But at this day, there is no Julia watching my performances like she used to every time. All those memories have been far buried in the back of my mind for quite a very long time. For eleven years I haven’t seen her, not even her shadow. The thing that I thought would last forever and a day, just like the fantasy it was, is dead and gone today.
All these nostalgia going on inside my mind somehow got me out of my concentration; I almost totally forgot I was conducting an orchestra right at that very moment. I forced myself to snap back to my senses before something bad ultimately happens. I don’t want to let my friend, or even this group down. I tried to focus until every last note was perfectly struck.
We had a decent performance, the group and I. We were hugely appreciated by the crowd, and most of all, we had fun doing what we love. I congratulated them for a job well done, and they gathered around me and gave me a big hug. I thought of my late mentor that moment. Now I know how proud he felt for us back in our days. Someone from the staff came to me after the commotion.
“Sir, pinabibigay po sa inyo. Letter of recommendation daw po for a music school.”
There I was, standing, holding the letter by my left hand. I was nervous as I examine the light blue envelop. It was the exact same type of envelope containing the last letter I read many years ago.
My relationship with Julia had been ongoing for about a year when we were called for an encore performance at a local ball sponsored by the city government. It meant distance for us, for I had to focus practicing with my group for some time. We both agreed to see each other even just for the weekends when we have no practices, so we could spend some ample amount of time together, just the two of us.
About two weeks in the practice sessions, I notice some changes about the way she was acting, like there was something she was anxious about. I tried to ask her but she kept on refusing to tell me about it. I just let it pass and tried to cover it with sweet moments together, hoping it would lessen her worries.
One weekend, we were supposed to meet at the white rock when I saw her cousin, Rina approaching me. When she got up the rock, she handed me something then left right away. It was a blue envelop, with my name written on it. I opened it right then for I thought Julia planned something and it was part of the surprise. It was a surprise alright, but not the one I was hoping for. It was the last thing on my mind at that time; it really caught me off-guard.
SORRY! Hindi ko ito ginusto. Biglaan talaga ang lahat. My dad got an offer, may nag-open na slot sa isang ospital sa Canada. Matagal na niyang hinihintay ‘yon, matagal na yung nakaplano. Napagdesisyonan na ng mga magulang ko na magmigrate kami kasama ni papa. I don’t want to go, ngayon pa na nakilala na kita. But I can’t stay either. I really have no choice. Sana maintindihan mo ako. Mahal kita, more than you can ever think of. I promise, I’ll come back for you. I promise.
It didn’t take long before the letter became wet, teardrops started to fall down the silky stationery. Some words were washed out, erased by the bitterness of the tears that ran down the glossy paper. I felt like my heart was chopped into a million pieces. I can hardly breathe, like I’m getting choked down to death. I can feel every inch of pain every tick of the clock.
It took me days, even weeks perhaps before I was able to function normally again. But the pain still remained, it always will no matter how hard I try. It will always be an unsullied wound, fresh as when it was just opened.
I tried dedicating my life to music, to get my mind off that incident for good. I spent strenuous hours practicing, and when alone, I resorted to writing hideous songs of rage and violence. Even my relationship with my family, my group, and even to God was gravely affected. I wasn’t myself anymore; I came to not knowing who I really am, all because of trying too hard, forcing myself to bury every single memory we had deep into the dreaded past.
I unintentionally dropped the letter when Rico came over and pulled my right hand sleeve. I hurriedly picked it up and noticed that the little boy was crying when I finally took a glance at him.
“O, anung nangyari Rico? Bakit ka umiiyak?”
“Si ate po kasi,” he cried.
His older sister had a vehicular accident while on her way to our performance. A truck driver lost control of his vehicle, and bumped to the car in which his sister was in. his aunt was trying to contact her a while ago, but because cell phones were prohibited, Rico did not notice it until the end of the show. He received a text message saying her sister is not in a good condition and he needs to go to the hospital right away.
“Sige iho, I’ll come with you. Pumunta ka na sa may parking, hihiramin ko lang yung kotse ni Mr. Quizon.”
We were in the car on the way to the hospital when I noticed his ID: Enrico Lozano. I had an eerie feeling in me, so I started asking him a few questions. But I didn’t have the guts to ask him directly if by any chance he’s related to Julia, a cousin or a close relative perhaps.
We arrived at the hospital, and Rico hurriedly ran towards the nurse’s station to check where his sister’s room is. I stopped by the waiting room to check the Nightly News on RPN Channel 9.
“Earlier this afternoon, an Isuzu container van crashed into a Honda City and both vehicles turned turtle along Singson corner dela Rosa streets near Sucat. Tony Alejo, the driver of the said truck explained to police investigators that a rag fell out of nowhere right in front of his windshield as he was cruising along dela Rosa Street. He finally lost control of the vehicle and continued swerving lanes until finally hitting the green Honda City car driven by a lady identified as Julia Lozano. She was…”
I did not wait for the whole news to wrap itself up. I turned towards the direction where Rico ran, but everything felt in slow motion. It was very hard to move, like I got bowling balls inside my shoes. Every step seemed to take forever. When I finally got to the room, Rico was crying beside his aunt by the door.
There I was, inside Julia’s room, with tears continuously rolling down my face. I stood as she turned her head and stared at me, looking at me as if I was invisible, like she can see through me, digging right to the very core of my soul.
“I told you I’ll come back for you.”
She had kept her promise, after all those years that I tried everything to forget her. I wept beside her bed, holding her hand, thinking of all the guilt and shame I have for myself, and for regret of the times we could have spent together.
The next thing I heard was a beep from a monitor at the upper right side of her bead. As I looked up, all I see is a straight green line shown by the small screen. People in white started to run towards the bed, pushing me out of the way. I could not hear anything, everything seemed bizarre. Then everything rapidly started occurring backwards, faster and faster, happening right before my very eyes. It was all happening so swiftly, until a flash of blinding light struck my eyes. Everything turned dark, my eyes were finally closed.
I tried to open my eyes.
And there I was, my body almost bathing with perspiration, looking at a big, 20th century mansion covered with moss of I-don’t-know kind. My heart seems to be slowing down as I stare longer. A drop of tear rolled down my face.
I really hope you enjoyed the story though it was really long. Sometimes I really think about the things I would do if I have control over time. I know I have done a lot of things in the past that I couldn't change, but what's important is what you decide to do in the future. What would you do if this happens to you? Would you let it all go as it should? Or should you go and do what your heart tells you to do?