Something’s weird that day. All of a sudden, I asked my mom to bring me the photo album where I have my friends pictures. She’s keeping it in her home, but now I have it here with me. I was so happy when I got it back, but I never thought that what’s going to happen next will be the signs of death of one of my childhood friends in the photo album!
It’s almost 10pm and I was lying in bed with my nieces and nephew, we’re having a good time. My mom, my sis and her kids were here, they paid me a visit that day. Me and my sis were talking about our younger days. We talked about our friends in the province especially those who become our table tennis and chess buddies. The kids were just listening. We talked a lot of things from the past, and we were happy looking back to those crazy moments. High school life was the best part and the memories are full of fun and adventures.
I get up to get the photo album. And as I turn to every page, I can feel the joys of those times. Actually, the contents of the photo album were pictures during my high school graduation day and my 16th birthday. My friends are there, mostly boys. Girls are also there and most of them were my cousins. I don’t know what’s really funny, but I just can’t help not to laugh so loudly again and again. And the center of my laughs was Zeus! Our pictures aren’t that kind like we’re making faces, no, not that. We have a group picture where I was sitting on his lap as we were too crowded, no malice. And there’s another picture which was taken after my graduation ceremony, I have four boys on my sides, two on the left and two on the right. I was in the center. Again, I can’t help to make fun of what I’m seeing in that picture! The kids are also looking at the pictures and laughing with me even though they haven’t met those people. I was filled with so much joy, and Zeus was on my mind that very moment. I keep on thinking about him even until the clock turns 12am, was he thinking of me, too?
I thought it was just a joke!
After so much laughing, I found myself calm and gets ready to sleep. I was astonished, my sis was laughing while looking at her phone. Seems like my laughs has transferred to her. I asked her why. She said that Zeus was being played by his friends and they posted his picture with “R.I.P. Zeus”. I have to see it so I also checked on my Facebook newsfeed. There.. I saw the picture and once again, I was laughing. I thought they’re just making some fun, you know what I mean, that moment when your friends do crazy things to make fun of you. We don’t even think it’s true and we keep on saying it’s just a bad joke. The picture was uploaded by a friend of Zeus, he was tagged with it so I’m able to comment. I asked, “Is this a joke?”, but the guy replied, “No, it’s not..”. I got more details from browsing over Facebook, I was shocked! I can’t hardly believe it! He passed away! We lost him to death! A stroke of a rock on his head from behind caused his death. Committed by someone whom until now is at large.
When we were young
I’ve known Zeus since we were in kindergarten. I still remember when our teacher introduced him and his cousin as our new classmates. We used to call him “Shoes” since then. He was living with his aunt on the other part of the town. When we started attending grade school, so we both studied in different schools. I was on the north while he was in central. I can’t exactly remember when he transferred to our school, it’s either grade 4 or grade 5. We’re both playing table tennis for school competitions. I was playing lyre while he was a drummer. To sum it up, we’re both in the same interest which made us to get along more often with other members.
Our closeness developed when we were in high school. We’re still in the same field of sports. We played table tennis addictively, of course with our other friends together. Who’ll lose the game will be replaced by a new one. I also played chess like my sis did, so I taught them how to. We’re playing chess while waiting for our turn for table tennis. He was still a drummer but from lyre, I switched to being a majorette. Oh wow, I have thin legs and dark skin, I don’t know where did I get the confidence.. We’re still in the same field.
I was a member of our church’s choir since I was 10. We always see each other because he also served the church as a sacristan with some of our friends. And the best part, we go swimming and diving in clear blue sea water at the pier after the Sunday mass! We used to climb high hills and the tower in it. Most of the times, I was the only girl who go with them. I’m not a tomboy, but I do enjoy their company. Sometimes we bring junk foods. I was once having an asthma attack after running down from the hills, Zeus was always a caring friend and he was always there to check if their weak companion (me) is okay. If I’m not okay and asthma was attacking, he’s telling me to rest and giving me water if possible. Then, he’s going to tease me about how I sound like. Friends are like that, annoy each other but still cares. He’s such a caring friend to all of us, and a very thoughtful one.
One Friday noon after class, we went out for island hopping. We were like little children, we’re running on the sea side. I’m a girl, so I was the weakest one among them. I run after Zeus, and when I’m about to reach him, I just dived! He didn’t even know what I’m up to, but when he looked back, he saw my embarrassing situation. Damn.. He was the one who laughed at me too hard which calls the attention of our other friends! He told me not to do that again while he’s giving me a lift, “see.. you’re hurt”. I can’t forget that moment of my carelessness and it always made me smile to think that I have a caring friend like him.
We have a secret..
After school, all of our friends are so excited to celebrate Zeus birthday. That was March 25, 2003. We went to his home and prepare some dishes. I’m in charge in baking a cake. I left the cake and I went home to let my parents know that I’m going to a friend’s birthday. When I came back, the cake was burnt! But still okay for eating. I and Zeus were in the kitchen boiling the spaghetti noodles. While we’re straining it, I felt out of balance and all the noodles was scattered on the floor! Oh no, we just can’t let it to be wasted! So while our other friends are nowhere and the others are in the living room, we picked up all the noodles and washed it in a basin! Woohoo~~~it’s cleaned! No one knows!
We really had a good time together. Singing along with Backstreet Boys, A1, Westlife, and NSYNC songs. They were the most popular during our times. And of course, all friends do enjoy my burnt cake and our delicious spaghetti with a secret recipe. We are arguing whether to tell them about what happened or not, and we ended up telling them. It was kind of fun when we reveal to them what made the spaghetti to taste so good! Everybody gets crazy, laughing at each other, they can’t do anything but to laugh because they already ate it! Even until now, they still remember about it.
Yes, I got the confirmation that what happened was not just a bad joke. But I still can’t convince myself that he was gone. Before I go to sleep, I prayed may God allow him to show up in my dreams, so I can meet him even for the very last time. I have so many stories to tell him, and I wish I could tell him how grateful and lucky I am for finding a good friend like him. I wish I can see him in my dreams and tell him I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the chance to go home during his funeral. Our friends are there, but it’s also sad to think that the group won’t be complete ( somehow ) if there’s no funeral.
We haven’t seen each other for more than ten years, but our friendship are still there all through the distance. I had a long phone conversation with him last October 2012, too many stories and laughs. But I regret I didn’t call him again after that. I also regret I missed the chance to meet him while he was in Manila during year 2011. Although we sometimes have a chat on Facebook, talking by the phone is way better. Now he was gone, I can’t see him anymore when I go home to our province. No more. All was left was his tomb, and it feels so sad.
I remember, before we moved to Manila I made him promise me that he’s going to send me pink flowers if I passed away. Although it’s not a good idea, he still did. I don’t know why I wanted him to promise me things like that, but maybe I’m just afraid of whatever unpredictable things that’s going to happen while my friends are too far from me. But I’m still here and it’s him who left us at age 26. Maybe this time, it’s my turn to bring him the pink flowers that he once promised me. Yes, maybe I should do it. When I go home to Palawan, I’m going to visit his tomb and bring him pink flowers.
I was thinking that the laughs I have that night before we heard about his death was a sign. He made me laugh even for the last time. The pictures of him that I used to laugh are the signs. I don’t know but he keeps on popping into my head that time, I regret I didn’t give him a call. He gave me the sign of his death. Maybe he was thinking of me while he was in coma? Maybe he was thinking of all his friends?
When we lost him, I started to realize that if someone you care keeps popping into your head for no reason, give them a call. Talk to them and ask if they’re okay. Tell them how you care. You’ll never know.