It took a long time to write this. Because until now, I still cannot believe that you are gone.
I wonder what really happened to you. What happened, dear friend? It's only you who could answer and I guess we would never know.
I am sorry that you were alone when you it's time for you to leave this world. I am sorry that it took awhile before somebody discovered you. It hurt to think about that.
So sorry, too, that we had to speculate. I learned about you through a Facebook private message. And even then, the messages were still unconfirmed.
Someone told me you asked for assistance after you learned that you need to undergo an operation. But that you had to cancel it. Someone told me about an amputation. All speculations.
You see, most of those people close to you seemed to have started missing you before you even left. A good old friend even told me that you called a few months ago thanking him for everything. What that a sign of something?
How about between us? I still have your note in our guest book written last November 2009 when you became our guest in Manila. A part of your message started: 'Friendshi is like wine, the longer it lasts, the better it tastes!' We had fun that time. Getting lost in the jungle of the small streets. I remember you treating me to a Filipino dinner in a small motel. I remember getting most of the 'pasalubong' (gifts) in your huge luggage.
Sadly, I remember that you also stopped communicating with me a few months afterwards. I assumed you thought I was angry with you. I was not. I gave you the peace you wanted but I always thought about you. I wanted to get in touch for a long time. I don't know why I didn't. And now, this.
But still in your note, you said: 'I believe that despite being apart from each other, we will all be together in thoughts and God's loving grace.' I believe the same, too, dear Bernie.
I have so much to thank you for. It's not too late, right? Please tell me you would be reading this.
Thank you very much for being a surrogate mom during my first weeks in the very strange city of Bangkok, Thailand.
Thank you very much for introducing me to your friends and the friendly warnings about them.
Thank you very much for accepting my friends and treating them like your best friends.
Thank you very much for teaching me how to slice vegetables, how to cook, how to enjoy Thai street food.
Thank you very much for the way you taught me how to commute in Bangkok, especially how to flirt with the food vendors, security guards, tuktuk and motorcycle drivers to get special treatments.
Thank you very much for accepting me as roommate, even asking your boss to give me a job in your company.
Thank you very much for bringing me to the best bargain places in Bangkok and teaching me how to haggle nicely.
Thank you for introducing me to the English-speaking mass in Bangkok, and for the tradition of offering something to the temples.
Most of all, thank you for being a good example of someone overcoming physical challenges to succeed in life. You're an inspiration. You lived an inspired life. I hope you know that.
Dear Bernie, thank you for being a good friend.
You were loved, I hope you know that. You will be badly missed.