Disclaimer: I haven’t seen N since we moved to the south, so there is no way in heaven, earth, or hell that I picked up the virus from her
I had a witty article in mind involving what alcohol I’ve hoarded in my cav (hint: not the isopropyl kind) – with a playful hint at eventually getting my own Vintec unit sometime soon, as well as an admonishment of people hoarding supermarket shelves.
I was also planning to include sites where people could get their alcohol from the safety and comfort of their homes (here are quick links* to Don Revy, Wine Depot, Winery Philippines, and Boozy.ph… People who want to advertise, please send me a PM and I’ll include them as well).
However, I feel that the climate is not yet stable enough for me to go about this article in my usual tone… Not just because of the lock down (We’re introverts with books, games, streaming systems, a means to work out, and hobbies to keep us busy… Plus, prior to the hoarding mayhem I’ve always made sure there are more than enough supplies at home… So, we’ve got no cause to complain), but because…
…This blasted virus claimed the life of a friend.
I contemplated whether or not I should write about her. I initially believed that keeping all the memories of her to myself is the best way to honour her, and that writing about her would only serve one purpose: A very selfish catharsis for my grief.
I also thought that I would do her family a disservice in terms of their privacy… until her daughter went public about it because – get this: People “outed” her, her full name, her address, and added whatever the hell untrue else through several text messages.
PS: To whoever it is that disclosed her full details, decided it was okay to threaten her family and loved ones, added untrue elements, and even created some sort of stigma against the victims of this virus, YOU ARE THE LOWEST FORM OF SCUM.
In the spirit of following how her daughter handled the situation, however (and much as I have many more colourful things to say to that scumbag), I’d rather focus on how to turn this horrible negative (understatement of the century, I know) into a positive by using it to help people.
Now, I am not a politician, a medical expert, nor a person with enough expertise to write about the virus. What I am is a friend… a friend who just experienced the loss of a beautiful, kind, and formidable woman.
I am a friend who can share that she was not only a victim number, nor a statistic… She was a fierce wife, mother, and buddy who lived a life worth celebrating and talking about… And if that makes this disease real enough to save another life, I think she’d like that.
I met N (I understand that her name has been publicly disclosed, but I knew her enough to know that she was an intensely private person, so I’d like to respect her in this way) several years ago when I decided to join a dance class in her condominium. The instructor and his wife were longtime friends of ours… So when he decided after years of abuse he endured from a prior gym to set up a class in N’s condo, I followed (because that’s what friends do).
I normally showed up to class 30 minutes ahead, and so would N. She would usually be on her ancient cellphone – touchpad, because she insisted she didn’t need anything else – speaking in Visayan to somebody from her province and quite honestly, I initially thought she was scary.
Several early arrivals later, I realised… She was just like me: No BS, no apologies… A woman who knew what she wanted and was bullheaded enough to get it done. To be clear, it didn’t mean she was cruel or abusive (although she was not above using colourful language when she felt passionate about something). She just lived by that adage “say what you mean, and mean what you say.” Sure, it ruffled feathers… But really, some days we need women like her to get things done.
Oh, she was a character… She once chewed out the gym manager for letting the facilities fall into disrepair. She once got naughty with a stripper during our group mate’s bachelorette party (for a woman who was in her mid-60s at the time, it was a sight to see). She was financially comfortable, and during one of our random outings in Greenbelt, she said that she was off to Rustan’s to buy jewellery. We thought she was kidding… until she showed up to our next class with brand new bling. She would always have something funny to say, and most of them were etched in our collective memories.
What really made me love her was that underneath her spunky attitude was this unbelievable, endless abundance of kindness. I always heard her helping out someone from her hometown. One time, she fell in love with the bracelets I was making and insisted she pay to have some made for her and her friends. She supported all of our instructor’s projects and events, and was there front and centre during some of his big dance offs. She was never lacking of people she loved and loved her back.
This is why I haven’t been okay since I heard the news last 12 March. I went through denial – she was healthy, and “fake news” items get forwarded around here all the time. I went through rage – how dare these people use her full name.
Then, I saw her daughter’s Facebook post, which completely broke my heart. It said that N “died alone without her loving family and friends around her. She was cremated, alone, without ceremony or tribute.” It wasn’t fitting for someone as loving as she was… But the virus did what it did, isolating her during her final hours.
I am still sorting through my feelings of anger, loss, despair, and disbelief… What I know is that if there’s anything to be learned from this is that the virus is real, and deadly. Victims, because of the nature of the virus, are likely to die alone. There are many legitimate sources out there (such as this one from the World Health Organization) giving us tips to prevent catching and spreading the disease, and these lock downs can help save lives (I swear in the age of streaming services and endless book sales – there are even free books and graphic novels online, people – I am so pissed so many people are still griping about being “bored” with the lock down).
I repeat, be responsible. You can still be a carrier and transmit the virus even if you’re healthy as a horse, so unless it’s absolutely necessary, stay home. This is doing your part to kill this pandemic.
I know that N ended up giving a name and a face to the virus, but that’s not how I want to remember her. I’d rather remember her in one of our dinners (she loved a popular Spanish chain), glass of wine in hand, effectively negating our entire evening’s workout.
Vaya con dios, N… Thank you for being one of the few people who have been so kind to me. I knew you were picky with people, and we were blessed you chose us to be your friends. I love you to the moon and back. Salud.
*Some delivery schedules are altered because of the lock down and/or curfew, please ask about them before ordering… And be kind!
Ahh, how pure the love for a friend can be. Well-written and heartfelt. Missing N also 😢