I know I said I would only issue a new edition of Travels With Myself II twice a month. But some stories can’t wait two weeks to be told.
I don’t know why I became so attached to her. Or more accurately I know why, it just surprised me it was so instantaneous. I met her on my first trip to The Philippines, 18 months ago. I was charmed by her. Of course at the time I was not in my right mind and I was culturally overwhelmed. I was taken right away with her warmth and her intellect and her facility in English in a sea of Tagalog.
I invited her to be my co-conspirator in my need to cast a few pebbles of hope in a lake of want. I asked her to keep an eye on Carmen’s extended family and let me know how I might help, anonymously. She readily agreed. And so began our slow dance with our respective futures.
We became ‘pen pals’ and corresponded regularly over the months while I was in Canada, 12000 miles away from her flock.
She told me of her hopes and dreams. Of the pressures she placed on herself to please people, to help, to save. She may not have been a princess, but she was a saint.
We talked philosophy and meaning. And death. She asked often about Marlene’s journey with cancer and how had I coped with caring for her, and my loss of her. Even though she is Christian and I am an agnostic Unitarian she didn’t prosthletize and I didn’t debate. I promised her I would always listen even when we didn’t agree; She didn’t mind being challenged. She asked questions. She hungered for learning.
She wanted to go to graduate school in America, or even Canada. I encouraged her.
I looked forward to seeing her again when I returned to The Philippines; we had some wonderful chats. She read my blogs faithfully.
I hoped to have many more of these conversations in the ensuing years, to be her mentor as well as her friend.
But it was not to be. The young pastor of the Yahweh the Great God Christian Church died of her stomach cancer Wednesday night June 17 Pilipiñas time. So much potential. Such a wonderful young woman. Lost to us. No wonder I loved her. No wonder I mourn her.
Adette Tapel was just 24.