My friend Alex passed away on November 10, 2013. He was my boyfriend for a short time, and my colleague. Despite what he did or what happened to us, I’ve always loved him. And he knew that until the day he died.
I didn’t get to visit him every day when he was sick but I did visit him a couple of times. And during those times I always made sure that he is loved! That I love him. And each time, I saw how he coped and fought hard for his life. He was a brave man. There was a period of time that he was winning over his sickness—working out for two hours, eating a lot, laughing a lot, and would still help me carry my bag even if his left body was already paralyzed. And my heart would secretly bleed seeing him different.
Because the Alex that I knew who was good-looking, standing tall (he’s a six-footer), articulate, and had this straight, slim, and athletic body had become frail and would stutter now in his speech. He would drag his left leg just so he could walk and would easily get tired just talking. He couldn’t anymore express what he really wanna say because his brain tumors affected his speech. But every moment with him I memorized. I seized each day I spent time with him and I would hug him and kiss him. I memorized those precious hours, minutes, and seconds with him, every word he said, the times he laughed and smiled, and the times that he was in pain dealing with his cancer. And despite his cancer, he would be the first to ask how I was instead of me checking on him. We would always text each other.
Then he had a seizure which greatly deteriorated his health. It was his brother that I now text. Later on his girlfriend. There was a time that I doubted if it’s alright that I visit him frequently since he has a girlfriend. If it’s alright with Alex. When I got sick and didn’t visit him for three weeks, his brother said he was looking for me. And that he misses me. You know, even if he was no longer my boyfriend and I wasn’t sure if he really loved me, just knowing that he looked for me while sick in bed and once I was there told me in my presence how much he missed me then held my hand, it was a moment that I won’t ever forget, really made me happy.
Even though he initially suffered emotional breakdown hurting the ones he love (his family) because of his sickness, I am amazed how, in the end, he kept himself together and faced his death with acceptance and sadness.
Because I’ve memorized each moment, now that he is gone, I would cry because I still remember clearly his pain, his agony beaten so hard by his cancer that left him bedridden. An invalid. His family became his hands and feet so he could live. And it would hurt in the gut to see him that way. Just to see him smile or whenever he would hold my hand and caress my arm like he used to do just like the old times was my only source of comfort.
The day before he drew his last breath, I was there beside him. To see someone I love who was dying was the saddest day of my life.
I have a loved one who also died of cancer. My mother. She died at 52, the same age as Alex. Back then, I was ignorant about cancer. I thought my mother would recover. Even if my mother already looked like a skeleton, my ignorance told me she would recover. I didn’t believe that somebody from my family would die. So I reported to work. Went about my daily routines. I would take turns with my siblings watching over our mother but I didn’t talk to her. I just read a book to make my stay in the hospital worthwhile. I had no worries because I thought her sickness was just a fever that can be healed. I heard she suffered emotional breakdown, even hallucination, because of the effect of the medicine and treatment. But I never saw any of that because I was working. Like I said, I believed she wasn’t gonna die. Thirteen years later since my mother’s passing, my friend Alex got cancer. And this time, I wanna be there and provide comfort rather than be an spectator. I wanna be there for him because he could die anytime! (I was praying for a miracle, though.) I’m glad I took that road.
I miss Alex. I know he’s already in a better place—up there in heaven—it just pains me that he is gone because I could no longer talk with him or touch him or hug him. I miss his laughter, most especially our “quality conversations,” as he would call it. Alex is a brave man. He died a brave man. I love you, Alex. We miss you here.
Today, November 22, is actually my birthday. It’s my 35th year of being alive. And I wanna remember Alex on this special day.