This week, I received my service award for having been with the company for five years. Along with the other service awardees, I went up the stage to be recognized and to receive my glass plaque. I also got to choose a gift from a catalog. I am deeply grateful for my job that has brought me joy and fulfillment over the past 5 years.

This week, Ariel surprised me with a brand new coffee press, a pack of Starbucks’ Gold Coast Blend (X-Bold coffee – love!), and a Tall Starbucks mug. No occasion. I am thankful for having the sweetest hubby.

This week, Ariel turns 42. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness in his life in the past four decades. I am thankful that God gave him to me as my lifelong partner. I am thankful that I get to be a part of his life in the past decade. I am privileged to be witness to his personal journey, his joys and pains, his triumphs and failures. I am grateful for my role as his wife, his nurturer when sick, his cheerleader when he needs motivation, his comforter when he is sad, his joyful partner when he is happy, his backseat driver when he is being a jerk on the road, his willing audience when he plays the guitar or sings a tune, his cook, his proofreader, his object of affection, the recipient of his sweet messages and gifts, his partner in crime. Thank you Lord for his life. I pray that Ariel will have a long life, fulfilling the purpose for which God created him.

This week, we went out with my cousins to watch a movie and have dinner. It was the first time in a long time that all 12 of us (my brother and 4 cousins with our spouses) went out together. We had loads of fun specially at dinner when we reminisced on the good old days. I think it’s a huge indication that we are all growing old. So I am grateful for this night out with our cousins. I am happy that even as we have grown older and have pursued our own careers and got busy with family, we are still very close to each other.

About the movie, we watched Hereafter which starts Matt Damon. It was a very interesting movie. Matt Damon is a wonderful actor. And the story, while unusual, tackles a very relevant human truth. For me, this story is about death and how people cope with the loss of their loved ones. A lot of people crave some form of reassurance that their departed loved one did not just vanish from existence, but is, in one way or another, living in the “hereafter”. Some, on the other hand, find it difficult to let go and still wish for some form of connection with their dead. On the other end of the spectrum, others (atheists mainly) think that in death, one just ceases to exist, having no belief in the spiritual realm. However, the movie also suggests that even atheists, when confronted with death, start to entertain the possibility of life after death. The prevailing theme is uncertainty. Not knowing what happens after death. And to have that certainty, or at least clues to the events of the afterlife, people go to extreme measures to communicate with the dead. That’s where Matt Damon’s character, George, comes in. George is a psychic who has a “gift” of communicating or connecting with the dead. A slight touch will give him visions of dead people that are somehow connected to the person before him. People come to him desperate to communicate with their departed family member. Because of this, George has lost all chances of developing any normal relationships with people.

So anyway, after the movie, while we were having dinner, we got a sad message.

This week, Kuya Rommel, a dear family friend, passed away. He was the music director at my dad’s local church, and he also happens to be my very first kumpare. He and his wife asked me to be the godmother of their firstborn when I was just 11 years old. He had been in a coma for two days, and that Sunday evening, he went home to be with the Lord. I, and my entire family where very saddened by his death. And honestly, after hearing the news, as much as I want to comfort his immediate family, I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to say to Ate Bibing, Jet and Dreq. I didn’t know how to comfort them. I wanted to say that he is now in a better place, but I didn’t know if that’s what they wanted to hear. Thank God for Facebook! Jet, Kuya Rommel’s daughter (the eldest of two siblings) and who also happens to be my very first goddaughter, in her Monday morning status update wrote, “Thank you Lord. :)”  Yes, with a smiley. And I know why she is able to thank God in the midst of deep sorrow.  As Bible believing Christians, we know with certainty, that in death, we are welcomed in the loving arms of our Father in heaven, through the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Hence, we grieve because we miss the person who left us, not because we don’t know what happened to him. We have the assurance that our dead loved ones are happier, and in a better state then when they were here on earth. We know that they have come home to be with the Lord after a temporary stint in this life. And also, we have the assurance that we will be reunited with them someday. And finally, even as we so desperately begged for the Lord’s healing hands to touch Kuya Rommel, we also trust in the Lord’s perfect will for all of us. We have faith that God has a plan for us, and He will never leave or forsake us. So this week, we grieve the loss of a dear friend and kumpare. But we thank God just the same, for the gift of life, for making us a part of Kuya Rommel’s life, and for the privilege of seeing him serve the Lord with his wonderful gift of music. I pray for God’s loving arms to comfort us who grieve his demiss, most specially his family who will miss him the most. And I also pray for God’s provision to cover all the needs of the Vasquez family.

I thought this recent experience of loss and the story of Hereafter is a good juxtaposition of how someone who has a relationship with Christ and someone who doesn’t differ in terms of dealing with death.

Finally, I leave you with this:

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ~
2 A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor, it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.”

Happy birthday Ariel.
Happy homecoming Kuya Rommel! You will be missed, but we will see you again someday, in God’s time.

Happy weekend everyone!

Written by Alby Laran

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