Stories Need To Be Told...

...lest they dissolve into oblivion.
There are moments that need to be captured and made eternal simply because there is a wealth of emotions and spirituality in them. Painting a picture with words is one of the ways to immortalize these for people who were not there and for the future generation.
This is my contribution....

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Army Wife

Each woman, once she chooses to be wife, takes on a new challenge to shape a new chapter in her life. Needless to say, a part of her ceases to exist on her own, and instead start to compliment that of another person - her husband.

Stories have been written about ordinary women, who met extra ordinary challenges in their lives as wives. First ladies, Lady politicians, Astronauts, Engineers, Mothers of Quintuplets, Army Wives.

Allow me to tell the story of one army wife I met.

The meet up was in Cubao. As I sat there, waiting for her arrival, engaged in a lively chat with a friend, a part of my mind wondered how the meeting is going to be, this, for several reasons. First, she does not know me. Even in ordinary circumstances, she has every right to question my motives. Two, her husband is incarcerated. He is an army colonel, implicated in a failed coup four years ago. Due to this, she has been harassed, accosted, questioned and subjected to tortures I can only begin to imagine. Three, she has to be on the defensive, it's an absolute necessity for survival, for herself, her kids and her husband.

It was noisy at the coffee shop. Rambunctious teenagers were at their peak, because it was Friday and the place was literally jumping. And then I saw her.

Pale pink shirt, cargo pants, black bag, hair pulled clear of her face which was devoid of make up, except maybe, a thin coat of lipstick, and her teeth in braces. She greets my friend who is a very good friend to her and an ally to her husband. There was a brief introduction, she sits down and she starts talking. Small talk. How they have not seen each other for a while, how this and that person is, sometimes even talking in what I suspect was code or 'private speak'. She virtually ignored me.

For some reason, I didn't mind. I didn't feel awkward. I just waited.

Eventually, the talk drifted to a certain colonel, now running for office and the skirmish that happened between him and her husband, and the truth about how and why it happened. The facts revealed were shocking I couldn't keep to myself any longer and I started expressing my disgust and shock. This was when she started to acknowledge my presence. It was smooth sailing from there because the conversation flowed when I asked questions based on some of the things that I knew about the incident. It drifted to other related topics and the conversation started to become even more comfortable.

Between myself and the common friend, laughter and comical comments are inevitabilities. We find ways to laugh at even the most mundane things, as well as the darkest topics. That is no surprise. What the surprise that night was, that the Army Wife can out-laugh both my friend and myself, combined.

It was a warm sensation at the pit of my stomach to know this about her-that she has not lost humor and zest for laughter. Oh and she has quite a laugh. Her face lights up, her whole being comes alive and she laughs without care. Pure mirth.

My friend (who I think has one of the best instincts I know-she knows the perfect timing), finally hands the army wife the 'gift' from friends from afar. She murmurs a thank you, barely heard and I nod it off, not wanting her to feel embarassed. I murmured that I will tell the friends from afar.

My friend's mobile phone rang and I took the opportunity to say we should get something to drink lest we get kicked out of the place for occupying seats and she readily obliges me. As we stood in line to get our orders, she takes me by the waist and whispers, "thank you, ha?" I smiled and repeated what I had said earlier about carrying the message over to the givers. I also took this chance to ask if she would mind 'other' gifts, specially for her three daughters. Previously loved dolls and what not. Her response was quick and that was why it was easy to see it was from her heart. She said yes, yes of course, her daughters could use them....Pride and humility, in the face of trials. Admirable.

We order drinks and we go back to the table and from then on, it felt like all three of us were old friends.

More conversations, more laughter, more tears, anger, indignation, helplessness... friendship.

Then it was time to say adieau.

As we walk towards my car, more laughter about the craziest of things, then back to the grimness of her present reality. She says she is dropping by one of the still-open fast foods to buy her girls pasalubong. And it made me happy knowing the girls will be smiling and this Army Wife-Mom will be happy as she hands her pasalubong to her children. At one point she repeats her thank you, and I respond with the same response- I will tell our friends from afar...

We finally find my car and I drop them off near a fastfood chain, we say our goodbyes... with lightness in our steps and before she closed the door of the car... she said again.. "Thank you... Ingat..."

I drove off, feeling like my angel was happy with me. Feeling like my angels from afar will be happy too as soon as I tell them this story.

I come home, kiss my sleeping kids goodnight, marvel at how blessed I am and whispered a silent prayer of hope and wish.

"If ever You give me challenges in my life that will try my strength and resolve...make me like the women I have had the pleasure of being with tonight. Give me the same brand of strength You gave them, the same virtuosity, so that my kids, my husband and most of all You, would be proud of me and how I live my life through it. Bless them and mothers and wives like them. Bless the angels from afar that made this possible. Amen."

1 comment:

Exchanges of the intellectual kind is always healthy. Respect is the key word.