IN LOOKING back at 2017, a friend thought it’s a year I want to forget. The past 12 months have been tough for my family, especially Mum. She and Dad were in and out of hospitals from March to December and midway in June, we lost him to cancer.
Earlier this month our family was hit again. My uncle’s wife succumbed to brain tumour. Two weeks earlier, a cousin’s father-in-law died. Then, three days before Christmas, a close friend of my parents passed away suddenly. So did another family friend, a Catholic priest, on Boxing Day. In the course of the year, two colleagues died, and two friends of mine each lost a parent.
At Mass this evening, my Parish priest prayed for parishioners who died during the year. He recalled the names of 51 of the faithful, among whom was Dad, of course. That’s one parishioner every week for 12 months. An elderly man who visited his wife’s niche in the church’s columbarium after Mass at the same time I was at Dad’s every Saturday was also among those remembered. I only found out today he died in October. In terms of the number of deaths among family and friends, this year is unprecedented for me.
So, should I want to forget the year that was – sought of wipe it out from my memory, so to speak?
How can I? It is the year Dad passed on. I can only mark it. No, I in fact bless it – the minute, hour, day, month and year: 2.10am, June 14, 2017.
Death is painful for those who have lost someone in the family. And when that person such as Dad had only love to give during his time on earth, it stings even more. Recovery is hard and slow, never ending. But at the same time, memories begin to blossom. And from this, hope slowly but surely finds its way into our hearts.
For my family, our Catholic faith ensures us that death is not the end. To be sure, there is one life for each one of us. The belief in the afterlife, in this sense, is a misnomer because when we take our last breath we are making a journey that transits from our mortal to eternal life. And from the love Dad gave Mum and the rest of us in the family, we have faith that in God’s mercy, he is in Heaven and waiting for us to make our journey there safely.
That’s our goal, Daddy. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We will never forget you.