One Sunday night, my friends asked me to go with them to go to church. At first, I refused. But something inside me made me change my mind so I decided to go with them.
Inside the church, we sat on one of the benches. Then, I started looking around. We are in a big crowd of people. For quite a long time, I have not seen many people gathered in a religious place. They were all singing with the choir.
In the midst of this crowd, I noticed a girl. She was swaying her body from left to right with her eyes closed and her arms were raised up high in obvious prayer for mercy while singing one of the church hymns. When she opened her eyes, she turned around and looked at me. I knew she did not mean to do it, but that look excited something in me. That look made me realize that there are better things in life than the negative thoughts I have entertained.
At the end of the Mass, I tried to look for her in the crowd thronging its way out of the church. But I did not see her anymore. I felt crushed about it, especially hopeless of seeing her ever again.
I asked my friends if they know who that girl is. Definitely, they would not know because I was sure they did not notice her in the church the way I did. Then I thought that I could just simply go to the same church again next week.
“Maybe if I come here again next week, I’ll see her,” I said to myself. “Yeah. I hope so.”
When I went home, I got a piece of paper and a pencil. I sat down on a chair next to the table in my room and, with closed eyes, I recalled her face so that I could draw it. I cannot draw well, but I did my best to draw what I could remember of her. Afterward, I looked at my drawing and whispered, “Who are you? Why do I feel this way for you?”
That night, I ended up tired thinking about her and got no answer. I just thought then that my only hope of seeing her again is in the church. And so, the following week, I went again to the church alone and on the same schedule of the Mass that she and I attended last time.
I came a bit early that is why I waited for a long time before the Mass started. I did not mind though because of my never tiring hope of seeing her. But I did not see her that time. So, when the Mass began, I was there inside the church merely for the sake of attendance and listened to the Gospel of the week.
When the Mass was over, I went out of the church with my hands in my pocket and looked down while walking, obviously disappointed and hopeless of seeing her again.
But as I was squeezing my way out of the crowd, I bumped at someone at the back. I looked up and said sorry for it. The person looked back and, to my surprise, the person I happened to bump on was the girl I came to the place for.
We stared at each other in awkward silence. I felt that I have frozen not knowing what to say. What should I say? Should I say hi? What if she avoids me after this? Does she think that I am stalking her? What if I–…
“No, that’s nothing,” she said and smiled. She turned back and continued walking. I was still unsure about what to do next until I decided to follow her and tell her that I would like to talk to her.
“Uh, hey!” I touched her shoulder and she turned back looking at me again. Her eyes were glimmering as her long black hair swayed around her head.
I did not know what to say. But I was able to ask her, “What is your name?”
And she said her name.
“How about you, what’s your name?” she asked.
I also told her my name.
“Do you come here very often?” she continued.
“Not really,” I answered. “I’m not that devoted.”
“You should come with us every week. Our souls need to be blessed even just once a week.”
“I guess you are right. I think I will really need a company the next time I come here.”
“Very well then! I will be glad to be able to be with you next week,” she smiled and left.
Before she left, I asked for her contact number to which she obliged. No words were spoken after that. As she walked away, I could only look at her and felt a thorn pulled out from my heart.
The following week, I went to church again and found that she has already been waiting for me at the church yard. Together, we attended the Mass — singing and praying together with the faithful crowd.
After the Mass, we dined together at an eatery near the church and she taught me some verses from the Bible.
“Want to do something funny?” she asked.
“Uh, sure. What is it?” I said.
She got two pieces of paper and a couple of pens.
“Here,” she handed one to me. “Write everything that you want to say to me and I will do the same for you. Then, we’ll let the store owner keep these for us. Then we’ll come back after a year to read them.”
“Like a time capsule?” I asked.
“Yes, start writing now!”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Yeah!” she winked. “Don’t worry, I’m close friends with the store owner.”
She was smiling as I was taking my time thinking about what to write. In a few minutes, I was already writing my simple thoughts of gratitude to her for shedding light on my dark world. If it wasn’t for her, my life would still be sad. She is now my reason for going to church.
One week after the Mass, I took her to a nearby park. We sat on a bench by the lake and I looked at her. I pointed at the full moon and asked, “Do you know why there’s such a thing called the full moon?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Why?”
“It exists so that it can illuminate the world when it is dark,” I told her.
“Really? Then why does a new moon exist?”
“I don’t know about that. Why?”
“Sometimes, the moon needs to take a rest and hide for a while,” she smiled.
I didn’t get what she’s trying to tell me, but I pretended to have a clue.
“Oh, ok,” I mumbled. “Uh, you see, I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?” she eagerly asked.
I paused and thought for a moment.
“Never mind,” I looked away. “That’s nothing, really.”
“Don’t waste your time,” she smiled. “You don’t know when you will be able to say that again.”
Instantly, she became a puzzle to me. What is she trying to tell me? But at the end of the night, I was able to tell her that I like her. Her face was straight and she couldn’t react. She hugged me tight and cried.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I hope you’ll be okay, too.”
I did not know what she meant, but I know that she liked me, too. I could feel her emotions bind with my soul.
One Sunday night, I went again to church for the Mass, but I did not see her waiting for me in front of the church. That was strange. I tried to look for her inside, but I did not find her. I tried to call her up, but I got no answer. I just stayed inside the church and listened to the Gospel.
The priest cleared his throat to start the homily.
“Good evening, brothers and sisters!” he started speaking.
And the faithful answered, “Good evening, Father!”
“Who among you here have lost someone special in their lives recently?” he asked.
A few raised their hands in response.
“It really hurts, right?” he continued. “Especially if you have promised that person one thing and you haven’t fulfilled it yet before he or she is gone. But all of us should learn to accept, just like the way God accepts us. There will certainly come a time when everything needs to change. Nothing that lives remains forever living.”
Are those words for me? I have a strong feeling that what he is saying are meant for me.
Several weeks have passed and again she wasn’t in front of the church waiting for me. This time, I began to wonder.
“What has happened to her?”
I would not know until I remember the letters that we left at the eatery nearby.
I went to the eatery and asked the store owner if I could get the letter that she wrote for me.
“Oh, so you’re that guy she was with back then?” the store owner asked and handed me the letter. “Here, she has already claimed yours several weeks ago.”
I got the letter, opened it slowly, and read.
“Hello! It was really nice meeting you! But I guess we won’t be able to see each other for long. I really had a great time with you and I was very thankful to God that He made me meet you. I’m really sorry for not telling you that I am suffering from leukemia. I really can’t help it if you knew about it. I don’t know when He will take my life soon, that’s why I am thanking Him a lot for the life that He gave me. If you are reading this at a time that you don’t see me anymore waiting for you in front of the church, I am really sorry. I’m either at the hospital right now, unable to go with you anymore. Or maybe gone forever. I know how much you like me now; I can feel it, actually. But don’t stop there even if I’m already gone. I’ll just become a part of what you are now; the person that someone else will like and probably won’t leave you like I did. I’m not the only girl that you could love. Maybe God prepared someone better for you, and I know that girl is not me. And if you’ll say thanks for changing your life, YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY WELCOME! May God bless you in everything that you do.”
I ran away and went to the park; to the bench where we sat on the night I confessed my feelings to her. I imagined her sitting right beside me and cried hard. Then, I realized what she meant when she asked about why the new moon exists. She was the moon that hid behind my shadow before she was gone. But nonetheless, she is always here — right here in my heart.
A few moments later, a girl approached me.
“Why are you crying?” she curiously asked.
I told her it was nothing.
“Cheer up, bro,” she sat beside me. “Don’t waste your time worrying a lot about things. Life is too short. Cherish every moment.”
I felt relaxed somehow. I guess another moon is rising, ready to illuminate my dark world once again.
July 2, 2014
Featured image by Shayne Lacerna