PART I. FIRST LOVE NEVER DIES
Have you ever lost someone you love dearly and wanted one more day, or an hour, or a moment just to be with that person? Have you ever wished for one more chance to talk to him/her and ask him/her a few questions that you want to be answered, or one more chance to make up with your own shortcomings? Have you ever prayed for one kiss or a hug from that person? What if you got that chance? But that is impossible. What if you don’t? Then all you have are memories replaying back in your mind like mine.
The phone rang. My heart was racing for no reason. My mom answered the phone. In my mind, Please, don’t let it be mine.
“Jen, it’s for you.”
It was my classmate. And it happened that that classmate was also my grade school and high school classmate. I was in college then. It was our semestral break.
“Jen, it’s me, July. (Pause) I have bad news for you.”
Please don’t let it be Jayjay.
“It’s about Jayjay.”
Please, not an accident.
“He had a vehicular accident.”
Please, let him be alive.
“He didn’t survive.”
I don’t know what to feel then. Or should I say, I was in shock. In my heart, I already know what she’s about to tell me. But my mind refused to absorb it. I couldn’t say a word.
“Jen, I’m so sorry.”
Still I couldn’t say a word. I can only cry. I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. All I can remember is the heart wrenching feeling that left me hollow inside. I asked her for a few details but she said she only heard the news from one of our former classmates in high school. She doesn’t know any more than that. I asked her where his funeral wake is, or when his interment is. But she said he was already buried 3 weeks ago. I felt helpless. I was hoping I could see him one more time even if seeing him lying inside a coffin. But even that hope flew out of the window. All I can do right then is cry, face grief. I felt like fainting.
Then I remembered. I had to make one phone call.
“Oh hi Jen! How are you?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
I cried then. I cried for a love lost. I cried for betrayal.
“I don’t know how to tell you. I don’t know how you will take it. I don’t know how I will comfort you. I am scared for you.”
“Because of that, I wasn’t able to see him for the last time. After 4 years of not seeing him, that would have been my last chance to see him again.”
“I am so sorry.”
After that, all I can do is….again…cry. How do you deal with grief anyway? Is there some sort of a formula for it? Is there a pill you pop and then after a few hours, you’re feeling okay already? I have felt grief before. I had relatives who also died. You will never be prepared once the day has come. But this is a different story. I can’t feel anger at Maria. I felt weak. I don’t even have the energy to spat at her. I just hang up. After a few days after that phone call, I have forgiven her. She’s a very good friend of mine. She goes with the same university as Jayjay. They see each other in the canteen, in the hallway, in the parking lot, in the gym. I only ask her a few questions about Jayjay whenever we see each other during sembreaks. I study at a college in Manila. They both study in a university in our hometown. I ask her just the usual stuff like: how he’s doing, how he looks like, (I don’t even ask for a picture. Then was no mobile phones with cameras yet. So you only have to rely on subjective description of the person you are asking.) what course he’s taking, is he still into basketball, do you ever get to talk, those sort of things. Not so detailed. I just wanted to hear something about him. After all, it’s been years since we last saw each other. Maria knows when I have first known Jayjay. She knows when I fell in love with Jayjay. She knows when I was heartbroken with Jayjay. She knows I still feel the same for Jayjay after all those years of not seeing him. So I felt betrayed when I heard about the accident and about his death, not from her, but from my college classmate, who was our (me and Maria) high school classmate, and a common acquaintance of Jayjay back in grade school days. I could have attended the funeral at least. But it was all too late. I didn’t even have the courage to visit the grave. I was scared. I was scared how I will take it when I am finally seeing his name engraved in a gravestone. I had to gain more courage to finally face reality. So when I was back for second semester, I had to pretend nothing happened. Right then, I have to face school. I was in fourth year proper taking up Physical Therapy. It’s tough being in a medical course. For me, I had no time for anything other than school. Even with my family, I can only see them during sembreaks. My parents visit me in Manila once in a while. All I did was study, study and study. Yeah. No dates, no parties. Just a few movie dates and dinner dates with friends who were also my classmates, and my review buddies. That was how I lived my life in college.
That was how I spent my sembreak that year. I stayed in my room for most days staring into outer space, face and mind blank. Sometimes, I cry. Sometimes, I reminisce the times we had spent together and I smile. Then my thoughts goes back to, He’s gone.
To be continued…