This is Part 3 in a 3-Part tribute to Venite Castillo, written by his friend, Inah Tolentino. 

My Goodbye

I already lost my father, mother, and sister, so I can say I am well-acquainted with grief. Still, I got blindsided by the grief over losing Ven. He was a best friend to many, including his own sister. To me, he was my soul’s twin brother. There was no topic we couldn’t talk about. We loved dark humor and enjoyed sharing jokes about death and dying. In fact, three days before he left, he was wearing all white so I told him: “Don’t go towards the light.” He replied: “Don’t worry, when your time comes, ako susundo sayo (I will fetch you).” 

Ven during the renewal of vows of his pastor, the last wedding he attended before he left this temporary place of residence

Now I know whose face I’ll see when my own time comes around.

We talked about the grief of having no more parents, of moving forward. We poked fun at our tears and pain. He and other friends even called themselves “Team Ulila,” claiming membership to their club was for free. He was my number 1 fan and that of my husband and children. Whatever we did seemed fantastic in his eyes, and he never hesitated to say so. He was known to encourage and push people to do more and maximize their gifts.

Our last conversation revolved around haircare, and he asked if seafarers get jet lagged. I thought it was a shame that our last interaction was so trite, yet it also seemed so right. There was nothing left unsaid, anyway. We had always told and shown ourselves how much we loved each other as brother and sister in covenant. I have no regrets. 

After Ven passed away, my thoughts were: it could have been me. I may be next. Unlike Ven, I don’t feel ready. I asked myself what loose ends I still have.  I remembered my first boyfriend who broke my heart. Although I’d long forgiven him, I always wished he’d apologize. After 22 years, we finally said the words we should have uttered many moons ago. Venite’s life and death gave me the courage to  put my outstanding issues to rest and to  forgive verbally the one person who hurt me the most. This, to me, was Ven’s parting gift: forgiveness and healing.

Ven was an ordinary person who  lived an extraordinarily generous life. He was hilarious, yet so deep and perceptive. There were no dull moments with the man. His life was like crushed flowers that released an aroma of worship that could span generations. He lived a life of worship and inspired others to do the same.

Ven’s life is worth celebrating because he is you. He is me. We don’t need any role, position, or rank to impact the world. We don’t need anyone else’s love to share the love of the Father. We just need a spring to our steps while we serve. Like Enoch, Ven walked with God and God took him. I can’t imagine a more apt ending. Or is it just the beginning?

Like Venite, may we live a lifetime in adoration of our God. Like him, may we learn to live fully, so in time, we may die empty.

End of Part 3

Inah Tolentino

Inah Tolentino is an international trainer. She is currently a Training  and Development Officer for Oceania Cruises. She maintains a blog called @inahrelationship. She’s a world traveler, public speaking coach, and freelance writer. She’s mom to Rohan and Shire, and wife to Ray. They currently reside and operate an Airbnb in Tagaytay City. Inah is affiliated with Destiny Ministries International.