Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Solomon Cajigas

(Edit -- 9 July 2013:  I visited my doctor today, and he is one of the elders mentioned in this article.  I will make a couple of corrections here for the sake of being more accurate.

Solomon experienced some symptoms that are important for others to know.  He was experiencing an extreme headache as well as double vision.  He visited the doctor -- we both had the same doctor -- and there was enough concern to test Solomon even though it was a national holiday.  An aneurysm was discovered; it was longitudinal, which precluded repair by a scope.  The traditional cut and drill surgery could be done with a 50% chance of dying on the operating table.  A survivor could expect some type of blindness and/or paralysis.  Solomon consulting with family; however, he died three days after the test.

His father also died of an aneurysm.  So, I hope my readers will be insightful enough to be aware of these symptoms and family health history.

I must also correct a couple of details about the day Solomon passed away.  He was not feeling well enough to conduct Sunday services and told the elders as much.  One of the elders and a local Filipino woman was with him at the time of death.

And that is all I know.  End Edit)

I didn't know that only a few short weeks ago Solomon, who was originally from the Philippines, was examined at the hospital with the prognosis that the damage was already too great to repair.  He knew he had only a short time.  I didn't know.

The deaconess told my wife at the memorial service this afternoon that as Solomon made his pastoral preparations this past Sunday morning, he called the two elders who assisted him together for prayer.  Both elders are medical doctors, one of whom is my doctor.  After the prayer, Solomon beamed that smile that only he could beam, and then he passed away in the presence of the two elders.

At the memorial service I looked at the person who grabbed my arm.  It was Linda, my friend from China.  She asked me if I wanted to see Solomon.  She led me down the hallway, and spoke softly to a Korean man.  He nodded and allowed us into a sparkling bright viewing room.  I was allowed to stand next to Solomon, while Linda chose to stay in the observation area to watch me.  I said good bye, and I apologized to him for not being a good friend.  I wish I would have been a better friend, but now that is past.  But at least I had some time alone with him at the last.

My wife had crammed her way, as Koreans are wont to do in crowded situations, into the crowd during the memorial service.  I chose to stand with several other men at the doors in the hall.  After the service my wife joined me at my side, and I told her, in Korean so as to not tip off or anger the other foreigners near us, that I had seen Solomon.  She was full of questions, but it turned out people were permitted en masse to see Solomon in the viewing room.

Practically every event in South Korea has the potential to be a spectator sport, which is why I excused myself from the viewing room when Solomon's wife and three sons were with him.  The other foreigners looked at me, and followed me out of the room.  Some things should never ever be a spectacle.

After the family had left, I reentered the room.  Several medical personnel were with Solomon, including the man who allowed me in the room with Linda.  I was beckoned into the room.  I was then told to help the men lift Solomon into a transportation box.  I was shocked at the request, but I wanted to do something, as late as it was, for a friend.  I helped with the legs, and that touch literally lifted the gloom and despair I had been feeling.  Just like that I was straight of back again.  As usual Solomon came through for me yet again.


Last Christmas Solomon joined my family at our home.  Our middle daughter had recently married by that time, so I, along with Solomon and my new son, enjoyed a celebratory cigar on the back patio.  We also had some whiskey to mark the occasion.  

Tonight, even though it is raining, I will have a cigar or two by way of remembrance.  I will do so alone sans alcohol.

Life is strange.  We of two different backgrounds and belief systems.  Yet some sort of connection was present.  So long, Solomon Cajigas.


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