LIFESTYLES - A BROTHER REMEMBERED
Letter to Paul
by Ma Donna Vela
scared us all out when you tried so many times to bash your head
against the wall just so the pain eases away. But it didnt...'
letter to Paul
Its been a long time since you left, but I still become so emotional
every time I share your story to my friends and colleagues. Didnt
I tell you I miss you? I know you are happy wherever you are right now.
I know you no longer feel any pain and agony up there. And I am just
so glad thinking and believing you indeed are. I just want to tell you
that I miss you and that I always cherish our memories together.
It has been so many years since I last saw your angelic face and sweet
smile...so many years since I heard your beautiful laugh full of life,
heard you call my name out loud while rushing about to give me a huge
loving hug. Its been a long
time. Isnt it strange why I find
myself talking to you this way? Its just so sad that I never had
to tell you whats inside me. I
dont really know, but there were just so many things left unsaid.
I remember how smart you were in school during our elementary days.
I havent told you but I had admired you from the day I could remember.
I admired the way you had effortlessly mastered the math tables and
how you confidently and gleefully recited them one by one while I struggled
to. Yah, I know - you were the best mathematician in the family.
Didnt I tell you that I had envied your high spirits? I had never
seen you cry when hurt,
nor had I seen you felt nervous nor scared. You were so tough and full
Didnt I tell you that your Ate looked up to you when we were younger?
No, of course I didnt. I never had the chance to. But, I knew
you were always there when I needed you. I remember how you sneaked
out to wash the dishes just so I would be spared to do that task I was
assigned to do. It didnt matter to you that much because you would
have the chance to share what your day had been. Its just so amazing
why you never ran out of stories to tell.
You never got tired. You were just full of energy. You were so transparent
and so candid. And by the way, didnt I tell you that you had the
perfect facial features I had ever seen? I always believed that you
seemingly had the most beautiful sculptured nose and alluring eyes -
emphasized by your long and impeccably curved eye lashes - I had ever
laid eyes on. I never got tired of staring at your twin dimples and
adorable narrow lips that added a lingering appeal to your sweet contagious
smile. Your smooth and soft snow-white delicate skin and your fine and
curly brown hair were just so remarkable. Indeed you were beautiful
that whenever I think of you, I see the most beautiful angel I had ever
And when you were hit by a tricycle and pitilessly dragged your frail
body underneath almost a kilometer away, you never cried. They said
you were so calm when you got up after that accident despite the blood
all over. The doctor thought you were so brave a child. They had never
seen anyone so lively and surprisingly fine.
You had a number of stitches on your head but they seemed not to matter
to you at all. You were still energetic and cheerful. The x-ray neither
revealed anything bad nor unusual. We indeed thought you were all right,
but after a year, I heard you screaming out loud in the middle of the
night unable to stand the pain. It scared us all out when you tried
so many times to bash your head against the wall just so the pain would
ease away. But it didnt, and so you were airlifted to manila the
following day just to find out that you had a brain tumor. I didnt
understand what that meant then, but I knew it was something I didnt
believe would happen at all. It couldnt be I thought
possible. The doctor gave you 6 months to a year to live, after you
had undergone a surgical treatment. I knew you bravely defied it and
you proved them wrong. Miracles do happen.
The first two years of your continued therapy and treatment were tough.
You were so vulnerable that Mama had to stay with you full time in the
hospital. Yes, you refused to give up. The first time you came home
after that agonizing and prolonged first of the series of medication
you had to undergo, you seemed so feeble and a little different. Its
so painful just thinking why they made you so physically weak. What
did you do to deserve that? But despite what you had become, you still
had the high spirit in you, though you hardly could stand on your own.
Wasnt it just amazing how you still managed to wear those beautiful
expressive eyes and sweet smile I always loved to stare at? I knew you
were in constant pain, but
you hardly showed it. Didnt I
tell you I admired you more for refusing to give up hope? I thought
I would have given up the
battle a long time ago if it was mine.
You were so brave and indeed your courage gave us hope. You became our
my greatest inspiration. Didnt I tell you that
your ordeal taught me, at a very young age, how to be emotionally strong
and optimistic all the way? At first I couldnt help but question
why these things had to happen to you. It wasnt just fair. You
were so young and full of promises. But I knew things happened on purpose
and I had no right to question what youre going through.
But along the way, it was sometimes hard to hold on. Sometimes it was
just so easy to give up, but we managed to move on. I knew the doctor
warned us that you would gradually lose all your senses all along. That
was one of the risks of you going through the medication process that
we had all accepted. And we never had any choice, did we?
Anyhow, I didnt know it would be too painful a process for you.
We saw how it slowly transformed you
how you slowly became totally
out of control. It was just amazing how talkative you had become that
it was sometimes so annoying. You probably didnt know it, but
it was painful for us the most to see you that way. And when you had
lost your sense of smell, I had witnessed a lot of times how you desperately
tried to smell every single food you took in, only to end up feeling
hapless and puzzled. I knew how you physically weakened every single
day as you continued your regular radiation therapy. They said that
your body wouldnt accept all the nutrients you took in which made
you even more vulnerable all the way. And yet, you never questioned
things as they happened. You just bravely accepted all the pain that
came your way.
On your fourth year of medication, I went to Manila to study. Didnt
I tell you that I had always believed that you would also do the same?
Didnt I tell you that I had always dreamed of you living a normal
life and pursuing a career you wanted after all? I didnt see any
reason why not. I always believed that you were so smart, talented and
confident, werent you? But it remained a dream and you never were
given the chance.
Every time I went home, I witnessed how you slowly deteriorated. You
used to eagerly and cheerfully try to greet me with your hug every time
I saw you. But on your sixth year under medication, you were so detached
and more fragile than ever. I tried to ask you why you didnt even
bother to greet me. I tried to cheer you up but you were just emotionless
and indifferent. Didnt I tell you I was shaken to learn that you
hardly recognized anybody nor heard anything around you? I thought you
would never get tired, but you did and I didnt realize that it
would wear you out so soon. Why did you let go? Why did you let it take
the cheerful life and the courage I had so admired in you? I was so
sorry for being so helpless all those years
I didnt know
what to do. All I could do was sit next to you and cheer you up. I knew
that wasnt enough, but you never complained. If I could only take
away your pain
If you would only tell me how, I would
wanted the old talkative, lively you back. But, you just wouldnt
listen. I didnt realize that you had just waited for us to come
home just so were all together, until it was time for you to finally
For six years, you had been so brave until the very end, and I had admired
you more. Sometimes it really is worth cursing at those people responsible
for what happened to you, but whats the point if it wouldnt
even ease the pain, let alone bring you back? We should have asked them
to pay for what they had done, but for some reasons I couldnt
understand then, we never did. Yet, after all the pain, the world wouldnt
stop spinning. I may have lost a smart brother, a great friend, a sweet
angel, but I had gained wisdom and mature perspective of lifes
And that will never wither.
I know you are happy now. Thank you for the inspiration to move
on especially through difficult times. Thank you for helping us realize
essence of living life and for having the courage to face lifes
challenges. I miss
© Donna Vela -April 2003
all rights reserved