We buried my 36-year old cousin over the weekend after a short but very painful battle with lung cancer that has metastasised into his bones. It was devastating, and just plain sad given that he and his only surviving brother drifted apart from our family for years ever since their parents died during their teens and early twenties. In the last couple of years, his brother sort of slowly came back to us when he got married and started a family. They become part and parcel of weddings, birthday parties and family reunions again. But, Erik, he continued to stay away.
He has actually been the loner among us. Whenever we spent time in our grandparents’ house in Batangas, he would join and play with us. Young as I was, I could already feel the aloofness. It’s like he was there but he wasn’t there. I chalk it up to personality. I could feel that he liked it though, and he didn’t feel left out at all. As we grew older and our folks had a harder time putting us together in place because our interests have already varied, some of us do keep in touch sometimes. We still see each other from time to time, introducing boyfriends and girlfriends, that kind of thing. But maybe their parents weren’t there anymore to push them a little, that started the years of isolation.
I am just glad that our family was there even for Erik’s last remaining months, weeks, days, hours and minutes before he drew his last breath. More for his living brother, that he be able to cope physically, emotionally, mentally and economically, we tried to be there. There was so much to do, so much he left behind, so many questions the answers to which he took to the grave. We literally do not know anything about the man. We still wonder up to now if there was anyone who managed to break through that shell and carefully masked facade.
Good bye Erik. We will meet again.