled his purpose through the decisions he dispensed as a municipal trial court judge, and the many charitable institutions that he and his wife, Manang Diding, have been helping for many years. Marami ang nagbago ang buhay nang dahil sa kanyang mga nagawang mabuti.

As we live our lives, may we be inspired by this quote from American writer Chuck Palahniuk: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

Life is short and death is certain. Our goal is not to live long but to live well. That’s why, as Fr. Dave always say, “we strive to be a better person today than yesterday.”

Farewell, Manong Memet.