(THIS IS ONE OF MY BLOG POSTS WHEN I WAS STILL FRIENDSTER-BLOGGING)
I remember Paul. He was my classmate in the Novitiate (stage of priestly formation where we only “pray and work” for one year inside a cloistered compound in Calapan, Mindoro). He usually cracked jokes while chopping logs for the kitchen.
After our Novitiate in May 2004, he stayed in Calapan for six months. After December, he left for Papua New Guinea to continue his studies there.
One day, he woke up and noticed everything was in total darkness. He could no longer see.
He was sent to the Philippines for check-up. One week became one month, one month became three months…three months became six months. It was really a case of hoping against hope…the once cheerful classmate of mine became a groping young man in his isolated room in the Villa Cristo Rey (this is our old priests’ home) in Christ the King, Quezon City. He could no longer see the ice cream na hinahanda ko para sa kanya. He could no longer read the inspiring text messages sent by our common friends. He could no longer see my smile habang nagche-cheer ako sa kanyang pagbe-belly dancing!
Seeing him in that condition worried me a lot. What will happen to him? Will he be returned to his family? Will the SVD take care of him?
“Dont worry brother,” he told me. “I will be alright. I can no longer see but still in my heart, I see sparks of faith and that’s more than enough to make me see that God loves me. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Lord.”
Ah! that was beautiful…!
One day, I visited him in the Villa Cristo Rey. I told him that we will be having the Family Feast (foundation day ito ng SVD) and there are many activities. I cracked a joke that “bunong braso” will be one of the games. His face lighted up. He remembered very well how he won that game when we were novices and now, he wanted to participate in our Family Feast and to volunteer for his team to be their candidate.
He was very excited.
Then, one day, I received a text. He is leaving earlier than expected.
We had a very painful parting. I helped him pack his things. I could only say, “Paul, i am praying for you…” to assure him that even when we are miles apart, I am one with him in prayers.
“Thank you Brother,” he responded.
That was the last time. I miss my dear brother. I remember Paul and his sparks of faith…
God bless him.