Heart thumping like the hooves of horses springing from a race, I opened the gate and stood there looking so calmed and controlled. I waited for almost an eternity before I got accustomed to the deafening silence that greeted me. Suppressing a shudder that tends to break my calmed demeanor, I scantily eyed the place.
It was so serene, breathtaking but somewhat disturbing like being divided between sleep and wakefulness, trying so hard to hold on to your dreams because you’re so afraid to face the dreaded reality. I suddenly brushed off a stray hair that falls on my forehead, thinking in doing so, I might erase the trance of animosity that seared my soul.
I leisurely walked down the pavement, smelling all the way the myriad of flowers surrounding the entire vicinity. I sat down on the bench beside a tree and suddenly forgot my eerie feeling about the place when my mind were flooded with flashes of memories from yesteryears, like a projector changing its vivid colors. I smiled in remembrance and waited eagerly for her, at last, my chance is now. I will make sure, goodbye is out of the way.
“Huh!…..Claire! I’m so glad to……,” I stood up and turned around when I heard his voice to face her, opening my arms to envelop her with my hug but stopped in midair, staring at her, so dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She looked so different, so unlike her. I shook my head and closed my eyes, trying to vanish this mirage from my mind, trying so hard to envisioned the girl I’ve known before. No! This can’t be true! This is not happening! My heart is rebelling deep within me.
I opened my eyes once again and there she is standing in front of me, not a mirage but a real live person.
“Claire is that you?!” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes, Pete,” she smiled. “C’mon, why don’t we sit down and talk.”
As I sat down beside her, for the first time since we were together, I felt the stirring of awkwardness creeping inside my heart.
“How are you, Pete?” She asked me gently.
“I’m fine…..I should be the one asking you that question! What happened to you?! Are you sure?! I mean don’t get me wrong….Are you happy?! I’d never thought…..you’ll turned out to be like this!” I babbled, panic rising inside my throat and I forced myself to swallow its bitterness.
“Yes, Pete, I understand how you feel. Things change and so do I. Let’s just say, I was looking for something in my life, some meaning or purpose…. that’s the reason why I was so restless when we were growing up. You’ve seen me go through mischief one after another. I thought that was the answer to my discontent but it all led me to more despair,” She touched my hand resting on the bench and stared through my eyes, “I am happy here, Pete and more at peace. The one thing that I was searching for in my life, the void that no one could fill…..I found it here.”
As I listened to her, my heart froze and cold dread rolled down my spine. I looked at her intently, not ashamed of the pain showing in my eyes, then I saw the happiness boldly written on her face that I’ve never seen before, it was then that I knew, I’ve lost her for good. I felt the ice thawed inside my heart and tears started to gather inside my eyelids, threatening to fall down my face. I swallowed the lump that lodged inside my throat and looked away, trying hard to fight my inner turmoil.
“Don’t you know……I’ve waited for this dream to come true, Claire. A dream that one day, it will be me and you. I let you go, let you quench your wanderlust elsewhere because I thought in the end, my love will prevail and you will come back to me, your best friend and you will realize, it is me all along you are searching for, that we will be more than friends….but I never thought…..you will end up like this.” I stood up and started to blame myself from the searing pain that I, myself, planted.
It’s all my fault! I shouldn’t have been a coward! I should’ve told her what I’ve felt back then! I should’ve taken that risk! I should….
I stiffened when I felt her hand on my shoulder. “No, Pete. Please don’t blame yourself. It’s no one’s fault. We have different directions in life. It’s simply not meant to be. I am destined to be here and you…..for that special woman who will love you the way you dreamed of. Ever since, you knew deep down inside, I couldn’t be that woman, that’s why, it was easy for you to let me go and for me to go away.”
She faced me and held my hand firmly, then she looked deep into my eyes. “In our life, God gave us the will to make our own choices. You chose to built castles in the sand, thinking someday, everything will materialize into reality but with just a blink of an eye, it disappeared from your sight, never to be found again. In my case, I’ve chosen to built a house on a solid ground, never be knocked down by a ferocious storm…..Pete, life is too short to waste it on longing for things that never took place. It’s time for you to let go and face your today. I was in the past, she is your now and your tomorrow. Trust God and live it to the full, giving your all.”
As I stared through her eyes and listened to her soft words, the burden inside my heart lifted up and been carried by the wind. It was then that I understood and realized that I’ve never really loved her like I thought I should. It was just a matter of knowing her all my life that my mind conjured up this image that we will be together and never part. Suddenly, tears cascaded down my face without warning and this time, I couldn’t held it back because it is the tears of freedom not of pain. Freedom from a bondage of a long ago dream that never meant to be in the first place.
As I walked away and looked back, I saw this lady in blue standing in front of a monastery, waving at me. I smiled and waved back, filled with peace and joy that overflows in my heart, remembering that special woman who waited for me to love her.
I’m sorry, Donna, for all the pain. This time, I will love you with all my heart. No more holding back……
Thank you, Sister Claire. Thank you for being a friend. I know, I will always have a special place in your heart as you are with mine….I love you, best friend….goodbye.