Je T’aime: To The One Who Lived As Quick As Fire
by Joemariequeen Del Rosario
When I was young, I used to envy him. He was the perfect child, after all.
He consistently ranked first during his grade school years, bagged medals and trophies in various quiz bees and contests, and eventually enrolled in a science high school in town. Oh, did I mention that he was also good at sports? His height and skills combined scored the highest among his basketball playmates. He had good looks as well, the one that made many girls fall over his alluring brown eyes and sharp-pointed nose.
His life was almost perfect, but it was short-lived.
Caught on Fire
Jet Aime Del Rosario, or Jet as his family and friends would call him, was 15 years old when he braved the fire in their rented apartment in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija 11 years ago.
It was the 21st of September 2010 when the fire started to burn the whole apartment down in flames. Jet, together with his aunt and cousin, had to fight for their lives and take the fire down by themselves. The neighborhood didn’t notice the fire until midnight, the fire department came a little late and saw the three of them stacked and lying on the ground when they finally got to open the apartment door. They were immediately rushed to the nearest hospital, and at that moment, he was fighting for his life.
Jet suffered third-degree burns all over his body. His legs and feet that used to run and jump on the basketball court suffered extremely severe burns that he couldn’t move anymore.
Jet’s condition kept getting worse, his lungs were giving up because of all the smoke he inhaled while they were trying to put off the fire. It has come to a point that the machine was the only thing that kept his heart beating, yet he fought strongly for his family who remained to be his life support.
But life has its own way of taking things out of our control. No matter how hard Jet had fought, he knew he had to rest — in peace, this time. On September 22, 2010, Jet died of suffocation.
His aunt and cousin survived the fire accident with mild burns and minor complications in their respiratory systems. However, they woke up with the news that Jet didn’t survive the accident. They tried to remember what happened during that night and they recalled how Jet bravely put off the fire. As they recollect their thoughts of what happened, they came up with only one conclusion: Jet saved their lives.
Jet was a good brother not just to me but to all of our siblings, cousins, friends, and all the people that surround him. A good, loving son to our parents. I can still remember the time that whenever our parents would go out of town, they would entrust him to oversee the operations of our family business — he was only 13 then.
Jet was made out of big dreams being the firstborn in a family of seven. I, too, held on to the hope that he would be the one to support my studies should I pursue law in the future.
He also had dreams of his own, of course. Jet once dreamt of being a doctor while he was in grade school; an accountant when he turned high school. With his intelligence and capabilities, no wonder he could be both if life was not cruel enough to end his dreams.
Eleven years have passed, yet his sudden death felt like yesterday — it cut deep that I could still see the pain in our parents’ eyes.
I used to envy him, not because of his qualities and achievements nor because he was the favorite child. As selfish as it sounds, I envied him for being the first one to leave. My ten-year-old self once wished to be the one lying in the casket just so I wouldn’t feel the pain of missing someone whom I cannot see anymore. But I turned the pain into inspiration — Jet inspired me to strive on my studies, be a better person, and be a role model to our younger siblings.
Eleven years ago, our future without him was uncertain. But one thing’s for sure — at the last moments of his life, he was a hero.