Sometimes we see the things we don’t want to see in the most painful way. We finally realize it’s the reality and we can’t do a thing about it. The thing is, even when we realize and understand it, it’s still up to us if we do the right thing or if we ignore it because we know it will hurt us. Maybe even destroy us.
I snuggle closer to Kim, he’s warm and I’m so cold. I feel Kim pulling me closer to his warm body and I silently thank him, God knows I need the warmth he’s body’s giving me. It’s freezing. My body is feeling numb with the cold.
And I feel the cold is lulling me to deep sleep.
I mumble incoherently when Kim pulls away, he puts his hand on my forehead then my neck, “You’re burning.”
I try to open my eyes to tell him, I’m not hot, I’m cold but the coldness is making it hard for me to open my eyes.
Kim pulls me to him, holding me so tight I couldn’t breathe but I welcome it just because he really is warm. “Just wait.” He tells me and I could hear in his voice that he’s worried, why? I hear him dialing a number and I hear the voice on the other end of the line,
“911, what’s your emergency?”
Why is he calling 911? Is he sick?
“I need an ambulance. My girlfriend, she’s burning up and I think… I think it’s the pneumonia.” Kim says, “Can’t you fucking understand! She’s sick! She has HCM and I need a fucking ambulance!”
I don’t always hear Kim cursing and yelling. He’s very courteous to people but now he’s really scaring me, am I really sick. I try to touch his face and I succeed, “Ian, I’m so cold and I want to sleep, can you hold me?”
I feel him stiffen, “No baby, don’t go to sleep.” He tells me, “I think she’s dying. Please send an ambulance here so we could go to Lennox Hill and tell the emergency room to page Dr. Montenegro and Dr. Grey.” Then he speaks again, he tells our address and hangs up with a bashful of thank yous.
He cradles me and rocks me back and forth, “You’re gonna be okay.” And kisses me on my head.
And for him, I try to stay awake even when the coldness is lulling me back to sleep.
“Louie did you see it? Did you see me?” I ask Louie excitedly, I just served the tennis ball up in the air and it went straight to the country club’s restaurant’s window. I don't know why I’m so happy about it.
Louie laughs at me, “Ikaw lang talaga ang alam kong matutuwa na nakabasag ng bintana.” His eyes shining with amusement.
I bat my eyelashes at him, “Kasi ibig sabihin nun baka pwede na akong sumali sa baseball league mo!” I say, I’ve always want to try baseball, I mean it’s really cool. “I could hit, Lo!”
He laughs harder then, “Not gonna happen.”
“Why?” I whine, stomping my feet on the ground.
“Mer, you’re too…” he stops then walks towards me, he takes my hand and holds it. He sighs, “If I throw a ball at you right now, what would you do? What would you do? Duck or swing at it?”
I bit on my lower lip thinking of what he asked me, if I’m honest, I’d run as fast as I could. I mean even if I duck it might still fall on my head and let’s be honest, I’m too chicken to swing at it. But this is like a question of life and death, if I say what I’d do, then that would really justify why I can’t do baseball.
“You’d run, wouldn’t you?” he asks staring at me with those understanding eyes. Of course, he knows I’d run. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes.
I nod solemnly, “I could get injured.” I point out.
“And we don’t want that. I don’t want that.” he smiles at me, “Stick to tennis Mer.”
I shake my head, I don’t want to stick with tennis, I want to play baseball so I could be with him. “Ayoko.”
“Bakit?” he asks and I could see he is exasperated with me right now. “You can’t play baseball, god knows you’d either throw the bat and run or you’d freeze.”
“Because you don’t have time for me anymore! Lagi ka nalang nasa practice! Kaya naisip ko pag sumali ako sa team niyo edi lagi na tayong magkasama!” I tell him.
He grins at me, “Okay, ganito nalang, sasama nalang kita sa practice at pwede kang umupo sa may bleacher at manood o magbasa ka. Hihintayin mo ako tas pagkatapos ng practice, bonding tayong dalawa.”
“Paano pag na bored ako?”
“Eh kung mag quit nalang ako sa baseball tas tennis nalang din ang gawin ko sa ganun hindi ka mabo-bored at magkasama parin tayo.”
I think about it for a second then shake my head, I don’t want that. Louie is in his element when he’s playing baseball. I don’t want to take that away from him. “Hihintayin nalang kita. Hindi naman ako mabo-bored dahil nandun ka at ayos na yun basta’t magkasama tayo.”
He smiles so bright, he pulls me closer to him and I let him, “Talagang gusto mong lagi tayong magkasama ah.”
“Sympre naman! I want to be with you always! I want to be where you are. I don’t like being without you. You’re my other half and we can’t be separated for a long time! Don’t you agree?” I ask because I really don't want to be part with Louie.
“I do. We’re going to be together always, Mer.”
I beam at him and wrap my arms around his neck, “Of course. I’d follow you wherever you go and I’m sure you’d do the same.”
“I would even in death, I’d follow you.” he says seriously.
I just smile, “Me too.” Because I would. And I also know he would, I still remember that day when he didn’t tell me to stop what I was doing, he just sat beside me and said he’d follow me next. That life without me was something he couldn’t live with.
If one of us died, I know one of us would follow the other. That’s never really a question. Because death would be better than living a life without actually living it.
My body feels weak, my eyelids feel so heavy that I can’t seem to open them and my throat, God, it hurts so bad. I can’t move but I feel every movement around me, I hear every sound, the sound of every machines beeping, the sound of people rushing inside the room and everything else.
I feel everything but I can’t feel my own body.
I want to open my eyes, it’s just that I’m so tired. I can’t seem to let go of the fatigue even when I know I’ve been mostly asleep. It’s just still there.
Am I dying? Maybe I am. If that’s the case then death is welcome to take me anytime. Or not. I haven’t said my goodbyes with Kim. I need to see Kim. I need to say goodbye.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing I can’t. I don’t want to see his pained eyes before I go. I don’t want to hurt him and I know that if I wake up now, he’d hope I’m back when I’m not. I don’t want him to hope.
Just as I am about to go back to sleep, I hear Kim’s voice, it’s soft and pained but I hear it anyway.
"What a greedy man I've been. I thought that if I fought for the both of us then it would be enough. I thought if I kept holding on to you, you would do the same. But I've realized how wrong it was for me to ask you to hold on. I love you more than life itself and I want you to be happy, I thought you would be as long as you lived, I realized now however that your happiness isn't living at all, it's dying. Mary, my darling Mary, go to him now. Louie's waiting. Let go."
I feel his hands on mine and I feel something wet slides on my arm. I think he’s crying. And he’s letting me go. He’s giving up on me.
I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. I just know that Kim’s doing what he never wanted to do. He wants me to let go and die. He’s stopped fighting. It’s hurting him but he’s willing to do it because he wants me happy.
He finally understands and accepts it and it’s destroying him.
I force myself then to open my eyes because I need to. I need to look at his eyes and tell him how grateful I am for his love, that now he’s finally seeing the things my way I can finally go with peace.
But then I realize if I open my eyes, if I look at him I would really see him. How my selfishness destroyed him. How I placed that pain in his eyes. I’d see what my selfishness had done to him.
And as always, I am selfish so I don’t open my eyes, I make certain that he doesn't sense that I’m awake. As much as I want to look at him, I can’t. I’m too much of a coward to do so.
“I love you.” he says and kisses me on the head. “Please be happy.” His voice cracks.
Something inside me cracks too. Can I really leave him behind? Can I really be that selfish and die? And allow him to be a half man, an empty shell of the man he once been? If I leave now, even with his blessing, I’d still be destroying him. He’d still grieve.
Letting me give up life doesn’t mean he’s letting go of me. He’d become like me, stuck with the past. Stuck and never actually moving forward. I need more time. I need more time with Kim.
I need him to learn that he doesn’t need to be stuck when I die. That he needs to move forward. I want him to learn that when I die, he needs to let go and move on.
So I open my eyes and I could see the surprise in his eyes then he holds me so tight that even with the oxygen mask I can’t still breathe.
With a tube in my throat I can’t speak so I nod.
“Thank you.” I don’t know why he needs to thank me, I’m only living for a short time to teach him how to live a life without me. I’m only here because I don’t want to be the reason why the wonderful Kevin Ian would be a half man. I’m that selfish because even in death, I don’t want to be the reason why he’s hurting.
And even if Kim is finally giving up on me, I can’t give up on him. At least not yet.