As you may notice, I had been writing about various people I met throughout my lifetime—family and kin, friends and acquaintances, virtual friends, colleagues at work, even total strangers.
I realize this drive has been going on since I could remember, noting how each experience helped me become the person that I am today. Tracing back on the early days I started out blogging, I unconsciously had been writing about several people already. And I intend to keep it going. I could not thank them all individually with every thing, big or small that they have shared with me so I am writing about them instead. Who knows they might stumble upon this post one day and will remember me once again as well.
Today, I especially remember Ate Berny. We met through Men of Light, a Catholic Facebook Page in 2010 of which she was an avid member and commenter. She was very motherly in our interactions online. One time, she added me up. I confirmed her request, we became officially friends in October and the rest was Facebook’s virtual friendship history.
Over the years, we exchanged private messages. She lives in California and I am in Cebu. She doesn’t have a family of her own besides her siblings, nephews and nieces. But she has a great life, I suppose. She knew my mobile number so she sometimes called me up to ask how my life was, especially when she sensed something was not right. Her advices and sometimes funny antics especially when I tend to become over dramatic were often enough to keep me going. She was my virtual Nanay (mother) and she would most of the times call me, anak (child). I remember how she reacted the first time I called her Ate as she was more accustomed to people calling her Nanay. She laughed at the thought that I am calling someone who is obviously older than my biological mother herself, Ate instead of Nanay. I never changed how I address her. It was never brought up again.
In early 2011, she mentioned about having problems with gall stones. And it seemed to have progressed over time. Until early last year, she would talk about her deteriorating health and how she embraced every suffering and pain she was going through. I envy her courage to face life with a positive outlook despite her physical battle. Indeed, she was a woman of unbelievable strength.
On the 1st of June 2014, we lost Ate Berny. She was 67.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I only knew about her passing 3 days after her death from a common friend who posted about it. I have not had any news about her after that January message she sent me so I thought she was already in full recovery. I regret I have not given her the support she deserved but then knowing her, I knew her immediate family had been there in her journey.
I never got the chance to see Ate Berny in person. And never would I get any chance at all. But I am not saddened by the fact that she is gone because I know she is in a good place now. To me she was heaven-sent and I know she is watching over her anaks from somewhere at this moment. I hope she knows how I missed her.
And yes, I love you too, Ate Berny. Til the day we meet again.