During the wake of my father, an instant get-together happened right from the first night until the last one. My cousins whom I have not seen for the last 15 or so years were present to give their last respect to my dad, and for the last time, it was again my father who “organized” this reunion. You see, my father was very active in arranging family reunions and he was a bit frustrated that the last one he requested last summer didn’t materialized as his eldest sister had to go back to the US for reasons I am not aware of. It turned out that in a few more months, it will push thru and what do we know, ironic it may seem, he was the reason it happened.
Aside from the scheduled vigils, expected sobs and endless stories about my dad, never-ending kumustahan and kuwentuhan were also inevitable. As the day went on and the night goes deeper, whispers turned into a large group of people talking and eventually, silence that is usually associated with midnight was over-powered by laughter and only a passing scent of sampaguita can lower the volume (my dad has a good sense of timing especially in delivering punchlines, so hirit nya yun).
We usually look at death with a deep sorrow and we took it like a stab in our heart. But there was a bright candle that glowed on those dark and painful days, as not only a reunion had happened but also reconciliation between erring relatives. Two of my aunts have been ignoring each other for the longest time, but on the last night of my father’s wake, right in front of his coffin, they bumped with each other and the angry fireworks we thought would fly was instead swept by tears as they hugged like long lost sisters, no apologies needed, no explanations, it just happened. They just said: “Para tayong tanga, bakit ba kasi di tayo nagpapansinan?”