A few days ago, a friend of mine passed away. She was only 29 years old.
I’ve known Cecille since college. We weren’t close friends then. And maybe, up until she passed away, I wouldn’t say we were ever really close. In fact, it could have been the opposite. We could have become sworn enemies. But we didn’t.
You see, Cecille was the ex-girlfriend of my husband, Paul. They were already together when I met them both in college. But after 6 years, they grew apart, and finally separated. They still kept in touch though, as Paul was also doing his best to “cut ties” peacefully. Paul and I started dating months after they broke up, but it was also around that time that (according to hearsay) she wanted him back. Paul started getting confused, and I became equally confused and hurt. But he made his decision.
There was then an unspoken rivalry between us. I, being a girl, naturally had my moments of insecurity. I began labeling Cecille in my mind, comparing myself to her, talking about her to my closest friends. (Hey, it happens, right?) I wouldn’t really know if she was doing the same at the time, but girls know girls… Since she and Paul belonged to a bigger group of friends (called the Bugoks), there would be occasional get-togethers, and I could feel the tension behind the smiles, and we would barely utter any words to each other, even if she already had a boyfriend. (Ya gotta love how good women are at this game. He-he.)
But over time, we both grew up. Over Facebook (and Multiply), and during the get-togethers, and even with our common friends pointing out little things, we realized we actually had quite a few things in common. She loved her dogs as much as I loved my cats, we crushed on the same actors, we were both kinda OC with our hair… There were a few FB conversations where we kinda exchanged advice on little everyday things. At our gatherings, we’d find ourselves seated near each other (whether accidentally or not), so we spoke to each other more. It might’ve all been uncomfortable at the beginning, but it wore off little by little.
Paul, on the other hand, was ever the gentleman. He didn’t really keep in touch with her formally. He just accepted that we’d see her every so often because of the get-togethers. He moved on very gracefully, and never made me feel uncomfortable whenever we were with her. He’d get teased by his friends, but guys will be guys. ;) The barkada was also very warm toward me. They, too, always made me feel welcome into the group.
Cecille & Jei got married last year, a few months before Paul & I tied the knot. They started up their own design firm, as did we. Our lives were becoming more parallel to each other. So just like us, they were also excited about their upcoming first anniversary this Sunday, July 25.
Then last week, at a point when she was already 7.5 months pregnant, she developed pneumonia. Due to her condition, she was limited with the meds she could take. Unfortunately, she wasn’t responding to them. She started getting weaker very quickly. I had asked Paul if he wanted to go see her in the hospital, but he was a bit uncomfortable with the idea. I didn’t blame him for feeling that way. It has been more than 5 years since he last saw her family whom he was once close to.
On Tuesday, July 20, we got a call from Tricia, her best friend, that she was already on life support. Paul and I had other errands to do, but I decided to pick him up from the job site afterward, so we could both go to the hospital. From the barkada, we saw Tricia, Rach, Bruno and Len. It was just so surreal though. We never thought we’d ever have to meet up in this kind of situation. Paul saw Tita Malou & Tito Bernie (Cecille’s parents) for the first time in years. I could tell they were glad he came. Her other relatives that recognized him were pleasantly surprised to see him.
When we went in to see Cecille, her husband Jei hugged Paul tightly and cried. Paul broke down in tears then hugged me hard. I cried with him. It was very difficult to see her — to see anyone actually — with her face covered up, and her limp head jerking to each dose of oxygen. By this time, we got word that Megan (her unborn baby) no longer had a heartbeat. A few hours later, while we were still there, Cecille left as well.
After all the tears that night, Jackie, one of Cecille’s high school friends came. She smiled when she saw Paul. She said, “When I met up with Cecille last week, she actually mentioned you. She told us, ‘Paul’s happily married now. Ang saya ko na masaya siya. At masaya ako na friends na kami ulit.’” Paul and I felt such a nice sense of peace when she told us that.
God has 2 new angels now. And I know they’re happy together. For us back here, we don’t know why He planned this, but I don’t want to ever have to question His plans.
Cecille, thank you for being a part of our lives. Thank you for all you’ve done for Paul. He wouldn’t have been the same without you, and we probably wouldn’t be together now if not for you. Even if it wasn’t obvious at first, I’m glad that, in the end, we were friends. That’s why some verses of this song seem to say it all…
I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know there’s blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore
Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good