Chapter 33 - A Dream About Him
I was in the playground where I used to play with Louie when we were young, the place where I first met him. Through the years, the playground never changed except for the paint but overall the park never changed, be it the fountain in the middle that never worked or the tree house and the sandbox where kids used to play.
I cherished the thought of the playground never changing; it made me feel that nothing would ever change, that like the playground my friendship with Louie would never change. We would never change.
It always served as a reminder that some things would never change, that no matter how it does aesthetically, it would always be the same. Like the tree house, it would always be the headquarters of the little troops gathering around every noon. Though every year the community would change the paint, it was still the same.
I sat under the tree that housed the tree house. I was always too afraid to go up to the tree house because I was scared that I would eventually fall but then Louie would hold my hand, smile at me and reassure me that I would never fall. That he would never let me fall.
He would always say things like that. The things that I feared, he would always be there to hold my hand and just be by my side protecting me from those fears of mine. I looked up to him because he was the only one who could carry all my fears and believe me there were tons of it.
Some say little girls’ first heroes were their fathers but for me it was Louie. He was my hero and my prince. He would slay dragons for me, I was certain of that.
I smiled as I l closed my eyes and looked up to the bright blue sky; the playground was quiet and peaceful. One of the many things I loved about the playground was this. It was always peaceful and calm. Hearing the distant laughter of the other kids and the rustic noise the seesaw would produce whenever it was played could somehow make me calm. For me this was peace.
“Mary.” I heard Louie called my name, I would always know that voice even in thousand crowds I would always know whom the voice belonged to. I missed that voice so much. I opened my eyes and there right in front of me was Louie smiling down at me.
I smiled back at him. “Louie.” He kept on smiling as he sat beside me, he took my hand and just held on it. I didn’t let go. I couldn’t. I had missed the warmth his hands could give me. “Anong ginagawa mo dito?” I asked him.
He looked around the playground, I did also and found out we were alone. There were no laughter in the sandbox and no one was playing at the seesaw and slide. We were utterly alone. I wished it could go on forever.
“Dahil nandito ka at kailangan mo ako.”
I looked at him puzzled. “Ibig bang sabihin nun hindi mo na ako iiwan?”
“I never left you, Mary.” He said tenderly. “Palagi akong nasa tabi mo. Hindi ako nawala.” he added with so much sadness in his eyes.
I didn’t like to see him sad. Louie was never sad. He always smiled, even when facing a problem he would smile. “Then why do I miss you so much?” I asked him. “Why does it hurt when I think of you? Bakit hindi kita makita?”
“It’s how it works now.” he said sadly. “Lagi akong nasa tabi mo at binabantayan ka kaso ngayon hindi mo na ako makikita pa. Hindi na ako yung taong sasandalan mo tuwing iiyak ka dahil ako na yung dahilan kung bakit ka umiiyak at nasasaktan.”
He tried to let go of my hand but I tugged it tightly, I couldn’t let go of him again. He was here now. He was back. I could be with him again. “Diba sabi mo dati ayaw na ayaw mong makita akong umiiyak at nasasaktan? Sabi mo nun, gagawin mo ang lahat wag lang akong umiyak kaya pwede ba tuparin mo yun? At wag mo na akong iwan pang ulit. I don’t want to be alone again Louie.” I said as I let the tear slide.
He brushed the tear away as his hand lingered in my face. “You’re not alone.”
“But I am. Louie kailangan kita. Kailangan na kailangan kita, hindi ko na alam kung kaya ko pa kaya pwede bang wag mo na ulit akong iwan? Please?”
Slowly he lifted our hands together and placed it in my chest. He smiled at me. “I’m just right here. I’m sorry if I couldn’t be there with you but I’m just right here and I would always wait for you.”
I shook my head no. “I don’t want you to wait. I want to be with you now.”
“Kailangan mong lumaban pa Mary. Marami ka pang dapat makita at gusto kong maranasan mo lahat ng mga bagay na hindi ko na magagawa kasama ka. Kailangan mo pang lumaban. Kailangan mong maging malakas. Hindi naman ako mawawala Mary, nandito lang ako. Hindi ako aalis, hihintayin kita. Sabay tayo.” He let go of my hand.
I tried to hold it back but he shook his head and smiled at me. “Promise hihintayin mo ako?” I cried.
He nodded smiling at me. “Promise.” He stood up and reached for my hand. I took it and he helped me stand up. “Wag kang susuko kahit anong mangyari Mary. You have to be strong. Don’t let your fears eat you up, tandaan mo lang yung sinasabi ko sayo dati.” He told me.
I nodded. “Even in the darkness, the moon and stars would always light up your way till the sun shines. You are not alone.” I recited the words he used to tell me.
“With darkness, comes the moon that would lead me to find you.” Louie said. “But now he would be there to find you.” he said, he kissed me on the forehead and whispered. “I will wait for you.”
And he was gone.
I woke up feeling sore, my throat seemed dry. I looked around my surrounding and learned that I was in a hospital room. Wala akong matandaan sa mga nangyari, hindi ko nga alam kung bakit ako mukhang nasa hospital.
Ang alam ko lang umiiyak ako kay Karl nung araw na nalaman ko yung ginawa nila Pat at Kim at dumating si mama at nakita niyang hawak hawak ko yung basag na salamin. Oh right.
I remembered it all.
I remembered how my mother looked at me that moment. Pero hindi ko na matandaan yung nangyari pagkatapos.
Until now, the betrayal of the two people I considered as my best friends still stung. Hindi na nga siguro mawawala yung sakit na dinulot nila sa akin. Pero wala rin naman magagawa kung magmamaktol lang ako. It was time for me to man up.
So what kung trinaydor ako ng best friend ko?
"Gising ka na." napatingin ako sa may pinto kung saan nanggaling yung boses ni Karl. Sinara niya yung pinto at naglakad palapit sa akin. Dun ko lang din napansin na may dala dala siyang box ng cupcakes. Nginitian niya ako bago siya umupo sa gilid ng kama. "Gusto mo?" alok niya sa akin.
Umiling ako. "Tubig." sabi ko, nanunuyo na talaga yung lalamunan ko at ang sakit magsalita.
Agad naman kumilos si Karl at nilagyan ako na isang paper cup ng tubig. Inabot niya sa akin yung tubig at ininom ko naman agad ito. Pagkatapos ay inabot ko pabalik kay Karl yung paper cup, ngumiti siya bago niya nilagay sa bedside table yung baso. "Cupcake?"
Tumango ako at nakita kong nakangiti parin si Karl. Kumuha siya ng paper plate sa gilid bago niya binuksan yung box. Kumuha siya ng isang red velvet at nilagay sa paper plate bago inabot sa akin. "Thank you." I murmured.
Kinain ko na rin yung cupcake na binigay niya dahil pakiramdam ko gutom na gutom ako. Na para bang ilang araw din akong hindi nakain.
Pagkatapos kong kumain ay humiga na ulit ako at tumingin lang sa ceiling ng kwarto, gusto kong magtanong kay Karl kaso natatakot ako sa mga isasagot niya.
Nagulat ako nung biglang tumayo si Karl kaya agad akong tumingin sa kanya. "Tatawagan ko lang sila tita." paliwanag niya at tumango nalang ako. Lumabas na rin siya ng kwarto ko at naiwan akong nakatingin sa ceiling.
Gusto ko ng umuwi. Ilang araw kaya ako dito ulit? Sobrang dami ko ng nami-miss na class at siguro hinahanap na naman ako ng mga kaklase ko.
Mga ilang minuto ay pumasok si Karl na may kasamang doktor. Karl looked so apologetic, na para bang may kasalanan siyang ginawa sa akin.
Lumapit yung doktor sa akin at ngumiti bago ito umupo dun sa upuan katabi ng kama ko. May hawak hawak siyang parang journal at ballpen. Tumingin ulit ako kay Karl at dun ko na talaga naintindihan kung bakit mukhang gumawa ng ikakagalit ko si Karl.
They wanted me to talk to a shrink.
"You can leave us now, Karl." the shrink said to Karl.
Karl shot me another apologetic look, I brushed it off by staring back at the ceiling. Narining ko nalang yung pagbukas at pagsara ng pinto.
"Hello, Mary. I'm Dr. Collins."
Hindi ko siya pinansin at patuloy lang sa pagtingin sa ceiling, dun ko nga lang din nalaman na may mga crack pala talaga yung ceiling at yung mga crack na yun akala mo mga bituin. Binilang ko yung mga crack pampalipas oras din. Mabo-bored din siguro tong doktor na to at iiwanan na niya ako mag-isa.
Diba isang oras lang naman ang bawat session, so may 58 minutes pa. I could do it. I could stay mum for an hour if it would make her go away. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I was fine. I wasn't crazy.
Matagal tagal din yung katahimikan at na-bored na ako sa pagtitig sa ceiling kaya sa may bintana naman ako tumingin, umuulan pala. Ang weird, December na December pero umuulan.
Nagbuntong hininga ako nung wala na akong maisip na gawin. Nabo-bored na talaga ako. Gusto kong gumalaw at tumayo kaso nandito pa yung doktor.
"I'm fine with the silence, Mary."
"Did Aunt Sachi recommend you?" tanong ko sa kanya.
"Yes, she did. I flew as soon as I was able." sagot niya sa akin. Bakit naman niya gagawin yun? Hindi naman ako ganun kaimportante para pumunta siya sa Pilipinas para lang sa akin. My mother no doubt paid her handsomely for her to fly here in Manila.
"You know you're wasting your time. I will not talk to you. I don't need to." I told her. "You might as well go back to US."
Ngumiti lang siya sa akin. "This is usual for me Mary. My patients, for the first session they won't talk. I am quite used with it."
"There will be no second session. I will talk to my—" I stopped. My mother hired her. I still remembered how mom looked at me that night. She really thought I needed this. At kahit anong pakiusap ko sa kanya, hindi siya papayag. "I don't need you. I don't have a problem." I said exasperated with everything. "I'm not crazy." hindi ko alam kung kanino ko to sinabi, kung para sa akin ba o para sa kanya. Ang alam ko lang kailangan ko lang tong linawin. Hindi ako nababaliw.
"I didn't say you are." she told me. "Your parents just wanted to make sure you're alright. You tried to kill yourself."
I smiled ruefully."I was just holding on to the glass." sabi ko sabay tingin sa kamay ko, may bandage ito dahil siguro sa higpit ng paghawak ko dito.
"Why are you holding the glass in the first place?" she asked.
At dun ko narealize ang ginagawa niya. Eto yung isang paraan niya na malasabi ko sa kanya yung nangyari, tatanungin niya ako ng tatanungin na mukhang nagtatanong lang siya, o sasagutin lang niya yung mga sinasabi ko pero sa form ng isang tanong din. She's good.
But I won't fall for that.
"Karl almost sat on it." I lied. "I don't have a problem, I was just having a really bad day. I know what exactly you're doing here. This is a psychiatric evaluation. There's a lot more to come than this right? But let me tell you now, I'm not mentally disable. So you can stop here. Stop trying to diagnose me with some mental disorder." I told her. "I may be physically sick but I'm not crazy."
"This isn't a psych evaluation Mary."
But it was. My mother wouldn't just call for a psychiatrist just for me to talk to someone. Above anything else, my mother values her image among her peers. Her daughter talking to a shrink is not something she could proudly admit to her peers. After all, haggang ngayon close-minded parin ang mga Filipino.
They'd judge right away.
"Even then, I won't talk to you. I don't need to tell some stranger why I was holding that glass." I said.
"I thought you were just holding it because Karl almost sat on it?"
That caught me off guard.
Tinignan ko siya at ngumiti siya. Yung ngiti na alam niyang nagkamali ako ng sabi sa kanya.
"I was. But you asked me earlier and you're a stranger." I told her. Tinignan ko yung wall clock. "Look, time's up." I beamed at her.
She sighed and rose from her seat. "I will leave this card here. I will be here in Manila for a week so call me if you decide you want to talk." she said as she placed her card at the bedside table.
Hindi ako nagsalita at pinagmasdan ko lang siyang lumakad palabas. Nung nasa may pinto na siya bigla akong nagsalita. "Even if my mother's paying you, I'm still your patient right? So you won't kiss and tell?"
"Yes Mary, I won't tell anyone. Physician-patient privilege prevents me." she told me smiling. Then her first turned serious. "Mary, I know you don't want to talk about it but you have to. You can talk about it to anyone if you really don't want me but you can't always keep it in yourself." she said. But she's wrong, I could keep it in myself. I had done it a million times. "Someday you will crack."
"Are you implying that someday I will go crazy if I keep everything with myself?" I asked skeptical about what she just said.
She smiled. "No. I just meant that someday it will weigh you down. All those pent up frustrations will burst out and it might be too late to save yourself."
"What do you mean by that exactly?"
"Imagine you are falling in a cliff, you found something to hold on to keep you from falling but then your weight starts to pull you down and even if you scream for help no one would hear you because no one even know you're in a cliff. Once the rope breaks you will fall and no one could save you."
"Don't you therapists tell your patients not to fear falling? Because there would be someone on the other side to catch you?"
"But as I told you, no one knows you're in a cliff, let alone in a verge of falling." She reminded me. "Don't keep it in yourself. You don't want to fall to the cliff. It'll hurt and you can never go up. You could try but you will never reach the top unless someone finds you but in your case, you didn't want to be found." she then left.
I wanted to tell her I want to fall that cliff. Maybe it'd be easier.
I pushed my knees up and curled into a ball. Alam kong may punto siya sa lahat ng sinabi niya kanina. Within an hour, nalaman niyang tinatago ko sa sarili ko yung lahat ng nararamdaman ko, siguro nga tama siya na hindi magandang isaloob ko sa sarili ko lahat lahat pero kanino ko naman sasabihin yung lahat?
No one would even listen to me. No matter how hard I try to talk, they won't hear me. No one ever did. What would ever change now right?
I would always be alone.
It would be right not to depend on someone else when I know that they would leave soon.
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