PRAYER TO THE DIVINE CHILD JESUS
Divine Child Jesus,
Who shed Your blessings on whoever invokes Your name, look kindly on us who kneel humbly before You, and hear our prayers. We commend to Your mercy the poor and needy people who trust in Your Divine Heart. Lay Your All-powerful Hand upon them and help them in their needs. Lay Your Hand upon the sick, to cure them and sanctify their suffering; upon those in distress, to console them, upon sinners, to draw them into Your Divine Grace upon those who, stricken with grief and suffering, turn trustingly to You with loving help. Lay Your Hand also upon all of us and give us Your blessings. O Little King, grant the treasures of Your Divine Mercy to all the world, and keep us now and always in the grace of Your Love.
(Delivered during the Necrological Services at the Funeraria Paz, Araneta Avenue Quezon City, February 25, 2010, on the eve of his cremation and internment)
The Department of Medicine mourns the untimely loss of its beloved Chairman, Dr Bernardo Briones y David, more fondly called “Doy.” The UST Medicine Class 1972 likewise mourns his untimely passing.
Doy was a member of the historic UST Medicine Class 1972. It was the year which saw the graduation of two batches of medical students: the interns’ class, a product of the old 5 year curriculum, and the clerks’ class, that of the new 4 year curriculum. Never again will UST nor any other medical school will ever have that shared historic moment again.
Doy became my co-resident in the Department of Medicine in June 1972, one of the 8 residents manning the Clinical, the Semi-Private and the Private Divisions of the UST Hospital. In those olden days, the life of a medical resident was very simple: being in-charge of a particular clinical ward, answering calls through the paging system while on night duty, inserting IVs, NGTs and catheters. Doy performed his work in a quiet unobtrusive ways. He was shy, almost reticent. But he would break out into a mischievous smile which would obliterate his chinky eyes behind his black-rim circular eyeglasses. Never had I witnessed him raise his voice on interns & clerks, or to patients or relatives, or to the nurses and aides in the wards nor to fellow residents. Cordial to a fault, Doy did not have anyone who crossed his path. He was a friend to everyone. As the Greek playwright Euripides once wrote: “Life has no blessing like a prudent friend.”
Doy pursued his postgraduate studies in Hong Kong (in Pulmonary diseases) and pursued a relentless family life as well, having borne 8 children by Emma. In our alumni homecomings or class Get-Togethers, he would receive the title of “Most Prolific” hands down without any serious challenge. This distinction is certainly unique in these days of a severely contracted number of offspring.
Through the years of having known Doy as classmate and colleague, sitting beside him in conferences and grand rounds, I would admire the depth of his perspective in analyzing the case being presented. He would raise pointers while auscultating the chest of a patient brought in during our conferences which were, at that time, featuring “live” patients, or while looking at a chest x-ray, or in going over some lab data that most of us would probably overlook. His clinical acumen would be at par with the legendary Wenceslao Vitug, Hermogenes Santos, Mariano Alimurung and other great teachers of yesteryears. Even as his clinical specialty is Pulmonary Medicine, his incisiveness in the other disciplines is truly amazing. The great philosopher Cicero once remarked that “Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it.”
As the years wore on, he would be diagnosed with this disease that would ultimately claim his life. Doy lived through this malady without any whimper much less complaint. Faced with the inevitable, he accepted death with quiet dignity.
Those of us who now suffer the loss of his warm company can be consoled by the thought of having such a friend through most of our adult lives. For friendship improves happiness and abates misery: by doubling our joy, and dividing our grief. Our friend and classmate and colleague Doy has gone ahead of us to our Final Homecoming and Great Jubilee, becoming, as it were, a member of the Organizing Committee of heavenly hosts that would welcome each and every one of us in due time.
Doy, I hope not to see you soon. I still have many stories to tell our classmates and our much younger colleagues about you: how you were as a great clinician, a doting husband and father, a sincere friend. But do reserve a seat for me beside you just like the good ol’ days. Until then, friend.
We have all heard the “older people” talk about how swiftly time passes. Could it be that I have become one of those whom I used to laugh about? Or could it be that time is moving at a faster pace than before?
Since I doubt our universe has reset its time clock, I must grudgingly assume I fall into the “older set”. It seems only yesterday that I enjoyed spending time with Mandy Saguin. Actually it was during our reunion in December 2008 and July 2007. Sadly I have learned that this beloved classmate and friend had died. Apparently he succumbed to an intracranial event. He leaves a legacy of charity and good works to those who were fortunate to cross his path in this world.
Mandy’s untimely passing brings to all a renewed cognition concerning the brevity of life. Thought he seemed young and healthy, he is now gone from our midst.
On his memory let us renew our vow to remain close to each other. Let us plan now to meet in Manila in 2011 for our Alma Mater, University of Santo Tomas 400th Year Celebration the week of January 24-30, 2011. Go ahead and mark your calendar for the Ruby Jubilee in 2012 that will mark our 40th year as a class. We will have a Grand Homecoming May 23-28 at the Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas and in Manila December 2012. Take every opportunity to commune with your classmates. Life is delicate and no one is promised tomorrow.
To Peachie, Mandy’s wife and two sons, we extend our heartfelt condolences. To each other let us look for ways to connect to our roots. Our fallen classmate would smile in agreement.
A REFLECTION OF GRACE ESTANISLAO ALVIAR TO ALEX
Life Without Alex
The pain and grief that come with the death of a loved one never really leave. It may be a thing of the past, but the feeling from it, raw or muted, will always be part of one’s personal history that will always affect the present. To those with deep attachment to the one who passed away, the memory lingers on.
As I look back and reflect on how life has turned out, I feel that it is still a work in progress. It is exactly 10 mo. and 8 days today since Alex’s death. When I revisit our 35 years of married life, and before that the years we had known each other in medical school, I am grateful for the happiness and fulfillment that we had together. I must admit that when I think of my children without their father, and know that my future grandchildren will never meet him, I still feel the pain that will be with me to the grave. It is mine alone and I know I can manage it better as the years go along, parallel with the life that I make for myself.
Fortunately, one eventually learns to manage one’s grief. There’s just no choice. The world does not stop for one’s pain and sorrow. There’s a life out there to live.
Through all the turmoil into which my emotions had been drawn, I am very fortunate to have been surrounded by friends and relatives who comforted me and gave me all the support i needed. With them through the grace of God, a sense of perspective slowly insinuated itself into my consciousness, giving me an idea of what direction to take. They praise me for my strength and courage. I can only say that we all have hidden reserves of strength that we don’t know about until a traumatic event befalls us. Somehow God gives us the grace and fortitude to carry on.
Looking back, I was in this journey somehow since October of 2007. I knew only too well what he had gone through. I felt it closely and keenly, having been with him 24/7 from day one of his illness. Men of little faith would have dared ask God WHY? I was fortunate to have from the start, accepted and understood that it was all a part of HIS plan. But letting him go came gradually. The shock, no matter how ready I thought I was, then the pain….and then the tears.
Despite Alex’s physical absence, there is now a very real spiritual presence, and I would feel or hear it in silence and will always be with me in God’s love.
I do a lot of praying specially when I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to which I have been used to since Alex was shifted to PD. I would always reach out for my rosary and pray. It was a consolation to commend Alex to heaven and to attend to my spirit by lifting my thoughts to God in the darkness that I have found myself in. Praying and hoping for healing are the positive things that led me to accept Alex death.
I still cry quietly everyday. Tears ease the pain and I do not restrain from shedding them except in public. I know it’s better to cry and let go. When my two daughters got married 20 days in a row, I was able to look on dry-eyed even if I was vulnerable. I prayed and asked Alex to help me not to cry. Seeing them walk in my brother’s and son’s arm instead of their father’s could have brought on the tears. But I solved that by taking time out a day before each wedding to shed those tears and get them out of my system.
What really sustains me throughout my lonely existence without Alex is the fact that my children are comparatively happy and comfortable, and that my only grandson is bright and does good in preschool. I have work to look forward to.More importantly, God has always been my stronghold. I know He looks over me all the time.
I have a full life ahead of me, no matter how short, and I intend to make the most of it in God’s grace and with Alex’s help. In God’s time, I know we will be together again.
Grace Estanislao Alviar