Requiem for a Stranger.

Let me start this post off with an apology. In cyberspace-verse, technically it has already been a little while since my last post. So apologies for that. Although I know I should post regularly, I have found myself feeling heavy and unable to write anything whatsoever for the past couple days. While this blog's main purpose is document my style, travel and other quirky featurettes, this little haven was always first and foremost a personal blog that could serve as a journal to lay out my thoughts at any given time. So allow me to do so.

Last Saturday, I watched a man die. 

I went on a beach trip with a few of my closest girlfriends and one of them came with her own group of beach friends. Anyway, we all hung out by the shore, getting to know each other and simply chilling out. And then, shit hit the fan so hard and so unexpected that all the happiness and relaxation we felt for the past 5 hours died when the waves finally decided to wash it over.

It all happened so fast. It seemed so surreal and overwhelming that while it was all happening so fast, my brain and senses were lagging behind. The sights that filled me were of horror, of panic and disorder, of desperation. Suddenly, we were racing past three towns (and annoying traffic) to catch their friend who drowned and needed immediate saving. Beside me, I remember my friend panicking so bad and me feeling a sense of irritation. I snapped at her telling her to chill out, because anyone who receives CPR survives. As we traveled to the hospital (which was three towns and thirty minutes away from the beach resort, take note), I saw 2 ambulances passing us by, 3 funeral homes and finally a cemetery and then, I just knew it in my gut that these annoying signs were the foreshadows of what was to come and that I was wrong telling my friend of that guy's imminent survival. Still, I scrapped that thought out of my head as it never occurred. People do that a lot - ignore the truth when its sincerely hitting you so hard in the face because you don't want it to be true.

I don't even know how long it took. But the finality of his death just landed on everyone with a sordid, anti-climatic surrealness. All his friends and even mine had their own reactions - some raged with anger and disbelief, some wailed endlessly, some stared listlessly into space and I -- well, I stood there, stupefied and watching all these reactions convene in one area. I didn't even realize my tears or my shaking hands until later on. Somehow, I found myself in the morgue with my friend (who also just met the guy that same day as well), watching, just watching. And then, we were suddenly moving to process papers and pay for failed medical services, and all those things that the others couldn't do when someone close to them just died right before their eyes. We'd keep going back to the morgue to just sit there and watch over the body of a guy we just met five hours prior to his death. His friends couldn't handle it so we just took it upon ourselves to shove our queasiness and heartache aside just for this moment. 

Because we were in a provincial hospital, the facilities were inexorably terrible. The "morgue" wasn't even a morgue, for Christ's sake! It was a poorly ventilated, white-tiled room with no sense of cold air seeping through (no aircon, not even a fan!) So they just dumped the body there with a stupid, white sheet and not the usual black body bag that preserves bodies. They didn't even clean him. They just left him there, waiting for us to pay the bills and take action upon our own. Apparently, it's not a part of their jurisdiction to provide kind of standard service and should we needed any help regarding the body, we should call up the funeral homes nearby.

Well, how about fuck you all, right?

I remembered seeing the conditioned of that shit "morgue" and his body, and feeling my stupefied state dissipating against newly found anger and outrage. What the hell did we know about calling a shit funeral service in that area, right? We barely even knew where we were at that time. And his body... just being there. I don't know. I was just incensed with fury. All the while, still in shock and disbelief.  Long story short, we watched his body deteriorate thanks to lovely and effective facilities of that shit hospital and at Hour 5, his dead body was emitting blood, blackening with veins popping and his supposedly straight hand curving upward and twisting so bad (just think of those horror movies). 

It was just so pissing off to watch. 

I had no idea who that guy was, but for his sake, I hated everything about what happened to him in the end. Especially, in the morgue and how carelessly he was just dumped there and there was nothing anyone could do about it, except wait. As I sat outside, just a little away beyond from the body, several times did I feel the urge to slap his friend out the chair (he was talking to the dead body, urging him to wake up), grab the body for myself and just drag him out of there, and out of that shit hellhole the nurses dumped him in. I wanted to scream for them to get him out because they were stupid, shitfaced assholes who couldn't even do CPR right; for his friends to be there and surround and just fucking be there for him because look at this place! It's shit and it's the worst place to be in if one died. I hated how at the last day, it was a stranger that sat there, looked over to check on him, and saw him off to the funeral service (which also took what felt like 2 hours to get there, by the way). 

I had no idea who that guy was, but that was our connection. He died, and I watched him die and deteriorate until the last possible moment. And I felt all these emotions for him - I felt he was being wronged, especially in that shithole morgue, but all I could do was sit there and shut up. Or move, to check on his friends, updates on the parents, etc, etc. To him, I was just a stranger, after all. 

Could you fall in love with a dead guy when he's already dead? All these questions were in my head then and are still in my head now - who is he and what was he made of? Why did this happen and where is he now? Is he in shock too? Does he want to come back to us? Or does he feel that sense of relief of being dead and wishes nothing more than to crossover to experience absolution and peace one never finds in the human world? And how was it like? Is he alone? Has he found someone he met? Or is he making and meeting new souls along the way? 

Things like that.

His name is Nan, by the way. A seemingly ridiculous nickname, if I do say so myself. Like a shortened version of "Nanny" because he's a guy. I don't really know the epistemology of his name, really. Just a first impression, I suppose. He seemed cool and really loud. He carried my camera from Manila and wore this Watchmen shirt. I love Watchmen. I thought that could've been our unspoken connection. You know, anything other than the morgue. 

I write all this because I cannot stop thinking about him. After the images of him being dead have solidified in my mind, then slowly, there are fragments of him being alive. I honestly could've sworn I've met him prior to that day, we just both don't remember it. And then... this. Hey, whattayaknow? Connections. The amount of time I spend thinking about this dead guy I knew nothing about is perhaps equivalent to the amount of time I spend thinking about someone I'm in love with. So maybe, I fell in love with a dead guy? Maybe all my outrage and disbelief and fury and feelings was probably that? Ridiculous, I know, and more on romanticizing the whole ordeal but really, I'd just rather not think about tragic the whole thing already is. Or maybe, he could use one more person to fall in love with him, even if it was the last possible moment and even if I had no idea who he was. I don't know. Additional things like this seem more necessary in this situation because his death was so unexpected to everyone, probably himself too. He needs all the last minute add-ons, no more how futile they all are at this point. 

I didn't go to the wake. I didn't want to. I even tried to avoid my girlfriends who were with me in the incident, but obviously, I couldn't resist them because even if we were only strangers to him, we all watched the same guy die together. So it's all manifesting in us in different ways. I know escapism isn't probably the way to go in this situation and it isn't exactly how Nan would want to impart a dire message onto people, but this is a traumatic experience and I just... don't know. I'm scared. I've never had death confront me in the face like this before, and I know this is just the prelude of what to come in the future. Right now, every time I close my eyes, all I can see is him at the morgue, the shore, the morgue again, and then the morgue some more. Ironic now that my queasiness kicks in at the thought of a wake, for someone who stayed with him in the morgue. 

I think I've watched over his body enough. I think I've seen him dead enough.  And I just don't want to see him dead anymore than he already is. Anything more, and maybe, I'd lose it too - for this stranger I watched die painfully and suddenly. Plus, a wake is meant for the close ones. For his true loved ones to be there with him, one last time. I find myself shirking away from his solemn event because I have no right to be there. We shared no conversations prior to his death, except for a miniscule tidbit on his Watchmen shirt and how I love Watchmen and my huge thanks for the return of my camera. Besides, I think the morgue was enough of a wake for me. To see him off in such an event, well, that's like the finality of the finality for me. The hospital and the morgue was enough finality, no need for a wake to add on to that. And who am I anyway? Just a spectator of his last moments. I wish I was something more to him though, that I could've gotten more of a conversation with him or that we could've hung out more, exchanged puns and flirations and all the social niceties in the world. But, no. 

For him, I just feel relieved, that finally, compared to what I witnessed at the morgue, he would have probably been all cleaned up, by now - in fresh and nice clothes and probably make-up to conceal the deterioration. I have no idea since I didn't go, but more importantly, that's my biggest concern for him. I'm relieved too, to imagine that for three nights, all his friends and loved ones will find themselves convening in one little place, all for him. Compared to the morgue, there, at least, he is no longer alone. And that's enough for me. 

RIP Nan (guy on the right) - Photo taken on the day he died

For the past couple of days, I've been wondering how the world keeps spinning madly on, despite these little tragic specks no one knows occurred. I've been wondering how to go on as I always did, doing things that at the end don't really seem important. They say Nan philosophized that we are like stars, tiny specks that  may or may not have a purpose in this world, but we are specks in the air and we're all here in one lively world with no idea how to go about it and the question of 'what is life' is ever more present now. 

For the first time in my life, our mortality hit me like the tidal waves that hit Nan. In my life, he would be the beginning of what's to come. And I'm escaping now, so I guess I'm handling this wrong. But I'm scared. I'm frightened out of my wits. I'm not scared of ghosts, let them come and haunt, there is magic and tragedy in that all at once, More importantly, I'm scared of how fast time is, of how there's no turning back anymore, and the clock goes on and on and there's no stopping; I'm scared of how goodbyes are so painful and imminent and inevitable and honestly, there's nothing really I can do about anything except watch helplessly and annoyingly, let them go. Why? Why do people have to go? And how do we find the beauty in this parting and this pain? 

I'm out of thoughts and out of words. Below is picture I stumbled upon finding photos for this post. This is what I imagined Heaven would be like - a serene and tranquil place, where solid grounds and solemn people float about; where clarity is just a fingertip away and pain is awashed and forgotten. There's a lot of breeze, and endless natural resources. There's magic and wells, and fountains and people speaking in soft tones - a place of rest. Maybe, no different from Buddhist monasteries in this world, but well, I've done away with clouds and golden gates long ago. I have no idea really, just an imagined thought of what Heaven might be like.

My analogy is akin to him randomly migrating to another country, just that the scales are different now. Maybe it is so. Wherever you are Nan, I pray for you and think of you, that you may find this tranquil Heaven now and that life over there could be swell as well.

Apologies for the extremely lengthy and tragic post. I am deeply disturbed by the events that transpired this past weekend. Give me a few more days off to reflect and dwell with this traumatic experience. I promise that PROJECTRIKA will resume normalcy come next Monday with lovely surprises and attempts at moving forward. Till then, do keep on visiting Global Fashion Space (for the latest fashion tidbits and stories) and INDIE-GO as my work there still assumes, albeit slowly compared to the usual. Remember to take caution always and just love life to its fullest. 

Thank you very much. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm bothered by this incident my dearest friend because this may possibly happen to all of us.

    First, were there any lifeguards present during the ordeal? What did the beach management do during the tragic incident? If you are in a private beach resort, it is their liability. The hospital could also be accountable regarding this, especially if the staff do not know basic health-related SOP.

    I just can't believe that you were able to experience all of this. I think this is also a sign for us to call off our block reunion's beach getaway this summer, knowing that you are still recuperating from the incident.

    Please take care of yourself and hit me up if something keeps on bothering you.

    I can imagine your mother now.