A Reflection on the Second Anniversary of Roberto Rivas’s Repose (November 19, 2008)
Twice now the seasons have come and gone; the sleepy Winter and the rebirth of Spring, the never-ending days of Summer, and the gradual fading away of Fall. I have always disliked Fall, with the eerie sound of the wind whipping through the trees, knocking the last intransigent leaves from the branches, adding to those already-fallen, which are emitting a musty smell. During this season of transition from life to death, now two years ago, your time of transition was appointed by God, for reasons which we who remain cannot know, at least until we join you on the Last Day, before the mighty throne of God, on that fearsome day of Judgment.
You were the one who sought out the lonely to give them company, and in fact that is how our friendship began that December day in 1994. You noticed that I was feeling down, troubled by the awkward changes of life, the angst of youth, and uncertainties of which path to follow, whom to trust, and how to safely navigate the seeming social chaos. You would not allow me to spend countless hours alone, but came and retrieved me with your family, ensuring that I had a chance to experience new things and meet new people. During this time, I even acquired fluency in your language, taking in your culture, and seeing myself as a part of everything you were. Even after we became separated by both my move away and your descent into a revolving cycle of incarceration for petty offenses and stints at a stable working life, you continued to share yourself with everyone, bringing people together. Whether you were up or down, you treated those around you with respect and kindness, and always offered justifications for everyone else, never seeking to judge your friends for their mistakes.
How cruel then, that when you passed from this life, you were alone, in the quiet of the night, with no one present to comfort you as you drew your last breath! After giving compassion and love to so many downtrodden friends, we were not there to comfort you and pray for you at the fearsome moment that your soul departed from your body, the moment which all men should fear and prepare for in earnest. (Let the reader make note!) Indeed, after having spent the previous day helping your friends with their move, you embarked on that fateful journey. Entering the car, did you know you would enter eternity? As you checked your rear-view mirror, did you suddenly review your life? Or were you unaware of the impending event that would take you from us, thinking forward to the next day, the new day, wondering with hopeful anticipation if things were finally going to go your way? Perhaps this was the dawn of a new day for you, and we in our selfish grief wish for you to be here, even if this would have meant an extension of your suffering?
Did you suffer inside, because while you were around others, you were still alone? Did your attempts to heal us of our loneliness stem from some inner solitude that you could not surmount? We loved you (and still love you!) and now that the murkiness of this vain life has been cleared, we hope that you feel our love in a way that perhaps you could not feel before. We pray that you are not lonely now, but are surrounded by your ancestors and our ancestors, in the place of hopeful anticipation of the Resurrection. We pray that God forgave you of your mistakes for the sake of your love for Him and others, and for the fact that you never judged. We will never cease to pray for you in this regard, for who ultimately knows the state of another man’s heart? Who can ever know for sure, apart from divine revelation, who is counted among the ranks of the just?
Oh compassionate Lord, give rest to Thy servant our brother Roberto, and may we be found worthy of the Kingdom as well, so that on that great day of Judgment, we might stand with him and hear together Thy words: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!” (Matthew 25:34).