Weekly Ketchup 23 - Age of Farewells

My week started out rather sadly. I found out, through the power of social media, that another person I knew from college passed away. Red wasn't my classmate - he was an upper classman, in fact - but we belonged to the same organization: The Students' Democratic Party.  As such, we both figured into some common experiences, including organizing events and running election campaigns (we take politics and governance very seriously in our little college). We weren't particularly close (then again, I wasn't close with a lot of people in college) but in recent years, his was one of the presences I still felt among members of our organization. Again, thanks in no small part to social media, Facebook in particular.

Freshman year with the SDP peeps. Red is the guy in front of me.
Red didn't post anything much. I don't even know what he's been up to lately, if he ever got to law school, or what his job was. But every now and then, he would reply to one of my posts and we'd engage in a virtual conversation. In that way, he was still present to me, even if I hadn't seen him in forever, than many of our partymates. So to find out that he was just suddenly gone really took me by surprise. I didn't expect to be so affected but I was - possibly even more than I was with my classmate Kate who had been absent - actually and virtually - for years.

I visited Red's wake last Tuesday of my own initiative because I had neither the time nor the patience to coordinate and synchronize schedules with someone else, though a part of me hoped to see our partymates there as it would be a good time to catch up. As it turned out, they visited the night before and so I spent the entire hour that I was there by my lonesome. I did get to meet his sister though, which made for one of the most embarrassing and awkward moments of my life. Upon introducing myself, she told me that Red did talk about me, to which I said "Really? What did he say?" I didn't even realize until much later that I didn't get her name or gave my condolences. I'm just really awkward at funerals!

Anyway, Red was just 30 years old when he passed, and so was Kate. That fact reminded me of my own misgivings about turning 30 a few years ago and my latest ramblings about aging. I realized then that there are already so many people I knew in my youth who will never even get the chance to grow old, to say sorry to people that they feel they have wronged, to make up for lost time, to build or rebuild new friendships, to discover new experiences, to dream new dreams and see each one come true - all opportunities that are still available to me and, hopefully, I don't take them for granted.

I remember that when I was in grade school, I wondered what it must be like for my grandmother who I was sure then had already lost so many of her elementary classmates. Flash forward to the Fandom Cafe days and, although I don't recall the exact nature and context of the conversation, I remember that Sandor once said that the age of 30 is when you'd start counting who among your friends have passed  on. Well, here I am - 32 and already four people short of the total number of people I encountered and shared meaningful experiences with in college (aside from Red and Kate, I lost a batchmate and another partymate in the past couple of years). That's not even counting the people I met after college graduation. I arrived on the geek scene pretty late but I was still fortunate enough to meet Ricky and Vic. In recent months, a couple of people I met briefly who were really close to my friends have also passed on. The biggest tragedy, of course, is that they still had their lives ahead of them, that they went before their time. At least, we'd like to think so - but we don't have control of these things, do we?

This is why I hold that birthdays are really important. I used to feel insecure about turning a year older but then, sometime in my mid-20s, I came to the realization that celebrating birthdays really isn't about me but rather it's for the people around me who are are just glad that I'm still around - that I lasted one more year. Sometimes I do forget that but I hope to do better at remembering.

(On a related note: This is why I don't understand why some people opt to hide their birthdays on Facebook. On one hand, I can also make the effort to remember my friends' birthdays without getting reminded by social media. More thoughtful that way.)

Speaking of birthdays, I made it a point to celebrate my good friend Mika's 26th at Agave last Wednesday - despite my aversion to going to BGC on a weeknight. The MRT was down but Jovan, Alec, and I still got there thanks to some last minute rescue from Jon and the BatJon (as Deniece christened his new ride, much to his chagrin). Meanwhile, the traffic was so bad that Mika herself was late to her own party, but the waiting did give me time to catch up with fellow fantasy bookworm Sabby who I also haven't seen in ages!

The next day, I met up with some college friends for dinner at Caffe Dolce. One of our own, Fiona, is leaving with her daughter to be with her husband in China (they left yesterday actually). Sadly, only Pat, Dayang, and myself were available but it's okay - we had fun anyway. We had some really lively conversations about bed times (glad to know I'm not the only one in bed by 10pm), things to do in China (underground cable TV, anyone?), and even got to play some iPad games - mainly because Fiona's daughter was forcing us to. Anyway, I wish her well and best of luck in her new life.

I don't have a nice photo from last Thursday so here's one from 30th birthday.
Sidenote: Another highlight of that evening for me was finally figuring out where the Del Monte/Banawe area is in the grand scheme of things (seriously, I have the hardest time picturing where that area lies)! Yay me!

This is getting a little too long for a reflection and recap post. I wish you all a great week ahead. I just hope that I don't have to say goodbye to any more people for the rest of the year.

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