Keep on DancingBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
A COLD Monday morning in June. We stood atop a hill over- looking Interstate 80 watching the cars participate in their daily rush to work.
Before us was a hole covered in thick green sheets to conceal the dirt below it. Lifting part of it, you could see the gravestone of our Grandma – Rufina Dominguez Wabe – who passed away three years ago.
My Aunt Corazon, sensitive to the chilly western breeze, decided to return to my car to keep warm. She didn’t stay there for long.
As more people arrived from the procession, the arching crowd of people soon provided a nice windbreak against the chilly Pacific breeze.
Funerals are usually revered for those amongst us in the aging ranks or have a series of chronic illness.
When the aged pass away, though it is sad, we accept their passing as a normal part of life.
When funerals occur without either those two conditions present, a kind of uneasiness settles in. That’s what happened in this case.
Today was one of the first times a cousin in my own generation passed away.
It all happened unexpectedly, the news hitting everyone by surprise.In relation to me, Carolyn Wabe Carig was my third cousin or put another way, my great-grandaunt’s great-granddaughter (does that make sense?).
Thanks in part to the very large web-like families Ilocanos are notoriously known for making.
A few weeks ago, Carolyn collapsed on the floor without warning, during a ‘No Doubt’ concert, losing her pulse and then her life soon thereafter.
She had some health problems but nothing that could have been considered life-threatening.
If she had any imminent signs of a worsening condition, at least no one, including herself was aware of it.
To the best of my knowledge, right before her death she had been livelier than ever, this being her first time to see her favorite band live on stage.
Unfortunately, a week later, nothing was even remotely close to the word livelier.
As the choirs of hymns sung Beethoven’s ‘Ave Maria,’ there was the mother, weeping almost hysterically amongst the distraught crowd.
The chilling scene was an eerie reminder of the enormous pain people go through when losing a loved one, especially when that loved one happens to be their own child
Right when they were about to close the coffin for the final time, Carolyn’s closest friends started to weep out loudly while her mother couldn’t help but jump up and down, still unable to accept that she was finally gone.
Such scenes which grip your spinal column in such a way that send a deep shrill down all the way to the tailbone would make anyone thinking logically to question why the Lord would allow such occurrences to happen.
It goes against our most fundamental of all principles that the innocent don’t deserve to die.
A lady I met during mass answered that question. A common church attendee herself, she happened to overhear of Carolyn’s death during the regular Sunday litany and became interested after finding out that her family name happened to be the same as the deceased.
As she noted to me later, she doesn’t know of many Carigs like her in America so she wanted to send out her own condolences.
Knowing that much of those affected were only kids, she tried to give some advice on ways to cope with such a tragic loss.
She simply said this was God’s plan, her mission in this life was over so now she was allowed to go on and fulfill new things.
This in no way is a sign that God was punishing her but more that her job here was over now.
For the crowd in attendance, this has been an awakening to us as well.
Perhaps those problems that we considered important before weren’t as important as we once thought.
Those things seen as essential and necessary back then now are almost inconsequential when placed relative to the loss of a loved one.
Events like this open up one’s eyes to value what’s really important, to sharpen one’s eyes through the murky water and focus on the things that matter the most.
Carolyn’s older brother, Marc, a former staff editor at Filipinas Magazine, said it best when he observed this was one way Carolyn was able to bring us all together as a family, to forget our minor differences and unite as one.
Today isn’t a day of mourning but a realization of what we’ve all gained, a better understanding of the importance of our life through her death.
During the eulogy, Manong Marc quoted the last words of the song “Hella Good,” the last words his sister must have heard before she passed away.
“Keep on Dancing,” Gwen Stefani could be heard saying over overtures of the low bass guitar. Carolyn kept on dancing. Her mission accomplished. - PDM
This week article is dedicated to our cousin, daughter, sister and friend, Carolyn Wabe Carig of San Pablo CA who died on the 20th of June, 2004. Her family misses her very much. She was only 23.
See this article,"Keep on Dancing" in Philippine News. Click here.