#ruthiliciousHindsight: And Just Like That... He Travels Again

Life's a journey. Like a journey, it has a destination. But the arrival is unknown. So I will just live the experience before I reach my port of call. - #ruthiliciousHindsight

Writing this kind of post is never in my hindsight. This is difficult on all accounts but I had to do it.

On July 26th of this year, I lost one of the most important men in my life - my brother Japol. It was unexpected. It was shocking. It was debilitating.

For 3 days straight I wasn't able to think right. I wasn't sleeping, eating, and taking a shower for 3 days in a row. It was exhausting. The fact that my hands were tied due to the global pandemic situation made it worse. My brother passed on alone. I didn't even have the chance to talk to him before he passed on and that left a wound in my heart that will probably not heal. It made me feel so guilty for not being there when he needed me the most. I wasn't there for him and that caused me all these odd feelings that will never go away.

But my thought process told me otherwise. That I have no control over his fate. That it was by design. That it was how it should be. And that made everything feel even worse. My human brain and heart feel the physical pain that I can't explain.

I've been blogging for over a decade now. I talk about almost everything under the sun, but this one hits me hard to the core. Japol had a knack for the written words himself. He has his own blog for a reason. And he wrote a lot about me in his blog. But I must probably have written only one about him, I can't remember and I don't know why. 

And this one... I can barely breathe just thinking I have to do this. I had to stop several times to get my bearing back. I broke down too many times as well. I'm a total mess.

I wish I was given a chance to write something funny and happy and awesome about him because he was all that and more. But this blog is none of the above. I am writing this because maybe I need closure or something. I had to write about this because my heart yearns for words that I should have said to him while he has the capacity to hear it and the faculty to feel the words that I meant will all my heart.

And it didn't happen.

And it was so sad that it had to be a Eulogy.

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Hello everyone. I would like to thank all of you for coming today to celebrate the Man of the Year, my brother Japol.

I am Ruthi, Japol’s “favorite sister”. That’s what he calls me. To those who do not know, he has no other sister but me. I am his only sister. That is just one of his funny and special ways of making people feel extra special. To those who know him well… you know what I mean.

Japol is my baby brother who always gets mistaken as the Panganay (oldest of the brood). But he never takes things to heart. His confidence is through the roof and his positive attitude is of epic proportions, making people feel at home and comfortable around him. He is smart and loving to a fault.

Japol is the funny guy in the family. He is not just a doting Uncle to the Mini #OronaSquad, he is the favorite Uncle who always has their backs. He always makes us laugh even without trying. And for me his ways of making me realize how stupid some of my life’s choices, are nothing but subtle but he did make me hate myself less. He could be brutal in his criticism but in the end, he gives the most soothing yet slap-in-the-face advice (mostly unsolicited) that will impact your life. Japol is articulate. He knows the right words to say to people in different situations. He always picks the right words that will kick you back to your senses when need be or the sweetest compliments to boost your morale and make you feel like a rockstar.

Japol is my biggest fan. He is my big-time supporter. And he is not just my brother but my best friend. Notice that I am speaking in the present tense here because I believe in my heart that he never left. Japol will always be present in spirit stalking me, checking on me if I am smiling, and making sure that I am alright, happy, and always the Queen that I am. Because that’s what he does not only to me but to the rest of the #OronaSquad as well as each member of the Gavar-Orona clans.

Japol is one of the most selfless and compassionate people in my life. And I know he is too to those whose lives were touched by him. Japol is a world traveler. He travels extensively and in style both locally and internationally. His passion for traveling, seeing the world, meeting new people, exploring other countries’ cultures is insatiable. And he never fails to surprise me up to this fateful day. His luggage is always packed and ready to go without notice. I said this because one time he said he was craving Thai food, the following day he posted his photo eating Pad Thai - where else, but in Thailand, of course. The perks of having your travel agent as a friend - getting first-hand info on ticket sales and travel advisories.

Japol comes and leaves as he pleases. He is always seeking adventures and always enthusiastic to share his travel stories and experiences with family and friends across his social media accounts and on the #OronaSquad’s video chat. He is unpredictable when it comes to his travel plans. And like that, he leaves again… but this time he left his luggage… and tons of sweet memories of a life well-lived. Sadly, coming back to share his adventures on social media or in our video chat is not on his agenda.

Japol… there are still a lot of places we plan to see and take millions of selfies together but I guess it will be just Me and Gary (and maybe the kids will be able to join us at some point). We will miss you, our self-proclaimed Professional Photographer who takes each photo worth millions of comments on social media posts.

Japol, it hurts so bad that till the end you left without notice. You never say goodbye to us since you started traveling, it's always “see you again next time”. I get it, maybe it’s intentional. You don’t have a plan of leaving us, you want to stick around to make sure that we are always okay. It’s not goodbye, is it? It’s “see-you-around-in-spirit”.

Well then, with a heavy heart we are letting you go. Travel well Bunso (baby brother) and do stick-around-in-spirit because you know we need you to cheer us up every now and then. Say Hi for us to Mom and Dad, I’m 100% sure they are happily waiting for you there in heaven so they can hear all your travel stories.

I love you very much, Japol. It was indeed a great blessing to have you as a brother. I’m grateful for having you in my life. I wouldn’t ask for anyone else for a baby brother because you are the best and my favorite.

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Believe me, I didn't know how I was able to write Japol's Eulogy. I wasn't prepared to do something like this and wasn't thrilled at all. But doing it gave me some kind of peace that I needed to keep living his legacy. It still hurts when I see stuff around that reminds me of him and I still cry every time. There are moments that I found myself crying while I'm driving and whispering his name out of the blue.

I am guessing this will never go away any time soon. And I need to live with that.

Right now the #OronaSquad is on a healing journey. We all are struggling but somehow we are all taking things one step at a time. Japol's absence created a huge hole in our hearts that filling the gap will take a lot of effort in the healing department. It will take time, I know. And we are all doing our very best to come to terms with it.

I know he is watching over us and my only consolation is that he is now my Guardian Angel who I can always call for guidance and maybe a one-way pep talk just to tell how my day was. I don't know. Everything is so new to me and I am not one hundred percent okay but I will be.

Like everything else in this world, it takes time. And I hope when it's time for me to go to my final destination, someone will miss me the same way I do with Japol because deep in my heart I know that I truly made a great impact in other people's lives if they will miss me the same way I do with Japol.

"Japol, I miss you so much! I love you. Travel well, my favorite Baby Brother!"