I’ve always hated funerals. The talking to people, the comforting, the small talk — it all seem fake. Eulogies are nice, but they still are for those who cannot sit up and listen to what all of these people have to say about them. But not hers. What can you say about a dead lover? That she loved life more than anything else, and that she affected everyone around her in a positive way? That she liked to write and paint? That she was the best cook I’ve ever met? That she adored her family? Frappuccinos? Movies? And me? * * * I’d never forget the day we met.
It was a comedy of sorts. It was my birthday, and she crashed my party. There she was talking to some of my friends while holding a bag of chips. I went to her, and pretending to be a crasher, struck up a conversation. She told me that she was a friend of the homeowner, who was the one having a birthday. I smiled and continued asking questions. I found out that she went to the same school, but I haven’t really seen her around the campus. My cover-up was blown when Jan, a common friend, introduced me to her, then greeted me a happy birthday. She turned bright red.
I laughed and told her that my birthday was a common one, something that I shared with three cousins and some other people. She started for the door. I rushed after her and asked her to stay. Thankfully, she did. * * * We really did not talk too much that night. I guess it was because she was still embarrassed by her little charade. I didn’t think too much about it. As she was leaving, I asked her for a coffee date. So there I was, right across her in a crowded cafe. We started with the demographics — people we both knew, why it seemed that we never bumped into each other at school, etc.
The talk progressed quite well that in the middle of her third frappuccino, she was already talking about her exes. She suddenly stopped. “What about you, you ever been in love? ” My hand, holding a cookie, stopped in mid-air. It was a question that I did not expect. I shook my head, no. She crossed her arms and leaned back into her chair, “You’re not gay, are you? ” I laughed, “No! It’s just that nobody has interested me enough before… Before. ” “Before… ” she repeated, with a puzzled look in her eyes. “Before what? ” “Before. Just before.
I haven’t met anybody interesting before. ” She shrugged. “Okay. Before. Period. ” An hour after, and after her sixth frappuccino, she excused herself and declared that she needed to go home. I tentatively asked her for a second date, a movie-dinner thing, and she took my mobile number and said she’d take a rain check. * * * I received her call the following morning. She wanted to see some French film. Oh my. I have always hated reading subtitles through a movie. But I took her offer and met her at her dorm. We had dinner early before the 7:00 p.
m. screening, and as we waited in line to get our tickets, I stole sniffs at her hair. I really don’t know what it was, maybe it was the red neon lights on her face, or the chilly wind, but she looked prettier that night. I ventured holding her hand, and she didn’t pull it away. But she didn’t hold my hand either; it was too stiff, like holding a mannequin’s hand. I glanced at her and saw that she was smirking. We laughed. The movie ended uneventfully, at one point, I think I might have slept through some scenes. But something started that night.
* * * A series of dates followed. Before long, it was official. She became my first girlfriend and I was added to her already long list of boyfriends. It was not smooth-sailing as we found out things about each other and disagreements ensued. Nevertheless, we’ve always found reasons to laugh. I was happy. I’d never really spent much thought and effort and time on somebody before her. It was a very rough learning curve for me to go through, but it was worth it. In time, we grew apart. I really don’t know when it started or why, but we did.
Maybe it was because we had different interests, or maybe we had too many fights that went too far. Or maybe it was because we wanted to see how it was like to be without the other after we found each other. That time didn’t last very long. thankfully. We realized that without the other, we were just halves of ourselves and it was not much fun. After a week of being apart, and officially single, I started trying to win her back. * * * And so now, I’m here, in a church full of people who loved her when she was alive.
At the pulpit, the priest was extolling her virtues, and told everybody how she had lived a model life. That she is now home. Her real home. Then her eldest son came up to speak. He told everyone there the lessons he had learned from her, how she had been the anchor in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Unabashedly, he told the people what he told her every single day, that he loved her. When he finished, he came down the steps and walked to where I was seated. He offered his hand, I took it. He pulled me up and hugged me. Before breaking down, he whimpered, “Papa…
” * * * I am here to tell you about my wife. She was an open and loving person and there is nothing of her good deeds that you don’t know. In the 50 years that we’ve been together, I have loved her each day. We had a wonderful life together and were blessed with two loving kids, and a growing army of grandchildren. She loved life more than anything else. I am sure she had affected you in a positive way. She loved to write, paint, and she was the best cook I’ve ever met. She crazy about frappuccinos, watching movies, and her family. And she was my life.