IT IS almost five years since my father died. But I can hardly forget that endearing moment when my family, neighbors, and clan reunited over his loss.

Relatives from as far as Bicol and Zamboanga went all the way to Manila to pay their last respects to my father, who died at a young age of 39 due to an enlarged heart and respiratory complications from smoking.

I can still remember how the rest of the neighborhood fell into silence and bereavement during my father’s week-long wake. Concerned neighbors lent their services and helped us entertain guests. During the internment, the whole village was almost my own family, with everyone joining us in the burial convoy to comfort us in our sorrow.

The presence of concerned friends was physically and emotionally felt as condolences flooded until my father was buried.

But people’s memory of my father seems to have left too at that moment. Their consciousness of my father departed as the years went by.

Whenever my mother, my younger brother and I frequent the cemetery to clean my father’s grave, we feel depressed realizing how rare my father’s tomb gets visited. There are neither candle stains to clean nor dried flowers to keep. I also hardly hear thoughts of him from others.

If not during his birth date, my father gets to receive visits only during the first of November. It is as if his memory only gets to be reminisced on the day that all departed souls are “obliged” to be recalled.

If I am depressed, just imagine how disheartened my father’s soul would be if he was to know that only his immediate family cares to visit his grave, in the spot where they swore they would never forget him with that moving song, Hindi Kita Malilimutan.

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Behind the veil

From all the friends he had won and relatives he had supported, how could my father lose them simply because of death? Had not his soul touched their lives once? Does not a man’s spirit forever live?

Christianity teaches us that praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy. At least a simple prayer anyone can effortlessly say will make my father happy, more than candles or flowers. Even if they don’t visit my father’s grave, I know that his friends and relatives remember him in their prayers.

Although I am also guilty of failing to regularly visit him due to compelling obligations and commitments, I know my prayer is the best gift I can offer to my beloved dad. I hope others can whisper a prayer too, to a man who once walked with them, and who will someday welcome us in our final reunion in the afterlife. Kris P. Bayos

PRAYER: Almighty Father, let Your caring hands console the souls of the departed. Bring them to Your embrace as they continue to hope to be a living memory to their loved ones. This All Souls’ Day, help people realize that prayers make the best offering to those who have gone before us. Remember them in the name of Your saints—the blessed departed. Amen.

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