|It was always Lola who decorated me with medals when my mom could not make it. I was in third year high school here, I think, and Mom was confined to the hospital, stricken with cancer.|
Sometimes before we sleep Elmo, big as he is, asks me to tell a story. Only, the stories are not taken from books but from my treasure trove of experiences.
And since this week I was preoccupied with Sophie's "achievement" of commuting on her own (see earlier entry, A Girl's Dilemma), I remembered myself when I was her age. I was also raring to be independent by the time I was 12 or 13. One proof of that independence was going out on my own, even if it meant just a short distance like to the palengke or the church.
And I remembered one Sunday, and told Elmo this story last night.
I had a phase when I always wanted to go to Church all by myself. If I had any companions, I would rather not go at all. That morning, as I was getting dressed, the sky darkened and it looked as if it was about to rain, and hard.
Lola said God would understand if I could not go to Mass because it was raining so hard. I was insistent. It was not raining yet, I told her, and in that case I better hurry.
Do I want her to go with me? I just looked at her as though she were nuts and she knew better than insist. I said a quick goodbye and fled.
When I got to the church, and the priest started to speak, the rain did fall. The water fell so hard on the roof that it muted the priest's voice even if he was using a microphone.
It did not let up one hour later. When the mass ended, only a few people were able to get out of the church. As I made my way to the door, guess whom I saw seated on the back pew, holding two big umbrellas?
She told me the obvious -- that I had forgotten my umbrella. The rain was still pouring outside, so I took a seat beside her. We were both looking at the altar and I pretended to kneel down so she would not see that I was just about ready to cry. I realized then that here was a woman who loved me unconditionally, still thinking of my welfare despite my claims of so-called independence and a pathetic attempt to push her away.
Imagine following me to the church when the rain was already falling hard!
I remember this as though it only happened yesterday. When I close my eyes I can still hear the rain falling on the roof of the church and the priest's muffled voice. And then I get a warm, cozy feeling, as though I were home, wherever I may already be more than 25 years later.
It was how it felt to be really, truly loved -- no questions.