25 February 2013


It was with shock that I read about the recent death of a schoolmate—the sudden death, only a few days ago, of a man whom I had not seen since our high school graduation in 2001. According to the news report, he was killed when the wayward jeepney in which he was riding tipped over and fell on its side—his side. He was twenty-nine.

We weren’t friends exactly; I can’t recall him ever speaking to me, or me to him, although we must have spoken to each other at one point or another. We did go to school together, starting from kindergarten at the old Little Angels in Quezon City, where we, I remember, were classmates. So in a way his face was a fixture in the scenes of my childhood. We grew up together, in a way. This must explain part of the shock: he could have been a friend of old. That he wasn’t—that I knew him only through other friends, from a place and time I don’t terribly miss—does not make his death any less shocking. It doesn’t make me feel less sad. Anyone his age is too young to die.

I do wonder if such terrible news could be made less terrible if one didn’t find out about it through Facebook. I was, in fact, Facebook friends with the deceased. We had over a hundred mutual friends. I’d gotten so used to seeing or hearing about others’ birthdays, romances, breakups, engagements, weddings, babies, promotions, habits, diets, travels, pleasures, parties, possessions—their proofs of life—that the announcement of someone’s death, a proof of the end of someone’s life, came as something entirely unexpected. When the “Rest in peace” posts began to appear on my News Feed—posts written by fellow schoolmates—my heart jumped. Then I felt embarrassed. I realized with sudden horror that Facebook was a massive cocktail party and I had just followed a crowd into a private room with a casket in the middle. Is there a clumsier way of having this sort of news broken? I think not. You could be holding a martini in your hand while everyone else is consoling the bereaved. 

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