A reflection piece and a moment of silence.
I’m still working on “Day 1” of October’s At Home linkup post. It’ll come once I’ve worked on the photos.
But, for the time being, maybe until next week, I’m on a period of silence. If you’ve been following my Instagram and saw a 26-year-old photo of a 15-year-old me and a friend sitting next to me with a long caption, you already know. For those who don’t, I’ll make the story short.Even up to now, on a waiting, I still don’t know the answers regarding what happened, how it happened, and what could’ve done to prevent that from happening. But right now, my friends and I are currently grieving.
Back in 2015, I lost a friend since middle school. Last Sunday (October 1st), I lost another one. The cause? We still don’t know up to now.
Even up to now, on a waiting, I still don’t know the answers regarding what happened, how it happened, and what could’ve done to prevent that from happening. But right now, my friends and I are currently grieving.
Speaking of grieving, I started singing again. Normally, I would do a random piece of meditative art, but in this particular period, art wouldn’t do it for me. My friend was a singer, who once had short-lived fame in an R&B boy band during the emergence of Asian-American vocalists and vocal groups at the same time as the boy band days in the late ’90s. I already knew him and his friends were aiming for something a lot more different than what Asian-Americans are more known for, and they’ve done it. To me, it all started on a bus trip to our confirmation retreat, and when the boys started singing, me, sitting in front of them, witnessed their potential. I love singing myself, but I was a shy and awkward kid back then, and rather than joining in, I listened.
What I mean to say is, aside from singing in church choir, I started singing again on my parents’ Magic Sing karaoke system, singing ’90s tracks that I grew up with in high school and college. Singing for me became a part of who I am, even though I discreetly sing. I don’t have any relatives who are in the entertainment industry or anything like that, but culturally, Filipinos love to sing because we just love to sing. It didn’t matter if you sang out of tune or if you sounded like Beyonce or anything, but if you sing, it’s kind of like a type of a stress reducer and a type of meditated relaxation. Singing as a meditative form? There is such thing.
That’s what I did as a kid when I first started attending church for the first time in the U.S. We sang a lot in CCD1 and sang some more in school because at that time, it was the golden age of R&B and Hip-Hop2 and singing just for the heck of it (as well as sending messages to peers too) was the main thing. Freestyling made you look cool and recognizable, even if it’s among your circle of friends, your classmates, a portion of your graduating class, or even an entire school or the town you live. Even though you may not end up like any one of the R&B groups, girl groups, and boy bands, or even in a rock band, you’ll still be known for your singing abilities and your love of singing.
Maybe one day I’ll have a video of myself singing something (no, nothing from today’s music, as I stopped listening to the radio and mainstream music completely back in the early 2000s), just for the heck of it. But now is not the time.
The high school I attended was the only high school campus located in my hometown. In short, (almost) all the kids living throughout all districts of Union City attended this one particular high school.3 It may be the only high school campus in town, but it was also one of the largest campuses in the Bay Area, almost the size of a junior/community college. It also houses a lot of students, and I remember my graduating class being one of the largest, at some 400-something students. So, unlike what you see in those Hollywood school/teen movies where you have the popular crowd, the unpopular crowd, the crowd of nerds, the crowd of rejects, etc., there was none of those in my high school. Nobody was in the popular crowd, no one was in the unpopular crowd, there were no “categorized” crowds, none at all. Anybody can be friends with anybody. You can (probably) hang out with any crowd when you like. I never really hung out with a specific crowd. I made friends with anyone I felt like I could get along with, and even though I was, for the most part, alone (though in some ways, I never really was alone because there were so many of us that no one would really notice you, no matter how much you hide from the crowd). As long as you keep up with your relationships, you can guarantee that the next time you see them again years from the time you graduate, they will still remember you.4
My long history of friendships and death is quite long. In fact, there was a portioned period where I’ve completely lost touch with a few of them, only to find out later and too late that they already passed. I lost my first friend to a heart attack in a lunchtime recreational basketball game when I was 14, a freshman in high school. I lost my second friend two years later from a mistaken gang violence (horrible way to die, glad the police caught the bastards who killed him because he looked like “a gang member from a rival gang,” like wtf…). I also heard that I’ve lost two friends (also from illness) during my last few years in college/university. I lost a few more in the mid-late 2000s. And then, I lost one of my closest friends (who I even promised we’d have coffee from the last time we’ve seen each other) to complicated pneumonia back in 2015.
And then, last Sunday, October 1st, the same night that horrible mass shooting in Las Vegas (and apparently I have a friend who had a friend listed as one of the victims…), another friend has passed.
Another thing that also made me write this short reflection piece also deals with my age. I thank God that I made it to 40, and I’m still praying to God that I make it past 40 and way beyond that. There’s a bit of a family history on my mother’s side in which I’ve also lost my aunt and my cousin to an aneurysm, in their sleep, at respectively, age 39 and 40. Because I’m diabetic, I am also at high risk, but I’m working really hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to prevent that from cutting my life short. The problem with aneurysm is that there are no early symptoms, but I have learned that if you end up having a massive headache for a day or two and would never go away, check with the doctor immediately, because that can be a sign. I’ve had some headaches here and there once and on a whim, but luckily they only last for a few hours.
So, how do I end this piece? All I can say is, now that there’s the magic of social media, and if you are an adult still in college, graduated from college, or have become a family-oriented person or a busy bee with your career, take some time to reach out to your old friends from childhood and your younger days. That was one mistake that I made with the friend I recently lost. We lost touch during my last few years of college and he and his group started touring around more for their concerts and appearances, and eventually, things faded. Keep in mind that this was a period in which social media like Facebook did not exist yet. Even with the presence of Facebook and I was able to reconnect with some of my friends from my youth, I never really did enough for me to reach out for more, which included him. When I heard of his passing, that was when it hurt the most.
It’s always good to make new friends, but don’t ever forget the friends you’ve made from the years before. You may never know, the last time you see and speak with them may be the last time you’d ever see and speak with them ever again.
On the sidenote...
- Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – religious educational system of the Roman Catholic Church. In short, it’s the Catholics’ Sunday School for children [↩]
- 1990s… [↩]
- I said “almost” because I knew a few kids attended private Catholic schools and other prestigious private (boarding) schools out of town instead… [↩]
- and I have to thank Facebook and other forms of social media for that. [↩]