In Rey's obituary, his children quoted the chorus from Dan Fogelberg's song, Leader of the Band....
The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through
And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
Clearly, the reason why they included these words was because of their dad's deep passion for music and the great influence he has had on their own love for it. I, however, see these words in a completely different light...
You see, for 25 years, Rey lived a very troubled life. He was distressingly into drugs and alcohol. He was in and out of rehabilitation. He went from being very successful to jobless, being healthy and handsome to wasted and haggard, from being so materially blessed to poor, from being number one in everything to hitting rock bottom. I was young then and though I witnessed what was going on, I could not fully understand it. I can honestly say that at that time, I did not feel any hatred for my brother, even though he caused so much pain and heartache to my parents and to his wife and children. What I really felt was pity. I could not comprehend why I was seeing my brother suffer while we, his family, lived our lives comfortably. I did not know how to help him.
Rey often labelled himself as the black sheep of the family. I now realize that he wasn't the black sheep at all...he was in truth, the chosen one.
The Lord chose Rey for His mission...His mission to bring us all closer to Him. Rey had to tread the difficult path in order for us to experience, through him, God's faithfulness, His perfect love, kindness and mercy. We learned to pray hard because of him. In the last 20 years of his life, Rey made a miraculous journey to conversion and in the process, led a lot of other people to conversion as well. The Lord gave him a new life and he lived it so well. I believe that his passing is the Lord's way of telling us that his earthly mission has already been accomplished. The Leader of the Band for Rey was actually Jesus Christ and his legacy is his own life story, which in his own words he said, was a testimony of how "astonishing Jesus' power is". He truly saves!
Before I left the Philippines, I found this photo of my mom and Rey, taken years ago during one of our many family outings.
I was overcome with great sadness at this sight, but at the same time, I also felt consolation when I imagined what it might have been like when my mom welcomed Rey with open arms as he entered heaven. What a joyful reunion that must have been!
Before I end, I would like to request that you may so kindly say this short prayer for my brother...
May the choir of angels come to greet you
May they speed you to paradise
May the Lord enfold you, Rey, in his mercy
May you find eternal life
Until we all meet again.
May Rey finally rest after a job well done. Thank you all.