Disclaimer: Please see part 1.
I love you for your faith in me,
For all the joys you’ve given me,
But there’s one thing makes me love you most of all.
You never gave up on me when I was giving love up on you,
Every time I thought this love can’t work
You stayed to see it through.
You never gave up on me when I was making
Things rough on you
And you showed me what it really means to love somebody.
The rain has begun to fall.
She rubbed her arms briskly, shivering, as a gust of cold wind rushes towards her. She blindly gazed at the dark clouds collecting overhead, absently watching the trees quickly darken under the black haze looming over them.
Sarah refuses to cry. She couldn’t blame him for acting the way he did. She has kept the knowledge about their son from him and he has every right to be angry with her—even the right to stay that way forever if he wanted to. She wouldn’t be surprised if he takes back his proposal of marriage. She wouldn’t even take offense if he never forgives her. It was all her fault—the miscommunications, the heartaches, the lost time, even her mom’s collapse. All of it was borne because of her issues about trust—she didn’t trust her mom to know what was right for her, she didn’t trust the strength of John Lloyd’s love and she didn’t trust her sisters’ ability to help her. She has always refused people inside her heart, not allowing them to see her weaknesses and her doubts, always keeping them at arm’s length so that she could protect herself from getting hurt. Maybe, the truth is, she never really trusted herself. She has always thought nobody could love her if she showed them who she really is—if they found out how weak and lost she really feels under the confident façade she’s always shown them.
But having Johnny changed all that. Having someone totally dependent on your ability to show your entire soul would change all that. He needed her complete attention and affection—and how can she say no to someone who looks up to her with big, round eyes, asking and waiting for her to reveal her heart. So she gave her love to him, not really caring anymore if it’s enough or if it’s acceptable. Under the unwavering gaze of her child, she couldn’t feel anything but approval, nothing but acceptance. It was only then that she understood how it is to trully love—if you choose self-protection over someone’s own who you profess to love, then it’s probably not love. Of course love hurts, it will always be a risk to trust people with who you are, but it is, after all, a risk that is shared.
She can still remember her first years with Johnny. Being always in the spotlight in the Philippines, she has learned to keep certain privacies for herself, a boundary line that no one was allowed to cross—but Johnny refused to acknowledge any boundary. There were times that he refuses even to be separated from her which meant bringing him everywhere, even inside the toilet.
Smiling crookedly, she wiped away the raindrops hitting her face. Funny thing is, Johnny completely broke her guard and she doesn’t mind it one bit. It has only allowed her to discover how tough her heart is and how able it is to give as much love a she wants.
Arms suddenly surrounded her from behind, startling her.
Earlier, they were already outside, about to leave, when she finally decided to tell John Lloyd about their son. She didn’t know how he really took it. His face was blank and he didn’t say one word while she was confessing to him what happened, not even when he forcefully turned around and went back silently inside the house.
“I’m so sorry,” John Lloyd is now saying, tightening his embrace.
“Saan?” she whispered, “ako naman ang hindi nagtiwala sa’yo,” she said raggedly, her tears now mixing with the raindrops covering her face.
Letting her go, he pulled her away from the rain and made her face him. He took her face between his hands and showed her his guilt-ridden eyes.
“Huwag mong sisihin ang sarili mo,” he insisted, “Kasalanan ko ang nangyari dahil alam ko kung saan papunta ang relasyon natin nung dinalaw kita. Naisip ko rin ang maaring maging resulta nung gabing yun—I even wished that you were pregnant, para hindi ka na talaga mawala sa tabi ko,” he confessed. “Nung hindi mo ako tinawagan, I was so disappointed.” He released her face and pulled her into his arms, “I should have known you would try to protect me,” he murmured in her hair, warming her in his trembling embrace.
Giving in to his nearness, she put her arms around him and cried.
She cried for all those years she needed him but he wasn’t there—those scary months while her body was changing, the first time the baby moved inside her, the hours she was in labor at the hospital, the first second she held Johnny in her arms, and the many times she was in panic because their baby was sick. When night became day and day became night, her cries somehow faded with her dreams of forever. Her longing turned to anger, then her anger to sadness until, finally, she has learned to accept that he is gone.
Slowly, she felt peace come over her, the tightness in her chest loosening, and the acceptance and forgiveness for the past, setting her free. She rubbed her eyes on his shirt, breathing in his scent that she remembers so well.
“I love you,” she heard him whisper to her ear.
“I love you, too,” she answered softly, lifting her eyes to his loving gaze, meaning every word.
Both of them smiled, looking at each other with new found eyes, reacquainting themselves with how the other looked after three years. She reached out her hand and traced the lines on his forehead, wiping away the trails of tears from his cheeks, rubbing the downward dip on the sides of his mouth, pushing it upward, knowing she helped put it there.
“Smile na Beh,” she whispered tearfully, “nandito na ako.”
He took her hand and kissed her palm, keeping his lips there for awhile.
Suddenly, John Lloyd stepped back and released her, becoming serious all of a sudden, holding out his hand towards her. “Hello, I’m John Lloyd Cruz,” he introduced himself.
“Sarah Geronimo po,” she quipped back, laughing, reaching for his hand before pulling him back into her happy embrace.
Sarah has been sitting beside her mother’s bed for almost an hour now, just staring at her, remembering simpler but happier times together—those times when her mother’s instructions were still precious to her and her approval was the only thing she longed for most of all. Back then, it didn’t matter much what people would say as long as she sees her mom’s smile from across the floor as she stood on the stage performing.
Now, she can’t even remember when that changed. She doesn’t know when she started resenting her presence and when her help became intrusive to her. Many started whispering to her it was not right that her mother was telling her what to do when she’s old enough to know her own mind. So she rebelled, forgetting that it was to her honor when she honors her parents.
She reached out and took her mother’s limp hand, rubbing warmth into her cold palm.
“I love you, Mommy,” she whispered to the sleeping figure lying in front of her.
Jonnah called her earlier and told her that her mother has just woken up. In a hurry to catch her, she asked John Lloyd to delay his meeting with Johnny and come here instead to see how her mom was doing. The doctor informed them that her mother collapsed because of extreme exhaustion and the mild concussion that resulted from her fall caused her to lose consciousness. He assured them that they didn’t need to worry since the tests cleared her of any after effects although she needed to stay for another day to be sure.
She also had a long talk with her dad earlier. John Lloyd was with her, too, when she told her father about Johnny and explained to him what happened three years ago, asking for his forgiveness. Her father cried, kneeling in front of her, a hulk of a man brought to tears by his favorite daughter. How many times has she said she loved them, loved her family, and yet how much pain has she brought them, how much disappointment. Despite what she had done, he easily gave his forgiveness, accepting her back into their lives, but more than that, he gave them his blessing. John Lloyd pulled her father up and hugged him, thanking him for his trust and assuring him that he will take care of his daughter.
Her mother suddenly moved, stirring awake, her eyes flickering for a moment before it fully opened wide and trained her eyes at the ceiling.
“Mommy?” she whispered, standing over her.
Her mother turned her head towards her, not recognizing her at first, but when she did, tears suddenly trickled from her eyes as she continued to stare at her. Carefully, she embraced her mother and cried with her, missing her so much.
Lifting her head, she looked at her mother with pleading eyes.
“Patawarin nyo po ako,” she begged.
Her mother nodded, lifting her hand towards her cheek, caressing her face lovingly.
“Patawarin mo rin ako anak,” she whispered hoarsely, “hindi ko naisip na may mga pangangailangan ka rin.”
They continued to look at each other lovingly, words no longer needed to express how much. Suddenly, her mom’s expression changed and became thoughtful, realizing something as she looked at her daughter.
“Nandito ba si John Lloyd?” she asked curiously.
In awe, she stared at her mom, blushing. “P-paano nyo p-po n-nalaman?” she stuttered.
“Haay naku anak,” she chided weakly, “pag may anak ka na, malalaman mo rin,” she said smilingly, not knowing the havoc that suddenly surged in Sarah’s stomach. The blush on her daughter’s cheeks quickly drained away, making her look sickly.
“Paano po?” she asked again, forcing a smile out.
“Lumapit siya sa akin nung nawala ka,” her mom explained, staring in the distance, lost in the past, “sinabi niyang mahal na mahal ka raw niya at hinihingi niya ang kamay mo,” she smiled, now able to see the humor in the situation. “Sabi ko huwag na lang siyang umasa dahil umalis ka na at hindi ko alam kung kailan ka babalik. Masamang-masama pa kasi ang loob ko noon. Pero kahit na ganun, ipinangako nyang maghihintay sya para sayo,” regret coloring her words. “Iyong panahong yun, natutunan ko siyang respetuhin. Nalaman ko ring mali ako sa pagpigil sa inyo,” she finally said with self-recrimination. “Ngayon, nakita ko na naman ulit yung saya sa mukha mo na meron ka noong magkasama pa kayo, kaya alam kong bumalik na ulit sya.”
“Nandito po siya,” she revealed shyly.
“Tawagin mo,” her mother exclaimed, joy spreading on her face.
She stared at her mom a little longer, loving the acceptance she sees in her face.
She walked towards the private waiting area looking for John Lloyd, excited to tell him about her mom, but her excitement would have to wait a little longer. She found him slouched tiredly in the sofa, sleeping. Her heart melted as she looked at how different his face now looks from how he looked when she saw him this morning. She carefully sat beside him and pulled him to her, loving the freedom she has to touch him anytime she wanted.
“Beh?” she whispered tenderly, trying to gently wake him up. “Beh?”
Instead of rousing him, he turned to her with his eyes closed and hugged her—with his arms and legs. Amused, she tried to poke him at his side now, trying to push his heavy weight off her, afraid that someone might drift in by mistake and misinterpret what they’re doing.
“Beh, gising,” she said, a little louder now.
Finally, he opened one eye and looked at the person in his arms and smiled.
“Good morning,” he said happily, not removing his arms or his leg from around her.
“Good morning ka dyan,” she rebuked laughingly, “halika na at pinapatawag ka ng mommy.”
“Hmmmn,” he groaned, “sarap pala magising na katabi ka,” he murmured in her ear as he tightened his embrace and snuggled his face in her neck.
She blushed, remembering the night they had together and the morning after. She didn’t see him when she woke up but she knew he saw her.
When she didn’t speak, he lifted his head and looked at her and knew what she was thinking. She suddenly became alarmed when she saw his amusement changed to something else.
“O, o, John Lloyd Cruz,” she warned him, blushing, “hindi pwede yang binabalak mo dito.”
He laughed quietly, still aware of where they were, but daring enough to try anything. “Bakit, ano ba binabalak ko?” he asked, pulling her slowly closer to him.
“Mmmnn,” she groaned, complaining, but was not really resisting his advances. “Nasaan na si Daddy?” she asked, looking behind him, suddenly in a panic.
“Kakain daw muna sa canteen,” he murmured before putting his lips against hers, and kissed her, tenderly at first, paying homage to the memory of the last time their lips were pressed together. When it deepened, she didn’t know. She just found herself sitting on his lap being kissed by him thoroughly while an embarrassed nurse stood a few feet away trying to catch their attention.
“Ma’am, hinahanap daw po kayo ng Mommy nyo,” she informed them awkwardly.
Instead of raising her head to look at the poor nurse, she hid her face in his neck and nodded.
“Oo, pupunta na kami dun, salamat,” she heard John Lloyd tell the woman.
“Ikaw kasi, eh,” she exclaimed after the nurse left, finally lifting her face to look at him, hitting him on the arm.
“He, he, he. Hinihintay lang kitang ikaw ang huminto,” he teased her, “pero parang ayaw mo pa eh.”
Embarrassed, she gave him a few more slaps on the arm. “Hmp,” she said, glaring at him.
“Sorry na,” pulling her back into his arms, “ako na may kasalanan.”
Sighing at his playfulness, she kissed his nose resignedly before standing up.
“Halika na, at pinapatawag na tayo,” she urged him as she pulled him up beside her.
“Handa ka na bang makasama ako habambuhay?” he suddenly asked seriously, pulling at her arm to stop her from continue walking.
“Oo, matagal na akong handa,” she said confidently before pulling his face down to her and kissed his cheek tenderly.
Unexpectedly, John Lloyd pulled out a box from his pocket and opened it, offering it to her before kneeling on one knee in front of her.
“Will you marry me?” he asked for the second time that day, his face red.
Remembering all the times she turned away from him, all the times she doubted him and all the things that she kept from him, it makes her wonder why he still loved her.
Unable to speak, she nodded, lifting her hand to him.
He gently slid the ring in her finger before pulling her back into his arms, sending a quiet but thankful prayer to God for answering his pleas.
And though sometimes we might not see things eye to eye,
You’ve always met me more than half the way,
So for all the times I’ve let you down
And you could have packed your things and gone,
I love you most of all because you stayed.