My Beloved Alexander: A Life Cut Short
by Angelie Taala
Alexander was 21 when he moved to my town and started coming to my church. I was 16 years old, studying for a Bachelor of Music in piano performance. Alex was from another province in the Philippines and was the brother of my pastor—and my sister was my pastor’s wife. So Alex and I had seen each other many times, and we considered ourselves as brother and sister-in-law.
Alex immediately got involved in doing the Lord’s work in the church. He became a leader of the youth, song leader, and computer consultant—a graduate in the I.T. field. His skills, even of riding a motorcycle in the Philippine traffic, were very useful in the ministry. I, too, was involved in ministry at the church, serving as the church pianist and teaching in the children’s and Sunday school programs. Alex and I were good friends, always there to listen to each other’s problems.
After a time of working together at the church, Alex told me he was praying for me and that he would wait for me until I graduated. I hesitated over this, since I considered him my “brother-in-law,” but I knew I was falling in love with him as well. When I told my sister and pastor, they didn’t take it seriously, saying it was just a crush. But by that time I was 17 and knew my own mind. Alex began to officially court me, and our courtship went on for two years. We were both very happy.
But our relationship was not always harmonious because when Alex got his first job, I felt insecure. We were six years apart in age, and now that he was working around girls his same age, I felt threatened. Also, as boyfriend and girlfriend, we wanted to hug, hold hands, and kiss as lovers, being tempted by “too much intimacy.” But knowing that God had called us into ministry and not wanting to do anything that was against His will, we decided to break off our relationship and focus on ministry. The disadvantage of this arrangement was that we both got jealous when we saw the other talking friendly with the opposite sex. So, after a few months, we went back together. We would sing our favorite songs, with Alex playing the guitar and looking me straight in the eyes, and the words reminded us that we should not do anything that would not please God.
When I graduated college in 2015, Alex and I both had jobs. Then in 2016, Alex became a fulltime worker in the church. His salary was just enough to cover his weekly needs. Once he asked me if God were to call him into the ministry as a pastor, would I be willing to go with him. When I told him that we could serve God together, he smiled. Alex had a burden for souls. He once formed a basketball team and invited the players to come to church, but most of them refused. It made him sad, and I felt sad for him.
In 2017, Alex took a new job and was even issued a car by the new company. It was while driving this car that Alex proposed to me. He suddenly said, “Will you marry me, my love?” I was overwhelmed and said, “Of course!” We were both so happy because there would be no more goodbyes, only goodnights. This was February 2018. According to a tradition in the Philippines, parents should meet and agree to their children’s plan to marry and to make plans for the wedding. This happened on my birthday, September 7, and Alex gave me my engagement ring at the end of the day.
On Wednesday, October 31, with permission from my family and pastor, Alex and I made a 10-hour trip together to visit his hometown, attend his parents’ church, and give wedding invitations to his relatives and friends. I was so happy to be introduced as Alex’s bride-to-be. The following Monday, we returned home, cherishing sweet memories of the fun things we had done on our trip.
On Tuesday evening, Alex drove me home after my music practice, and we shared some deep thoughts about life. I wondered what death was like when our soul separates from our body. Would an angel call us? Would we see heaven’s gate open? Alex said, “One thing I know for sure, if our soul separates from our body, we will go to heaven and it will be the happiest day when we meet our Savior.” That was our topic! Then he told me goodnight and “I love you,” with neither of us imagining that he would soon experience the very thing we had talked about.
On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, I woke up early with a heavy heart for no reason. I got ready to go to my job as assistant nursery teacher at my church. Alex lived at the church, sleeping on a cot in a small room off the school canteen. The two of us always had breakfast, lunch, snack time, and dinner together. When I arrived at the church, I looked at the clock and it was already 7:25—so rare for Alex not to be up since he was usually ready by 7:15. I went to his room, knocked softly, and called, “Love?” I knocked again louder, without getting a response.
My heart began to beat fast and heavy. I ran to get the spare key from the church, returned, and knocked louder. With trembling hands, I managed to unlock the door, ran to his bed, and there he was—lifeless!
I ran to get the pastor even though I knew deep inside that Alex was already gone. So many things raced through my mind: “This can’t be! We still have our wedding, our dreams, our soon-to-be family. We already had picked out names for three children. When I touched Alex’s hand, I felt the softness of his skin and the hardness of his bone. I just held his hand and cried. Our dreams were shattered! I felt like I was drowning in a deep ocean. I was broken!
Within the hour, my pastor and sister and I went to the funeral home to pick out a coffin. I chose a silver one, and we chose a blue long-sleeve shirt for Alex—the one he had worn in our prenuptial pictures. Later, when his body arrived back at the church, my mind was in denial. I asked God why He hadn’t taken me with Alex or why not me instead of Alex. My sister stayed beside me all the time because I was so afraid. I hugged Alex’s clothes to me and cried. It was so hard, not just for me, but for everybody—the church family, friends, and especially Alex’s family.
On the second day—the day of the funeral—I still had not been able to sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see Alex’s lifeless body. I kept asking the pastor, “Where is God?” And my pastor lovingly enlightened my mind through God’s Word. I was strengthened enough to play the piano at the funeral. I also played “Amazing Grace” on the violin—a song Alex loved and the first song he had heard me play on the violin. I gave my best at the funeral. Despite my grief, I felt happy because at the service some of Alex's workmates accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. That was an answer to one of Alex’s prayers.
On the third day, I was beginning to slowly understand what was going on—but still my eyes overflowed with tears. Our wedding was to take place on November 29, just three weeks away. But now there was nothing! Then on the fourth day, the day for interment, I never took my eyes away from the coffin until it was covered with dirt. At last my tears were silent, and I was able to pray, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done.”
Like so many other people, I never imagined that something like this would happen to me. Life is uncertain, and losing someone you love is painful. My response to those who ask is always: “Alex is happy now; he’s in heaven.” And Alex would want to ask, “How about you? When you die, are you sure you are going to heaven?”
I love to tell people about Alex, even to talk about our wedding plans. From his death, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, especially to have a heart for souls. Every day I miss him, but Christ is the source of my strength. I go to my Bible and devotional books for daily encouragement. Even though I know that Alex will never exist again in this world, I’m excited about heaven. One day I will see my beloved Alexander again! Right now, it may be months or even years before I feel normal again and my smile returns, but I know God will show me the way. His ways are higher than any of my own. He makes no mistakes.
I am 25 years old and back again at my work. In the mornings, I teach in the preschool ministry of our church. In the afternoons, I teach piano and violin at an international Christian school. I also serve as church pianist, playing for services and choir and orchestra rehearsals. Life is going on by the grace of God. I thank the Lord for all the Christian prayer warriors who have stood by me and fed me God’s Word. Jesus is my Anchor—my only Anchor!
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13, KJV).