(Part 2 of 3)

WE are counting the days. It has been three weeks already. Every passing day is so long for us. We are waiting for our dearest Joel to be back home.

But these are the things we can’t control, so with his death.

My memories with Joel may not be as many as the stars, but some of them kindle my heart.

I regret not collecting many great memories with him. We were both silent, and we rarely talk.

Silence. I guess this is what’s between us. But our silent presence is more than a million words. We hear each other in quiet moments. We valued each other.

Now, I am learning this the hard way. Valuing people while we have them, not when we lose them.

And now that he’s gone, how I wish I can bring back time.

How can I forget the instance when we were both on stage? No, we were not performing together but it’s more than that.

In high school, my best friend Aileen swayed me to represent our club in a talent and beauty contest. Joel was right there on the balcony portion of the big auditorium of UIC (University of the Immaculate Conception) silently watching me. I guess he missed some classes to watch the event.

When I was proclaimed, the student emcees called him up on stage to give the trophies. He did shyly, but when he tried to give me a congratulatory kiss, I moved back. I can hear gentle laughs from the audience.

How I wish I allowed him to kiss me or hug me.

Then years after, I heard he won the Mr. San Pedro title stunning some audience. He was the shortest among all candidates. He rendered a tap dance in the talent portion while the audience expected him to do his usual Michael Jackson steps.

But he instead made a melodic sound of his shoes on the stage. They said the venue was all silent when he started dancing. And then warm applause broke the silence when they realized it was the last sound of his tap shoes. Little did they know, he enrolled in the tap dance lessons of Locsin Dance Workshop.

How I wish I was there silently watching him too.

I wasn’t there to share his victory as how he did in my time. But I shared a moment with him on stage when I had the opportunity to pin his medal as Best Intern when he graduated with a Physical Therapy degree.

Joel loved education. He loved going to school. After his Medical Technology course at UIC, he took Physical Therapy at San Pedro College and finished the course later in Manila while he was working as Medical Technologist.

He also enrolled in Research and Development Management at UP Open University.

We lived in one house in Manila for a time. One night, he complained of intense stomach pain and suggested to be sent to the hospital. The next morning, he needed to undergo an operation for appendicitis.

When he woke up and saw me lying on the slim bench with my bulging tummy, he wanted me to sleep beside him in the bed instead.

He was scared I might fall off the bench. I was then seven months pregnant with my son Christian.

How I wish I allowed myself to sleep at his side.

He saw Christian grow. And as I recall the past, I can vividly remember his reaction to seeing Christian’s first steps and how he falls. I can remember how he would carry Maureen, my youngest, but would put her down immediately. He didn’t know how to carry babies.

And how can I forget the time when I gave birth to Maureen and he was the first person I saw when I woke up? How I wish I have thanked him right there when he sat beside the hospital bed waiting for me to wake up.

Now as I recall the times, I miss him again. Again. And again.

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Read the first part here.