I am ending this week on a note of extreme sadness.

I was happy yesterday. Yuri and I went to attend my godson Andrei’s birthday celebration. I got into bed with a tired toddler but with promises of future playdates and budding friendship. I was supposed to draft a blog either about it out or my mundane Sunday finds.

I was happy until I checked Facebook.

There, I saw a message from one of my sorority sisters. It simply said, “Sis alam mo na ang balita? Sis wala na si Perper.”

My heart skipped a beat. I shook. I cried. I bawled. I can’t believe it. But she confirmed it. The similar status messages in my feed about his death confirmed it. There was nothing to do but face the truth that one of the dearest friends that I’ve ever had is now gone.

Rendell Ryan Cagula, whom we fondly call by his nickname, “Perper,” is my brod from the counterpart fraternity. He was a year younger than me but we got along really well. I liked him since day 1 and have seen him as the younger brother I never had. He always had my back.

I wish I could say I also always had his back.

We still talked even after I graduated as he would sometimes chat just to make “kamusta.” Then our conversations stopped. But for several months now, he constantly kept popping in my mind and I – ever the older sister – ┬áhave been worried even though I didn’t know why.

And now – poof! – he’s gone. Just like that. One of the few persons whom I like genuinely, one of the men whom I admire and love as a friend.

I know many agree with me. He was one of the most well-loved people in UP Mindanao, and I am glad to call him brother.

I am angry. Some may know why; some will never do. Some may get angry with me too. But above all, I am broken. Broken because of the fact that he is young. Broken because of the thoughts that plague me: he deserved to have a career and marry a wife, he deserved to have a family and raise children, he deserved a reconciliation with the Lord.

So let me grieve.

Because I have loved,
Let me grieve.

Because I have lost,
Let me grieve.

Because I regret,
Let me grieve.

Because I remember,
Let me grieve.

Because I forgot,
Let me grieve.

Because I heard it late,
Let me grieve.

You have known it first and you have already cried tears, so let me cry my own tears of bitterness, too. Tell me not what I shall do. My grief is mine and mine alone; it has nothing to do with you.

I could have saved a soul and I hold myself accountable to the Lord,
So let me grieve.

I didn’t try hard enough,
So let me grieve.

Life goes on,
So let me grieve.