Nov. 9, 2007

you are all the air around me

Or, alternatively, the art of (not) holding back

Rene Saguisag’s wife died yesterday. It was a car accident. It was dark because that’s how the wee hours of the morning are, and then there was a truck. They had just come from a night of dancing. The impact killed Dulce Saguisag on the spot. At the time of writing, the former senator is still in the hospital.

I can’t help but wonder, how does one live after surviving alone from such tragedy? I remember Carlo Cruz, whose wife died in last month’s Glorietta 2 blast. I remember reading the email he sent that e-group to inform them that his wife had been one of the fatalities. I remember him writing his many “I should have’s.” The thing left tears in my eyes and a billion questions in my head.

I wonder how they spent their last mornings together. Was it better they did not know it was ending that day, that night? Or would they have preferred to have had at least a clue?

How does one live after being with someone for so long, and then having to wake up one day without that person?

How could one wake up for days, weeks, months, years, decades with the same person, over and over, and then one day, you open your eyes to an empty space, a vast expanse of untouched sheets, a pillow without the familiar dent of a head, without the face you had so loved smiling to first thing in the morning? How does one really manage that?

How does one wade through a cold night in a bed that has been warm for so long? Where does one get the strength to wake up every single day after a thing?

How does one survive the idle weekends without remembering fixing breakfast together, cooking lunch together, sitting across each other at dinner time, watching DVDs together, reading in bed together, listening to music together? How does one avoid hauntings, the ghosts of strands of hair, of arms heavy around bodies, of soft kisses lingering in necks and shoulders and lips way too long?

How does one go back to being just one, after having spent most nights talking about plans for two?

What is the sense of being with people, if all they really do is leave, one way or another? Sure it hurts being left by someone who really wanted to leave in the first place, but can you imagine how much worse the pain could get if one is left by someone who wanted to stay but couldn’t?

The word heartbreak is so trite; it just occurred to me it barely covers anything, and this is despite the fact that I had had my heart broken several times before, and it had been nothing but hell, each time worse than the one that came before.

But then, what the Universe giveth, the Universe taketh away. Ano bang laban natin sa Cosmos di ba?

Carlo Cruz is still young, and perhaps he could try again. That was what my father did when my mother died, and now he and auntie have a great relationship, which I recognize as the marriage that really brought me up.

On the other hand, should the good senator survive the ICU, I am wont to wonder if someone his age would bother trying again. But then, we wouldn’t know; perhaps it is not age that judges the strength of hearts. You can be heartbroken at 22 and never be able to pick up the pieces anymore after.

When my last relationship fell down the drain, in the early days after the breakdown I was almost so certain I could never try again, that my heart was way too broken to be fixed. I believe the words I had labeled it with were, “Beyond repair.”

And then I met someone who made me want to really plug in the necessary holes, who made me want to mend this heart so it could love again, if not just as much, even more intensely, more passionately than what I had managed to shell out previously.

We all know how that fared; I must confess, this all feels like falling in love for the very first time, to risk using a cliché. And I think most certainly, this time would be the last time.

I remember thinking, upon reading Carlo Cruz’ email – she and I shouldn’t spend a time apart at all. (So you could just imagine the torture that was my sudden Baguio trip without her.) The night after reading the email, huddled close to her in the dark, I couldn’t help but think about how it would be the death of me to be taken away from this relationship. I don’t know which thought was scarier – the fact that this could end, or the fact that I was this attached to it. At the time, it didn’t really matter. I was so in love with her, and that clouded all the other concerns around it. I was of the belief that love takes care of everything.

And then there’s Carlo Cruz and Rene Saguisag, who both had recently lost their wives to things they had no control over. I have no doubts as to how much they had loved their wives; I even daresay they had done nothing but love them the best they knew how. And still they lost them. How does one fight that? How does one not hate the Universe after something like that? How does one not ask the Cosmos, Why? How does one not question its reasons, after having tried so hard to keep it together?

Does this all mean it’s wrong to try so hard?

The answer scares me intensely, as I know of no other way to do relationships but give it everything. My friends had often chastised me for having no brakes on when it came to someone I loved fiercely; with me, it’s always full speed ahead, eyes closed as if to feel the wind in my face. This was why, or so they often told me, I always had a smile on whenever I hit some kind of wall. Then they proceed to gently remind me how the impact had nearly killed me that last time.

The speed with which I am going now is unprecedented; to go back to the bicycle metaphor, I had never pedaled this hard. This is why I am certain, should I hit another wall, I’d kill myself most surely. This certainty scares me, but something inside me still clings stubbornly to that belief that love would take care of me this time.

After all, Carlo Cruz is still alive, isn’t he? I don’t know how he does it, where he gets his strength in the mornings, but just the mere fact that he does get it somewhere is something for which the word inspiring isn’t even enough.


And I tell myself, I came to the world alone, having been born alone. Though I had siblings, I had been taught to stand on my own. Living through college away from home, I had learned to fend for myself. In the midst of the crowded Casaa cafeteria, I had learned to take lunches alone if I had to, without being uncomfortable. When I moved out of Quezon City after having lived there for more or less six years, I moved into my Makati flat alone. Which all means to say, when push comes to shove, I could very well fly solo.

Alone again, naturally.

Of course, all aforementioned assertions would only hold true, had I not been crying all the while I was telling myself these.

Because, really, who am I kidding?

The truth is, these days, I only live for the nights I come home to you, and the mornings I wake up to you. I was not raised to be this needy; it is not my intention at all to suffocate. But I could barely help myself. You are all the air around me.