VI. THE INTERVIEW: Part 3
(Conclusion of the Interview between Ermin Garcia and A.C.J. in the Sunday Punch Office, December 22, 1964)
Excerpts from the words of ERMIN GARCIA:
About a month ago, I told Don Rafael Gonzales, a friend of mine, “I always pray for you.” And he was very silent.
He himself was deeply touched by Karina’s death, largely because he saw how it affected me. Also he told me that his wife kept talking to him about Karina. She had read that “A Letter to Karina On Her Twelfth Birthday” I wrote after Karina’s death.
Don Rafael used to call my attention…even tonight, he said, “What I want you to stop is this habit of yours of going to the cemetery. Your daughter is not there. Just the mortal remains, the bones.” Then I told him, “You know, I go to the cemetery not because Karina is there, but as a personal sacrifice on my part.” And he readily understood it. And he appreciated it. “Yes,” he said, “on that ground, it is really something very good.” Just a personal sacrifice to show God, in the hope that God would let her know that I go there because I love her.
Once Don Rafael was telling me about the sudden grace, although he doesn’t call it grace—I told him that it is grace —to go back to God, and to look at things always in terms of God’s love for him.
And the mere fact that a man of his stature and at the height of his success is determined tomorrow to make a public declaration of his faith in God as well as an intimate account of his life and the blessings he has from God…the only way I can explain that is perhaps Karina helped me in my prayers for him. I really prayed for my friend to see the light of God.
Tonight, I was very happy…the main point is that before, Don Rafael would never be caught talking in public, talking about God, about Religion or piety…it was really spontaneous on his part, no occasion really for him, except maybe it’s Christmas. But it is so unlike him. It is so out of character, the character that we have known all these years. And he said, “You know, I was brought up, like many Filipinos, in a Christian home and my sort of faith in God was, when I was a child, very strong. It surpassed the modern child’s idolatry of Superman. But in the years of struggle for survival and for achievement, later I lost tract and the light”… His faith slowly glimmered. But now that he is successful, now that there is really nothing much that he would really want for himself, he comes out batting for God, for piety…..
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I regret very much now: I was away from the house often, except during those times we went out to San Fabian, or to Baguio, or for long drives. Well, of course, in the house we were together most of the time. And when we were together, Karina and I would start teasing each other. Sometimes I tried to just get her goat. Sometimes she would get bored, and she would just ignore me. But even when she was bored, she was always smiling.
She had a very friendly disposition and yet, for all her cheerfulness, her outwardly happy-go-lucky nature, she was made of sterner stuff. And then she never thought of telling a lie. And no matter how we joked about things, she never told a lie.
Deep inside her, Karina was very pious. But she did not show it outwardly. And she made a point not to embarrass people, people like me, for instance. Sometimes I would tease her while in church. She would just smile at me, and huddle closer.
She never tried to show me that she was better than me in religion. But although for instance she used to remind me at table about fasting, it was always in the spirit of, of like a friend.
She was very open with me, she treated me like her own gangmate… but she never went beyond bounds, and when it came to calling her down on the things that I did not want her to do, she promptly obeyed me.
She was very affectionate. Of all the children of course she was the most affectionate—to me, her mother, her sisters and her brother. She was
very close to me, to her mother-. She was the one who approached us, who cuddled up to us. And even to her sisters…she even cuddled up to her sisters.
And she always took her work very seriously, without taking herself seriously. She made fun of herself, enjoyed laughing at herself, even when she was working…but she always tried to do the thing which she was supposed to do properly: her homework, her schoolwork, her mission work. When it came to raising funds for charity or for the Church or for the Foreign Missions she never had any inhibitions.
She showed an amazing self-confidence. She could talk to adults or with children much younger than she with equal ease and composure. Nothing seemed to rattle her. Her affectionate nature found an outlet in children, especially babies. She was very fond of babies and volunteered always to take care of babies and little children.
Oh yes, definitely, the family, since the death of Karina, has been close together as never before… I’ve never seen the sisters quarreling, or the brother. There has been complete rapport and implicit understanding and the desire to help one another without of course trying to exaggerate it.
The way I see the meaning of Karina’s life was: FOR MYSELF of course, because I cannot help but take an apparently egotistical viewpoint on this, but it is the only experience that I can speak of, anyway….. GOD INTENDED HER FOR AN INSTRUMENT TO TRY TO GET ME BACK TO HIM.
When I was in the Ateneo, I was fascinated very much by “The Hound of Heaven” poem…..
I don’t know why I became attached to Karina and why Karina also became so attached to me in a very special way, so much so that when she died, a major prop in my life was pulled away, and I had to hang on TO GOD.
Because well, if it had happened to any of the other children, maybe things would have turned out differently. But the fact is: of all the children, it was Karina who was closest to me. And it was she who was taken by God.
And if there’s anything that I’d like to read about now, it is about the things which would bolster my faith in the life after death, in heaven… I believe in it. But sometimes, you know, there are thoughts that challenge that truth, challenge my faith…and finally I say, “I believe because I want to believe.”
And if there is something that I could not under-stand, that does not make sense to me, that I think would be contrary to reason, I just say, “Well, I can never hope to understand God completely, anyway. No one was ever intended to really fathom God.”
Now all these things stem from that association I had with Karina.
I AM GOING TO GOD THROUGH KARINA…AND MAYBE GOD WILL UNDERSTAND THAT IN THE BEGINNING WHAT BROUGHT ME
BACK TO HIM WAS NOT EXACTLY MY LOVE FOR GOD BUT MY LOVE FOR KARINA.
THE END OF THE INTERVIEW
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