Soon, Mrs. Lykes would be leaving for Oklahoma, which is why me and the girls cannot help but just go to her whenever she’d call for a meeting lately. I do not feel sad at all about her leaving. I want her to leave, because I know she’s been wanting to be able to go for the longest time. Her place is with him, his place is with her. She and Mr. Lykes should be together. And she and Mr. Lykes ought to be making babies. And I cannot wait to cradle my godchild in my arms.
* * *
For the dinner last Saturday, Mrs. Lykes said that I better just invite my other friend, Suzeth, to join us, anyway, Mrs. Lykes had invited another friend, too, a photographer, from whom Mrs. Lykes was supposed to take a couple of hours of photography lessons. So me and Suzeth stayed on with the group.
For the most part, though, I was exclusively speaking with Suzeth. It has been four months at least since I last saw her. A hell lot happened already. Her kid sister is getting married. She’s busy with the preparations. She’s shelved dating in the meantime. Her business plans are on the go. And she’ll be wearing a mini-skirt Santa dress over at Boss Glenn’s Christmas extravaganza. In a dance number to be choreographed by Gemmo. I can imagine the rehearsals running until the wee hours, due to the choreographer’s laugh-a-minute antics. Gemmo is adoringly insane. He used to make funny faces behind the rehearsal leaders’ backs whenever we rehearsed something for LEAP. I wonder if his flock now makes faces for him too.
I told Suzeth about the environmentalists and how the firm is such a godsend. Now I enjoy daily comforts, like great company, free coffee, and a bidet spray. The first time I had an encounter with such a nozzle was over at Mrs. Lykes’ bridal shower at Traders. The one they had there was a monstrous, silvery thing that had a life of its own. I couldn’t hold it in place. It spewed the rapids in all directions.
I had to tell Suzeth too about mine and Althea’s adventure with the three men and the ice pick. Another silvery thing, nearly took our lives. Made me ask for some time right after, “what are you willing to let go of, really?”
Perhaps willingness is not even of consequence. The Lord gives, the Lord takes. And always in love, always. That is the only certainty.
I still did not want Suzeth to leave by the time she already had to. I suddenly felt bad about choosing not to go to LEAP night, and the orientation (I did reach the elevator, and the hall right outside the elevator), and the OCCI party. At the time I made those choices, they all seemed perfectly reasonable. So why feel bad now? And what for?
Maybe I ought to be feeling bad, I thought, so I would always remember the usual root of most of my bad choices: ingratitude. Just when I thought I have successfully made ‘thank you’ my new cure-all mantra.
I was once told by the Don, a dear friend whom I hardly see anymore, “Ang nakikita mo kasi, ‘yung wala.” He was already uttering poetry – did he have any idea?
* * *
The ice pick incident happened about a month ago now. It was a night of abundance. And music. Althea treated everyone to Hairspray. She, La Bevz, and me went weepy over Dulce. And right after that, we saw a second musical, of Visayan artists. Elizabeth Ramsey roused the laughs, lifting her skirt a number of times while doing the upbeat numbers. Jose Mari Chan sang Constantly.
Just a few hours before the incident, while having coffee, we heard a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Could be we were already being blessed, being prepared, and we had no idea.
* * *
I did not struggle at all. The young man who went for my stuff pushed me against the backseat then slammed the door shut. I felt blank. Then I turned to Alts whom I have never seen as fierce before, fighting for the things she worked so hard for. She was so tough, as if she did not see the men’s weapon pointing right at her chin (she later said that she actually did not see). She was grunting as she screamed “noooo! noooo!” I grabbed her as I went “let go let go let go let go” like a broken record.
* * *
Louie, taking note of my anti-konyo jones, noticed it too, after hearing the incident a week ago: “Mamamatay na lang kayo nag-iinglisan pa kayo.”
All of us laughed. The fact that we can already laugh about it must prove that we have let go of the trauma.
* * *
About less than two months ago, if my calculations are right, us girls again went to another adventure. We visited a friend, Miss Lipa, Cherie, our Cherie. And as she wrote, she did take us to every place she could with ‘Lipa’ on its name.
Must be we were over at ‘Lipa Café’, when she sat at the other end of the table as Althea was talking about ‘Isaac moments’. Cherie should have heard that one. But it was me who was nearby. I must have needed to hear it too, despite supposedly knowing it already by heart at that time.
God gave Abraham exactly what Abraham so longed for all his life, and when God wanted to take it away, Abraham – fully trusting in God, obeyed, surrendered.
So what are the lessons? That we should not fret over a loss? That there is no such thing as ‘loss’ – if every grace is merely entrusted to us, for us to cherish while we have it in our hands, trusting that there is grace even in surrendering a grace? That more than surrendering, we should offer? And that all of this is easy, if we are merely thankful?
I have no idea. Why do I keep doubting Him who has entrusted me with so much?
The night after the Lipa trip, Mrs. Lykes asked me to sleep over at her place again. I already slept at her place the night before, for our friend Mich to be able to easily pick us up in the morning.
I noticed something on my second night there that I did not notice on the first night, perhaps because I was dead tired during the first night, not to mention my very poor eyesight –
As we were lying down, right above us, right at the ceiling, are neon glow-in-the-dark sticker stars.
It has been there for years, Mrs. Lykes said. Mrs. Lykes, who wrote to me to consider my greatest desires granted. So I fell asleep, looking at the stars she looked at too as a kid.
God promised His faithful Abraham: as numerous as the stars in the sky.