Thursday, July 12, 2007

Missing My Life's Partner - Jerry's Eulogy




GERARDO S. LOPEZ
September 30, 1964 to May 15, 2005

Losing a man like Jerry is not an easy undertaking. It is probably the most painful experience I would ever go through. What not too many people know, grieving for such loss started the very day I learned Jerry had cancer. Each and every single day that passed by revealed a man that was different from the person I married. Prominent was the physical changes that manifested because of the disease as well as feelings of insecurities and fear brought about by an uncertain future.

In spite of the mood swings and unpredictable temperament, I cannot deny that if such loss was evident, the gain was equally manifested. I saw in Jerry a very strong and determined person who was so set to win over this illness. Until the very end he was holding unto hope that he will overcome this. Though he was not an ideal patient, he would go through each protocol of chemotherapy and uncomfortable procedures that the doctors would order. Not once did he have a break from the potency and harshness of the drugs as he wanted very much to get well.

On the days that I find no reason to go on, he would enumerate the reasons I should stop complaining and just give thanks. He would encourage me to have a life in spite of what we were going through and reassure me that everything will be all right. Indeed, Jerry’s faith was unwavering and he only had feelings of thanksgiving in his heart.

Precious moments and priceless memories are what I treasure in my heart about Jerry. There are a number of qualities that will remain unforgettable:

Thorough Thinker/ Firm Decision Maker

Being impulsive by nature, there were times when I would react impatiently when Jerry could not make up his mind regarding certain issues. He would make me wait until he was ready to discuss matters with me. He would explain that he processed things slower than I do but once he shared his views on things, I would be enlightened by a different kind of wisdom. After 8 years of marriage, I’ve learned the value of waiting for the right time, choosing my battles, and looking at things from different angles.

Jerry’s ability to process things and come up with solid decisions was admirable. Whether business or personal matters, once he has made a decision, consider it final. Prudence and responsible thinking allowed him this. Many times during his cancer, a lot of opinions would be shared. Regardless of pleading, nagging, and begging, he would patiently explain to me how he arrived at a decision. Naturally, he ended up confident and happy with the choice he has made.

Never a Heavy Load

Jerry has always carried a certain pride. He is proud of the fact that for a very brief and young life, he was able to accomplish so much compared to a man that has lived a full life. There is no need to mention the citations and awards he garnered in his professional career as a banker. As a family man and provider, he too made it a point to care for his brood without being burdensome on others. Even during his illness, he insisted on going through his treatments by himself. He would assure me that he would be all right and that he enjoyed doing so because it gave him certain control over his illness. Cancer has never stopped him from providing for us by continuing to work and going through normal activities as if he was never sick in the first place.

Devoted Father and Family Man

If there is one role Jerry played to the hilt, it was his being a father to Chino and Basti. Fatherhood was an area Jerry excelled in and enjoyed tremendously. Unlike many Filipino fathers, Jerry had no hesitation to share with the midnight feedings and diaper changes. He saw to it that school activities are attended that he doesn’t miss out on important milestones of the kids. When I was still working for a software company, the job entailed me to travel so often. Chino, then a pre-schooler would have field trips to the zoos and butterfly farms. Jerry would be the only father in attendance as a chaperone. When I had to leave Basti at 2 months old to attend a conference in Phuket, Jerry would wake up at night to make sure that the nanny would be giving his midnight feedings and burped properly. Another talent that Jerry has honed because of fatherhood, was the ability to assemble robots of a zillion pieces even if it would mean losing a night’s sleep just so Chino would wake up with a nice surprise next to him. Truly, he was the boys’ messiah when mama would try to discipline them.

Husband

A lot wonders what makes two persons with so different personalities end up together, a question that was brought to my attention by a lot of people, recently by Simon Morris and Peter Volhoegen.

What first attracted me to Jerry was his simple and uncomplicated nature.
It was effortless to fall for someone like Jerry for he never pretended to be anything but himself. He was accepting of both my strengths and weaknesses without attempting to change me. It made me feel safe to be with him.

True, Jerry and I may be different in so many ways and like any other married couple, differences of background and upbringing are common causes of conflicts. In spite of this, one thing I can be certain of is when opposition arises from outside our marriage and family, Jerry and I were allies no matter what. I remember a couple of times when we were confronted by criticisms and intrigues. Jerry stood up and defended us. What was important to both of us was that we agreed and understood each other regardless of what others may say. Indeed, Jerry was my ultimate ally.

Even until the end, Jerry gave me a sense of security. Just to have him by my side and to simply feel his presence there. It did not matter whether or not he was romantic as long as I knew that he was there watching his favorite soap opera or reading his morning paper.

Indeed, being Jerry Lopez’s wife gave me a lot of pride and honor.

“Gladiator” in all Aspects

My brother-in-law Pay once described Jerry as a look alike of “Russell Crowe.” Initially, I could not find a trace of the actor in Jerry’s facial appearance. But after seeing “A Beautiful Mind,” I totally agreed with Pay. Since then, we always teased him in both family and other intimate gatherings and started calling him Russell. What was amusing with Jerry was, in spite of his reserved and serious character, he would shyly smile when teased but he would never stop me from teasing. In fact, he seemed like he enjoyed being the great “Maximus Desmus Beridius.”

Seriously, if I were to compare his life of that of a hero, that would best describe Jerry. A Gladiator in all Aspects. I have never known a man who has exhibited as much principle and strength as Jerry. He was a fighter and was never a quitter. He was a model leader whether at work or at home. He would lead everyone to find their own strength and nurture it to bring out the best one can be.

At home, our household staff would get into petty fights and bickerings. Guess who will be the mediator, Jerry. He would find time to settle matters even if it was not his concern. His ultimate goal was to maintain peace and a balanced position in all issues family, work, relations, and home. When he spoke, no one dared to interrupt. Listening would always be effortless.

There were lessons Jerry and I learned from Cancer. Jerry has given me instructions to share these with everyone, please indulge him:

1. Coping and grieving is a personal choice and no one else’s.
2. It takes a strong person to face the illness, but an extra ordinary strength and grace from God is necessary to accept its fate.
3. Decisions made are between husbands and wives, no one else’s. Explanations are not necessary.
4. God sees everything and that’s what really matters.
5. Wish people well even if they do not appreciate you. Forgiveness and love are always the order of the day.
6. Children are a great source of joy, strength, and inspiration. In the final analysis, how we respond to this illness as well to the loss will be their foundation of coping.
7. Preparing for the uncertain or inevitable is acceptable even if you are not sick. Putting order in one’s life should matter at any given point.
8. Being normal (even with a lot of effort) is possible even in the most abnormal situation.
9. Love is an act of will and should not be “subject to conditions.”
10. Assume the role of a suffering wife but never look the part.
11. Blessings will come even in the most unfortunate circumstances. Angels are present everywhere.

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to all those who have shown their love and support during Jerry’s affliction. There’s just so many of you but allow me to mention some of them:

Nanay and Tatay, thank you for showing Jerry your most unconditional love. I share with you the pain and the suffering you are enduring right now with our loss. I admire the strength that you both have shown during this crisis and at the same time the generosity and kindness of your heart.

Johnny, Tina, Gary, and Melinda and Bob. Thank you for showing your love and concern to Jerry and the boys during his illness. You have gone out of your way to help make the load easier to carry and I am grateful that the boys have aunts and uncles they can depend on.

My Family, Villaramas, Estrellas, and Batistas: Mamita, Tito Willie, Daddy, Auntie Girl, Bunny, Pay, Joei, Rinna and Chris, RM, Celeste, and Clarie. Thank you for making Jerry a part of us. For accepting him and loving him like your own. Mom, I know we do not always see eye to eye but rest assure that all your intentions are appreciated and kept to heart.

Chino and Basti. Thank you for being patient and loving to your Papa and to me. Among all, not once did I hear a complaint when it came to cancelled vacations and activities. At your very young age, you were given a load that even adults cannot completely comprehend yet you were both very understanding and accepting. I promise that we will continue to be a family with Papa watching over us. Papa and Mama love you very much.

My household staff: Violy, Luz, Lorie, Benjie, and Allan. Salamat sa pagdamay niyo sa amin ni Sir. Alam naming maging kayo man ay nahirapan ngunit pinakita niyo ang pagmamalasakit niyo sa amin at sa mga bata. Hindi namin alam kung paano namin malalagpasin ito kung hindi rin sa tulong niyo.

Simon Morris, Peter Volhoegen, Mike Aguilar and the Standard Chartered Bank Global Team Your generosity of spirit and tremendous support remain priceless in our hearts. Your assistance during Jerry’s illness allowed us to explore and exhaust all means for him to beat this cancer. What remains equally appreciated is the sincere effort to provide Jerry a normal venue to express his talents and skills in spite of his disease. Your support was definitely beyond the call of duty.

Medical staff of St. Luke’s and Private Nurses. Drs. Vic and Precy Caguioa, Bondoc, Ramos, Martinez, Gary Lorenzo, Gerry Cornelio, Carlos Dy, Ruby Li, Siozon, Francis Javier. Pain and Onco-Fellows. I have never known medicine at its noblest since I met and worked with all of you. So much compassion and care were shown to us. I know it was difficult to break the news each and every time we complete an MRI and it broke all your hearts to see Jerry disappointed when you have to tell him the bad news. Nevertheless, we appreciate all the effort and genuine concern.

If there is anything good this cancer journey has given Jerry and me, it’s the long lost siblings we have discovered in the persons of JR and Chu Bautista; Ed and Betty Trono; Olivia and Stan Yao. You were all big brothers and sisters to me and I will never forget the kindness and generosity you have shared. Ed and Betty, thank you for sharing the Bible readings with Jerry and me. Without a doubt, it helped Jerry prepare himself for a life with his Savior.

Assumption Batch Mates; Yummy Moms; High School Friends
For your untiring patience and listening skills to my aches and pains. Constantly inviting me to normal activities and breaks I needed badly. Weng, Anna, Terry, Cherry, and Ria for coordinating everything and setting up Jerry’s wake and internment.

Tito, Yorkie, and Raul. You were all brothers to Jerry. For your endless and tireless effort to show Jerry your love and friendship. Thank you.

Tita Tet, Jo, Tita Marian, Tita May, Tita Cora and Jenny. You are all my surrogate moms and I value the lessons and advice you have shared with me.

Fr. Eli Matta. Fr. Larry Tan, and Fr. Kit. For the daily visits, holy communion, and last rites that paved the way for Jerry’s complete acceptance of his everlasting home.

To those I have failed to mention due to the lack of time and space, please accept my apologies. You know who you are and God knows as well. May He bless you all with His loving kindness and mercy and may joy, peace, and love be always in your hearts.

The grief that I am going through is shared by many, his parents, siblings, in-laws, friends and colleagues will definite have his or her reason for missing him for truly Jerry was really good in the roles he was blessed with. The phrase “Jack of all trades” may very well describe Jerry except that he excelled in all.

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