My name is Zarah. Remy and I had been friends for a little over 30 years now. I was a college student when I first met her. I clearly recall how enchanting the first moment I saw her was. It was a clear, sunny Valentine’s Day in 1986 when a handful of teachers and admin staff of Manresa School met to “date and treat themselves.” I was invited by my friend, Mary Anne, the school coordinator’s secretary, because the teachers wanted to meet and ask me to judge one of their school contests. Besides the fact that I love being around friends, I jumped at opportunities to learn and experience new things.
So, we waited at the bus stop at Sucat Exit Toll gate. One by one, the teachers arrived and I was cheerfully introduced to each one of them. Minutes passed and we waited for one more. Then, somebody exclaimed, “Ka Remy!” I turned my head toward the direction of Sucat. Lo and behold, a lady armed with a radiant smile was gliding toward us. She was wearing a white, haltered dress with a sumptuous neckline and a balloon skirt. It felt like she was modelling her way to the bus stop. She was impressive, beautiful, and breathtaking.
Then and there, she changed my life, and through 3 decades, she filled my life with light, warmth and joy. She was a constant and consistent element in my life. It only takes one call for me to reach her. I can come and sleep over at her house on short notice. There were days that, on impulse, I’d call and invite her to an adventure and she would almost never decline. She was always there for me.
But, now, she is gone. In between my crying, sobbing and whimpering about how she was snatched away from me, I know she wouldn’t want me or any of you to think, feel and believe that her life was in vain. Among her accomplishments and many achievements as a sister, aunt, mother, teacher and friend, there are three significant lessons I learned and continue to learn from my beloved, Remy.
First, she lived every moment. Wherever, whenever and however she meets you, she flashes that radiant smile and opens her arms to you. Welcoming you, as if ang tagal ninyong di nagkita. Full of excitement! She hugs you, full, warm and tight. Tapos, minsan, may kiss ka pa… she embraces that moment with you. If you are happy or anxious, she could recognize how you feel and what you think. She would look at you, tenderly touch you in compassion, and again give you that winning smile. Everything seems so possible when you are with her. She raises you up, and while she quietly and intently listens to you, you could hear her deep love for you. She was present for you. Her gift was her personhood, her whole being.
Second, she also laughs every day. She is quick to pick up your jokes and sooo ready to share an anecdote or two. Minsan, she cracks her own jokes at madalas, kahit corny pa ito, bentang-benta! Kung may fan club lang para sa kanya, tiyak, President na ako.
Tapos, kapag tawang-tawa na sya, ‘di ba, naluluha pa sya. Magkasabay siyang tumatawa at umiiyak. Kakaiba talaga! Pero, di ba’t ganun nga ang kagandahan ng buhay: may lungkot at saya. You do not know joy without having known sorrow; no delight without grief. Remy’s laughter is a burst of sunlight because she knew the storms of life. She lived giving off light because she had gone through darkness herself and won over it. From her humble beginnings, she successfully built a life for herself and her family based on values of education, hard work, love for family and prayer. She seriously faced life’s challenges but never took herself too seriously.
Most importantly, though, of all lessons I learned from Remy is that she loved beyond words. She loved however and whoever you are. She is generous, considerate and sensitive, strict but never stern, honest and authentic. She didn’t need words to express her love for you. She makes you feel special, all the time. She also never minces with words if you make a mistake or two. Despite your shortcomings or differences, she welcomes you not only into her home but also in her heart, in her life. Though she knew of or called on your flaws and faults, it is still you whom she loves. She loved for love’s sake. Kahit sino ka pa man, mahal ka nya.
Remy and I are true friends. She’s always there for me; distant, but never too far away. Our hearts were never apart. Part of me died when she did; in her death, she leaves a void in my being, but the life lessons she showed and taught me will live on.
Maraming salamat sa pag-aruga, pagkalinga at pagmamahal, Remy. Hanggang sa muli nating pagkikita.
Mahal kita, Ate.