Just tonight, before going to sleep, I learned that Wawel Mercado, my old school friend at the Ateneo de Manila, had died last week. The news made me burst into tears because I knew the inspiring and yet sad story of his family, and the many challenges they have had to face over the past 15 years or so. And now this little family is bereft of a father and husband to take care of them.
Many families don't have fathers or husbands; but few stories are like that of Wawel's family, which was until last week composed of himself, his paralyzed wife who has been unable to move or speak since she woke up from a coma after childbirth, and their young daughter, not quite a teenager.
It's quite a famous story by now, taken up by the media as a shining example of true love and selflessness -- and, yes, it truly is -- so please google their story to see the interviews they have given in the past in the newspapers and on television. Their story has truly inspired so many people.
THE EXISTENCE OF A DIVINE PLAN
And now Wawel is gone. I never remained in touch with him after school so I can't say I'm close to him at all, although we did share some laughs and good conversation way back at the Ateneo. I will always remember him as someone creative, smart and funny.
But even I found myself questioning the existence of a divine plan in this very sorry news of a man taken from life too suddenly and too soon, leaving behind a paralyzed wife and a young daughter. I cried buckets full of tears just now, thinking about them suddenly bereft of a provider and protector.
Wawel's story always inspired me whenever I got reminded of it. I wish now that I had taken the time to contact him through the years and tell him so. Instead I remained a passive observer of his life for years.
But for everyone else, allow me to tell you what I come to understand whenever I think of Wawel Mercado's shining example:
1. True love does exist.
2. Complete selflessness is difficult but not impossible.
3. Happiness is relative. It's not your situation that will make you happy, but what you think of it that will give you peace.
4. Everyone can do with more love and caring towards the people in their lives.
5. Every person has problems. But inspiring stories like that of Wawel and Mila Mercado, and their daughter Therese, puts everything into a more accurate perspective.