Today, 15th of September would have been Tetsuro’s (my husband) 64th birthday. I would be prepping up to go to the department store and find him the finest gift he deserves, after all, he’s the love of my life. Finally, after hopping from one store to another, I end up with nothing. What should I give to a man whose best birthday gift ever is to be with his family? A home with a wife and a child to look forward to after a long day at his office? Time and again, I would casually ask him on what he wants for his birthday and to which he would reply that having me and my daughter Rachelle over a simple home cooked dinner will suffice.
The intangibles, those were more important than an expensive watch, a Burberry (his favorite) shirt, the finest whiskey or wine, a pair of Bali leather shoes, the latest Apple gadget and what not. What could be more important than tight hugs, our stories for the day, the sound of our laughter behind every corny jokes he would throw at us, his dream of seeing our daughter finish school, find a good job and eventually get a decent husband, to see his future granddaughters and grandsons and I can go on and on. He had them all orchestrated that when he retires, he will live his life to the fullest by simply enjoying the role of a husband and a father and we all would sit at the dining table on all his birthdays, the same way over and over again, until we grow old, grey haired and just waiting for our time to be called back. Those intangibles stopped 6 years ago. Cancer. Terminal. Longest he can survive, 1 year. Why?
What has gone wrong? Am I not serving him the right food on the table every mealtime? Did I forget to remind him to take his vitamins or see a doctor when he is physically ill? Did I take it too easy to think that he was always healthy and robust? Did I not deserve to have a good husband longer than I expected? I have millions of unanswered questions. What else can I do but accept the reality that the powers to be wanted him home. I question myself, why can’t we go together? He was so good to me. The best husband any wife would wish to have. God blessed me to have him for a certain period of time, short but with mutual profound love for each other. I can’t thank the Lord enough for those unforgettable joyous moments we once shared, but at the same time, asking for a miracle to let me see him even in my dreams, like 5 minutes so I can greet him Happy Birthday, and tell him that nothing has changed, and that I love him very much. When Tetsu passed away 6 years ago, I mourned, wallowed in misery, drowned into the sea of blue and green, and sometimes I ask myself, did I make an attempt to make little steps forward? As I write this, I’m thinking no.
I reflect upon what might have been if he is still with us. He would have been proud to see his daughter march on her graduation day. That would have been his best birthday present ever.
I still hear the ringing of the church bells, eerie and sad. The sound of the birds bitter and yearning . Yet, I need to allow myself a moment to believe that one would leave the other. Question is, who goes first. I decide to remain in the vision, in my pure imagination that Tetsu is alive and well. That vision is a new place for me to see him. Another way of living.