“As we go on
All the times we
And as our lives change
We will still be
Friends forever… “
I remember singing this song wholeheartedly in one of the last hangouts I had with my high school friends before we separated our ways to go to college. We knew that things will be different, the pursuit of our dreams will take us to separate paths but we were certain that our friendship is strong enough to resist the potential oblivion that distance and silence can bring.
In April 2003, one by one, we left our hometown to move to other cities to continue our education in our pursuit of fulfilling our dreams. My 3 friends (Hannah, Glaiza, Margot) and I took a boat going to Cebu taking with us our hopes and dreams with so much optimism that we have a bright future ahead. Among the 4 of us, Hannah and I have the oldest friendship built. We’ve been friends since we were 8 years old. We went to the same school, ate lunch together, went to camps together, joined almost the same school clubs together. We went to our school on weekends, for either dance practices or gymnastics training for her and journalism class for me. We’ve witnessed how we discovered each other’s passion and strive our best to be better at it. Hannah is a reminder of the dreams and passion I’ve had when I was still young and naïve when I still had an intense level of enthusiasm that I can make all my dreams come true. (Even my dream of becoming a famous actress… if only I lived in Metro Manila. lol!)
Although we did not pursue our passions after high school cause Nursing phenomenon happened, our hearts were filled with excitement that 4 years in college will take us to greener pasture and a bright future.
College is not as exciting and as fun as high school but it’s comforting to have good old friends on my side as I walked through unfamiliar alleys of a different world. Everything went as to how we envisioned it to be; until Hannah had frequent severe headaches which turned out to be the effects of her growing brain tumor. She then had to go through various tests and a couple of neurosurgeries.
I remember visiting her at the hospital after her second operation. I could not help my tears from falling as questions and thoughts were running through my head, “how can she survive? If she will, what kind of life she will have?”
I thought we will lose her. I forgot that Hannah is a strong woman who never gives up a fight. After months of treatment, she regained her strength. Although she’s not as mobile and as sharp as before, it’s such a relief to see her walk and talk again.
Hannah had to go through therapies and should be closely monitored by her family. Therefore, she needed to go back to our hometown, leaving her dreams behind to fight for something greater than her dreams – HER LIFE.
We walked different paths since then. While all of us (high school friends) continued our walk towards earning a degree to land a decent job in the future, Hannah went back to the place where we called home. Hannah forgot a lot of things, she sometimes forgets the things she just told us a few minutes ago, but she still remembers us, her high school friends and the moments we spent together.
this was when some of my friends and I visited Hannah after 2019 New YearA few days ago, I visited Hannah together with some of our high school friends. It has been 15 years since she went back to our hometown, 15 years since we took a different path in our journey. All of us took various career paths; we became nurses, engineers, teachers, doctor, businessmen… Most of us are already married, some are living outside the country, then there’s Hannah still the same stubborn and strong-willed woman who forgot a lot of things but our names and the memories we shared. We found ourselves laughing at every detail she shared; like the hilarious and embarrassing names we made up for someone or how our classmate bought ice cream to impress our friend.
As a consequence of her illness, Hannah remains living in our past while we, her friends continue to move forward towards our future. While all of us are juggling with the complexities of adult life, there’s Hannah, reminding us of our beautiful younger years when everything was still plain and simple, when we still believed that our dreams are light years away yet, within our reach. Us listening to her stories and Hannah talking about our past was a juxtaposition of our past and our future. Hannah is the past we always look back while we (her high school friends) are the future that our younger self had dreamed to come. The future that we’ve been wondering what would be like is the present we’re living.
It hit me big time when she told us, “mulakaw namo dayon? Stay sa mo, dugay na raba mo wa ka bisita nako” (Are you leaving soon? Stay a bit longer, you have not visited me for a long time”.) Her plea made me ask myself, where was I in the last 15 years? I barely visited her, I was just contented with asking about her but she, on the other hand, remembers me and never fails to tell stories about me.
Our friend told me that last April 12, she wanted to visit me cause it was my birthday. She remembered my birthday but I don’t think it dawned on her that I was in Canada, miles away from her with a 15hours timezone difference.
It pains me to realize that I left Hannah well-kept in my past, but she on the other hand, still made me part of her present. Hannah never forgets about us. She remained who she was since that day we separated our paths, a friend who is there for us.
That short visit with Hannah made me ask, “we, who move forward in the last 15 years, how is our present? Have we remembered our past? Have we ever acknowledged that the things we have at present are the things we dreamed and hoped for in the past?” Cause maybe we forget, we became too overwhelmed with the mundane things of life, drowning to strive for the things we hope to have in the future.
Hannah reminded me of the passions and dreams I’ve had when I was young and naive when my visions are not being jaded with the complexities of the world we are living in. Passions that eventually waned and dreams that are already forgotten.
Hannah made me value the relationships I built in the past and made me remember how valuable they have been. Some friendships might grow silent and distant but their value remains the same.
Hannah may not be fully aware of how complicated the world has become but she taught me a valuable lesson: Never forget the people who were with you in the past. Never forget who you are. Never forget your passions and dreams no matter how old you are.
I am writing this having no idea how to end this blog.
This blog is for Hannah and to all our true friends we left well-kept in our past, barely visited, so close from being forgotten. I am hoping that as you read this blog, you will remember who they were in your life and hope you can drop by to say “hi” and check how they’ve been.
Not everything in our past is painful and worth forgetting. A lot of things in our past are beautiful, and they are worth remembering as you move forward to where do you want to be in the future.
Our past and those who were part of it are reminders of how far we have reached in our journey.
A Catholic Lay Missionary who travels the world to share her story with God. She believes that life in Christ is a beautiful adventure.