Advent is a season for reflection, the time one reviews one’s self, not simply as preparation for Christmas, but this time and age, when millennials race for their dreams and ambitions their techie/selfie way, this is the one moment they stop to think about their wish lists and their resolutions.

It’s a juvenile thing that I didn’t expect to find my self into. I have had my life and lived it, and I am grateful for the simple and yet stress-laden life. Whose life isn’t, any way?

My meditation though springs not from more desires but from the misgivings friendships has disillusioned me with. I have deleted friends from my life, friends I shared my secrets and my passion with, friends I went running and swimming with, friends I spent hours on the jurassic telephone with, trading tips on this and that, friends I sat on recitals with and shared moments of fun and laughter over dinner tables, pricey or otherwise.

Who would think that someone you trust your life with could be jealous or envious or sour with you, when all the time, you believe that love abounds in that friendship. Exactly how I felt when a friend told me she didn’t like my daughter. Wow. I didn’t know how to take that. Another told me that I must not narrate stories about my daughter not unless she is boarded a plane to jet set the world. I was shocked. Another friend estimated my daughter’s future pay, which she believes will be totally super in comparison to her own child’s pay. How we got fast forward into the future, I didn’t know, but I was fine with the today’s meals, no matter how humble.

And when someone calls me best friend for life but does not return my calls nor messages, comes to me only when she needs me, I think I have to redefine the acronym BFF. It doesn’t sound right.

I am cracked. Honestly, when I decided to end the friendships. there was a pain that pinched my heart. I allowed a few tears to roll down my cheeks. It was for the sadness over the loss of people I thought loved me back. Hu Hu

So, in my melancholic state, I have resolved to start friendships again, with fresh faces from the strangers I meet. There is the newspaper peddler who was surprised I sat beside him for a chat, the grocery cashiers and baggers, the disers. the guards, the mendicant children who got ecstatic over a loaf of bread or the value-pack meals I give them from 7-11.

For a time, I didn’t think of these lowly people as friends. They were just there at the moment. But when I see them again. they become ecstatic, delighted to see me and strike another quick chat about anything under the sun. I indulge them, of course, I realized that I have so much time to pour in a thought or two to people who genuinely listen. These ordinary people are so true, grateful for the little time I was with them, and wish me safe and all right when I say good-bye.

I don’t think I am cracked any more.

Shoulders to lean on.

Thank you, Nomie, for graciously driving to and fro Batangas City (via unfinished Star Toll, which made driving difficult), to visit Carie, as she mourns the passing of her beloved spouse. It was a trip sad and subdued, I know, much unlike two other occasions we had in the far distant pasts, when we were much younger and thrilled with adventure, and then when we had toddlers in tow, for Carie and her family, made our Batangas excursions extraordinarily enchanting, how else not, for every single member of the family, all tall with beautiful faces, from Dr. Manalo and his lovely wife, to each and every one in the brood, were all witty and smart, a pleasure to be with.

This time though, Nomie, Winnie, and I were ushered into a different scenario, for death brings poignancy no one can ever define. Carie’s grief was beyond measure, yet she seems so composed, relating to each and every guest, from all walks of life, as her deceased husband Bhoy would have wished her to be. But sigh, have we ever seen so many coronas of flowers bedecked in a single home, such as we’ve seen for Bhoy? That alone is the testament of how he lived. As our good Lord deemed him necessary to go back home, so we yield, and let Bhoy’s goodness be cherished memories of one good person who made much difference in every heart, foremost of whom is Carie’s, his better, beauteous half.

Still, Winnie, don’t you think we just don’t have enough of the Manalo’s kindness? They are the bereaved, and yet, they see to it that every one is attended to, and that every one is comfortable. One old lady named Sampaguita, narrated their devotion to this family, and if it would be a lifetime of servitude, so be it, for this family has loved them genuinely (as in, if not for this family, there would be no Christmas.) True, because my daughter Tish, who came with us to mourn with her godmother Carie, took a peep at the kitchen, the dishware is for serving not just a whole family but more likely, the entire community if not the city when necessary.

Wait for us, Carie, we will be back.