Disclaimer: Please see part 1.
“Ano na ang sabi nila Ma, kamusta na raw,” Sarah quietly asked her mom for the nth time, her gaze fixed in the far distance, looking at tormenting flashbacks rather than the actual view speeding by in front of her. She didn’t realize that she had just asked that same question about 5 minutes earlier.
How could she have taken him for granted? He’s been so patient,–so understanding. If only he’d been cruel to her, his absence right now wouldn’t have hurt as much. She shook her head, unconsciously erasing the negative thoughts torturing her mind. She must believe that he is ok and that he is waiting for her.
Turning to her mom, she reached out and took the hand resting between them.
Ma sorry po,” she whispered quietly, her eyes resting on her mother’s hand, its palm rough with calluses that neither time nor new found riches were able to soften. “Alam ko na ipinangako ko sa inyo noon na hindi na ulit mangyayari ang mga nangyari noon…yung mga paglilihim at pagsisinungaling ko sa inyo.” Gripping the hand more tightly, she pulled it close to her chest. “Ma patawarin nyo po ako. Napaka makasarili ko. Ni hindi ko man lang naisip kung gaano ko kayo masasaktan.”
She raised her eyes to her mom’s face intending to speak to her directly but found her leaning back on the headrest with both her eyes closed. Her face lined with worry and exhaustion.
“Natakot kasi ako,” she continued distressingly, “kasi alam ko na hindi ko na kakayanin pag nawala pa sya ulit sa akin.”
Her mom’s eyes opened at that and pulled her close and embraced her.
“Kami ang patawarin mo anak. Kasalanan namin ang lahat ng nangyari sayo. Ninakaw namin ang kabataan mo at ipinasan namin sa mga balikat mo ang mga pangarap namin.” Her mother’s strengthening sobs got her worried. “Hindi tama—na ang anak—ang magtatrabaho para sa mga magulang nya.”
“Ma hwag, –ano ka ba,” she tenderly berated her mom. She pulled a couple of tissues from behind the driver’s seat and started to wipe her mom’s face.
“Pangarap ko yun higit sa lahat. Kung hindi ko rin gusto yun sa palagay nyo tatagal ako sa trabaho ko? Napagusapan na natin ito ‘di ba,” she reminded her softly. “Marami tayong pagpapalang natanggap dahil sa trabaho ko at mali kung pagpapala lang ang pipiliin natin at hindi ang mga pagsubok na kasabay nun.” She carefully wiped away the traces of tears from her mom’s cheeks.
“Ikaw rin, baka pagalitan tayo ni Lord,” she added jokingly, softly chiding her distressed mom.
They smiled at each other, the conversation reminding both them of another conversation not unlike this one. More than ten years ago, after winning the Star for a Night contest, her parents struggled with the idea of taking what should’ve been their daughter’s prize alone but Sarah’s generosity and love for all of them won over whatever inhibitions they had in using her money to finance their household.
Sarah got confused when she saw fresh tears flow from her mom’s eyes.
“Ano po ‘yun,” she answered worriedly.
Her mom extended her arm and touched her face. Divine’s smile was the saddest smile Sarah has ever seen and it scared her a little bit.
“May asawa ka na,” her mom whispered.
And just like that she understood what her mom was trying to say.
Sarah would have to leave now—leave them all behind—even the house they built together. She had to leave them and finally go live with her husband and build a new life separate from them.
She closed her eyes as a new and unfamiliar ache squeezed her heart for a moment. She went back into her mom’s embrace and refused to acknowledge the coming separation—at least not yet.
“Ma, pwede ba tayo mag-pray?” she asked silently, and on her nod, they took each other’s hand and started to pray.
“Dear God, patawad po. Patawarin mo po kami sa lahat ng pagkukulang namin sa Iyo—sa pagsisinungaling, at lalo na sa pag-labag ko sa kagustuhan ng aking mga magulang. Tulungan mo po kami sa panahong ito. Bigyan mo po kami ng pagkakataong maitama namin ang aming mali. Iligtas Nyo po si John Lloyd. Bigyan mo rin po ang bawat isa sa amin ng kalakasang mapagtagumpayan ang trial na ito. We also raise up to you the people you will use as rescuers. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Suddenly, the mist that was clouding her mind finally lifted. She suddenly felt a certain assurance that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, everything will be alright—John Lloyd will be ok.
“Mommy, nandito na tayo.” Her dad’s voice interrupted her silent musings. He was quiet as he carefully parked the van away from the throng of people milling about in the distance. She knew he had been listening to their conversation. There is time yet for their talk later.
“Anak, handa ka na ba?” he asked her, frowning with worry. “Maraming magtataka kung bakit nandito ka. Alam mo na ba ang sasabihin mo? May plano ka na ba?”
Sarah shook her head in reply.
“Hindi ko po alam. Hindi ako magsasalita hanggang wala sya sa tabi ko. Huwag din po kayo sasagot ng kahit anong tanong nila. Ang alam lang nila eh nandito ako as his –friend.” She almost choked with bitterness on that last word. The blame lies solely on her. She was the one who demanded—insisted even that the relationship be kept a secret.
She suddenly remembered something. She gently run her fingers in her right pocket, her eyes misting over as she slowly fished out something round and gold, then slowly slipped it on her fourth finger and remembered the first time it was placed on her finger.
“Ok na po, Dad. Ready na po ako. Punta na po tayo dun.”
At his nod, the van moved forward once again and they parked nearer the noise.
Before she went down the van, Sarah turned to her mother and hugged her tightly. “Nasabi ko na ba sa inyo kung gaano ko kayo kamahal? I love you very much, Ma.” She reached behind her seat for her sisters hands and smiled bravely at them. “I love you.” And, finally, turning to his crying dad, she rubbed off the tears and kissed him tenderly on one cheek. “Don’t worry Dad, it will be alright.”
This will be her wedding day. Under those stars, on the hilly land of Tagaytay and beside a dark and dangerous cliff, she will be taking her husband.
Sarah has always wanted a different kind of wedding, and tonight, amongst those strangers who are trying to rescue John Lloyd, she will be getting her wish. Each person in that van knew this will be the day they give their Princess Sarah away. The stage is set and the whole entourage has started the pageantry hours before. The groom is waiting at the altar, the witnesses are impatient for the march to start and the bride has finally arrived. The Bridesmaids will be the firsts to walk down the aisle and then she will follow –both her parents with her. This will be the day the bride and the groom will claim each other in public and forever bind themselves to each other.