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To feel again |


To feel again

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
To feel again

May 5, 1956. A Saturday night. My cousin and I went to our first jam session. Remember what that is? A dance party where all the girls were seated on one side of the dance floor and all the boys were standing on the other side. She wore blue. I wore pink. Our lipstick — I was 12 years old at the time, she was 13 — was Tangee.  It’s like a neutral shade that mixed with your lips and created a color that was supposed to suit your face. We still have that type of lipstick until now. My first dance was with Joji Buñag, whom I have never again seen since and my cousin’s was Poch Kairuz.

I don’t know why this memory just popped into my mind when I typed the date. That was 68 years ago! My cousin and I are still alive but I don’t know if the boys — now, I’m sure, seniors — are. I just thought I should write their names to inform them that they still exist in someone’s childhood memory.

I write about my life, which continues to plod along, leaving the bedroom, turning off the aircon there, to walk to where my computer is and turning on the aircon and electric fan there to cool me off while I am writing. The heat is unbearable. I have on one side a bottle of Pocari Sweat, brought to me by my grandson Nicc; on the other side a glass of ordinary cool water — I received a text warning me about drinking ice water in this weather. Two glasses of some sort of water to remind me to keep myself hydrated. If you ask me, I would rather spend my life in bed half-watching TV and half-napping.

I seem to be welcoming this year with tragedies. I am known as a strong woman with a lot of verve, which now seems to have been mislaid. For weeks I have had trouble getting out of bed, preferring to wallow there, thinking of nothing but feeling an indescribable emptiness. I seem to have lost everything — my husband whom I dearly loved, my daughters who have grown and live so far away, my stepchildren who are also profoundly grieving for their wonderful cherished Papa.

Furthermore, I lost my breasts to Stage 3 cancer. That operation taught me what the word “barren” really means. When I take off my blouse I see flat skin marked with scars that I have to put ointment on twice a day. I have absolutely no idea what to live for. I pray to God and my husband to please take me away from all this but it doesn’t look like they intend to. It will pass, I know. I will adjust. I also realize that this is the first time in my almost 80 years that I have felt so deeply disheartened. That’s the word for me now — “disheartened.” My heart has forgotten to feel. It just beats steadily onward.

Nena, one of my closest friends, calls me every day to ask if I want to have lunch at her home. My children entrusted me to her care. Because I live alone I don’t have an appetite. I mean, why should I cook for myself? She has set up for me lunch and a mahjong game afterwards. We have had three of these visits. Donna Leveriza, a wonderful new friend I have made through Nena, comes to pick me up. We go to Nena’s apartment for lunch. Then Mencie Millionado, another new friend I’ve made, comes to join us. Mencie brings the laughter to the group. We play until dark then Donna brings me home and I am dead tired.

I learned to play mahjong as a young bride. There was a time I would bring laughter to the table. Even at The Sunshine Place I would play mahjong on an electronic table because of a good American friend, Maggie, who learned to play it in her 80s. We would get together and play. Now Maggie and Angie have passed away and I stopped playing there, too.

How sad life is when you forget to feel and laugh!

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