To all the friends we’ve lost
It was all too sudden when a colleague of mine passed away on a Tuesday morning in August. He was a vibrant, young lad who carried a ray of light wherever he went. He was what you’d call passionate in all the things he pursued. He considered his job his life’s work, cherishing his journey and learnings as he took on various projects.
That day, he spent 12 hours at work, then packed his things up, took a bum of smoke and went home past midnight. He put on his earphones as he rocked himself to sleep. Minutes later, his roommate heard him moan in pain. He was choking, she said. The rest of the night became a blur: He was brought to the hospital and was revived for 40 minutes, but to no avail. Past 2 in the morning, he was declared deceased.
His absence took a toll on the people who loved him. I myself woke up twice the next evening to check if my partner was still breathing. Meanwhile, some friends said that they dreamt of him, was thinking of him and kept on asking questions with no answers. The picture of passing away in one’s sleep, although the most peaceful way to die, paints sorrow and grief among those who have been left behind.
The most tragic of all is to witness more and more deaths among our peers. Just a few months back, a friend from college died of an aneurysm in his apartment. He was overworked — his phone ringing at 3 in the morning only to answer his boss’ requests. Another friend from work died from lupus, a genetic and autoimmune disease that gets triggered by stress. Last year, an acquaintance took his own life. The cause: depression.
As part of a generation who has just gained a few years of experience away from college, we see the permanence of death as too far, yet it becomes daunting when it looms in front of our faces. You would expect people to continue the race of life with you. You would expect them to work, travel, drink and party with you. But incidences like these make you grounded: What matters is the now.
Our generation is a generation of productivity-obsessed individuals. Unlike the previous generations, most of us were privileged to graduate from college, probably because of those before us who valued education so much, and their only happiness was to give us a proper education. As a result, most of us are educated, more conscious and more agile at work. However, we are also more pressured to succeed, more individualistic and more conscious of our failures.
As our economy grows, the demand for productivity is higher. While this is good for the economy, this poses dangers to the well-being of working adults when not handled properly. Aside from the mental work that is required of us in order to pay the bills, the enormous stress — pressure from peers, the daily nuisance of poor public transportation, anxiety over rising taxes — takes a toll on everyone’s well-being, the working generation or not.
At this thought, I took a deep breath and paused. Death is an inevitable state. How do we live our lives? What is our purpose? Dear friends, rest and give ourselves a pat on the back at the end of each day, no matter how bright or gloomy it was. Show respect and appreciation for the people around us; we don’t know what they are going through. And lastly, live day to day with gratitude. We’ll never know when our time comes, but we can always make the most of it.
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Mabu Sandoval, 28, is a graduate of UPLB. She currently works in a corporate foundation in Quezon City and loves to paint from time to time.
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