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Mending once more |


Mending once more

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
Mending once more

MANILA, Philippines — As you read this I am in Subic hopefully enjoying the hospitality of my kumare — I’m the baptismal godmother of her youngest daughter. My friend has been inviting me to come to her holiday home for a long time. Could never go because my husband Loy was ill and I couldn’t leave him. Now he is gone and I prefer to go to her home that overflows with her children and grandchildren instead of spending the entire Holy Week alone where Loy and I used to be always together.

Widowhood is difficult. It takes time to get used to, I guess. Packing my bags for a week away I wonder if I should bring my tiny jar of memories with me. I have told myself this jar contains Loy. I don’t want it left alone in our apartment. I asked my son if I should bring it with me. He said, “No, Mom, you have to start disengaging.”

I am not sure I can just yet. I am not ready to tear myself away from him just yet. I need maybe a lot more time. I am still uncertain about life without him. True, he was in bed for the last three years. Our conversations became simpler as the years passed. Sometimes we still squabbled when he did not want to do what doctors advised. But I loved him. Didn’t quite realize how much until he passed on, leaving behind an interminable trail of wonderful memories, images of his warm wonderful smile, his beautiful eyes, his kindness, his desire for friends to come and sing. We did sing a lot together but the last three years changed that. He came back from the hospital not wanting to sing any more. It made me so sad.

I try to rearrange the apartment. His hospital bed, a gift from his eldest son who loved him so much, is still here, sitting next to my computer. Every time I see the empty bed my heart cracks. A daughter wants it but doesn’t know how to get it out of the unit. Another son now needs it but he also doesn’t know how to get it out of the unit. I want to donate it to Caritas because they have proven to me that they can get anything out of the unit but I must wait for the children’s decision. I have finally issued an ultimate deadline. It has to be out by April 3 or I will donate it to Caritas, whom I know will pick it up immediately.

It is so difficult to lose someone you love, the one single person who was so kind, so generous, so gentle, so affectionate. He had forgotten so many words but he never forgot to tell me he loved me very much. When I am gripped by the memory of him saying it, mumbling those words always, my tears almost drown me. I miss him — his presence, his company, my sleeping on the bed next to his hospital bed every night. I would have to crawl from the foot of the bed to get to its head because the hospital bed was jammed right next to it. In the middle of the night I would have to ease myself out. It wasn’t easy but after a while my body developed the skills. Now I am still trying to master the new skills — getting onto and out of the bed like any other normal person.

I am adjusting again. My grocery bill is now one-fourth of what it used to be. I no longer have to buy fruit juices, milk, chocolate drinks. My freezer is still full of leftover ice cream that he needed to help him swallow his pills. I cannot make myself finish them. I still have three cartons of fruit juices. I donated his leftover medicines to a senior home I once visited. All his clothes, plates and cutlery I have given to his children. I have moved on but no matter what I do, no matter how many times I tell myself to believe I will have another bright life in time, a question flashes: How will you live without Loy?

My answer is, I don’t know. I trust in God — for whom else can I trust? — that one day I will find myself again, a person whose tears don’t rim her eyes when she lunches with friends and Loy comes up in conversation. A person who feels whole, not this fractured self that looks at the floor and wonders why the million pieces that broke her are not there. Where are they? I feel them. Why do I not see them? How can I pick myself up, stick them together with gold like the Japanese do in their art called Kintsugi. Will I ever make myself golden and happy again?

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