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Will you cry at your own funeral?

Among memories of my dead parents, relatives and friends, one particular recollection continues to haunt me to this day. It was a weird request by a compadre who died from cancer of the bones shortly before his birthday, which fell on Nov. 2, All Souls Day.

My comadre met with me in a restaurant near my office to ask me if I could compose a eulogy and deliver it at my compadre’s funeral, as requested by him no less. Time was short for him, as the doctor had advised the family that it was only a matter of time before he would reach the end of his earthly journey.

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This weird request probably stemmed from the fact that my compadre had asked my help to enroll him in a Toastmasters’ Club. I was regularly attending Toastmasters’ meetings at the time, in addition to conducting some seminars on writing, while working as publications assistant at the World Health Organization regional office. He had earlier expressed his wish for me to write his life story, some sort of a biography, but sickness overtook him. We never got to sit down on this project.

I told my comadre I would be happy to, but due to the fact that he was still alive, it was hard to commit. She realized this and said she would call me back when it was time.

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She called the following Saturday to ask if I had already written the eulogy. I told her I just made a draft, and that I felt uncomfortable about it. My comadre met me at the hospital door and thanked me for coming.

And then I got a shock when I was told that my compadre hadn’t passed yet, and that he had called for me. He wanted to hear what I had to say about him in my eulogy—and to possibly videotape it. “When I’m dead I can’t hear it,” he said. “This way, we can video it and I can enjoy it over and over till I am satisfied.”

Well, it was a shocking first for me.

I think I made such a sentimental and dramatic delivery that both my comadre and compadre were crying. I couldn’t help shedding tears as well. He didn’t edit my eulogy. Surprisingly, after some long moments of silence, I mustered to tell my compadre that he was the only person who ever cried at his own funeral.

He passed a few days later, and I was told they played the video at his funeral. (I was in an out-of-town seminar when he died, and the family cremated his remains just two days after his death.)

Lolita T. Guilas, 69, a former publications assistant of the World Health Organization regional office in Manila, is a freelance writer.

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