I’m sure many of you have had college friends that have been in touch with you through the years. These are the kinds of friends you’d call brother or sister and will mostly be friends with for the rest of your life. You grow old together and see the people around you pass away.
My “sister” went through that a bit earlier than I.
She lost her dad in an accident, though we felt there was some sort of foul play involved, and texted me to come to the wake to help her out. Good thing too because when I got there, my friend’s eldest sister was in hysterics, her mother was staring into space and her youngest siblings were not sure what to do with themselves.
They rented out one of the small areas at the UP Diliman chapel - the one in front of the Student Shopping Center - which was only open up until midnight and from what I’m seeing, they were wasting precious time, which they paid for.
I immediately rolled up my sleeves and went to work.
Iwashed dishes, served out food, welcomed guests, escorted relatives to the mom, handed out drinks, etc. It didn’t take long until my “sister” and her siblings were following my lead.
By midnight, everyone considered the wake a success and most of the relatives who were still there thanked me heartily for helping out my friend and her family. The mother was so grateful to me she cried while hugging me close and my friend was very happy about everything.
So everyone had their rides and I was left to my lonesome. They had it easy because the mom was a UP professor - which is why all her kids went to UP from elementary school to College - and they lived in the UP house assigned to them beside the Shopping center.
I had a ride too but for some reason, this friend whom I requested to pick me up, couldn’t find the chapel.
Now that was a weird thing because the chapel is huge and it’s slambang in the middle of the area between the dorms and the shopping center. Even weirder is that he has gone to my university several times before.
Imagine my surprise when I got his text and read that he has been driving through the campus streets for almost an hour!
I was calm enough about it, even though I was on a dark and deserted street.However, my friend was already panicking. He continually was texting me and maintained that he couldn’t see the chapel no matter how many times he’s driven around the area.
Finally, he thought of praying and voila! He suddenly saw the chapel “magically” appear in front of him and he noticed me waving at him.
Relieved, he picked me up and we took the newly widened road - it was still a gravel path back then - that ran from the back of one of the older buildings, then passed thru a newly built one before ending up along the highway.
While on that long, gravel road, there was a sudden explosion of Kalachuchi and Sampaguita scents - both flowers that are mostly used for funerals and burial services - inside the van, even if the windows were up and the aircon was not using the external function.
But since my friend and I were just happy we got out of there without anything worse, we both just laughed a bit about it, checked the backseat just in case “someone” was hitching a ride, found nothing, and went straight home.
Although, the flower scent was still strong in the morning, according to my brother who used the van the next day.
Meanwhile, I woke up late and went straight to the bathroom to do my morning “rituals”. In the middle of reading a magazine while sitting on the “throne”, a large Mariposa butterfly, around a foot wide, went through the window of the bathroom and started fluttering around in front of me. I eyed it curiously, wondering if I should just open the door to let it out.
To my surprise, it landed on the adjacent wall in front of me. Its large “eyes” - the design on its wings - were “looking straight” at me. It stayed there for a good five minutes with me just staring at it.
Finally, I blurted out, “Are you the dad of Rizza (not her real name)? If you are, please don’t worry about her. I promise to take care of her.”
After I said that, the butterfly flew and landed on my head. It stayed there for a minute and I was so surprised that I suddenly I could not move. After a minute, it flew off and exited the same way it entered. I never saw it again and no one in the house has seen that particular butterfly enter or exit our home.
I told the story to my “sister” who told it to her mother. The mom cried and said that she felt that it was indeed her deceased husband, probably thanking me for helping out during the wake. She cried even more when she heard my promise and the butterfly’s reaction.
This wasn’t the first time a butterfly visited me at the college during the death of those I’ve known. But this is one of the most memorable. And as I promised the “dad”, my friend and are still very close and still “sisters” to this day. She’s actually a fellow author in Good Novel.
I’ll tell another memorable butterfly story the next time around. Now, I’m wondering how many of you have “butterfly” stories of your own.
Butterflies are not just a symbol of death, but it’s also a new life coming forth from passing away. The same way that a butterfly dies in a cocoon, only to be resurrected in its most spectacular and improved form, we should also see ourselves, both our death and our lives, in the same way.
That being said, I look forward to our meeting again. This is your storyteller, signing off just for today…
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