|At the Batangas Ice Plant|
I had to go to the bathroom, I followed the directions and wound up opening a door, alas, my eyes behold my cousins’ broken and bloody body, on a wooden table. Blood everywhere, his arms akimbo, broken, broken everywhere it seemed. I stood paralyzed and stunned in morbid fascination. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t take my eyes off this horror. It shocked me to see a thing which was only earlier human, alive and vibrant. I think this is the first time that death was made real to me. I thought “where are the strings attached that animate us”. He’s only meat now, a carcass, an empty shell. I thought perhaps we were marionettes, that somewhere someone was pulling the strings, but on closer inspection, no strings. How then is it that one moment we are here, and the next laid out like this on a wooden slab?
I was too shocked to cry at the time. Thoughts reeling through my head. Where do we go? How is that life can be so fleeting? Abet was only a teenager, maybe a year or two older than me. This too could happen to me. Where is the dignity in this? What is the purpose of living if we wind up as meat? The next time I see him, it is at the church in an open casket. I see down the corridor of church benches, a nice coffin sits on a stand. Flowers everywhere, cousins, aunties, uncles, all seated about.
I join my younger cousins in doing the stations of the cross. Perhaps out of nervousness we begin to giggle, perhaps something silly was said, I start to laugh, and laugh hysterically and then torrents of tears and my chest heaved and my breath was taken away by sob after sob, and it seemed I couldn’t stop crying.
Everyone is looking at me, I wasn’t so close to this cousin so they must be wondering what’s wrong with me. “Hysterical” I hear someone say, aunties move to console me, I press against my mother who is trying to console me. She says “ go say goodbye, you will feel better." I do, I stand in line to view his body. It’s been cleaned up, he looks peaceful now, but oh woe! I see ants crawling up his neck into his ear!!!! Tiny little ants!!!! Oh horrors! No longer human, only meat. This is the last straw, I grab my face as though it will explode without the confines of my palms pressed against my cheeks and begin weeping again. People think I am crying for Abet alone, yes I am for his life cut short, for all the days he will never see, for his family who will miss him, and for ME, that I too someday will die!!
I saw the impermanence of life. All that I do or say will be erased in one fell swoop at the end of MY life, which apparently could be whenever those strings attached break.This was the beginning of my rebellion against rules laid down by elders that didn’t make sense. All the more I wanted to know, why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Why do we follow blindly the dictates of society and culture only to be laid down upon a cold slab as cold dead meat? After that, when ever my parents asked something of me, I wanted to know why?
It must have driven them completely mad. My father and I would sometimes come to blows over my belligerence. He would tell my mom “tell YOUR daughter, this or that” as though he himself could not relate to me. My mother would say “you cannot force her, she will not comply without a fight”. I would not do one thing without trying to understand the underlying reason as though all things in life made sense, which I have learned that they do not. I was determined to go out fighting, kicking and screaming if only it helped me to understand why we are here.
This experience pressed me on to quest for answers. I would go to the church and pray to God to show me the meaning of life. To make my life worthwhile. Children my age stopped being of interest to me. I plunged into books on the occult, religious experiences of saints, the bible, trying to make sense of life. None of it made sense, too many dichotomies, compounded by the fact that I soon learned that not all people believed in Jesus. That there were indeed other religions with other Gods. Oh my! Will the real God please stand up.
No dictates for me, this stuff didn’t even make sense half the time. I stopped going to church. I would pray to the “unknown God”. This faceless being. No answers in my head clearly outlining my path, no blueprint for me. Alright then, I’ll make my own choices and live with the consequences later. Thus began my path into the adventures of a conscious life. I’ll live for today and cry about it tomorrow.
Today, my truth is that God is in ME. That I am never away from God, and I cannot escape God. Whatever I do in my life, I talk directly to this inner being that animates me. This is the only God I know. I don’t seek God in churches or books, because I know that everything I see or am or do, is a part of God. Thus I cannot see where God is not.
Yes I know there are those in life who are what we call evil...I have personally been the victim of such people. Yet, I have found it in my heart and soul to forgive their transgressions because I have been able to overcome many more things in life BECAUSE of the strength I can now draw from those “BAD” experiences.