An ode to El

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CARLA BIANCA RAVANES-HIGHAM

It was a weird week to begin with. You know those days where you feel like something bad was going to happen, then it happened. My dearest cousin Izrael passed away in his sleep. He was 28.

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It’s always hard to grasp the facts when someone dies so young. You begin to question what you could have done more, if you could have reached out more, and it also makes you question your own mortality. At 28, we’re nearer to the finish line (though still far ahead) than we were 10 years ago.

El, as fondly called by those around him, has always been this force that we cousins all gravitated to. To say our family is quirky is saying it best. El was the only one who could find the common ground, as tricky as it may seem, and pull us all together during family reunions.

El and I always joked that our family was eccentric but we vowed our generation would be different. He has always been our family’s beacon of light with his laughter, his brilliant mind, and his many ideas.

I have never met a soul who was as generous as he was. El is the walking definition of selflessness. He graciously poured out all that he had, even if it inconvenienced him or even if it meant setting aside his own matters to attend to another.

The columnist’s cousin Izrael passed away in his sleep at the age of 28

He was the first one to cheer for my cousin, Rica, when she joined her many pageants. He helped me with my wedding photographs, my cousin Powie with his own wedding preparations, and gladly shared his creativity with my other cousin Joseph when he decided to open his own restaurant. These are only a few of the many stories one can share about him.

He was always so giving, always so loving, always ready with giant hugs. He also helped propelled Art in the country through ArtTrade, which I previously wrote about. He loved his mother more than anyone and anything and served our grandparents with dedication.

El was living proof that even if one had their own inner battles they were dealing with, they can step out of it and help another. El was never consumed by himself. He was a big ball of positive energy and believed that God was working, no matter how difficult life may have been at times.

To our dearest El, wherever you are, I hope you know that even if you doubted yourself and the impact you had, you have embedded so many in each and every one of us in a way that is unique to your relationship with us.
You have done so much for everyone, even sometimes at the expense of your own dreams, but it didn’t matter to you because what mattered to you was to make other people feel loved, feel taken care of, and know that they are important.

You have inspired all of us to live as generous as you and for that we thank you. Rest easy in heaven and enjoy God’s presence, though we grieve here on earth, we praise God because finally, you are in His embrace.
Until we meet again. We love you.

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