Exactly a week ago today, I received the most dreadful news one can ever take – my cousin’s dead. He was shot in the head and was immediately rushed in the hospital in the hopes of saving him. But we still lost him. I can only imagine what happened to him from my relatives’ tales – his blood flowing all over the place and over his companion’s body who was with him during that time, how he was rushed in the best hospital in our town, how my mother hoped he will be fine and how he totally said goodbye. In an instant, he was gone. He was young, not to mention good looking. He had lots of dreams to pursue on top of the success he has accomplished. But he was gone. He will never return but he left me thoughts and things that I think, really matter.

Some people around me who learned of the sad news asked, “Were you close with him?” I cannot help but feel sad and somehow offended by the question. I feel sad because the truth of the matter is, we were not close. Being both introverts of the family, we were both the quiet ones who will just laugh along and smile along. However, I think that it is ridiculous to base my grief to the frequency of our talks or meeting. Maybe to some, learning about a death of a person who’s not close to them does not break their hearts into pieces. But my heart is different. My heart that breaks with the simplest injustice in our society mourns deeply in his death. Does it matter if we were close? I think not. What matters is that I love him.

On the day he died, nobody saw what really happened. Even if our neighbor gossipers talk of what happened as if they were in the scene, believe me, nobody saw what happened. Nobody knows the entire story and so the first question that baffled us was how did he die? I personally grapple for answers and tried to come up with a story that my mind and my heart can accept. But all I want to hear is the truth, the truth that may never reveal itself. Does it matter how he died? I think it is more important to think and always remember how he lived. He lived with passion for what he does. His friends told us how hardworking and committed to work he was. I also remember my mother telling me how my cousin got irritated at someone who was offering him money in exchange for something. Wow, I said to myself then, I have a new inspiration in serving in the government. He was an upright public servant, a decent man and I am just so proud of him.

My cousin was generally a silent person. Does it matter if in his lifetime, he talked so little? I don’t think so. I know behind his silence is a great love for his family and for the nation – two of the best things that fuel his everyday life. I would like to believe that in his silence, there are hardships he endured, successes he savored, pains he overcame and love he deeply felt.

On the day when we said our last goodbye, all I managed to say were: Bye. Rest in peace. Till we meet again.

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