Gone but not forgotten (A tribute to Lea Ramos-Hiraishi)

(As published in Diyaryo Pinoy Bahrain Edition, July 25 – 31, 2019)

A couple of weeks after the article titled “When Hank Met Lea” was published in this newspaper, our dear friend Lea Ramos-Hiraishi breathed her last in the afternoon of July 18th. She passed on exactly 10 days after her 38th birthday, and 39 days short of what would have been her first wedding anniversary with the love of her life, Hank.

We were hoping and praying for a miracle, but God had better plans for her.

And so we grieve because she’s gone. She left a void so deep and very difficult to fill. But even in death, Lea – our sunshine girl, our poster girl for Hope and Courage – taught us precious lessons about life.

Thank you, dear friend, for showing us how to appreciate the gift of time. Indeed, life is short and should not be wasted on things that do not add value to its beauty.

Thank you for reminding us to make as many wonderful memories as possible with the people we love.

Thank you for making our lives brighter – with your radiant smile, your inner strength and positive outlook, your devotion to family and friends, your God-loving ways.

You will be missed; but your memory lives on in the hearts of those who love you deeply just as much as you cared for them.

Hank Hiraishi (Lea’s loving husband)

Thank you Lord for all your blessings and the opportunity to spend some time with my dear wife, Lea. Now she is with you O’ Lord. She will be an amazing angel for you in Heaven. Even though she is not with us, she still touches people’s hearts and lives. I know your purpose for me is not done yet and you will guide me on my path, Dear Lord. To my sweet Lea, you will always be in my heart, my love. You are finally in Heaven and watching over everyone you loved on this earth. Mahal na mahal kita and maraming salamat. Like what I used to say: “See you later, alligator!” I am going to miss you and your usual reply, “Alright, crocodile!” Babush, Babe!

Winwin Ramos

Tita Lea was a very strong person. She had stood as my mom ever since I was small. Siya yung isa sa tumanggap nang buong buo kung sino ako. Sabi pa niya, “kahit bakla ka, prove to them na talented ka at may mararating ka sa buhay.” Lagi niyang sinasabi sa aming mag-pipinsan na mag pray kay God at unahin lagi ang family. Always spread the Love to everyone around you. Siya nagsabi na kahit mahirap tayo, ipursige nyo na makatapos ng pag-aaral kasi yan ang mag aahon sa inyo sa kahirapan. I remember the time na sabi niya sa akin “Win, mag aral ka mag make-up, para ikaw na lagi mag papaganda sa akin.” And that time nag aral na ako mag make-up by my own and she’s very happy nung natuto na ako. I’ve become her stylist and her make-up artist. She’s my number one fan. I always remember those times na lagi kami nag-uusap ni tita about her problems, na ako lang daw nasasabihan niya kasi napaka-matured ko raw mag isip at marunong daw ako mag advise and make her laugh. Sobra kong mamimiss yung time na lagi ko siya kasama sa PCSO, Makati Med, at kahit saan siya magpunta. Sobra ako natatawa nung wedding niya kasi hindi pa raw nag-uumpisa, umiiyak na ako. Sobra ko po kasing mahal na mahal si Tita, eh. Napakarami niyang tinuro sa akin. She’s my Tita, Mom, and Best friend.

Jenny de Jesus Febrer

Lea Ramos is kind, generous, lovable and jolly. Kahit bago pa siya ikasal kay Hank at single pa siya when I met her in Carewell, at ako na may asawa’t anak, every time I share with her my situation she would always listen and give me advice. She would even send me stuff through Grab! Lea is a genuine friend, no wonder love siya ng maraming tao. I never heard her complain nor see her crying kahit alam ko na yung sakit nya was getting worse. Alam ko yung pakiramdam na yun dahil may cancer din ako pero pag-kausap or ka-chat ko sya, sya pa taga cheer up at taga encourage sa akin. She really is a treasure kaya mahirap tanggapin na wala na siya, marami siyang tinanim na kabutihan na mananatili sa puso at sa isip ko. Maraming salamat sa Diyos at naging malaking parte si Lea ng buhay ko at ng maraming tao. I will miss her so much.

Lhanie Destua

It pains me to say goodbye to a very strong and inspiring woman. There were times when she was obviously in pain, but she would still smile and say she was okay. Even on her last days when I tried to comfort her and urge her not to give up, she still managed to tell me to always enjoy life, with a smile on her face. She was truly one of a kind. Thank you so much, Lea, for inspiring me and many others. I will treasure all the good memories we’ve shared.

Marie Ganir

Last year, I gladly accepted when Lea asked me, along with other elder members of Carewell, to be a principal sponsor at her wedding. At Carewell, she exuded warmth and positivity, which we found amazing because she was able to cheer us up during those days when the cause of our sadness was her medical condition. When we found out that her cancer had metastasized, she didn’t want us to feel sad so as soon as she entered the center, she would be her cheerful self, always telling us that she was fine. She would assure us that she was fighting, and would fight while she could. She did her best to obtain those treatments through PCSO and other charitable organizations that help people in need of medical assistance. I was so glad that she met Hank. True enough, Hank did everything to make her comfortable until the end. We will miss her, our brave, sunshine girl. You will be in our hearts forever. God bless your beautiful soul.

Swanie Peralta

Lea is the epitome of courage and cheerfulness.  She taught us that we should never allow the thought of having cancer steal the enjoyment of happiness and other forms of wonderful blessings in our life. I feel blessed to have been close to Lea and experienced her extraordinary kind of friendship and company.

Gloria Robles

Lea touched my heart in so many ways – as my friend, Carewell sister, and goddaughter. She was a breadwinner at a very young age, which should be an inspiration to the young ones these days. She accepted her cancer with all valor – a truly admirable trait for someone so frail-looking. Lea is someone I truly consider a blessing in my life because she taught me the virtue of being kind to the unkind, forgiving to the unforgivable, loving to the unlovable and most of all, having a stronger faith in God’s unconditional mercy and promises. Her passing will never be a goodbye…it will just be a reason now to look forward to our own time to meet God when our mission here on earth is done.

Lea Flores

I met Lea through a cancer foundation, ICanServe, then she introduced me to a cancer support group, Carewell Community…that’s when we became very close. When my cancer recurred a year after Lea’s, I was so depressed that I didn’t want to go out anymore. But seeing her positivity despite her numerous metastasis, I asked myself who am I to feel so low? Lea’s jolly disposition is very contagious. We share the same faith (both Christians) and we both believe that our God is bigger than our cancer. We prayed together and she was a great inspiration and influence. She touched many people’s lives and her memories will live forever. My dear sweet Lea, I miss you so much but will be content with remembering our treasured memories together. I love you my friend, sister, and inaanak.

Lea’s Facebook posts about keeping love, hope, and faith in the time of cancer
Lea (rightmost) with some family members celebrating her mom’s birthday
With other Carewell members who actively supported the passing of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act

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