I lost a dear friend and colleague yesterday. As many of our mutual friends said, the Mass we heard for her was the perfect send-off as she let go and went to God right after the solemn event.
It all came too fast. She had a joint birthday celebration with another good friend in the office and not a single tiny thought occurred that it’s going to be her last. When she was confined in the hospital, we all wished she would come out healthy and go back to work as usual. She was brave and positive all through the ordeal. I know not too many brave people in the face of illness; she was one of the few.
I have known Brenda for close to four years. She was always cheerful. I think she was one of the first people who called me “Miss J”. She had a “gift” and we always badgered her about it. Without knowing any back stories, she told us what she “felt” the moment she stayed in my office for longer than five minutes. These were paranormal stuff that many of you would contest but for us, we believed; all the more when she confirmed it to us without us asking. She was that convincingly good.
She would always have a ready greeting whenever she saw you. Holding an office in a separate room, she always made me feel we never come enough to visit them. She sent me instant messages when it’s time to eat during our administrative days. She didn’t have to do that but she always did. I will miss that.
She stood up for her friends and I greatly admire her for it. When in fights, you would want her to be on your side. I will always treasure our feisty “cheers” during basketball games! She was quick to raise her eyebrows when something was wrong. Eventually though, she was also easy to please. She laughed with gusto and when it’s too much, you won’t hear a sound because she was just covering her mouth and her eyes were reduced to mere tiny lines. I forgot what we laughed about but there was one incident when she was in tears. It was so infectious.
In the last few months before she was hospitalized, we made a habit of exchanging instant messages 5-10 minutes before she left for either home or the hospital (she was undergoing regular checkups then). We discovered a lot more stuff about our respective personal lives; from our HADs (as in hopes, aspirations, and dreams), books (Sweet Valley, Sweet Dreams, Barbara Cartland’s, etc!), trends in our “generation”, politics in the city of Manila, to other “personal” topics that I wish I saved if only to remember her by. We shared one very sumptuous dinner that I will not forget; we ate in Max’s Orosa during its Chicken-all-you-can promo period. We (Brenda, Laine, Barbie, Missy, my Mom and I) literally stuffed ourselves silly with chicken na sarap to the bones.
I am never one to know what to say in times of sickness or tragedy. Whenever she would post her current health status, I could only say that I was waiting for her to go back to the office, and that her new desk would be waiting when we move to the new building. Around October, she was still hopeful , with her, “Sana nga, Miss J” replies. I was comforted and I hoped with her. Around the last week of November, she changed her tone, and told me, “Mukhang malabo na Miss J”, and it shocked me. I was in denial, I guess, and thought, fine, she probably won’t be back in the office, but she’s going to be out of the hospital, and that’s still good enough for me.
I last saw her two months ago. She was paler and her weight dropped a bit; however, she was still the same Brenda I knew, only a little weaker. She laughed at all our jokes (we were a very noisy pack!) and we saw her eyes twinkled again. It was a happy and hopeful night. Weeks later, circumstances prevented me from visiting her a day before she died. I may not have seen her but I know she felt my love for her. I just think that I would like to retain the bubbly person heartily eating deep-fried chicken as my last memory of her.
It’s hard to accept that she left us too soon. She’s only 30, for heaven’s sake. Sometimes, you can’t help but ask why. I guess, it’s a real struggle to feel complete surrender and acceptance. I cannot begin to imagine the hurt felt by her parents, siblings, most especially her husband, her close friends, and her immediate team mates.
I will miss you, Brendskie. There was so much more to talk about; I wish we had more time. However, I know you are with God now. There’s no more pain, no more pesky blood problems, no more heartaches, physically and emotionally. You fought a hell of a fight. Thank you for that lesson on courage. You were, are, and will always be loved. Have a great time in heaven. Say hi to my Dad for me.