By JACKLYN RAGAS-COTECSON
Last year was a terrible year for me. Most people, not even my family knew how seeing my mom die right in front of me costed me my sanity. All I could ever think of was rebelling to forget and escape. I withdrew from any emotions because just like a glass full of shit, mine was already overflowing – and I couldn’t take it anymore.
I gave up on everything and on everyone. I came to Siargao Island, not knowing what to do except escape. And though the smile on my face never showed any damage and reflection of what I’ve left behind, who am I kidding?
These are just one of those days when I realized that despite the fact that I’m unbelievably happy here, I tend to question if it’s even real. But you know what’s more unreal? Despite the fact that I’ve lost so much, I have not lost my compassion. And even though I thought that it’s the last thing I would ever need, I know that it will always be a part of me.
No matter how damaged I am to the point that I never thought I could ever care or love again, I still did. I still do and I’ve learned these things:
Always hug people. You never know how it comforts them. Tell them stories of your life. Whether good or bad, give them a part of you. You’ll never know what things they would realize from you.
Understand people. The more you don’t understand them, the more you have to listen or be with them. You’ll never know how your presence means a lot to them.
Love is such a strong emotion. It may make you stupid. It can break you, crush you, destroy you, but never mind. Hold on to the possibility that expressing love can be someone’s strength. You’ll be fine eventually.
Always have faith in people. Those who are bitchy, those who are jerks, those people who ignore you, hurt you – they can be fighting battles you don’t know about. Maybe they are also like me – scared to care again. But then, have faith in them. Remember that the more you love people, the more they’ll love you back.
There are people who love you even if you ignore them. How much more if you pay attention to them?
Hug them often. Kiss them. Laugh and cry with them. Thank them. Be with them. You’ll never know how much impact you’ll make in their lives. And most importantly, love them.
Jacklyn Ragas-Cotecson wrote this essay two years ago after her mom passed away. She grew up and graduated college in Surigao del Norte and have worked in Singapore and Cebu City. For the past six years, she enjoys living a simple life closer to nature in Siargao Island.