I am walking again in this park with a smile in my lips yet with pain in my heart. I look up the sky. I see a group of clouds making different formations and the sun is shining brightly as it slowly moving from the east. The crystal blue color of the sky reminds me of her. How could I forget her? She left a big hole in my heart…
It’s been a month. I took a deep breath and shrugged my shoulder. I still remember everything…
“Why do all the people that I love leave me one by one?” I asked myself with my eyes on the ground while sitting on my favourite bench in the park.
“It’s best to cry when you want to cry, Eric,” said the lady in front of me.
I saw she’s wearing pink slippers. I slowly move my head up and saw a pair of familiar eyes staring at me.
She smiled at me while I just stared at her. Did she see what happened?
I was surprised that time. She was my childhood friend but we never get close to each other. She was living blocks away from our house before but their whole family transferred to nearby town after she graduated elementary.
“I’m not that kind of a child anymore, Cara.”
“Sometimes it’s good to control your tears but sooner or later it will become natural to hold them back and then eventually your heart will stop feeling anything at all.”
“Crying doesn’t change anything.”
“The more you can cry the less sadness you’ll feel. You’re simply too nice, Eric, so you should cry even if you’re a man because you don’t want to lose what’s important to you.”
I looked at her. I saw the sincerity in her eyes. It was the first time that I look closely at her. She was wearing a colourful kerchief in her head. May be it was her fashion style.
Then I thought…When was the last time I cried? I don’t know…It’s maybe because I’m getting used to it. Failure is the name of my life. I fail in everything, love, family and career. My girlfriend broke up with me in this park today. My parents were separated since I was two years of age. My promotion that I’ve been waiting for almost four years of working in a marketing company is still on the process.
“Life is so unfair for me, Cara. Maybe this is my fate after all. The fate of being left behind, the destiny to fail and to suffer. If we’re out to live in a world of nothing but suffer then perhaps we should cease to exist.”
She sat beside me. “Don’t say that, Eric. They always say that when you fall, it’s best to fall straight to the bottom and the farther you crawl back up, the greater you will become as a result. The ability to get up after a failure is far more admirable than the ability to never fail. I don’t believe in fate or destiny. And if there is fate or destiny, the only human who can surpass fate are those who can truly believe in themselves till the end. But I believe more in God’s plan. That no one is an accident and everything happens for a reason,” she said while looking at the sky. Her feet are swaying back and forth while her hands are on the bench.
I was surprised of what she said that time. Maybe she’s right and I was wrong. Of all the people who will comfort me that time, Cara did that. She is the least person that I expected because we were not really friends. I bullied her when we were kids.
After that conversation, I used to go to the park waiting for the chance to saw her. And I was fortunate because I saw her again on the same spot where I first met her.
We talked a lot like there’s no tomorrow. And because of that I had the chance to know her even more. She was nice and cheerful. She has a positive outlook in life which I never had. I always worry about tomorrow.
One day, I told her if I could visit her at her house but she refused. I was disappointed that time so I never went to the park for one week.
But week felt like years without seeing her smile and hearing her laughter. I really missed her so much. If I want to move on with my life, I would like her to be my reason. She made me appreciate life again.
After one week without communication, I decided to visit her. I took the risk after all. It is now or never. I asked one of the residents who live around the park so I found her house immediately. It was located under a bridge, a walking distance away from the park.
It is the only house under the bridge. It was made of bamboo and nipa. I never anticipated that she is living in a small house under a bridge.
I looked around. On the wall outside, I saw a poster of a woman and there it was written “May you rest in peace”.
I was hesitant to knock. The small door is made up of a wood but was distorted by some termites. Maybe it was not her house. I turned around and decided to go back. When I was starting to step forward I heard a familiar voice called me. I knew it was her.
I turned around.
‘She still wears her kerchief again’, I said to myself.
She was stunned. “E-Eric? Why are you here?” she asked.
“I told you I want to visit you.”
“Why?” she looks puzzled.
“You don’t want me here?”
“Y-yes…I mean no…It’s just that I was surprised.”
She invited me to enter the small house. And before going inside, she cut the nylon tied on the four corners of the poster hanged on the wall.
“Is she your mother?”
“You don’t have to feel that way, Eric.”
I can’t find words to say. Those were the times she needed someone to lean on and someone to cry on but I was never around.
“I’m ok, Eric. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“You can cry on my shoulder.”
She smiled with a bit of sarcasm. “You told me that crying doesn’t change anything.”
I also smiled.
“I know but for a woman like you it is very natural to cry.”
“Crying doesn’t require gender. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. Besides were human after all. Off course, I’m sad that my mother was gone however I’m happy for her. She is happy wherever she was. I’d already accepted the fact that all people have their own schedule.”
I just stared at her. How could a strong person be inside the body of this small lady in front of me?
“Crying doesn’t mean that you’re weak. Sometimes it means that you’ve been strong for so long. It symbolizes your pure love to a person.”
I took a deep breath.
“Do you want to walk at the park?” she asked.
I nodded. Perhaps the park is her favourite place.
We were silently walking when we passed by the bench. It’s the same spot where my girlfriend broke up with me.
She sat first. I was hesitant to sit but I thought…Cara approached me because of what had happened.
“Do you believe in true love?”
“Why did you ask that so suddenly?”
“I don’t know what true love is anymore. I thought I did and I was wrong. All I’m certain is that I don’t want to be hurt again.”
“Why do you say so?” she asked me while we were walking.
“My parents were separated since I was a kid. If it’s true then why my parents go on separate ways? If love is true then why my girlfriend and I ended up our relationship?”
“Pain and love are interconnected. You will never be in pain if you never love. But love is the essence of being a human. We are created to feel. Do you know the happiness of those who believe? Those people who believe in themselves and in God can alter even fate. If you really believe in it, it will come true. Even in love. God is love. Do you believe that God is true?”
“It’s the same when you believe that love is true.”
“How did you know that it is love and how did you know that it is true?”
“Love itself is true. It will never be called love if it’s not true. It is redundant when you use true and love at the same time.”
“Then what do you call those feelings that are not true?”
“Sometimes they are called infatuation, obsession or attraction.”
I was amazed and touched by this woman.
“You’re tough for a woman. Your parents are definitely proud of you. By the way, where is your father?”
“He left us after my mother was paralyzed. My mother… she was waiting for my father till her last breath.”
I heard her took a deep breath while playing her fingers on the bench.
I tapped her shoulder.
“Death is irresistible. We don’t know what will happen next. Life begins and it also ends because there is time for everything. Everyone died, some early, some late. It’s nothing to whimper about. But dying with nothing but regret and if only was pathetic. All we have to do is do the things we have to do before we regret those things we never did so live life the most out of it,” she continued and smiled at me.
How can Cara still smile that way? Her father left them with nothing. She had a paralyzed mother. She gave up her dreams of being a teacher just to take care of her mother and now she’s dead. She stopped from college because of financial problems. She has a small house under the bridge. Her life is like a misery the way it looks however she can smile that way. She is something.
“How can you go on with your life like that? I thought I was the unlucky person here,” I asked her as I tried to smile.
“There’s no such thing as luck but blessings. Good or bad, it is still a blessing. If there are bad things happening in my life, I count them. Then I also count the good things. Afterwards, I compare them. Then I always find that good things are more than bad things after all. When there is time that my hope is starting to fall apart, I count my blessings and I look up. Then I realized that there are things that I must be thankful for. The wide sky reminds me that there is nothing bigger than God, not even my problems.”
I was enlightened by what she said. I thought that I was the most unfortunate person but Cara’s life is more miserable than I have yet she is thankful for all the blessings she had.
“Cara, have you ever been in love?” I asked her without even thinking.
I felt sudden pain in my chest. It felt like it is bursting. I should’ve shut my mouth for asking her that question.
Then I felt someone pulling my shirt.
My mind turns back to reality.
“Pa, I’m so hungry. You told me we’re going to Jollibee.”
“Off course, Carlo…” I walk and hold his left hand with my right. “Come on. Let’s go?”
He jumps out of excitement and I lose grip of him. I see his smile. He smiles like Cara. From now on, we have to live a life without her. It’s lonely but I’m not alone because she left me with our son, Carlo. It was five years ago when I met her. She told me that she was in love with someone yet he did not notice her because he was in love with somebody else. I never thought that it was me. Then she died of a breast cancer one month ago.
She’s a very special person. She taught me to count my blessings, to be thankful for all of them, to smile in the midst of trials and to have a positive outlook in life. Besides, it will never be called life if there are no trials and problems at all. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cried. But these are the reasons what we are right now.
I smiled seeing my son’s reaction. As I watch him jumping, I feel the tears coming out of my eyes. This is the second time that I cried as I remember because the first time is when she finally closed her eyes and died in my arms. I thought my eyes are dry. So this is how it feels to have a true love, an unforgettable love.
The most meaningful episode of my life was those moments with her. She is the greatest blessing that I received from God. We lived our life the most out of it when we’re together with our son. And now, even if she’s gone, I will continue to live my life for her and for our son.
We walk away from that place holding each other’s hands. I know Cara is with us right now wearing her best smile.