Life is short

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His name was Jad. We’ve been friends since high school, which means that I’ve known him for roughly 11 years. It was a friendship born from convenience – we found out that we live not too far from each other, so we made the usual daily commute to and from school together. We were a funny looking pair – I was the tall, fat and bespectacled kid while he was short, thin. Both of us had bad posture, so that’s one thing we had in common.

He was far from perfect. In fact, those who knew him all too well will say that he was rough around the edges. He had a short-temper, which is pretty funny considering his frame. He was a little fire cracker. He spoke his mind, and got into a lot of petty fights with friends and classmates. I also think he holds the class record for the most number of arguments with teachers. And apparently that string started in elementary school! But he was also gracious enough to accept defeat and apologize, even if it took weeks. A study of contrasts, he was.

We went to the same university after high school, and we found ourselves classmates once again taking up a course neither one of us felt was our calling. We belonged to the same high-strung group of friends, so that made early university life pretty good.

Both of us were far from perfect. Jad and I went through a rough patch in our third year. Looking back it was more of me being stubborn, holding onto the idea that people can be changed. Eventually we had a falling out. Honestly we’ve never been the same people since. But when all that was left was dust, we were still friends. It was a long process, and the bridge we thought was burned was still there, holding on for the both of us.

Time changes people, though. Eventually we found our respective niches. Mine was in the kitchen and his was in sales. He became a good (and persistent) pharmaceuticals salesman and a motivational coach. For someone who lacked self-esteem and was rough around the edges, he found himself in a great place. The past year we haven’t been communicating frequently, just the usual pleasantries but I thought that was fine – both of us were preoccupied with our own lives.

I thought that was fine because we had our whole lives ahead of us to keep in touch.

I was with my friends Yedy and Eugene when I got the call. Jad had been shot, and after a grueling hour of waiting for news, my mom told me what I already felt and knew: he was gone. I booked the earliest morning flight home.

Leading up to the funeral, it was a painful week.

Until now there are so many questions, so many speculations. It leaves me baffled that the odds were against him. He was a nice guy. He was loved, if the tributes people made during the days of the wake were any indication. I loved him like a brother.

It’s been two weeks since we laid him to rest. The pain has ebbed, but it’s still there. I know he’s gone, I could tell you right now to your face that he’s gone. But in the moments of silence, when the gravity of it all sinks in, and I mean really sinks in, the proverbial wave of ice-cold water still leaves me gutted.

Rational thought escapes me, and I still have to ask myself if he’s really gone because it’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s a bitter, painful pill.

Time was good to us. His job was great for him. Every now and then he would randomly send me a text message (he does this to all his friends), asking me how I’m doing. It hurts to know that’ll never happen anymore.

Right now I’m home. I never thought I’d be going home for a funeral. I thought I would leave as abruptly as I arrived, but here I am almost three weeks later enjoying its comforts. I’m home, in same city that he loved until his death

I’ve never known grief like this. I think it’s a more painful weight to carry because it’s laced with anger. And I’ve never known anger like this.

Jad read my blog every now and then, and he always supported whatever decision I made. He was a cheerleader like that, not just to me but for a lot of people. That’s why people loved and respected him. But apparently that’s not enough to warrant the reprieve of a bullet.

My friends and I will, in our own capacities, find justice for Jad. We don’t want his death to be trivialized. He’s not part of a statistic.

Life is beautifully and painfully short. Although it’s painful to know that his life was abruptly and unjustly halted, I can find comfort in the idea that he was in a good place in his life when he died. He realized what fulfilled his days, and until the last minute, he was chasing his happiness.

I’ve been quiet for more than a month now and a few days ago, The Hungry Giant celebrated its second year. I couldn’t really fabricate excitement to make a big deal of the event, so pardon me.

I’ve actually been cooking and baking while I’ve been home and that’s always given me comfort, for what it’s worth. I’ll be okay. It’s a process, but I’ll be okay. I’ll still write, and I’ll keep on writing, if it means keeping certain things alive.

9 thoughts on “Life is short

  1. I share your pain, Gio. Life unfolds as it’s meant to be. We may not know or understand the reason (at times, senseless it seems) for now. But, there’s always a lesson to learn for every unfolding.

  2. Pingback: Oh, Zamboanga | The Hungry Giant

  3. My condolences. =.( I cried when I saw that YouTube video where you speak about him. I feel sad about what’s happening to our hometown.

  4. Beautiful piece. Very heartbreaking but I share the exact same sentiments that I cant seem to find the words to and this story did. Thank you and I am one with you in this fight for Jad.

  5. I wish that by reaching out to you and knowing that you’re in many people’s thoughts as you go through this very difficult time will somehow ease the pain. My condolences and I will fervently pray for justice for your friend.

  6. I’m so sorry to read of your loss. Jad sounds like a wonderful person and friend. He sounded like he had found his happiness in life and that is something some never achieve, even having lived a long lifetime.

  7. Gio, I’m very sorry for your loss. I don’t know you personally, but I have read your blog for some time and when you share what you are feeling with us through your writing, we feel with you. What a heartfelt tribute to your friend and your friendship.

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