Marlin

Smiling, happy Marlin with baby Georgina. Photo courtesy of Georgina's mom, Charlie Manuel-Co

Smiling, happy Marlin with baby Georgina. Photo courtesy of Georgina’s mom, Charlie Manuel-Co

Before last night’s Yin Yoga class began, the teacher said we’d be focusing on our hips. I thought, “Okay, let the floodgates open as they may.” If I start to bawl like a child during a hip opener, so be it. And cry I did as my pent-up grief gushed forth. I’d been in tears sporadically the last few days, anyway, but crying during yoga has a more cleansing effect. The quietness, the solemnity of the pose, the freedom given to the heart through asana – those gave that particular crying episode more potency. It was also more gut-wrenching.

My friend, Marlin Lindo, courageously battled cancer for seven years. On a sunny Tuesday morning, she transitioned and left us in the most peaceful manner: After a full day working, she went to bed and never woke up. Her cancer had spread and was being treated, but it gave rise to undetected tumors in her brain, which caused hemorrhage. She lost consciousness that night and held on for a few more days, seemingly to wait for family members who were flying in from abroad. Once they were all there and had said their goodbyes, she slowly went into the sunset that she loved so much. In my book, there’s no better way to go.

I take what little consolation I could get from this. That she went peacefully is a relief but the fact that she died so young and full of hope is devastating. She fought bravely and never betrayed a tinge of bitterness. If she ever felt it, which I doubt, she didn’t let on. She not only fought for her physical health through a strictly healthy diet, Reiki sessions and stress management, she took great care of her mind and soul by surrounding herself with positivity and being a source of light herself. I had always been in awe of the way she fully embraced her circumstances and regret not having told her.

Her faith in God was absolute and unshaken down to her last breath. She was a prayerful woman who gathered strength from Divine Will. Living with a grim diagnosis, sleeping with it, waking up with it, eating with it, watching television with it, getting painful treatments for it would have defeated a lesser person. But she soldiered on with a smile and a prayer.

When I was still in Hong Kong, one of my favorite things to do was hang out in Marlin’s apartment to eat and watch romantic comedies. Or cartoons. Or the American Idol marathon (when it was still cool and the Davids – Cook and Archuleta – were battling it out. She claimed Cook for herself, ahead of us all). I’m not at all fond of cartoons and romantic comedies, but was there for the food and company. She loved hosting us, mainly because she didn’t want to be alone on weekends and let her mind get the better of her. She made sure to be surrounded by laughter. And we always laughed. Hard.

She was very generous – with time, advice, her cooking. Being at Marlin’s apartment meant you will be fed, and no one loves to be fed more than I. Many of us had lunch at the office pantry every day, and would swap horror stories about cafeteria food. I always complimented her healthy homemade lunches – all organic and salt-free – and she would smile and say there are days when she’d rather eat junk. I believed her.

In 2009, I was one of the many millions of expats made redundant by companies and sent home. She was one of many friends in Hong Kong who offered to take me in after I’d given up my apartment. And when I settled back in Manila, she would send me Facebook messages every now and then, inviting me to stay with her if ever I wanted to visit. Looking back, there was so much love during that time, and the memory of her generosity, as well as those of others, always warmed my heart.

While spending most of her time in Batangas with family, she had her treatments in Manila – where they were far less expensive than in Hong Kong – and I and another friend would stay with her a few times to chat, crack jokes, and mainly distract her from the pain of the infusion. Again, no bitterness. No wailing. No complaints. No woe-is-me. She endured it all and made sure WE were comfortable. One time, she gave me John Green’s Looking for Alaska and told me she regretted reading The Fault in Our Stars. We sort of laughed at this because who wouldn’t be depressed after reading The Fault in Our Stars?!

The last time I saw her was for lunch in Makati some time in June. I handed over an item she asked me to pick up from another friend in Hong Kong, where I had just attended the Asia Yoga Conference. She looked well: She cut her hair short and we all agreed it suited her. She was in high spirits and had a nice reddish glow about her. We were all optimistic that the medication was making a dent and were discussing other alternative treatments she could try. We were joking around and laughing at whatever silliness we could think of but got serious as she contemplated her future. By this time, she had already decided to have her infusions in Lipa, Batangas, and we promised to see each other again the next time she was in the city.

It was not to be.

And there I was, holding half-pigeon pose for three minutes with my forehead on the floor and arms outstretched, sobbing because my hips hurt and my friend was gone. All I could think about was Marlin’s tinkling girlish giggle and the fact that no one will ever hear it again. When the class was over, there was lightness about me that I hadn’t felt since I heard the news. For the first time in days, I felt release.

I would like to think Marlin, too, wherever she is, is reveling in her new lightness, marveling at her new existence, and dancing with all the stars.

Comments

  1. lisa pilapil says:

    This is not just about clicking “like” to your remembering Marlin, nak. You are so lucky to have had her as a dear friend. ‘Releasing’ is your greatest gift to her. How wonderful as she now twinkles in the heavens and shining, sharing us her light!!!

    love always,
    mom

  2. Prayers and love for Marlin. I look forward to meeting her.
    And light and love for you, Louie. Thank you for sharing her story.

  3. Thank you Louie-an for writing this blog about my sister Marlin. Marlin was fortunate to have a friend like you who writes from the heart. From what you wrote here, I can attest that she treated her friends as she would treat her family members. Family and friends mattered to her most. Thank you for your love, friendship, and all those time spent with my sister Marlin. Best wishes to you and your practice.

    • Louie Pilapil says:

      Hello, Raquel. Marlin was truly special and will be missed forever. She was lucky to have all the love and support from your wonderful family. God bless you.

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