I visited a stranger's grave.

July 15th, 2016, 1pm

For some reason, I thought it will be enlightening and interesting for my personal development. But up until now I can’t think of an appropriate reason for my decisions and actions. No family member or anyone I know closely lay in that cemetery. I was probably just alone and turning insane (I blame global warming and economic instability, kidding).

It’s a public cemetery and informal settlers, surprisingly, roamed and made the 1 hectare lot their home. Most ignored me and the few curious just eyed me as I walked [and pretended to know my way around]. I soon found a quiet spot with no eyes to pry on me. This particular grave was new, late June of 2015, just past its one year anniversary. Withered flowers adorned the grave and a big snail stood there frozen on top of the stone. The sun beat harshly but the tall trees and the tin roof that covered the grave thankfully covered me too.

I did nothing, to be honest. I just sat there, borrowing the open bench for me to rest on, for me to think, and for me to absorb the silence. It was actually a pretty day if not creepy. A few cars passed by and it was only then that I wondered if this was a violation of sorts, an insult to the memory of this named stranger. I don’t particularly believe in a god or any tradition, no. Nor am I knowledgeable on anything other than what my Catholic schooling and own curiosity has taught me. So how could I respect this rotting corpse whose grave I probably intruded?

I’ve done a lot of questionable things: I’ve watched a cockfight amongst sweaty and gambling men because I already can; I rode a generally-unknown river ferry across 3 cities for absolutely no reason; I had day trips in neighboring provinces to pick up or visit close friends because I have the time; I’ve walked home from school (4 km apart) several times because I didn’t want to go home just yet; I collect tissues, plastic spoons, paper coasters, and other items from establishments because no one else I know does. I’ve done these and a handful of other things just because I really am just a teenager and maybe partially stupid. Add this experience to that.

A death came to the family recently. It was devastatingly unexpected that up until now, a little over two weeks since, a few of us still haven’t come to terms with it. The family house is hauntingly disturbed by my uncle’s memories. Somehow, it still hasn’t wrapped in all our heads that death is essentially forever. And this particular loss is permanent. It’s heartbreaking to see us scrambling around, getting by with the loss of a loved one. This stranger’s family probably passed through that phase already.

As I said, I do not believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent being even though I was strictly raised in a religious environment. I question the idea. But it’s also all I know. So when we were ab0ut to bury my uncle’s ashes, the only thing I could do is call out for someone, any one, and asked that my uncle be alright.

When you’re so small and seemingly insignificant in this universe, all you can do is believe and hope, right?

That’s all I can do, earlier. I believed and hoped that whatever really happens after we turn to ash, we’ll be alright. Especially to this stranger and to my uncle.

David Wade said thanks.

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Ianne Villanueva

Burning the soles of my shoes. Breathing in the dirt in the air. One day at a time.

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