AFTER ALL (Part 4)

Disclaimer: Please see part 1.

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“THMC, this is AB206-L3, we request permission to land immediately.”

“This is THMC ground control, what’s your situation?”

“This is AB206-L3, we have one wounded patient on board.  Please advise medical personnel to report to admitting ward and operating room. ”

“Roger, copy that.  Helipad now clear for landing.”

“Roger, Control. Now descending.”

It had been an arduous 15-minute travel from the scene of the accident to Tagaytay Hospital and Medical Center.  John Lloyd had been in a terrible amount of pain due to the shaky transport in the vehicle and she couldn’t do anything but hold his hand.

Upon their arrival, they were at once met by medical personnel and were assisted immediately to their care unit.  John Lloyd was transferred to a gurney and was rolled directly to the x-ray room while she was led to the admitting ward to sign some papers.  Only a few people were present at that time since handover of responsibilities from the night shift was currently on going.  A lot of the personnel present were trying not to show their interest but the rest were blatantly gawking at her, curious as to why she was there in a hospital at 6 in the morning.

Now, 30 minutes later, she is sitting here in a private room waiting for the results of the x-rays done on John Lloyd.  It’s never been easy to wait on anything, more so to wait for something that would determine your future.  She had been informed by the doctor that they needed to establish if the ribs that had been injured were merely cracked or if they had been broken completely.  While fractured ribs heal on their own, broken ribs are potentially dangerous since sharp edges could puncture the internal organs such as the heart, lungs or liver.  The doctor told her that if his ribs were broken they would need to operate on him.

Now all she needed to do is wait—again.  It seems that that’s all she had been doing lately.  So, she leaned back, closed her eyes and started to pray.  “Dear God, we need you again today.”

Opening her eyes, she glanced at her sleeping husband.  He had been given anesthetics to allow him to recuperate from the trauma he had been exposed to.  Who knows what really happened down there.  Even as he sleeps, his dreams seemed disturbed by memories of his ordeal.  She gazed lovingly at his face…now lined with deep shadows and wounds that went deeper than what the eyes can see.  Her heart ached with tenderness wishing she could share some of the pain that plague him right now.  Surely they could overcome anything together.

Feeling a tremendous amount of exhaustion trying to subdue her, she stood up intending to shake it off.  “Not yet.  It is not yet time to rest,” she whispered to herself as she looked outside the window.  Sun’s already up.  The night of sleeplessness is already taking its toll.

Suddenly her phone rang.  It’s her dad.

“Hello, anak?  Kamusta na?”

“Daddy.  Natutulog na po si sya.  Binigyan na rin sya kanina ng pain reliever.”

“Ano daw sabi ng doctor?

“Hinihintay pa po namin yung resulta ng x-ray nya.  Baka operahan daw po kung makitang nabali yung ribs nya.  In-admit na po sya for the night.  Baka dito na rin kami matutulog.”

“Anong plano mo ngayon?”

“Kakailanganin nyang may mag-alaga sa kanya eh.  Siguro po mag-leleave muna ako.”

“Gaano katagal?”

“Hanggang kaya po.  Depende po sa sasabihin ng doctor.”

“Eh paano yung mga scheduled appearances mo, mga photoshoots at saka dun sa ASAP?”

“Kung hindi na po pwedeng i-delay eh itutuloy ko po, pero as much as possible I will ask for more consideration.”

“Eh yung press release?”

“Saka ko na lang po muna iisipin.  Ang concern ko po muna ngayon eh yung paggaling po ni John Lloyd.”

Sarah started rubbing her temple, willing the pain starting in her head to fade away.  No matter how much she wanted to stop the time for the moment to be able to handle what’s in her plate right now, it still manages to make itself known.

“Kamusta na po si Mommy?”

“Natutulog na sya.  Kailangan nya ng pahinga.”

“Sorry po daddy…”

“Naiintindihan kita anak.  Huwag muna nating pag-usapan yan.  Marami ka pang ibang problema.”

“Salamt po.”

“Mahal ka namin at hangga’t kailangan mo ang tulong namin eh nandidito kami para sayo.”

“Love you too, Daddy.”

“Sige na at magpahinga ka na.”

”Tatawag na lang po ako sa inyo kung meron na pong ibang balita.”

She turned off the phone and rested her forehead on the window pane.  She just feels so drained.

“No, you need to go home.”  She swiveled around towards the bed.  John Lloyd’s voice was groggy but firm.  “Hindi mo kailangang mag-leave.  I could ask my mom to take care of me.”

“But I am home.”

“Sarah,…”his voice was exasperated.

“What?  Ano sa palagay mo sasabihin ng mom mo tungkol sa ‘kin?  Na walang silbi yung asawa mo?  Na nung kailangan mo ako eh wala ako sa tabi mo,” she asked challengingly.

“Ano ka ba?  Maiintindihan naman nya na…,”

“No.  I am your wife.  If I cannot do this, then I don’t know what my purpose is in your life.”  She was furious that he could even think that he can convince her to go.

“Beh, naman eh.  Ayoko lang na mapagod ka pa eh,” he said in resignation.  “You’ve been through a lot already because of me.”

Understanding that she has won the battle for now, she walked towards him.  Reaching his side, she stooped down and kissed him tenderly, grazing his eyes with her lips, then his cheeks, his nose and finally his lips.

“Hmmmn, yes, I think tama ka,” he said smilingly, his voice rough, his eyes closed.  “Every day of that, alam ko na gagaling kaagad ako.”

“Ehem.”

Both of them turned guiltily towards the door.  Suddenly somber, they waited for the doctor to approach their side.

“Kamusta na po, doc,” Sarah asked nervously.

“Buti naman. Kamusta naman ang ating pasyente,” the doctor asked lightly.

“Heto doc, feeling ko parang nalaglag ako sa bangin,” he said weakly, trying to trivialize his pain.

“You don’t have to worry about anything.  Bumalik na ang resulta.  Two fractured ribs at hindi yung kinakatakutan natin.”

“Thank God,” Sarah whispered gratefully.

“It would really be painful to breathe and to function normally so you have to give yourself at least six weeks to recover.  I will prescribe you some pain medications to assist you in your healing and it could prevent you from certain complications.  Kailangan iwasan mo ang pneumonia.”

“Maraming salamat po doctor.”

“Pero kailan po ba sya pwedeng umuwi,” Sarah asked anxiously.

“Oh.  Actually, you can be released this afternoon, pero it’s up to you if you want to be released tomorrow morning.  May nagsabi sa akin na maraming naghihintay sa inyo sa lobby.  Mga reporters daw.  Did you know about it?”

Looking at each other, they suddenly became worried.

“Don’t worry.  We secure the privacy of our patients here.  We can protect you as long as you are in our territory.”

“E, paano po yung mga information about us.”

“We will not release any information that you don’t want us to reveal.”

“Maraming salamat po doctor,” they both said, assured of their safety there.

“I will just be in my office if you need anything.”  The doctor finally left unobtrusively.

Sitting down on the chair she vacated earlier, she pulled it closer to the bed.  She reached for John Lloyd’s arm nearest her and pressed her face in his neck, trying to breathe his scent in, getting some needed strength before facing the reality that is already forcing itself into their safe world.

“Are you ok,” he whispered tenderly.

“Opo, hangga’t nandito ka sa tabi ko,” she mumbled.

He smiled, feeling her lips moving in his neck.  She is becoming more and more herself and he can’t wait when she has totally revealed herself.  She is different, more expressive now with her emotions—more generous somehow.  They’ve always needed to be careful about how they talk and how they touch.  No one should know or suspect anything about their relationship.  Many times lies had been forced from their lips if only to protect what they have.  It always hurt whenever they had to deny the other’s part in each other’s life.

Now she is here beside him, showering him with much needed love.  He didn’t know what happened those 10 hours when she was waiting for news about him, all he knows is that they both changed when he came out of that darkness.

He knew that the secrets that they had been keeping were giving her stress, but he was powerless to help her.  He would’ve absorbed all the problems in the world for her if only she’d allow him to but he knew Sarah won’t allow that to happen.  She would insist on taking her part and even shield him if she has to.  She’s like that with her family and she’s the same with him.  That’s one of the reasons he loves her so much—when she loves, she loves completely.

“Gusto mo na bang umuwi?”

“Pinapaalis mo na naman ako,” she asked incoherently in his skin.

“Hindi.  I mean gusto mo na ba akong ma-discharge so we could go home?”

“Hmmn.  Oo sana,” she lifted her head from his shoulder and agreed with him tiredly, “pero paano tayo uuwi?” she whispered sadly.

The sudden knock on the door gave both of them a start.  Confused, she walked towards the door and looked outside.

“Mr. M!”

“Sarah?”  Johnny Manahan was obviously surprised to see her there.  She guessed the news hasn’t reached him yet.  Good.

“Pasok po kayo.  Lloydie, si Mr. M.”

John Lloyd was smiling, his face welcoming the presence of his manager despite the awkwardness of the situation.  Sarah trailed behind Mr. M as he approached the bed.

“Kamusta ka na Lloydie,” Mr. M asked him inquiringly.

“Better,” he quipped, his voice rough.

“Kaaalis lang po nung doctor,” Sarah added.  “Fractured ribs daw po kaya hirap po sya makahinga at makapagsalita.”

Sarah is now standing opposite Mr. M, unconsciously brushing away John Lloyd’s hair off his face, smoothing the frown off his forehead.

She didn’t notice Mr. M staring at her too familiar gesture towards John Lloyd and the bounce of loving gazes thrown at each other.  He didn’t want to jump at any conclusions about anything, willing himself to just bide his time and wait for a better opportunity to ask questions.  He suddenly became very still though when he noticed the identical rings they were wearing.  He couldn’t help the panic that suddenly surged within him.  Oh, no!  He couldn’t afford a situation like this happening at this time.  It was inconvenient enough that John Lloyd got into an accident while doing a movie, but something like this happening at the same time?  He’d been through something like this more times than he could afford—either they get pregnant or they marry secretly.  What should he do now?

He suddenly turned away and rubbed his face with both hands.  Sarah and John Lloyd looked at him with bafflement, not sure why he seemed angry.

“Sir Johnny?”  John Lloyd carefully formed his words, unsure of what’s happening.

“So kailan nyo balak sabihin sana sa akin?” His voice was clipped, obviously controlling his emotions.

Both of them didn’t pretend anymore that they didn’t know what he was talking about.  It was time to confess.  Sarah looked at John Lloyd and rubbed his arm, telling him that she would be doing the talking.

“Mr. M, we got married, less than a month ago, that time when we had our vacation in the US.  Ayaw ni Lloydie itago pero I convinced him na it would be better to hide it first.  I only told my parents last night.”

“Why were you in such a hurry, and why hide it?”

“Alam ko po ang tinatanong nyo.  No, hindi po ako pregnant.”  Mr. M made an obvious sigh of relief.

“What are your plans?  When are you going to tell the public?”

“Paglabas nya sana dito,” Sarah said uncertainly.  Mr. M sighed at this, obviously frustrated about the havoc that this is going to make.

“Can I ask a favor from the both of you?”  Mr. M asked looking at them inquiringly.

Sarah didn’t know that she was already clutching John Lloyd’s hand painfully.

“Ano po ‘yun?”

“Can you hold it off for another 2 months at the most?  Can you keep it a secret a little longer?”

“Pero,…” Sarah and John Lloyd looked at each other, unbelief written on their faces.  They feel that they’ve kept the secret long enough.

“Wait, hear me out first.  Malaking problema kasi ito eh.  You have a movie coming out Lloydie and we are handling setbacks already because of the accident.  We will finish it hopefully in time using a double for most parts.  It’s a love team movie, and we need you single for the meantime.  All I’m asking is if you could just keep it a secret only until the movie has finished its screening.”

The couple was quiet.

“Of course, it’s still up to the both of you, but I would be really grateful if you help me out.”

Both of them are torn.  It’s a temptation to keep it a secret a little longer.  They never liked the feeling of being hounded by reporters and this absolutely speaks hunting season.

Sarah slid down on the chair beside the bed and stared at her husband.  He looked so tired and distressed.  She didn’t think he could face more trouble about the film especially when he knew that his accident made too much delay already.  If his revelation would add more to the problem, it surely won’t let his conscience have peace.  She doesn’t want that for him even though she wanted to be free already from the secret that have kept her from his side.

John Lloyd’s heart ached for Sarah as well.  He knew how much she hated the crossfire of questioning.  As it is, she’d been through a lot because of him.  He doesn’t want her to go through another wringer just because he wanted to stake a claim on her already.

John Lloyd finally nodded at her.

“Sigurado ka, Beh?” Sarah asked quietly.

“Yes.  We have to wait 6 more weeks.”

“Enough time for you to recuperate,” she agreed.

“Pumapayag po kami,” Sarah said heavily.  “Pero kayo na po ang bahala sa pag control ng balita na lumalabas.”

“Salamat.  I will take care of everything.  When will he be discharged?”

“Ngayon daw pong hapon if we want.”

“Ok.  I will send transportation at once.  It could take you home without warning them that you’re leaving.”

“Salamat po.”

“I have to go now.  I still need to visit the site and check up on them.  Get well soon Lloydie, ok?”   And just like that they were left alone again.

The room was left silent.  Both the occupants were in their own thoughts, weaving through muddled emotions.  How can they hide their relationship again?  Now that they knew how good it felt to freely express their feelings, how can they bottle it up again?

Sarah wanted to cry and maybe throw something.  She feels so lost.  Looking at the silent man beside her, her heart melted.  She suddenly decided she will stay with him.  They need not be separated while he was recuperating.  She just won’t tell anybody that she was living there with him.

She reached for her husband’s hand and squeezed it so that he would look at her.

“I love you Bebeh ko,” she lovingly said when his sad eyes met hers.  “Wala naman nagsabi na hindi tayo pwedeng magsama, di ba?  Titira pa rin ako sa bahay mo pero walang makakaalam, ” she proclaimed happily.

He suddenly smiled, thinking his wife is looking so young all of a sudden because of the excitement twinkling in her eyes.  She always does this to him, put a smile on his face even when he thought there’s no chance of that happening.  He got reminded of the many times when they were just friends when she would go out of her way to make him forget how to frown.  “Bahay natin,” he corrected, amusement flickering in his own eyes.

“Ok, ok, bahay natin.  Magtatago ako dun at walang makaka-alam na ang dakilang nurse mo pala eh si Ms. Sarah Geronimo,” she declared with all aplomb.

“Cruz,” he added again.

“What?”

“Mrs. Sarah Geronimo-Cruz,” he said smilingly as he pulled her to him and kissed her with all the strength he could muster.

 

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<<Chapter 3                                                                                  Chapter 5>>

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