I went to a wake and rather unexpectedly found inspiration from the widow of the deceased. I knew this couple well. They were friends of my parents though they were much younger in years.

Husband and wife were inseparable. I couldn’t imagine one without the other. And so, I was expecting to be greeted by a grieving widow. But not so. And I was enthralled.

Tita was in her element, holding court, regaling us with her stories, entertaining us with her mastery of history (memories with Mama), cracking us up at every turn in her story. She had perfect comedic timing. As always.

And then she whispers to me, “I have to be like this.” The words she left unsaid, I knew and understood. And yet, I wondered, how does she do it?

She tells me she never gets angry, never reprimands people, makes friends with everyone. Because stress and anxiety, she tells me, will simply make you sick and drive you mad.

Well, I can certainly attest to that.

When I get up in the morning, I already dread looking at my phone because there’s a message somewhere in there that’s bound to set me off—some delay, some inefficiency or some stupidity like a message that’s completely incomprehensible.

Inefficiency riles me. Lack of clarity irks me. Mistakes caused by indifference, indolence, inattention or idiocy drive me up the wall. But I especially fume at those who give me their word and break it.

You don’t say three o’ clock and then arrive at four. You don’t say Monday and then get the job done on Wednesday. One’s word is sacrosanct—at least for me.

So, yes, that’s a stretch for me—not to get angry or to never reprimand because my strength seems to lie in seeing what needs to be done or undone.

Each time I witness an inefficiency, whether individual or systemic, I immediately think about how this can be addressed and why the people responsible for this mess are not doing their jobs.

I once asked someone who shares the same controlling DNA as me, “How do I let it go? When I see a mistake repeatedly committed at work, how do I not get angry about it? When it’s been called out and yet, it’s repeated again and again? When the culprit is obviously any of the four: indifference, inattention, indolence, idiocy or worse, all of the above.”

She is as clueless as me.

While I probably will never aspire to be making friends with everyone like Tita, I still do aspire to be as “chill” as her.

Receiving her family and friends with such graciousness in the midst of grief. Driving away sadness with her smiles and shenanigans. It’s not because she doesn’t love or grieve but because she’s been blessed with joy, grace and chill.

I went to a wake and rather unexpectedly found inspiration in the most unlikely of places—in the heart and soul of a grieving widow gifted with grace.