Three nights ago, as I was getting ready for bed, I tapped the Mail app on my iPad to check my emails. As usual, my inbox was plagued with feeds from people I follow on WordPress.com and daily digests from a wedding online community. Reading through each and every mail, a particular notification–a comment–to one of my blog posts made my body quiver. The comment was from a former school mate in elementary who happened to be my deceased friend’s first love. Upon reading who the response was from, I felt gooseflesh all over. It was Ralph, and I might as well think he bobbed up from the grave.
Remember my friend, Gela, who died of lupus at age 17? Well, Ralph was her childhood crush/love. We were in fourth grade when Gela and I became close. We never were classmates, but we rode the same bus service to and from school. That’s where it all started.
See, Gela and I had been so close, there hardly was a day we didn’t get in touch. After school, even when we rode the bus together on our way home, we would call each other and talk on the phone for hours. Like most ten-year olds, we talked about friends and crushes. I would have said “boys”, but it wasn’t like we were of legal age to be in a relationship at that time. During summer break, instead of seeing or going out with each other, we settled for writing letters and have them sent by post. Our mothers would have thought that we were nuts because we wrote to each other almost every day.
Gela’s letters were mostly about the stuff she did since school ended. She would animatedly describe how their family trip to the province went or how she’s catching up with her swimming lessons. It was the kind of fun kids our age loved back then. Gela was the youngest and the only girl in the family. She was pretty much the baby in the family, so the idea of her having suitors at a very young age was out of the picture. She was like a mestiza doll with her fair skin, natural brown hair and eyes. There was no doubt boys admired her because she was a smart kid and had a bubbly personality, too. So, what’s not to love?
But love was something so premature at a very young age. Rarely do I find couples who have been in love with each other since their childhood years. Gela mentioned Ralph a lot of times in her letters. We even came up with a code name for him just in case our letters get lost, and fall into someone else’s possession. Oh, you know, we were just being kids. Gela’s fondness of Ralph was evident in her letters. Oh, puppy love. In fact, they were often teased by their classmates because they knew how the two felt for each other. They were like Alfalfa and Darla (of The Little Rascals) back in the day, only to end up as reversed version of Thomas J and Vada in the movie, My Girl.
Ralph’s response to my blog post was poignant. Apparently, after all these years, he remained attached to Gela. He moved to the US when he was 14, and has never visited the Philippines since. When he heard about Gela’s demise, he wanted to come home, but circumstances didn’t allow him to. Gela has been dead for nine years now, and she remained in his thoughts and dreams since. It could be the guilt for not being there, at least, during her wake that bothered him through the years. In his words, he’d written these:
For the life of me, I just woke up and wanted to look her name up on the internet. Back then all I could search for was her name and simple obituary. Now I’m really glad that there’s this little blog where anyone could read a little about Clara’s life.
That’s how Ralph stumbled upon my humble website. It was overwhelming to realize that I have actually done something to somehow ease another person’s grief over the loss of a loved one. I may not be able to bring Gela back into this world, but I have, at least, served as an instrument in inspiring other people by reliving her wonderful life through my writing. Who knows, it may be God’s doing to let us all know that Gela’s in [His] good hands. I wish Ralph the peace of mind and heart that he deserves for he has truly loved Gela, but more importantly, I pray that he may be able to move on without having to forget the memories that will forever remain beautiful.