A Short Story on Grieving

Odyssa Rivera Abille

I was dumbfounded when I found out about your condition. They said you were having trouble breathing, and you needed to be intubated. My doctor friend said that’s painful; I wish I can ask you how that experience was.

Your brother had trouble looking for a hospital for you because most have reached their maximum capacity. We were relieved when your mother texted us that you were finally admitted to a private hospital outside the city. No one could visit you even if we wanted.

You were stuck with your family waiting for you at home. They must have suffered a lot too, thinking about you alone, praying hard for your healing.

Your mom, Tita Ana, must be devastated. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, knowing she’ll never get to cook for you again. She treated you like a baby as the youngest in the family, not counting the dogs. Your older brother and sister bullied you when she wasn’t around. I’m sure they miss you terribly.

I was stunned even more when I received the news of your passing. This couldn’t be. You were supposed to recover. I was ready to send you your favorite Korean food on the day of your return. You’ve always loved kimchi jjigae and bulgogi; I thought that would make a great homecoming gift.

How could that happen? You were always healthy. I could never keep up with you during our runs.

It’s been over a year and a half since I last saw you in Makati City. I went straight to the cafe to see you after work. You went overtime in the office for half an hour, so I ordered what we always loved sharing — a slice of blueberry cheesecake.

We were in the first stage of planning our first out-of-the-country trip to Vietnam because we both haven’t been. A few days after, COVID-19 hit the Philippines and everything closed down.

We never had another coffee date again. We promised many times over Zoom to plan on seeing each other once the lockdown was over. But I’ll never see you again.

That would have been so much fun, seeing each other after a long while of being cooped up at home.

Everyone in the group was expecting your text telling us you’re back home. We’re supposed to return to our daily messaging of memes and news about the government. You’ve been missing in our chat group for over 2 weeks now and we all miss your funny selfies.

You were full of life. You loved making jokes, though your delivery was sometimes off. I’ll be honest — you never had good timing, but you tried to put a smile on our faces, and you did. Spending half a day with you seems too short.

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It breaks my heart to say these in the past tense. Maybe I should stop referring to you as the friend who passed.

Will it make me feel better if I imagine you are just around, watching over us? I’m not sure if there’s anything that can.

Is it comforting to know that your suffering has ended and you’re in a better place? Yes, it is.

I don’t know why and how it happened too fast. 2 weeks was all it took to take you away from your family, your friends, your job, your sports community.

Now the flowers I’m sending are ones for your death, not for homecoming. I’ll never share a slice of blueberry cheesecake with you again. We’ll never get a text from you ever. You and I will never go to Vietnam, and now I don’t think I can without thinking of you and our lifelong friendship.

It will always remind me of you, your love for coffee, and your thirst for life.

I try to remember our good days together, but all I have now are images of you in the hospital bed, all alone.

When does grieving end? A friend of mine who lost his mother to cancer shares how, though years have passed since his mother's death, he still sheds tears whenever her thoughts come to visit him. Thoughts visit during his 'in-between' moments, when he is not doing anything, or just about to work on something. A few seconds here and there, a few, scattered moments when her face looks pure with gladness, and they are together again.

I wish to experience these moments with you. Maybe it can ease the pain of your loss.

Please come visit me once in a while.

Odyssa is the author of two poetry collections on love and travel. This article was first published in Medium.

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I write about relationships, the complexities of human life, and writing. I'm a self-published author of two poetry collections entitled "Like A New Sun Rising" and "From Where I Stand" available at www.amazon.com/author/Odyssa.

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