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When will you say "I love you?"
(This story is a work of fiction. All characters and places mentioned in this story are all fictitious. Any similarities to people on real life is purely coincidental.)
LORENA was sitting on a chair near the bed of her husband David who had been ill for three days now. She was praying silently that David will recover. The doctor told her that if David will survive till morning then he might have a chance to live.
David had been a sickly man since he was in his late forties. Lorena blamed his vices for this. David was a chain smoker, a gambler, and a drunkard. Lorena thought in the past that all David gave her was pain and bitterness as a husband. Those was her sentiments but now that David was on the verge of death, she felt a different kind of pain. She could not understand this feeling.
Lorena remembered how she met David and how she was forced to marry him.
Lorena was the second child of eight siblings. Her father was a writer, composer, and a dramatist. He was a good man who was an advocate of Christianity and in fact, a Catholic Defender. Her mother, on the other hand was a very simple woman who was a lot younger than her father. She was thinking that after World War II, she would be able to pursue her education. She would have a good future and was dreaming of a good life and a good career.
But it did not happen. Contrary to her expectation her father died after her elementary school graduation and instead of going to high school, she ended up helping her mother till their land for their livelihood. Before her father died, Lorena's family owned Twenty-four hectares of land. At that time, it was already sufficient enough to support a big family. They had livestock and in fact, their produce was more than enough for their family consumption. You could say that they lived a good life. But when her father died everything they used to have when their father was alive was gone. Even their land; the twelve hectares were leased to a relative and never recovered.
It was a hard life especially in that her one and only brother who were supposed to till their farm were still very little. Lorena could not complain. So she accepted her fate of becoming a poor farmer instead of a doctor. The challenges did not end there. Aside from tilling the land, they also needed capital to finance the farm so they could get it back.
Her mother was much affected by the death of her father because, when her father was alive, everything was provided. Her mother's hand only got wet when she ate. They always had somebody to do the work for them. But when her father died... everything changed. It was like a nightmare but that is life. Lorena's mother was beautiful. She was only thirty-five when became a widow. Naturally she had many admirers but Lorena's mother had just has one answer for her suitors... "My heart was buried with my husband. If he will rise up from the dead I will still marry him again."
Lorena thought her mother was crazy to tell her suitors to go away. She was still young and she deserved to be happy again. Life must go on as they say. But it was easier said than done. She thought it was foolish. When it was her turn to fall in love with a man she understood why her mother was so loyal to her Papa even when he was already dead.
The time came when their farm could no longer support their needs; she and her older sister were forced to work as housemaids. It was like that for many years until Lorena was eighteen. At this time her only brother was already old enough to help. Her brother worked in their farm and together they work for their living.
She was beginning to adjust a peaceful and contented life. Then, her elder sister fell in love and got married. She had only her brother to help now with their siblings who were still very young.
She was beginning to adjust a peaceful and contented life. Then, her elder sister fell in love and got married. She had only her brother to help now with their siblings who were still very young.
Lorena' heart was burdened over her family. She could not just leave her mother and her siblings. So she could not think of getting married at that time. But she only loved one man in her life and that was Martin. At least that was what she thought. Martin was a handsome man and belonged to a good family with big property in their town. Lorena felt so very much in love with Martin that all she saw in him was his love and sweetness. She never imagined anything not perfect in Martin. The sympathetic eyes, very attractive smile, and his generous nature. Lorena felt secure in Martin's love.
So, when Martin proposed to marry her, she accepted. Martin knew her family's situation. She was expected that Martin will be able to accept and love her family too. Her mother did not really pose and objection to her marrying Martin but just warned her that she should try to be sure if she really loved Martin and not just the convenience of being married so she will have somebody to support them.
"Oh I am sure mama. Can't you tell?" she said to her mother with her big smile.
"I just want you to be happy Lorena. That's all. I am sure if your father was alive, that is what he would want for you too."
Thinking of her father again, it made her teary eyed. "Thank you mama. I am sure papa will be happy. Martin is a good man, I am sure of that."
So, the wedding was set. Everything was ready. But one day, Lorena had an unexpected visitor, her cousin Cordelia. Cordelia was not only her cousin but also her best friend. But it was Cordelia's news that shocked her.
"You are pregnant? Oh my God! Who is the father Cordel?"
Cordelia was not able to answer directly. She was crying and did not even dare to look Lorena in the eye. Then she said, as if trying to get Lorena's assurance, "Do you really want to know?"
"Of course, I do! What are best friends for if we can't share secrets? But only if you want to. I don't want to be a nosybody..." Lorena said smiling at her cousin.
Cordelia took a deep breath and sighed..."It's Martin...!"
Lorena was tongue-tied. It was like she heard a bomb go off. But she managed to say, "What?? Oh com' on Cordel, that is not a good joke. Out with it! Martin's my fiancé, in a month's time, we will be married. How can that be...?" the last question seemed like a whisper. Lorena did not really think that this will happen. She trusted both Cordelia and Martin. They were the only people that she shared secrets, shared tears and ... what else did she share with Cordelia...? Well... it seems that she shared Martin too.
Cordelia said seriously. "I wish it was a joke Loren... it's the truth. I'm sorry..." Cordelia's voice was so apologetic.
But Lorena did not feel the remorse in her voice. She felt a sudden lump in her throat. No... She would not cry. No way would she cry. But how can she not cry? She loved Martin. He was her life.
She could not believe it. "No..!"
"I am really very sorry Loren..."
"No Cordelia, you are not sorry. If you are really sorry you should not do this to me. You and Martin betrayed me..." she cried angrily but crying at the same time.
"I know you don't believe me, but I am really sorry. I don't want to hurt you... it's just that... that..." Cordelia was not able to suppress her feelings. She cried and cried. After a long moment of silence... they were both calm.
"Do you love Martin like I love him, Cordelia?"
"I do. I loved him ever since I was sixteen. But his eyes are only for you."
"For me? How did it happen then that you got pregnant with his child? Never mind, I don't want to know anymore."
Cordelia went home with a heavy heart. Lorena felt so sad and was in deep pain from that betrayal.
That night there were two souls who were grieving. Lorena and Cordelia both because of Martin.
Martin used to visit Lorena in the afternoon. They love to walk on the seashore holding hands. It always excites her, but this time... even the shadow of Martin coming... gives her so much pain.
That afternoon, she confronted Martin. "Do you have something to tell me Martin?" Lorena asked.
Martin seemed to be surprised. "About what?"
"About you, about me and Cordelia for example..." she said with emphasis on the name of Cordelia, looking directly into the eyes of Martin.
Martin was not able to reply outright to her question.
Then Martin broke the silence and asked quietly, "Did Cordelia say something to you?"
"Yes!" She answered automatically. "She told me, she is pregnant..."
"Oh I see..."
"No, you don't see Martin!" She said irritably. She was trying to hold her temper. "Cordelia is pregnant and you are the father of that baby! Does that make sense to you?"
"No." Martin answered simply. He was not even looking at Lorena. He was looking at the ocean.
"And why not? Do you mean to say that Cordelia was lying to me?" She asked painfully.
"Don't answer me in monosyllables Martin! Be a man! Answer me directly and tell me that it is not true!"
Martin sighed. He reached out for Lorena to give her a hug but Lorena did not let Martin to hug her.
"Yes, it is true that I am the father of the baby she is carrying now... but believe me... it was just accidental. I did not intend to take advantage of her. I did not intend to hurt you."
"You did not intend to take advantage and you did not intend to hurt me but you did both Martin!"
"Listen Lorena, I am just a man. What will you do if you are in my shoes... the lady seduce me... she tempted me... she..." Martin was not able to finish speaking because Lorena raised her hand to stop him.
"That's enough Martin. The next thing you will say that Cordelia put some potion in your drink that is why you went to bed with her..."
Lorena cried. Martin was crying too, which made Lorena more angry.
"Here is your ring Martin."
"Lorena... no... Please listen to me... I can support Cordelia's child... please don't let me marry her... I don't love her. It's you I love."
"So sad that you did not think of me when you went to bed with Cordelia Martin. And for the record... I don't care whether you marry her or not...I don't want to be married with a man who could not even stand on his own word..."
"But you said... that you will love me till forever..."
"And you said that you will love no one but me Martin...but you also love Cordelia."
Lorena and Martin left the beach separately. Lorena went ahead. Martin stayed until dark.
The news of their break-up shocked their family and relatives who were really expecting their coming union.
In order to forget, Lorena accompanied her mother's sister to Visayas. She did not want to see Cordelia and Martin together.
She tried to settle in Cebu and was helping her aunt in her small variety store. Lorena cried day and night. She could not imagine how Martin betrayed her and how Cordelia betrayed her. She vowed she will never love any man again.
It was the Year, 1958. Lorena met this man named David. He did not appeal to Lorena. How could she like him? This man was the total opposite of Martin. Martin has no vices. This man... was a chain smoker, a gambler, and most of all he drank liquor like drinking water. But the thing she disliked most was what she heard about this man David... about his being a womanizer. Almost all of her relatives there told her that she should stay away from David.
David was sexually a very attractive man. He had dark sparkling eyes, with thick beautiful eyelashes. He was friendly and was trying to be friendly with Lorena. But Lorena did not give him any attention. David was with his friends one night, serenading Lorena. David had a beautiful voice too. But still Lorena was not thinking of these qualities... she was still pining over Martin and she did not really like the negative things she heard about David.
Lorena did not expect she would become deeply involved with David. So she was surprised when her aunt asked one morning.
"Lorena, are you in love with David?"
"What?" Lorena was totally shocked by that question of her aunt. "Of course not! Why are you asking me that Auntie?"
"Because he asked my permission to marry you..."
"What??? How did that happen? I do not even know the man. He came into the store with his friends... I am just the saleslady Auntie... she said with a little joke in her voice."
"Is this yours?" Her Aunt presented lavender lace underwear to her. "Yes, that is mine... but how... where..." her voice trailed off... That was the underwear she had thought has been missing.
"Well... somebody gave this to me... and you know what that means..."
"No! That is the worst joke I have ever heard Auntie..!" Lorena said with hardness in her voice.
"Well... you don't want to disgrace our family, right?"
"Right... but I did not! I swear to God I did not!"
"Make up your mind Lorena; I am going to write to your mother so she can attend your wedding. And by the way... you better forget that Martin guy... he was already married to your cousin Cordelia."
Lorena could hardly speak about that news. She was not surprised that Martin and Cordelia were married. But what wearied her and totally took her strength was the news that she would be marrying David.. "I hate that man! I hate him!"
Lorena's family was of Spanish descent. The virtue of a woman is very precious in their time. She could not defend herself. Who would believe her? She did not want to go to court just to prove her innocence. That would surely kill her mother. She could not let that happen.
So, Lorena and David were married. During the first year of their marriage... she did not conceive right away. It was a real nightmare for her. She cried even during night time. David was very gentle. He was trying to reform his bad reputation being a womanizer because of Lorena. But Lorena did not really want to think of David. She hated him. At least that was what she thought.
David was so patient and tried to understand Lorena better. So, when Lorena conceived with their first child... she said to herself... she is already married, and if she wanted to be happy, she might as well start learning to love David. So... she opens her heart for David but she did not say a word about loving him.
Years passed... it was the time when David and Lorena decided to visit Lorena's family on the North coast of Mindanao. Lorena did not want to go, but David wanted to go and meet Lorena's siblings. David only met Lorena's mother. He also wanted to see Lorena's home.. So... they went for a vacation. Lorena could not understand her feelings. She was afraid to see Martin and Cordelia and she did not want David to know about Martin too.
Her siblings and her mother were happy when they arrived at Lorena's home. They stayed there for a week. Then the thing happened. Cordelia and Martin visited them... Cordelia was so thin... while Martin looks like he has all the pounds that Cordelia needs. What shocked Lorena was what Cordelia said to her.
"You were so lucky not to marry him Loren... Martin is a brute."
"What? What do you mean by that? I could not marry him after you get yourself pregnant with Martin..."
"He is a wife-beater."
"Why do you think I look like this? He beats me. He always blamed me for getting pregnant. He blamed me for everything."
"I am so sorry Cordelia. Maybe you should tell Martin that you love him..."
"I did. But he said he does not love me and it's you he loves and still loves. Why do you think we are here? He wanted to see you."
Lorena laughed with that statement. "I am already a married woman with a child Cordelia. I don't want to ruin my marriage with a man who is not worthy of my tears. Are you satisfied now?"
Cordelia hugged Lorena with tears in her eyes. Lorena did not say anything. She did not tell Cordelia the truth. She was lying to herself. She was still in love with Martin... That was what she thought at that time.
She did not dare talk to Martin. Martin talked to David with particular things about places, and about family. But that was all until they came home to Visayas.
Lorena thought that her life would be different from Cordelia. She said she made her life happy. But David came back to his vices again when they had already four children. He was drinking again, gambling, and of course... he did not stop smoking. All of these added to the hatred that she used to feel for David. She was trying to open her heart. She was trying to learn to love David but David was behaving miserably.
David and Lorena faught like cats and dogs. They always clashed words. Lorena even tried to leave David but, because of the kids, she could not leave him. She valued her family so much that she could not risk the future of her children.
Lorena did not stop trusting God.
One day, she was surprised when David said... he will stop smoking and drinking and gambling. Lorena did not believe that. After all these years. They had eight children now. They were both old now. Lorena was 50 and David was 53. But David means that.
David stopped his vices but he also become so sickly that most of the time he could not work. Lorena did not know why...
David was a good father to her children. He was a man of principle. He taught their children the value of honesty and respect.
It went on like that for many years... their children seemed to be blessed by God because despite their poverty, almost all their children finished their education. Their children were all blessed with intelligent minds.
Their eldest daughter helped her siblings to finish their education and even helped one of her younger sisters to go to Dubai. Then another went to Qatar.
That helped elevate their life a little bit. They did not get rich... but at least they were no longer living like the way they lived before. Their children supported them in their need. That was their blessing from God.
It was even a miracle that four of their children married foreigners. Well, they were not rich too... but at least they could help and they were happy with their respective husbands. Lorena's children suffered hard life before they get settled with a happy life. For example, their eldest daughter went through a hard life. She finished her education as a working student... so sad that her first marriage was not happy. In fact, it was a bigamous marriage. But God did wonders. Consuelo got born again, and the man she met in the internet who is an American guy helps her annul her bigamous marriage. She is now in America. Also their other daughter married a retired American... so she is also with her husband in America... their other two daughters are still waiting for their papers to join with their respective husbands in the USA.
That was the goodness of the Lord. But... suddenly, David become so seriously ill. Lorena cried. She was trying to be a faithful wife for all these years. She had learned to love David long before.
David becomes born again through the telephone a few months earlier. That really changed everything in his life. He read the bible every day and was really so at peace. He was so happy that morning... eating ripe mangoes in their backyard... Then... suddenly... he was short of breath and was brought to the hospital and was in a critical condition.
He was also visited by a priest and received the anointing of the sick. He felt so good hearing the words of God. Lorena did not think that David would leave her.
Tonight... Lorena and David talked like the old days... David told Lorena that he loved her and always wanted her to be happy.
Lorena cried when David said that. David was waiting for Lorena to say something... but Lorena could not afford to tell him that she love him too... then... David suddenly lost his breath... it scared Lorena for a moment. But the doctors tried their best to save David. That night Lorena tried to find a pharmacy which was open for 24 hours so they can buy all the prescriptions needed for David. He was with oxygen and a regulator. David looked so fragile in his sleep. Lorena felt the pang inside her, hearing the beeping of the monitor on the screen.
"If only you will live for me and our children and grandchildren David...Ask God...You know that I love you... a long time ago..." she whispered in David's ear.
It was a miracle! David was so alive the next morning. It was the day before Christmas Eve. Everybody in the family was happy. Thanking God for that miracle. The doctor told Lorena that David needs an operation for his pneumothorax. But David did not want an operation. On Christmas Eve... they were very happy. Lorena was thinking that was the happiest moment of their life even if David was in the hospital... all of their children except those who were in America and one of their grandchildren... was there... David was so happy. He slept for few hours... then he had an attacked again. He could not breath. The doctors were trying to help him. Lorena signed the waiver for the operation whether David like it or not. She wanted David to live. She wanted to spend the rest of their lives together... celebrating their new found love. The doctor started the incision for the pneumothorax... making a hole at the side of David so that the air and the fluids that filled his lungs could be drained... but the doctor discovered... that David's lungs were no longer working... it is no use... Lorena was holding the hands of David.
David died in her arms. Lorena had just barely told him... "I LOVE YOU!" that was the most awaited words...
David died on Christmas Day. He died with a smile on his face. He looks like he was just sleeping. Lorena felt the pain of losing the man who for a long time she thought she hated but a man who really loves her. Who was thinking of her happiness even at his death?
David was happy knowing that Lorena loves her. He just wanted to know... after all these years... it was supposed to be their 50th Wedding Anniversary in June. But he came home to the Lord before he could renew his marriage vow.
Lorena was left with a broken heart but like David said... "God is so good to us. Please take care of yourself Loren... I am happy. Just remember... I have always loved you...like our marriage vow... till death do us part, in sickness and in health... we are together..."
David is gone... but the memories... she will keep it in her heart. She was just asking ... why is it that sometimes love can be so painful like this. You feel that it is there, but you don't have the courage to say it.