When I was younger, we used to go to Baguio every year. My dad was a PMA graduate of Marangal Class of 1974 and as one, we always looked forward to attending annual homecoming events that happened around February. As we grew older, however, visits to Baguio became scarce and although I had family in the city, I hardly saw the place. In fact, it has been 4 or 5 year since I last visited Baguio. So it is quite sad that when I went there last week, I did, so I could bury my cousin.
Jonathan grew up with asthma, like most people in the family (me, included) so when he presented with asthma-like symptoms earlier this year, he was not at all alarmed. When it persisted, he consulted a doctor, and he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Later on, when he noticed that he wasn’t getting any better (he was often out of breath and could only walk short distances), so he tried to find a better answer.
Around the first week of July, he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis that is characterized by the thickening and scarring of the lungs. Upon initial assessment, he was given 3 to 5 years to live (not enough, especially for someone like Jonathan who had so much more to live for) but that would have been better than what he eventually given. His health deteriorated so fast. In just a few weeks he became fully dependent on his oxygen tank and when his condition became worse, he was put on the ventilator. This device, that should have saved him, weakened him greatly. So the projected 3 to 5 years was cut to 3 weeks.
Jonathan died at the age of 30. The sad fact is that he was not even a smoker. He worked in the office, throughout his work life, and had never been exposed to harmful chemicals. What did he do to deserve what had happened to him? Sometimes I still ask“Why him?”, but I have to remind myself that God has a bigger purpose for everything. There should have been a good reason for Jonathan’s early passing. Like, maybe he has already fulfilled his purpose here on Earth to be permitted to go. An angel, in essence and spirit, he was loved by all because he devoted his life serving, giving and sacrificing for everyone’s sake.
I did not know Jonathan very well. Actually, I do not know any of my cousins that well because I did not grow up with them. When I was younger, I had a different life someplace else, so although Jonathan and I were born just a month apart from each other, I did not know him. It was only around my college days that I got fully acquainted with my Blanco family, so compared to most of my cousins, I only had 10 years worth of memories. This realization made me really sad. And when people were asked to share some words about Jonathan, I could not dig up anything worth telling…
My memories of my childhood with them are quite vague in my head and before I finally met all of them, I thought I just had just around 5 cousins, when in fact I had TWENTY-FIVE, (I think?)
I regret not being able to grow up with my cousins — and I regret not spending enough time to get to know Jonathan. In the wake, people cried and said that they wish to have had more time to spend with him, and in my case, I cried because I regret never really trying to get to know him. His friends and co-workers knew him more than I did, and we shared the same blood. So, once again, Jonathan’s passing meant something greater for me — I realized that every moment you spend breathing is an open opportunity to get to know everyone (may it be a family member or friend). When the chance is taken away, you cannot do anything about it anymore, and no amount of tears can ever turn back time.
Thank you Jonathan and I’m sorry for not spending enough time with you…
P.S. My cousin died from an illness called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is no known cause and still no definite cure; needless to say, Jonathan fought an unfair battle. So to make sure that my cousin’s death does not go in vain, the family established the JONATHAN IAN B. HAMADA FOUNDATION (proceeds of which shall be dedicated for the research of IPF).