There have been so many deaths – too many deaths – in my community recently. It seems like we were just recovering from news of someone’s death when we hear of another dreaded event.
It is because of this, and for other personal reasons, that I am so interested and invested in my Eschatology class. One of our tasks is to come up with a case study, and lead the class in a discussion. This week, it was our group’s turn.
LOLA AT MIDNIGHT
1998. Eight year old Mary trudges behind her mother as men carry the make-shift coffin up the hill to the Catholic cemetery. They had just had the funeral service at the Catholic church. Everyone is wearing white shirts and tops, including the ten children who joined the procession. Before the coffin is laid to rest, the adults carry the children over the coffin.
When the funeral ends, Mary walks back home with her family, purposely looking straight ahead and resisting the urge to look back, just as her parents taught her. Do that, and her lola will visit her. She also resists the urge to pick the flowers and leaves along the way. Do that, and someone else in the family might prematurely die. So she walks resolutely forward. Back home, she proceeds to change out of her clothes.
“All clothes in one pile on the floor immediately,” mother reminds the family, just as Mary throws her clothes on top of the bed. When mother sees this, she scolds Mary. “Do you want your lola to visit you?”
Two weeks later. It is the 9th day after the burial, and Mary sleeps with her sisters. Suddenly, Mary jerks awake. Her eyes instantly shoot to the clock positioned above the door. It is past midnight.
The door then opens, and Mary waits, expecting her tita to enter. “Maybe she’d just gone to the toilet,” Mary thinks.
But a white, translucent figure enters in. The first thing Mary notices is the face of this white figure, and she recognizes it. It is her lola! It is unmistakably her lola, with her short hair, and wearing the same clothes they had buried her in. And she is hovering about ten inches above the floor.
Lola proceeds to the couch near the bed, and Mary realizes that her tita is on the couch, sleeping soundly. The figure leans over her tita, and Mary finally shuts her eyes. The next thing Mary knows it that it is morning.
Two days later, the same thing happens to her cousin.
Seven years later, Mary becomes a Christian. She never experiences the same thing. She still cannot interpret these events, and now that she is in IGSL, she hopes that more light would be shed on this matter.
What would you tell Mary? How would you explain the presence or appearances of the “soul” of the dead persons that can still be seen by their loved ones?