Saturday, October 16, 2010

Erika's Story

Dear Bro. Bo,

My name is Erika, I'm 21 years old. I'm a fresh graduate and I am immensely enjoying the blessing of getting two jobs which I enjoy. While I believe that everybody deserves to be doing what they love because it simply means it is what God has so willingly bestowed upon them (God's plan is in your deepest desire), I have had my own share of downs, not in the process of getting to do what I love but more of this: while I get to do what I love, another person who I believe also deserves to be in this position is no longer here. Let me share to you my story.

I was in sixth grade when I first met my best friend. At that time, I just know her as the smartest girl in our level. It was not until first year that we got together. Our first day of high school found us spending time together at the first recess session. It all started with a smile, as she was seated in front of me. I kept wondering why this girl kept turning around smiling at me. When our math teacher called her and told her to list a set of five representing her friends, I was surprised when she wrote my name as the fifth friend, as we barely talked in sixth grade. It all started from there.

She and I became best friends all the way through high school. We were the dynamic duo, always in school competitions together, workshops; we would always study together, be supportive in our individual endeavors, etc. She was the person with the big brain, the even bigger heart, with a smile that can light up the room. She was a well known pessimist because she doesn't want to end up disappointed. I would always be the optimist, the ambitious one, the one who would get out of her comfort zone just to prove a point. We were both grade conscious, (she more than I), and we both ended up with honors at our graduation. She had more than 10 medals, apart from being valedictorian. She was the school's biggest achiever and everybody was so sure she would graduate college with high-flying colors and eventually become a successful doctor.

We parted ways in college since I got admitted to UP Diliman. She stayed in the province to study MedTech as a pre-med course. Even with that distance, we remained as close as ever. At those days when I would come back to the province, I would always make sure I'd meet with her, and we would go to our Alma Mater just to visit and give an update on each other's college life. Those days, she would rant about studies, about how frustrated she is, how she would read a book from cover to cover but still get some test items wrong. I would tease her often because of her overly grade conscious attitude, and she'll eventually realize how silly she sounds and laugh it off.

I would always be very comfortable being with her. I would share and rant about studies and love life and my college adventures. She was also very religious, an avid fan of Mama Mary and she would always pray before exams and competitions. She would always encourage me to join her in prayer, and I am always very much willing to do so.

This girl changed my life. I loved her dearly. She was the perfect best friend because I loved her despite her flaws. I had them, too, but in her eyes, I was also perfect. I remember in one of her letters to me, she told me "Never mind what other people say for what they have seen is only your surface. There is something very beautiful inside of you that only the ones who truly love you, sees." Those powerful changed the way I do things, the way I see people, the way I see myself. My best friend loved and accepted my for who I am, and she sees right through me, and beyond my flaws. She focuses on every person's beauty.

I went back to the province in December of 2009 and I got to see her (of course.) After our visit to our alma mater, she went to confession. I had already planned to have confession with my family so I just accompanied her to a small chapel at a university center. After that, we met with a couple of friends and then went home. Before we parted ways, we hugged, as always. She hugged me really tight that day, and I told her I will see her in March.

Last March, we were already near our graduation day. I went back to the province to be with my family and to spend time with some of my friends before going back to Manila for my graduation ceremony. Being a film major, I had already successfully defended my thesis production. Upon going back to the province, I only had my written thesis to go.

I was in the middle of writing my thesis when a friend suddenly popped up of facebook chat at 10am, telling me my best friend was rushed to the hospital due to formalin intoxication. She had decided to take her own life.

I rushed to the hospital to find my best friend on life support. The once dynamic, always full of spirit girl, now laying down on a hospital bed, with a toxic chemical rushing through her veins, binding with her blood, destroying her organs little by little. Her mother saw me in my shocked state and told me to come closer to her and talk to her. I did not know what to say. So instead of asking why, I just told her, "It's going to be okay, I'm here."

At about quarter to 11pm, although I did not want to be, I was already convinced that she might not make it. So I called our parish priest to give her absolution. Her parents agreed and so she was given blessings and prayers. I went home after the blessing, at 11pm. At 11:11pm, they had pulled the plug. I lost my best friend of eight that years that day.

The circulating news was that she got very frustrated with one of her grades and that one of her professors told her that she was not going to be able to be cum laude anymore. I know what being at the top meant for her; it was only then that I realized that she had equated being at the top with everybody's acceptance. Upon hearing this news, as she reviewed for her finals with some friends, she threw up her hands in the air and told everybody that she was tired.

She didn't talk to me about this; when before, she would. I had no idea that it was already getting to her that much; so much that it would be enough to make her believe that dying would be her only way out. Of all people, I did not ever think she would take her own life away. I believe there is something even deeper that went on there, she just didn't want to share it to anyone... although I wished she did. Even not to me, to anyone she'd be comfortable sharing it to.

I did not know what to do. At her burial, I stared at the coffin for a very long time wanting to believe it was just a nightmare, but it wasn't. Time passed, I am still trying to heal. Sometimes I would forget about it, but it all goes back when I am alone or when I am reminded of her. The pain of losing her grows, but the confusion grows with it. The day before her burial, I had a dream that she was all burnt, surrounded by fire, carrying a big cross upon her back. I took this as a sign that she needs so much prayers. Everyday after that, I prayed for her. Praying for her helped me believe that God will be merciful to her. I know that suicide is a mortal sin and people say that people who commit suicide might have gone straight to the fire. Although people say that at least she's in a better place now or that she is at peace, I am very much bothered by how she ended it all by herself. Because as far as I know, you are not at peace with yourself if you went to the extent of wanting to end your own life.

Praying helped me a lot through these past seven months, but very recently I am again very much bothered by losing her. There are so many times when I question her, I ask why she decided to leave. Because it's not that she just passed away... It wasn't God's time for her to go... she decided on it herself.

It's just that, even beyond death I still want to be there for her. The image that I had in one of my dreams when she died again got back several times these days.

What even hurts more now is I want to understand, but I can't. I wanted to let it go but I'm finding it hard to. I pray for her everyday. But it seems these days, she has been appearing to me through that very disturbing image. I'm bothered because, when she thought that death can solve all of her problems, taking her own life away might just lead her to a far worse place.

What's giving me hope is the fact that she was given absolution before nanay and tatay pulled the plug off. I pray that somehow, God forgave her after the injustice that she did to herself. I pray that even upon her last breath, she regret what she has done and asked for forgiveness.

I've been praying so hard these days because I want her to be at peace already. Until that image in my head stops and clears out, I'm just not sure if she's already happy. Even beyond this life, I still want to be there for her.

I all these are again coming back to me after seven months guess because in 33 days, she will have turned 21. So many happy memories from 8 years flood back in my mind... that made me miss her. Somehow maybe she sensed that and she came to me in that bothersome image, needing help. I just keep saying this in my dreams "Don't worry, don't worry. We'll make this right."

God's mercy is beyond our understanding... so I'll leave her in His hands. I just hope that in His time and with all of our prayers, she will finally appear to be at peace... telling me that she's okay. I am praying that all the talk about the beyond-death consequences of suicide will be put aside and that my best friend will finally have that eternal rest.

I am enjoying life, my family, my friends and my career... I get sad when I see her colleagues in pictures during their oath taking to be medical technologists, some preparing for medical school. I am always thinking, had she been here, she should have been one of them. I should have been celebrating with her. Then again, sometimes I would blame myself, I could have been there for her more often. Maybe, just maybe, I could have done something. She went through some sort of manic depression. She, of all people, doesn't deserve that.

I am asking for your prayers for her, brother Bo. And may I also ask for you to pray for those she left behind. She was an only child, and it is most painful for her parents. I include them in my prayers all the time.

And may I also ask for you to pray for me, too. That I may be able to be at peace with this, that I may be able to accept it slowly but surely. Beyond that, I hope that God will answer my prayers, for His mercy, for His forgiveness for my best friend. I miss her immensely.

Thank you, brother Bo. I hope you can also enlighten me.

Erika Alvarez


Hi Erika,
Your words are beautiful.
Your love for your friend.
Your struggle to search for answers for questions that are really very difficult to answer.
Yes, God is forgiving.
And I believe your friend has been forgiven and is now in God’s Love.
Still, missing her will be part of the consequences of her imperfect choice.
I pray for her family.
I pray for their healing.
In Jesus name.


  1. You are really a good friend I can see. And with this I will also share a short prayer for your friend. God is indeed very merciful!!! God Bless.

  2. Indeed God's love is beyond limit...surely she was forgiven, for His mercy is enormous. Be at peace for that is what Christ Jesus said "Peace I give to you."

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Erika. It was indeed a beautiful friendship! I can't help but remember how my Tito Randy took his own life, too. The reason why he killed himself was still unfathomable. It's still a mystery.

    One day, the whole family was alarmed. He couldn't be found. He's not at work and it was getting late. He's a kind, cheerful, yet quiet man who loved to spend time with nature. And there my uncle and cousin ran to the forest and found his lifeless body,hanging on a tree.

    Torrents of tears flooded the day of his burial. It was so heart breaking, still fresh in my mind. Since he took his own life he couldn't have a funeral mass inside the church. Good thing a kind priest gave a mass at his residence and that consoled us somehow. He left without saying goodbye to us. What's more poignant was he left his wife, widowed and his 2 small kids, fatherless.

    Why??? 7 years had passed but we can't answer this three letter word question. It seems there was no reason why he committed suicide at all. Why??? Sometimes there are questions with no answers, and that's what we called mysteries of life. It's not for us to solve or answer. It's for God to keep.

    God bless the souls of the departed, Amen.

  4. I will also pray for your friend, her parents and for you.
    God bless

  5. Hi Brother Bo,

    It's me, Erika. Thank you very much for your words and most especially for your call for prayers. It gives me great comfort to know that there are people who, even if they don't know my friend, will mention her name to our Lord.

    I just want you to know something very beautiful happened two days ago; I was on the way home from work and I was praying inside the taxi. I said to our Father, Lord, if my best friend has been forgiven, You will give me an assurance in the form of purple fireworks. (my best friend greatly enjoyed watching fireworks, and she loves the color purple.)

    Upon passing by Quezon City circle, I saw God's assurance. Not once, twice nor even thrice, I saw purple fireworks four times.

    And never again did that bothersome image appear again. I know she is at peace. Thank you very much for all of your prayers.

    Erika A.

  6. Hello Erika,

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I actually can't help myself crying while reading it, because its reminding me also of my big brother who did the same thing, and its been 11 years and the pain are still there. Moving on is not easy, specially if we are already attached to a person, but one thing is for sure your friend is happy now in God's love. Maybe she still attached to you thats why you still seeing her disturb image, you need to let her go, its hard but it will help you and her to move on. Just always think that she is in good Hand now. We will offer a prayer to your friend and her family. May you find peace that you are looking for. Gob bless

  7. That's good to hear erika... just always remember the beautiful things you had with her. In time, everything will be really okay. But, lets continue to pray for the parents of your friend.