To Faye, we will live to wake up and fight another day

Dear Faye,

On the first week of my second term, our Dev Psych professor asked all of us to get up from our seats and form one, big semi-circle around the classroom. The professor had her own way of a first-day class orientation. The instruction was that everytime she read a statement, we had to take a step forward if it applied to us. If we did, we had to tell the class our name, the reason why we stepped forward, and then we can sit back down. The statements came one by one until there were at least 15 students left and I was one of them. I would have sat down earlier if I had already stepped forward when the professor said, “I have or have had a boyfriend/girlfriend when I was in high school or in college,” but I didn’t want to step forward to that kind of statement, not because I’m embarrassed, but because it would be such a drag to explain myself that way. It wasn’t a surprise either when the two most decent looking guy classmates stepped forward (twenty five. haha!). By the way, this is an undergraduate class, so… dang it.

I was whispering to my MA friend, “Let’s just make up a story to whatever the next statement will be so that we can sit down already.”

But I hate my tongue sometimes.

Because I wasn’t prepared to hear the statement that came next.

“I have lost a parent.”

There goes my plan of making up a story.

Without thinking, I felt my foot take a step forward. And so did my friend. She spoke first and I was internally kicking myself for being an idiot because it was the first time I was hearing her story even though we have already spent an entire first term together. And then she sat down. My turn.

While I talked, I was so afraid that I might tear up in front of a class of college kids just because I was telling them the story of what went down the morning we lost dad. I told the professor that I was twelve years old and stupid because I didn’t grieve for his death, not until the moment I turned seventeen.

All that happened on a Tuesday afternoon.

Come Friday that same week, I met up with mom at Shangri-La because she just got back from the embassy. We stayed there almost until closing time and my phone was almost dead, yet I still checked for messages anyway.

The news shocked me so much that I suddenly stopped walking in the middle of the mall. And then I just felt the tears coming out.

A lot of things ran through my mind — this isn’t real. This is a bad joke. This can’t be happening to one of my best friends. Wait, what?

I have never really opened up a lot about my own grief to you girls because we were all so young back then and we never talked about it. I always seemed to understand, because no matter what the angle, there seems to be nothing that anyone could say to someone who is in grief or to someone who has already moved on.

You told me you admired me because I grew up strong despite what happened to me. I admire you a whole lot more.

I can’t even begin to imagine what you and your family is going through right now. And because I can do nothing but stand there and reread your message and watch as the news spread, hating the distance because I couldn’t be where you were to hug you, all that my mom and I could do at that very moment was to find a place to sit and pray for all of you.

When I see your family pictures on Facebook, I think about how many times you’ve said, “Thank you,” and “I’m fine.” I think about how many times you’ve had to recount the whole story over and over again to both people you know and don’t just for the sake of satisfying curiosity. I think about how many times you have to navigate yourself through all the condolences both in person and on the internet and wonder if most of it is sincere or just out of obligation. I even think about the instances when it’s better if some people would just close their mouths instead of saying the absolute wrong thing.

Faye, thank you for waking up every morning with a joyful heart even though you are beyond hurting. You and your family are allowed to feel that. It is okay for you to admit that you are not okay.

The things that people are too scared to say out loud, let it be this — Let it out, let yourself become overwhelmed, let yourself bleed a little before we clean it up so fast, no one will ever know it happened. You need to break down. You need to weep.

And then when all is said and done, we will live to wake up and fight another day.

We will live to wake up and fight another day.

When each morning comes, the peace of Jesus that transcends all understanding will shine upon your faces. Your hearts are close to the Lord’s, His comfort will be a blanket over you until sorrow will no longer be felt.

Because steadily, unwaveringly, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…” (Hebrews 6:19–20)

Jesus loves you and your family in joy and in pain.

You are loved more than you will ever know.

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