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Epilogue

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

***

“Are you here? Are you here already?” Chelle excitedly asked over the phone and I smiled because she was too fired up.

“Yeah, kalalapag lang ng plane. Pababa na ako.”

Narinig ko naman ang boses nina Miley sa kabilang linya at mukhang lahat sila ay napagpasyahang sunduin ako. Sabagay, isang taon at kalahati na rin ang nakalipas nang huli akong umuwi. Looking back, ang dami na palang nangyari at sobrang nagbago ang buhay ko sa nakaraang isa’t kalahating taon. I could still remember what happened that day . . .

My flight was scheduled on Sunday, two days after that confession. Pagkatapos no’n ay nanatili lang ako sa condo at hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala sa lahat ng nangyari. Buti na lang at napasa ko na lahat ng designs dahil wala ako sa sarili para mag-work.

Hinatid ako ni Andrew no’n at sobrang awkward namin sa isa’t isa dahil sa nangyari. I mean, we just confessed to each other in the most dramatic way and now that we were out of the cemetery, we couldn’t even talk about it.

“Uhm, s-sige, u-una na ako,” sabi ko nang makarating kami sa guardhouse ng condominium.

“Oh. O-okay.”

Naglakad naman ako papasok hanggang sa makalagpas ako sa guardhouse. Siguro naman ay nakaalis na siya dahil gabi na rin kaya lumingon ako pero gaya dati, nagkatama ang mga mata namin at ngumiti kami sa isa’t isa.

I spent that night with a light heart and when Saturday came, I visited Kyle one last time before my flight. Mabuti na nga lang at wala ro’n si Andrew. I sat in front of his grave and gave my widest smile.

“I know you visited me last night,” sabi ko at naalala ko naman ang panaginip ko kagabi matapos ang lahat ng nangyari.

Magkaharap kami at nakangiti siya sa akin. He reached for my face and brushed the tears off my cheeks. His stare could melt me and his smile made me weak.

“You finally decided to step forward, Sab. I’m really glad. Thank you for being brave.”

“Kyle,” I said while holding his hand. “I was only able to take that step because you helped me, so thank you for that little push. But I’m sorry for my decision. I’m sorry for lea—”

“Don’t be sorry, Sab. You have already suffered for five years because of me. It’s time for you to be happy, to love and to be loved again.”

“But—”

“And this isn’t betrayal, Sab. Alam ko namang nandyan pa rin ako sa puso mo. Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kapag nagmahal ka ulit ay mawawala na ako sa’yo. Mas magiging masaya ako kung makikita kitang masaya kaya huwag ka nang mag-alala sa akin.”

“Kyle,” I sobbed and I threw myself into his arms. “Thank you. You know how much I love you, right?”

“Of course,” he snickered, “at sapat na sa akin ‘yon. Sapat na sa aking minahal mo ako nang buong-buo kahit na ako ang sumira sa’yo. Kaya ngayong may taong handang bumuo ulit sa’yo, hinding-hindi ko hahayaang masira kayo.”

“Nakakainis ‘yang mga linya mo,” iyak ko naman dahil sobrang nakakadala ang mga sinabi niya. Narinig ko siyang tumawa at hinawakan niya naman ang magkabilang-balikat ko, saka niya ako hinarap sa kanya.

“Kaya sana, hindi na kita makitang umiyak dahil sa akin. Live a happy life, Sab, and in that way, you’ll make me happy too. I love you,” he said and kissed my forehead.

Out of all the dreams I had, that one was the most unforgettable and memorable because I finally set myself free from all the worries involving Kyle. He was the selfless person I know until the end.

“You will always be in my heart,” sabay lagay ko ng bulaklak sa puntod ni Kyle, “and you will always be my savior. I hope you’ll find your happiness on the other side, too, Kyle.”

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay napatingin naman ako sa puntod ni Lei at muli akong ngumiti. Naglagay rin ako ng bulaklak at umupo sa harapan niya.

“Hello, Lei. I’m Sabrina Han Valencia. Sorry kung ngayon lang ako nakapagpakilala kahit na ilang beses na akong dumadalaw rito,” panimula ko at huminga muna ako nang malalim dahil kinakabahan ako. “First, I want to say sorry because of . . . because of these turns of events. I know that Andrew means a lot to you and to him, you’re her true love. I also know that you just want him to be happy and as someone who experienced the same tragedy as him, I know how hard it is to live. It is a constant struggle but I’m going to support him so I hope you’ll allow me to be his source of strength.”

Nanatili pa ako ro’n ng ilang minuto at pagkatapos ay agad din akong umuwi para mag-impake. Nag-text naman ako kay Andrew dahil hindi ko pa nasasabi sa kanya na aalis na ako bukas. Isa pa, may gusto rin akong sabihin sa kanya.

Nagkita kami sa café malapit sa condo at pagdating ko ro’n ay kumabog nang malakas ang puso ko. Hindi pa rin ako nakaka-move on sa nangyari kahapon at kapag naaalala ko ‘yon ay parang gusto ko na lang umuwi at magtago sa ilalim ng kumot sa sobrang hiya.

Pagdating ko sa table namin ay ngumiti siya sa akin pero halatang nahihiya rin siya kaya nag-order na lang kami ng tig-isang tasa ng kape.

Habang naghihintay ay sinabi ko sa kanya ang sitwasyon ko at mukhang okay lang siya kaya medyo nalungkot ako.

“I think it’s better this way. Pwede naman nating ma-contact ang isa’t isa. Mas maganda siguro na ayusin muna natin ang mga dapat iayos,” sabi niya at narealize ko na tama siya.

After knowing him, halos hindi na ako masyadong nakapag-focus sa trabaho at ayoko namang masira ang career ko. Siguro dahil maging mabilis ang lahat sa amin ay mas maganda na maglayo muna kami.

Pagkatapos no’n ay napunta naman ang usapan namin sa mga hilig namin. Sa halos ilang beses naming pagkikita, ngayon lang kami nakapag-usap nang normal. Kung iisipin, nakakatawa dahil puro iyak ang ginawa ko tuwing makikita ko siya. I was always overwhelmed with guilt because of Kyle that I didn’t notice how unfamiliar we were with each other.

We spent the day together talking about ourselves and this was the first time that I felt genuinely happy. Nakakamiss palang maramdaman ang ganito. Ang tagal kong nakalimutan kung paano tumawa at makinig sa iba dahil sa loob ng limang taon ay puro sarili kong problema ang iniintindi ko.

Hinatid niya ulit ako sa condo matapos naming mag-usap at bago kami maghiwalay ay tinawag ko siya.

“Andrew!” Agad naman siyang lumingon at ilang metro na ang pagitan namin. Nanatili akong nakatayo ro’n at nginitian ko siya. “Mamimiss kita.”

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay ngumiti rin siya sa akin at para bang bumalik ako sa pagiging high school student. My heart was racing and looking at him smiling at me made it hard to move and breathe.

“Sa susunod na magkita tayo, pwede ba kitang yakapin?” tanong niya at lalong bumilis ang tibok ng puso ko. “I will be seeing you soon so be prepared. Sige na, magpahinga ka na. Maaga pa ang flight mo.”

Pagkatapos niyang sabihin ‘yon ay kumaway siya sa akin at dahil pakiramdam ko ay namumula na ang mukha ko ay nagpaalam na rin ako. In the end, hindi rin ako nakatulog at sa mismong byahe na ako nakapagpahinga.


***


I went back to work in LA and my boss liked the presentation I prepared. My designs were forwarded to our director and got approved for the upcoming fashion show. Naging busy ako sa mga sumunod na buwan dahil sunud-sunod ang opportunities na dumating sa akin. I got assigned as the Head of the Fashion Designer team of our company’s subsidiary and I had to divide my time between that special project and my job. I was doing some designs when my phone rang and I had to look at the screen twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

Andrew was calling.

Agad ko naman ‘yong sinagot at doon ko lang nalaman na nandito siya sa LA para sa isang international conference kaso nga lang, hindi namin kayang magkita dahil pareho kaming busy.

“I guess we need to wait for the right time to meet,” sabi niya at ngumiti na lang ako.

“Mukhang matagal pa ‘yon.”

“I can wait.”

Ewan ko ba pero sa mga salita niya ay mas lalo akong nagkakagusto sa kanya. His words, even in their simplest forms, could leave an impact to me. His sincerity would always reach my heart.

Nag-usap lang kami buong araw at nahirapan pa akong magpasimple sa mga dumaraan sa cubicle ko. I was caught by my boss but it seemed like she knew my situation so she just pretended that she didn’t see me.

Lumipas pa ang ilang buwan at isa-isa nang natapos ang projects ko kaya unti-unti na ring lumuwag ang schedule ko. I booked a flight to the Philippines but I didn’t tell anyone about it. I wanted to surprise them.

Bumili ako ng pasalubong para sa kanilang lahat at binilang ko ang araw hanggang sa makauwi ako sa Pilipinas . . . and now I’m here.

“Eto na, eto na, kukunin ko na lang ang luggage ko,” sabi ko kay Chelle.

Ni hindi ko nga alam kung paano nila nalaman na ngayon ako uuwi dahil hindi ko naman pinaalam kahit kanino. Hindi na tuloy surprise ang mangyayari at parang ako pa ang nagulat dahil nandito sila.

After a few minutes, I got my luggage and went outside. Nakita ko kaagad sina Chelle at bigla akong nahiya. Paano ba naman ay may banner silang hawak at nandoon pa ang mukha ko. Paniguradong siya na naman ang promotor nito.

I hid my face with my scarf and walked towards them. However, before I could even go near them, somebody grabbed my right arm and pulled me into a hug. I was about to panic but he suddenly whispered to my ear.

“Sabi ko naman sa’yo, yayakapin kita kapag nagkita ulit tayo.”

My heart stopped beating for a second and I had to remind myself to breathe. Lihim akong napangiti at tinapik ko naman ang likod niya. Hindi ko akalaing nandito rin siya.

“You scared me,” mahina kong sabi habang magkayakap pa rin kami. I could smell his perfume and it has the same scent as his room, if I remembered correctly.

“Sorry. Sobrang natuwa lang ako nang nakita kita.”

The scene was heart-fluttering but it quickly ended because of my friends.

“Excuse me, nandito rin kami!” sigaw ni Chelle at natawa naman kaming pareho.

“Sorry!” sigaw ko pabalik at naglakad kami papunta sa kanila.

Dahil dala ni Nigel ang kotse niya ay pumasok sila ro’n pero nang ako na ang papasok ay bigla naman akong hinarang ni Rissa.

“Nope. Take her with you,” sabi niya habang nakatingin kay Andrew.

“Actually, I’m planning to,” sagot naman niya at hinila niya ako palayo. Doon ko narealize na dala niya rin pala ang kotse niya.

Dahil wala na rin naman akong magagawa ay sumakay ako ro’n at nilagay niya naman ang maleta ko sa likod. Tahimik lang kami sa byahe at kahit hindi niya sabihin ay alam ko na agad kung saan kami pupunta.

“Are you ready?” he asked while looking at me through the mirror.

“Of course.”

Kung iisipin, nangyari ang lahat dahil sa pag-aakala kong masamang tao siya at dahil na rin sa trauma ko tuwing gabi. That led to a series of events and now we’re back to our starting point.

Six years ago, I never thought I’d be happy again, that I’d see the light again. I accepted my fate and decided to survive because of Kyle’s wish. My world was shrouded with darkness and I was scared to navigate, to move forward. However, I saw a flicker of light—something I haven’t seen for a long time. That light gave me hope yet it also confused me. I was scared of the sudden change to my world and almost chose to walk away but that streak of light followed me and in the end, I realized it was my gateway to a new world. To a new me.

I was thankful that the light didn’t give up on me. In the midst of my grief and confusion, it provided warmth and comfort. I was grateful that that light was Andrew.

“We’re back, Lei, Kyle,” Andrew said and we stood in front of them.

Kyle Espinosa
May 7, 1993 - November 12, 2011


Kris Leila Asuncion
July 10, 1994 - December 3, 2011

Standing here, I realized I was looking at my lifetime. Kyle, the first person who made me feel special, my savior and the guy who would always be a part of me is my past. Andrew, the person who made me feel alive again and taught me how to be brave after a tragedy, the guy who held my hand when I needed it the most, is my present and hopefully, my future.

Maybe it was because of fate. Maybe it was because we took the risk. I was glad that I didn’t stay trapped in the past and broke those chains because I chose to look ahead. I chose to step forward while holding Andrew’s hand because I know I am worthy of a future.

A future with him.



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