This week, the Filipino people are mourning with the death of a public servant – Former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. She served as a Secretary of Agrarian Reform, a Judge of the International Criminal Court and, eventually, a senator. She also ran for presidency thrice, and fought with cancer during the latter with both fierceness and wit spoken from her mouth! She was a jewel of the Philippine nation, serving the country with a powerful passion for the country. Everybody says, “The best President we never had.”
I was mourning with the Filipino people. I thought, it’s unfair for good people to die. But tables were turned when I thought my time had come.
On the 30th day of September, I struggled my way to school. With a heavy bagful of books borrowed from and to be returned to the school library, I went to Katipunan underground station to catch a train to school. Having only four hours of sleep, I was weak. When I felt my eyes dizzy and my breath short, I left and sat on the stairs for a while. But then I thought, maybe if I can get a seat in the train, I will be fine. But I wasn’t.
I barely got a seat inside and my vision was getting cloudier; I couldn’t distinguish anyone and anything anymore. Catching my breath, I asked a stranger for her fan in hopes for air, but it did me no good. My hand was tired, my body was getting heavier. Then, asking for water, a stranger told me to leave the train and ask for help. So, I fought my way hard out of the train and down the broken escalator. Thanks to the Lord, I did not fall.
When I got downstairs, I can barely see any security guards. But with a fellow passenger near me, I was able to use the remaining strength I had to ask for help. The stranger carried me from the back and helped me sit down. Yet, we didn’t make it. I fell.
I was able to recover after minutes. First aid and security staffs immediately took care of me. I am very grateful to them.
I usually had similar attacks before, but it was the longest I endured.
That afternoon, I went to church. It was Friday and the church I attend to had youth services every Friday’s and Thursday’s. As I worshiped the Lord, the lyrics of the song made a strong impact on me:
Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me.
I felt the presence of the Lord, telling me: “My daughter, I love you.”
Struggling for air for minutes was hard; I thought of death. Yet, I wasn’t afraid. How do I give up the short amount of breath that I had? How do I surrender my body to gravity? How do I let my eyes cease blinking? I didn’t know. I was asking God. But He replied through the lyrics of the song: My daughter, I love you. I may have ran out of breath, but His love will never run out on me. It was another encounter with God.
Yes, death is an uncertain concept of life. Where do we go? Is there really a destination for us after death? Is there light? Or nothingness? You, yourself, might have been puzzled with these questions at least once in your life. What happens after death? Many people – religions – have created concepts and theories. We also tend to be afraid.
But we need not know all the answers. We need not know the mysteries of life. And, we need not know the how’s and why’s of death. We only need to know that God loves us to the point of sacrificing His Son in order to save us. We only need to know that God humbled himself, came down His glorious throne to be with us. We only need to know that His love never harms. And we only need to know that that kind of love is enough.
It might be painful for the families and loved ones left behind. I may not have the slightest idea how many tears they have shed or how many nights they couldn’t fall asleep, being embraced by the fear and anxiety of being alone. Indeed, it is unfair for good people to die, because we need more of them in this sinful, chaotic world. We need more of good hearts, little symbols of hope for humanity, that change is still possible, that change can still happen.
Yet, it is only fair to those who left and will leave. It is only fair for them to be importuned by pain no longer. It is only fair for those beautiful lives to be rewarded with eternity. It is only fair for them to be with their Creator.
Death, indeed, is a wage of sin. But Jesus won over the sting of death and for those who believes, death is an encounter with God, a blessing in disguise.
And to you Madame Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Farewell. You will be missed dearly.