I lost my dear son, Cocoy, to a tragic death a week before he turned 31. He left behind a wife and two very young sons. I was devastated. I could no longer live in our family home for 27 years; the empty seat of my son at the dining table was torture at every meal.
So I finally moved with my wheelchair-bound husband to a faraway city in Mindanao, a block away from my sister and family’s house.
I thought I had escaped from grief, but misery loves company. My husband quietly bid his last goodbye in the middle of the night. Girlie, my youngest, told me consolingly her father wanted to spare me from a nervous breakdown. And Gladys, with arms lovingly wrapped around me, said, “Mahal ka talaga ni Daddy, ‘My, hinintay pa niya birthday mo.” I believed my children’s words of comfort. Their father departed days after my 62nd birthday!
Traveling to new places with my children somewhat eased my pain. I marveled at the sight of the stately Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, New York. We visited the home state of the great emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Museum showed his life, joys and sorrows in a high-tech setting—a spine-chilling experience, especially his assassination. There was a warning at the door for people with weak hearts to stay out.
I stood agape before the lofty and majestic mountains of Montana, the Big Sky country. I wonder to this day if God lives behind those skies, which seem within one’s reach! No wonder some noted celebrities consider Montana their second home. Brad Pitt starred in the movie “Legends of the Fall,” which was filmed on location in breathtakingly scenic Montana.
The parade of the tiny penguins every sunset on Phillip Island, Melbourne, and The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks at Port Campbell by the Great Ocean Road, mesmerized me. And I had fun feeding the kangaroos!
I came home refreshed. I began to laugh again.
Our golden jubilee high school homecoming class of 1959 filled me with excitement, seeing my never-seen, never-heard classmates again after five decades. It’s heartbreaking, though, to learn of departed ones.
It was on that once-in-a lifetime occasion that I reacquainted with my batch-mate, Sergio. He was a retired military officer, a widower at 72. Cupid played its naughty arrow on both of us, and love bloomed in the afternoon of our lives. We exchanged marriage vows later.
I heard people say that “walay ikaduhang langit (no second heaven)” — but there is. But death cut short my bliss
when my second life partner succumbed to the Big C, after only a year and a half of our union.
Grief and loneliness came knocking at my door again.
It’s been almost four years since my second widowhood. I’ve learned to accept the inevitability of death, and that “every goodbye is the birth of a memory.” Time heals all wounds, indeed. I needed to be a model to my children and grandchildren on surviving and moving on, so I stood up.
I find comfort in my me-alone time by experimenting on new recipes for my family to savor, taking care of my garden, reading and listening to Oprah’s life-changing “SuperSoul Conversations” on podcast, watching movies and savoring bonding moments with my nine siblings, who are all in our sunset years. Funny stories of our youth are retold countless times, accompanied by help-I-can’t-get-up contagious laughter.
To quote Robin Williams: “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
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Daylinda Viacrucis Quiroz, 76, of Biñan, Laguna, says, “I love to smile even through pain!”
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