I lost a good friend yesterday.
I didn’t even know he was sick. I mean, the last five years or so of my life have been chaotic and that’s probably an understatement.
Apparently Eugene had been feeling sick on and off the entire year last year and finally he got hospitalized in December, even spending Christmas in a hospital room.
He underwent a battery of tests that resulted to three chemotherapies and yesterday, his body succumbed to lymphoma. The cancer had metastasized to his brain.
But Eugene had put on a good fight. He fought even when the doctors had already stopped the treatment because he was no longer responding. He fought and at some point he managed to stand up again but sadly, it would never be.
I still remember the first time I met him—him and Bevs, our other friend and coworker—we were all fresh out of college. The three of us all started at around the same time and I noted at once how different the two of us were. Where Bevs and I were quiet and reserved Eugene was outgoing, outspoken, articulate, and friendly.
Working together coupled with company outings and Christmas parties helped develop our friendship. It was inevitable, we worked in a small company and everyone, with the passage of time, became friends and eventually we called each other family.
We worked hard, partied our way out through our hardships and money problems but soon, one by one our peers left the company and in the end, our country for better opportunities and better future.
You explained to me why you chose the path you chose even though you need not have to because I understood without you saying it out loud. We had lunch for the last time with our other friend and coworker, Pao. We talked about plans, the future, work, about everything and nothing. I realized we were at a crossroads and that from then on we’d seldom see each other again and I was right. Right there and then I requested that our picture be taken, for souvenir, I thought.
Four years later you invited us to your thirtieth birthday. I wasn’t going to show up, but I hadn’t seen you for years, not to mention I gave you my word I’d come so I did. I arrived in your party sleepless having spent the entire night before monitoring my sister’s progress while she looked for hospitals with CT scan because my nephew Jonrae fell down the stairs. And when they finally found one, we had to rush to the hospital to arrange for his brain surgery and then wait, as the doctors performed it. It was excruciating.
But when it came down to it, I was having a shitty year. July that year my brother-in-law passed away due to aneurysm, over a month later I miscarried. So I said, why not? Party? But who partied when their nephew is in the hospital?
Now, I’ve never been so glad I attended your party in spite of my initial misgivings because that would be the last time I see you in person. I went off the grid because my life went even more downhill after that.
In between my and my family’s frequent trips to hospitals, dodging bullets, figuring in vehicular accidents, surviving a miscarriage, operations performed on various family members, my loved ones dying one by one and you being thousands and thousands of miles away, we drifted apart.
I regret that I have not known your pain just as you have not known mine. But I do hope that during those times we were always together, that you have felt my love, our love.
Eugene, thank you so much for lending your talent. I loved going to our gimiks, I loved receiving you and our friends in my apartment if only to hear you and the others sing. Thank you for letting me drag you to sing to my friends Alvin and Yeni’s wedding in my stead. You said yes without hesitations, saving me and my friends from a whole lot of embarrassment because, God, who wanted to hear me sing? Lol. 🙂
So brilliant and so young; my heart breaks, just thinking about the things you wouldn’t be able to do anymore. But I find comfort in looking back and thinking you’ve done everything you can when you were alive. You lived your dream, you found your love, and you helped your family, made your friends happy.
I hope you’re living now in a world without pain. I never said it before but thank you for the friendship, Eugene. WE love you.
I love you.
So long, my dear friend. Rest in peace.