They said the sunset in Manila Bay was one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
Nimia thought so too, and she wanted then to witness it.
Even in the early stages of our relationship, she already told me that, and I had promised to take her there.
We lived in the province, although it was just a 2 to 3- hour travel to Manila, I was not really familiar with the area, and I wouldn’t have dared taken her to a place where we might get disoriented and lost in the dangeours, sprawling metropolis.
We got married several years earlier and got blessed with 3 kids; we were contented and happy.
However, every time Nem – as what I called her- saw a picture or a show which featured Manila Bay she remembered her dream of witnessing this popular tourist attraction.
Yes, I hadn’t fulfilled my promise yet at that time. Not even after our 5 years of relationship as sweethearts, or after ten years of married life; not even when I was assigned to work in Manila.
I didn’t know why I was not really comfortable traveling around the city, much less take her with me.
I lost my job – a banker with a position of an assistant manager who was supposed to be secured with his career. I found myself caught in the middle of my immediate superior’s unprofessional practices. I was asked to resign, even if I didn’t have anything to do with it. Two words rang in my ear – “command responsibility.”
I was even told to be thankful that I got my clearance, complete with separation pay… which is just enough to pay for my housing loan. So I left the bank without a cent to my name.
I was talented. I could easily get a job, especially since I had a clearance and a certification.
I was wrong. I couldn’t get myself hired. They said I was overqualified. This made me realize that my credentials suddenly became my liabilities. Either that, or they just didn’t find a decent word for overage.
Okay, I still had something to be thankful for – my wife was still employed. She taught at a secondary school in the city.
But fate wasn’t through with us yet.
You see, even before we got married, Nem has already been diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome – an ailment that affected her kidneys, as well as her immune system. She was actually advised not to get married nor have children.
But being the strong-spirited woman that she was, she fought to live a normal life. Even if she cried in pain every now and then, even if we were constant, annual residents at the hospital, she endured this agonizing condition, stoically. For more than 10 years, she went through the days like a brave warrior , never flinching with the increasing torment that grew day by day.
That very same year that I lost my job … she got worst.
Medicines were not able to support her anymore. We had two options – kidney transplant or dialysis.
I still didn’t understand the process of dialysis then, but I knew that a kidney transplant was an expensive medical procedure which we couldn’t afford. Her personal family problem had made it even more complicated – it was difficult to find a suitable donor.
The doctor said she needed to be implanted an AV fistula to prepare her for the dialysis, while we considered other options.
Because of this, she had to leave her job.
It was fortunate that Nem was a friendly and sociable person. With both of us jobless, my family and her friends had to extend a helping hand to sustain her dialysis sessions.
We were practically living on their support – alms, if you may consider them. But as much as they wanted to help us, they could only give so much, because they too had their own lives, with problems to manage as well.
There were times Nem missed dialysis sessions because we weren’t able to find money to pay for it. And these only made her condition worse.
Finally, I had to put up our house for sale; it took almost two years before we were able to finalize a deal with a buyer.
My kids who used to study in a private school were transferred to public schools.
In between, I was able to find small jobs, which paid nickels compared to what I was earning from the bank.
Unfortunately, I had to quit each job – not because of the meager remuneration – but because of my intermittent absences.
Any of these three scenario usually happened: I had resigned, or I was not promoted to a regular status, or I was cut off from service, read: terminated.
I couldn’t help it, I was absent because I couldn’t leave Nem at home.
There were times she cried in anguish, and I knew it had to be really painful for she had a high threshold for pain.
I was very happy when our house was finally sold. She would never have to miss a dialysis session again.
But Nem talked to me.
She realized the hopelessness of her condition; that no matter how many dialysis sessions she had, no matter how often they were, they wouldn’t really be able to heal her. These expensive treatment procedures were just prolonging her life… as well as her pain.
She told me not to spend all the money on her. She would be gone anyway. She was a strong woman.
I knew too, that the money would soon be gone, drained like water in the sink.
I didn’t intend to spend it all for her dialysis.
I intended to use it to make her remaining time with us happy and memorable. That was why I never left her side. I took her to the movies; we ate out, and then we went window-shopping at the mall… I did everything to allow our family to have a happy time bonding with her.
And then , I remembered my promise.
I rented an air-conditioned van so that she would be comfortable during the travel. We left home early, and I took her to different places in Manila, with the three kids in tow.
At 4:00 PM, we were already at the bay walk, walking to and fro, watching the bay while waiting for the sun to set.
Suddenly, my son Edgar had a crazy idea. He asked me take his picture while ‘touching’ the sun. I didn’t quite get it, until he explained it to me. So I asked him to pose, while I looked for the right angle.
Nem was laughing at us while I was taking the picture.
When we saw that the picture came out splendidly in the digicam, we were ecstatic. The two kids followed suit… and I did too.
I asked Nem to pose, but she was too shy because people were looking at us. How can they not look at us? We were deliriously happy as evidenced by our strident, glorious laughter.
The sun was almost ready to set. It was a cloudy day actually, so the sunset was not as striking as we expected it to be.
But Nem didn’t care less. She was just happy to be there… watching the sun set.
She just smiled and said, “ Thank you.”
That was the first and last time we saw together the sunset at Manila Bay… because eventually, she too would have her own sun, set upon her.
I will never forget that day, May 19, 2007…
It was the day I fulfilled my promise to her… it was the day we touched the sun!
Roy dela Cruz needs no elaborate introduction as everyone knows that he is now a nominee for the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2009 with his blog – The Struggling Blogger .
He writes his articles without fear of censorship.
He maintains 13 active blogs, namely:
- Be Inspired Now!
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- Kapampangan Blog
- Letters To Mama
- Money OnLine
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- Roysville dot Com
- Short Stories Blog
- Subukan Taya Ing Kapampangan!
- Sugar Coated World
- The Gospel Of Roy
- The House Of Puroy
- The House Of Puroy Enterprises
- The Struggling Blogger dot Com
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