disabled girl with her money

Losing Rosemarie

Our beloved Rosemarie died suddenly on Sunday morning. If you have been following my blog anytime over the past 5 years you’ll have seen many photos of Rosemarie and her family.

Her mother had taken her to hospital Saturday night, as she had been vomiting the whole day and complaining of chest pain. Sunday morning she ate some rice and vomited, then suddenly went into cardiac arrest. The doctor was quickly on hand, but she could not be saved.

Jerry and I arrived in Estancia on Sunday night to a devastated family. Death in the Philippines is an unusual experience for we westerners — it’s a very ceremonial time, and the family and their friends will spend weeks with the body.

While the men work, the kids play. The next few weeks are a strangely joyful and sorrowful time for all. There is something comforting in the togetherness of the preparations.

So for the past few days the men have been busy putting up borrowed tarpaulins, cutting down bamboo trees, and gathering pieces of discarded lumber to support a resting place for Rosemarie’s coffin at the house. She will stay for 15 days until the funeral.

Jerry, Rosemarie’s 3 brothers and sister, plus the neighbours kids wait at the top of the hill for Rosemarie to be carried up by her father and relatives.

Family, friends, neighbours, (and curious passers-by) will all visit the body in the coming weeks. They’ll eat the food, and drink the drinks Rosemarie’s family will be expected to provide, then leave donations to help with the expenses.

Living here in the Philippines has changed my whole understanding of poverty, and foreign aid. I hope in some small way my blogs can provide a greater understanding for you as well.

rosemarie's last days in the house
Please know that photographing Rosemarie’s coffin and funeral arrangements is customary here in the Philippines and extends a great deal of respect to her family.

Rosemarie I will miss your insistent, playful nature. How you could burst into laughter when your little brothers did something funny, then suddenly fly into a rage and throw the nearest cat or chicken out the window. Your shy smile when I asked if you wanted a boyfriend, the way you repeated my name over and over, your fierce protection of your money (which you demanded of all who visited). We love you Rosemarie always and forever.

Giving Back,

Written by Melinda J. Irvine

Melinda J. Irvine is a professional writer, small business owner, and daily blogger — helping real people like you find their voice and share their burning message with the world. In her spare time, Mel is busy building (and writing) a free online learning centre for the marginalised kids of Estancia, Philippines.

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