I continue to slowly declutter. And I would find something to remember, like old newspaper articles about my sister's death. She was stabbed multiple times from my uncle on Saturday, May 17, 2003. (I will save these articles.)
I never talked about her death at the time. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was an insecure kid. I was focused on others more than myself. I believed people will hate me. I assumed people will think I am crazy. I always wanted to be alone. I chose to keep it a secret.
I remember the last day I saw my sister. She looked sad. My sister had a crush on her friend for a long time. But he never expressed his feelings to her. She was hoping he would let her know. My sister did have thoughts about letting him know. But she left it on pause. She had no idea if he liked her. She was clueless by their mixed signals.
My relatives from San Diego visited us in Vallejo at the time. (They are not to blame. Nobody is to blame, even my uncle. I already have forgiven him.) My parents and sister took them to see my auntie (who is my dad's sister) and her family alongside my uncle (who is my dad's brother).
"You wanna go?" my sister asked me.
"No. I'll stay home (watching movies) with the cousins," I told her. (While I entertained cousins from San Diego, I saw my sister alone. She wanted her space. She decided to go out that night.)
They left at 9:30pm.
2 hours later, I received a phone call from my dad.
"Your sister is gone. Your uncle had killed her." he told me.
My uncle was a big brother to me. (He was 14 years older than me.) He was always nice. I have never seen him angry before. We enjoyed playing and watching basketball together. We loved basketball. I could not believe it.
I was confused and in denial. And I was scared. I begged, cried, and prayed at my parent's room. (They have an altar.)
"Please, my sister is alive. Uncle would not do this." I talked in front of altar as I kneeled. "God, is this really happening?"
It was almost similar to Jesus when he was scared to die. He prayed to God in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus also struggled with mortality and the reality of pain and suffering.
My dad petitioned his younger brother to come here from the Philippines. They were not talking to each other for 3 years. No smartphones yet at the time. (I witnessed their argument. My uncle walked away from my dad. He wanted his space. And he decided to live with his sister. The grudge between my dad and uncle began. I never contacted my uncle too.)
3 hours later, my parents have arrived. I saw my dad wearing a white hospital gown.
My sister had died in hospital at 18 years old.
I did not witness her death.
My auntie's home address was specified in the newspaper articles, too.
I have never visited her home. I decided to drive by her house. I was not able to come inside. Because my auntie and her family do not live there anymore.
Finally, I contacted my auntie while I was on a hike. I wanted to talk to her more about uncle. Because I was not ready at the time.
She doesn't want to talk about my uncle. I respect her. I understand. I don't hate her. I can't force somebody to talk about death.
For instance, I lost a coach last year. I want to know exactly how he died. His children are not ready to see his autopsy results yet. I respect their decision.
My mind was processing when I was near the home. My sister's life came to an end at this place. That was 16 years ago.
Last year, I went to the Philippines. I traveled alone. I learned more about my family history. And I visited my uncle's gravestone for the first time. One of my cousins told me uncle wrote letters to everybody. I thought he only wrote a letter to me and my parents. I realized my uncle was seeking unconditional love. Nobody reached out to him. We ignored him.
And I remember he ended his life on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 35 years old.
A few months ago, I read Kevin Hines' book, Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt. Hines constantly heard negative voices in his head. The voices told him to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on September 24, 2000. He was only 19 years old at the time. He was lucky to have survived his suicidal attempt.
Possibly, my uncle had negative voices in his head. He probably was not able to cope and deal with them. The toughest part in life is being able to train the mind. He was secretive. He never told his problems to anybody. He might have "went on an outrage, due to his bottled-up emotions."
And it took me 15 years to forgive my uncle.
I lost a sister. I lost an uncle. I lost a coach. I used to hate talking about death. Because I did not want any of my loved ones to die. And even myself.
Death is part of life.
"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living," Paul Kalanithi asked in his book, When Breath Becomes Air.
Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he worked as a neurosurgeon. Kalanithi asked himself, "What makes a life worth living?"