My Leni

Eulogy delivered by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the final day of the wake and inurnment of his wife Leni on April 15, 2023 at the Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati.

My Leni and I had an idyllic marriage for 62 years. True, we had differences in our upbringing, aptitudes, religiosity, and even values. My Leni was spiritual, while I was pedestrian. My Leni was shy while I was outgoing. My Leni was private, artistic, caring, empathetic, nurturing, motherly, and was at her best when working alone, painting alone. I enjoyed socializing, dancing, public speaking, multitasking, writing, arguing, philosophizing, and was at my best when working with people and ideas.

With God’s grace and mercy, however, my Leni and I have learned that, we could – as we did – turn our weaknesses into strengths, and our differences into opportunities to grow in the Lord and to be happy by faithfully obeying Him who is much greater than us. My Leni and I have found true love, contentment and happiness in offering all that we were and all that we had to Him who created us in His image as temporary visitors to earth and as permanent citizens of heaven.

As a lasting memento of our love for each other, we celebrated a year ago our Diamond Wedding Anniversary in private – as desired by my Leni – in the secluded Carmelite Chapel in Tagaytay, capped by a simple but magical ceremony presided over also (like today’s (“Eucharistic Celebration and Inurnment Rites”) by His Eminence, Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Jr. Our private Anniversary Celebration was attended exclusively and blessed generously by the 86 incumbent archbishops and bishops of our Catholic country.

The only other attendees were my immediate family, as well as Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo who represented my official family, the Supreme Court, and by Ms Tessie Sy-Coson who, together with her siblings, own the Tagaytay Highlands where we received our apostolic guests in a private dinner. My Leni and I were extra joyous to be accorded this rare honor by our shepherds.

But now, my Leni is gone. She was snatched by our Lord Jesus last Easter Sunday and brought her with Him during His resurrection to rest forever in the Heavenly Kingdom. But for me, as the stranded visitor in this desolate earth, my Leni’s sudden and totally unexpected departure was agonizing, traumatic and devastating. My Leni had no history of heart problems. I brought my Leni in an ambulance to Makati Medical Center (MMC) due to hypoglycemia (that has already been arrested 12 hours before by her ingestion of two miniature Toblerone chocos), cold sweat and general physical weakness, not due to high blood pressure or any heart ailment.

During the days and hours prior to her untimely passing, she looked and acted hale, healthy and happy. In fact, on the evening before her death, my Leni jovially chit-chatted online with our children and grandchildren who live in New York City. None of us – none of us – expected My Leni to pass so fast.

Today, I am drained. I am exhausted. I am depressed. I am shattered. But not defeated. I am consoled by the thought that she went without suffering any long, painful and debilitating illness. At the MMC emergency room, she did not wrench. She did not wince. She did not baulk. She passed as privately as when she worked.

With this newly found wisdom and consolation, I commend my Leni to our Heavenly Father. Though extremely difficult, I will try to be strong. I will try to befriend grief for it will never go away. I will try even harder to wipe away my tears knowing that my Leni is now with my Divine Master who will love her better than I can ever, ever do.

Farewell, my Leni, till we meet again, till we embrace again, till we are joyous again in the Heavenly Kingdom soon.

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