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Saying goodbye




Daydream by Diana G. Mendoza

Manila – Stories about goodbyes are hard to read. Chats and exchanges about death, dying, leaving and being left behind are conversations that we are not always ready to have.


However, as much as we try to evade the topic of death and loss, and how they create an impact on us who are still living and lingering, we face the truth that life is often full of sudden goodbyes; and with these, we are never prepared.


A recent get-together with friends put us in a mode of missing and yearning for our mutual friends who have passed. We remembered the day that our hearts were broken with their passing, and the day we went to their wake and cried more as we stared at them for the last time. We were never the same since then.


There is never a year that does not end without goodbyes. This year is no different. A friend and colleague I have not seen in over two decades, except for a few glimpses here and there on social media, was the most recent and hopefully the last one as the year ends.


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My last sight of her was when we were in our mid-20s, already working as journalists in the 1990s as we transitioned from typewriters to computers and from beepers to cellphones. Cool, stylish and buoyant, she puffed her cigarette every time she got up from her computer, but ticked away her cig to get back to her writing when an idea popped up.


At that time when I was still trying to find my voice, she already found hers. She was brave and outspoken. She was one of the people I wanted to be when I grew up. But as typical girls in our 20s, we had similar lives. We engaged in downbeat self-talk and allowed ourselves to get messed up even as we were hoping to live our great futures. We tried to figure out what to do with our lives even as we ran around in circles.


I saw the news of her passing through a friend’s social media post. Information from mutual friends said she had cancer and was in hospice care in the last few weeks. What shattered me was when I saw a photo shared by other friends of her looking skinny and unrecognizable. She was no longer the image of a carefree and chic girl I admired more than two decades ago. But that image of her is what I will forever remember her by.


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With no chance to say goodbye as she was far away and I lost track of her, I was crushed by the idea of how death could put a stop to our shared memories. In a strange way, the day of her passing was the day I thought about her. I was grateful that at some point in our lives, we shared the same world.


I have never been good at goodbyes and I try but often fail to escape situations when I have to part ways with someone. My only consolation is that I thrive, and will continue to do so, in friendships and relationships that give me the strength and a bit of ease to say goodbye.


Diana Mendoza is a journalist based in Manila. Send feedback to soltera2040@gmail.com



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