When a child dies, it’s not the natural order of things. For many years, I struggled to find the meaning of my son’s death. Five years and a lot of pain later, I finally found the answers. It all started with an email to Cathy after I invited her to join as co-founder for the The Compassionate Friends Philippines.
She replied back and readily agreed to join. What struck me was her statement:
I now know that we are called to serve in different ways because we have different missions. Setting up Compassionate Friends in the Philippines is clearly yours as Migi’s Corner and Grief counselling and death education are mine.
How could that be? If I wanted a mission , a foundation seems a more noble idea. “The Compassionate Friends” is not an original idea . So there I was thinking , Alma, Cathy and Pia initiated foundations all in the memory of their children. I don’t have any memorial or foundation in Luijoe’s name. I felt a bit sad but Cathy’s words stuck in my mind for many days until I remembered a conversation with my son during [tag]Holy Week[/tag].
The actual picture that Luijoe pointed out in his prayerbook
This is what I wrote in Luijoe’s memorial site almost 6 years ago:
Then one night while we had our usual prayers before bedtime, he pointed to the picture of St. John the Apostle which was found in his Rosary Prayer book. I explained that Jesus told John to take care and comfort his mother when he dies. Luijoe seemed to be touched by St. John and the following nights, he kept repeating the same question and this time he was asking how John was related to Mother Mary. I found that to be a very deep question and I just said he was one of Jesus’ apostle.
Now I realized the meaning . It was like Luijoe was making sure I would remember John . I did remember our conversation during the wake .It touched my heart that my son was worried about my grief.
I realized that Luijoe wanted me to carry on the comfort to others. The St. John symbolizes compassion. By working with The Compassionate Friends, I would act like a “St. John” to other bereaved parents. This memory brought tears of joy and nostalgia. Even if I am no longer around in this mortal world, this grief support group will still continue on. Truly, God works in mysterious ways and He uses our children to help us find and shape our ministries. It is our children who remind us of the bigger work that God has set out for us in this world.
So I guess, in a way, working with “The Compassionate Friends” is also my way of keeping Luijoe’s memory alive . I also know that every time I comfort a bereaved parent or sibling, my actions are a living tribute to my child.
Luijoe is never entirely gone.
Luijoe’s favorite prayer book