Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 21.
A/N: I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who continuously read and appreciate this series and for those who really took time to go all over again from the start! Simply WOW! Thank you! So I assume that you already have a kleenex at hand? Haha! I’m not sure if this would really make you cry or what but I hope you’d still enjoy this chapter all the same. God bless everyone!
Breathing hard and feeling a lump on his throat, Richard finally found his voice. “H-how did you get these?” he asked in a low tone. “Ri-Richard,” replied Maya, tears already welling up in her eyes. Richard looked at her straight in the eyes. Pain, anger, and confusion are all that’s written in his eyes. Seeing these mixed emotions made Maya at loss for words. Unconsciously, tears started falling down her cheeks. “Bakit na sa’yo ang mga ito Maya? Answer me!” said Richard in a loud commanding voice. He felt her heart constrict as he anticipate Maya’s answer.
Maya didn’t know where or how to start. In between tears, she tried to explain as clearly as she could muster how he got hold of the said letters. As Richard listened to her, he felt his body go weak. Slowly, he managed to slump himself on Maya’s bed, head bowed down as he listen to her every word. As Maya finished narrating her side of the story, “I’m sorry. Sorry kung hindi ko sinabi agad sayo,” she said, tears still flowing freely down her cheeks.
Richard felt betrayed. He felt Maya just played him all along. She just played the heroine all along. The hero complex within her simply wanted to help him out of his misery. She simply wanted to fix someone broken like him. He felt like Maya had just befriended him because of pity. She simply pity him, nothing more. As plain as that. These are the thoughts that kept running on his mind which made his heart cry in agony.
Maya tried to move closer to Richard. She sat herself beside him. Hesitantly, hand shaking, she slowly reached out her hand to Richard, placing it on his shoulder. “Richard..” she said softly. Head bowed down still, “You must’ve laughed at my craziness didn’t you? You must’ve thought I’m a fool. Siguro pinagtatawanan mo ako,” chuckled Richard. “Richard,” said Maya in a defiant voice. Richard looked up at her, sadness and pain filled his eyes. Seeing Richard this way made her cry much more.
Richard tried to smile but the tears already started flowing down his cheeks. “Tell me Maya. Kaya mo ba ako kinaibigan. Kaya mo ba ako tinuring na bestfriend. Lahat ng ginawa mo para sa akin, is it because naaawa ka lang sa akin? Kinakaawaan mo lang ba ako kaya mo nagawa lahat ng yun?” he said in a pained sad tone. “Richard! Naging kaibigan kita dahil gusto kitang maging kaibigan! Hindi dahil sa naaawa ako sayo. Aaminin ko. Nang mabasa ko ang mga sulat na yan. Naawa ako for Chard. Naramdaman ko ang pighati sa mga salita niya. Gusto kong damayan siya sa nararamdaman niya. Pero Richard, nung makilala kita, hindi ko naman alam na ikaw pala ang sumulat ng mga yan eh. Nung nagdesisyon akong makipagkaibigan sayo, hindi yun dahil sa naaawa ako sayo. Nagdesisyon akong makipagkaibigan sayo dahil yun ang gusto ko. Kung ginusto man kitang tulungan at mapasaya, hindi dahil sa awa yun. Kagustuhan ko ang lahat ng iyon. Masaya ako pag masaya ka. Masaya ako na tulungan kang makabangon. Richard,” said Maya as she touched Richard’s hands, “hindi naman awa ang nagtulak sa akin para makipagkaibigan at tulungan ka,” she said sincerely. “Kung iniisip mo na ang pagkakaibigan natin ay dahil lang sa awa, nagkakamali ka. Mahal kita Richard. Mahal kita dahil ikaw ang kaibigan ko. Ikaw ang bestfriend ko. Mahal kita Richard at hindi awa ang nararamdaman ko para sayo,” explained Maya.
Richard simply stared back at her. He doesn’t know what else to say or think. It hurt him that Maya kept the truth from him. The thought that Maya simply pity him, hurt him. Surprisingly, the thought that Maya love him as a friend hurt him as well. Gathering all his remaining strength, he stood up, “I think I should leave,” he said. Maya simply got hold of his hand, “Richard.. Please..” pleaded Maya. Letting out a sigh, “I needed some time Maya. I needed to think,” he said. Maya simply let go of his hand. With that Richard made his way out of the condo unit.
Maya was left crying inside her room. She never saw this coming nor did she prepare herself for this encounter. She knew she had to tell him the truth about the letters but she never thought it would be this soon. Now she is left in her room. Fear creeping into her whole being. She fears that she might lose their friendship. That she might lose Richard completely. The thought breaks her heart even more. A pain she never had experienced before.
Richard immediately went straight to his room as soon as he got back home. The revelation that evening kept flashing back in his mind. As much as he felt betrayed, he also dread the idea of what Maya truly feels for him. He doesn’t know why but he suddenly longed for something more. He longs for something more than pity nor love for a friend. He longed for Maya’s assurance and love.
The next day, Richard was woken up by the sound of an incoming call on his phone. He immediately reached out for it to check who the caller was. “Hello Rafi?” he said in a sleepy tone. “Hello Chard! By the sound of you voice I bet you’re still in bed? Did I wake you up?” she asked. “Apparently. Late na akong nakatulog kagabi. What’s up? May problema ba?” “Actually, I think there is,” she said. Richard tried to sit up straight on his bed, “What is it?” “It’s about you Chard. Maya called me up earlier.” Rafi simply heard a sigh on the other end of the line.
“Chard, she was crying the whole time.” “She lied to me Rafi,” said Richard. “Chard, she may have hidden the truth from you, but what do you expect? Do you expect her to simply go to you and proudly say that hey Richard! I’m actually getting the letters you’ve been sending to your late wife! Cool huh? Is that what you want??” said Rafi sarcastically. “It’s not that –“ “Then what? Explain it to me Chard. I’m all ears.” Exasperated by the whole idea, Richard let out a huge sigh. “I honestly don’t know Rafi. She shouldn’t have kept the truth from me.”
“But she’s already sorry, right? Can’t you simply accept her sorry? It’s not as if she stole those letters from you or from Alex. She accidentally got them Chard. Fate brought those letters to her. She didn’t even ask for those in the first place. It’s not her fault she got hold of those,” explained Rafi. “I know that Rafi. It’s just that, why did she have to hide it from me? Dahil ba sa natatakot siyang malaman ko na naaawa lang siya sa akin kaya niya ginagawa ang lahat ng ito? Kaya siya nakipag-kaibigan sa akin? Dahil sa awa?” “Chard!” growled Rafi, “How could you think of such! Maya’s not that type! Look Chard, she might’ve hidden the truth from you but you should never ever doubt her sincerity. You should never ever doubt your friendship!” pointed Rafi.
“Chard, look. She’s already sorry for what she did. She already told you na hindi awa ang nagtulak sa kanya para tulungan ka, para kaibiganin ka. Ano pa ba ang gusto mo? Why does it seem hard for you to forgive her?”asked Rafi.
“I don’t know Rafi. I guess.. I guess I’m just scared of the truth.” “The truth? What do you mean scared of the truth?” Heaving out a sigh, “I’m scared to know na naaawa lang siya sa akin. Scared of knowing what she really feels for me,” he said helplessly. “Chard, be honest with me. Are you in love with Maya?” “What?? That’s ridiculous!” said Richard defiantly. “Chard, just answer me. Yes or no.” Richard remained silent. He simply doesn’t know how to answer Rafi’s question. He dreads to know what Maya truly feels for him but he also doesn’t know why. “Chard, are you still there?” “Yes Rafi. I’m still here.” “So? What is it?” Richard paused for a few seconds then said, “I.. I don’t know.”
“Chard, you want an assurance from Maya but you yourself cannot give her an assurance of what you truly feel for her. Alam mo Chard, try to figure out first what you really feel for her before asking any assurances from her. For the mean time, please Chard, patawarin mo na siya ok? Don’t doubt her sincerity for you. Maya is a good person. I’m pretty sure, the friendship that she has for you is pure and genuine and not built on pity. Ok?” “Ok,” he said. “Better fix this right away Chard, ok? You just don’t know how hurt Maya was. She’s literally crying the whole time.” “Ok Rafi. I’ll talk to her.” Ok Chard. I’ll count on it. Bye.” “Bye.”
Maya cried herself to sleep last night. Minutes after Richard left, she decided to give Rafi a call as she no longer knows whom to talk to. Moments later after their talk, she didn’t notice that she had already fallen asleep. Good thing she doesn’t have any scheduled flight the next day. It was already 10AM when she woke up. She checked her phone for any messages or missed calls from Richard but she found none. This made her heart sank and tears started welling up her eyes once more. Good thing, Emman still has a flight for she doesn’t want to see nor talk to anyone at the moment.
As much as she want to talk to Richard and assure him that his accusations have no grounds, she resigned to respect his request of giving him time and space to think things through. She still has hope and faith, not only in Richard but also in the friendship that they have. No matter how much it hurts her, she simply decided to understand where Richard is coming from.
Three days had passed and she still hasn’t heard anything from Richard. She tried to keep her hopes up and believe that Richard would eventually forgive her. But the pain this brings her had become an unwelcome companion since that fateful night and crying had been a ritual she got accustomed to whenever she’s alone. Her fear of losing him completely continued to hang at her doorsteps, but she refuse to accept it. She refuses to be defeated by her fears. She remained optimistic despite it all.
Despite her optimism, Maya once again found herself crying as memories of the happy days they shared came flashing in her mind. She can’t help but reminisce their happy days together as she longed to see him. The uncertainty of seeing him again kept gnawing her heart. For the third consecutive night, Maya cried herself to sleep once more.
It was already 12PM but she’s still asleep. She was still in deep slumber when she heard her phone ring. Eyes half-open, she answered the call, “Hello?” she answered in a sleepy tone. “Hello angel.” “Richard?” exclaimed Maya as her eyes immediately flew wide open. “Are you at home? Kanina pa kasi ako kumakatok dito sa labas niyo pero walang nagbubukas ng pinto eh.” “Ah ganun ba? Naku teka lang ha. Sige at bubuksan ko lang ang pinto.” She hung up the phone and immediately proceeded to the door and opened it. “Hi!” greeted Richard as soon as the door’s opened for him. “Hi,” greeted Maya back.
They just stayed that way for a couple of minutes, Maya simply staring at him when Richard finally said, “So hindi mo manlang ako papapasukin?” Startled, “Ah oo. Halika. Pasok ka,” she said as she lead Richard inside the living room. “Ah ano. Gusto mo ba ng coffee? Juice? Breakfast?” she asked. Richard let out a chuckle then said, “Maya, it’s already lunch time.” Maya checked the time and was surprised to see that it’s already 12 in the afternoon. “Hala! Alas dose na pala! Masyado na pala akong tinanghali ng gising!” Richard simply laughed seeing Maya agitated. “At tatawa tawa ka pa jan!” she said irritably. “Eh nakakatawa kasi itsura mo eh,” chuckled Richard.
Maya simply pouted her lips in irritation. Richard then moved closer to Maya, held her shoulders and said, “Ok, I’m sorry. Sorry kung pinagtawanan kita.” Maya saw the sincerity in Richard’s eyes. “So hindi ka na galit sa akin?” she asked. “Hindi na. I’ve been unreasonable. There really is no reason for me to get mad at you. Hindi mo naman kasalanan na napunta sayo yung mga sulat. Ok na,” he said, smiling warmly at her. “Pero naglihim parin ako sayo. May –“ Richard cut her off by placing his index finger on Maya’s lips. “Shhh.. Ok na. You don’t owe me any explanation. Naiintindihan ko na. Basta ok na tayo hmm,” said Richard, smiling reassuringly at Maya. Tears welling up in her eyes, Maya simply hugged Richard and cried on his chest. Richard softly caressed her hair. “Ang iyakin talaga ng Angel ko,” chuckled Richard. “Kala ko kasi mawawala na ang bestfriend ko eh,” she said. “Shhh. Don’t say that. Hindi ako mawawala okay?” “Ok,” replied Maya.
Richard and Maya were back to what they used to be before. No one would even notice that they almost lost their friendship. As the days passed, Richard’s feelings for Maya grew but he still refuse to accept or even acknowledge the whole idea. All he knows is that she enjoys Maya’s company very much and he always want to be with her and see her every time. All he knows is that he’s ready to do anything to keep her happy and protected at all times.
One time, as he was busy checking his emails inside his home office, Manang Fe approached him. “Ricardo?” she called. Richard looked up and smiled at her, “Yes Manang? May kailangan po ba kayo?” “May ibibigay lang sana ako. Nung inaayos kasi namin yung mga gamit ni Alex, nakita ko itong sobre. Sulat yata ang laman. Naisip ko na baka importante ang laman kaya minabuti ko ng ibigay sa iyo,” explained Manang Fe, handing the envelope to Richard. “Ok. Salamat po Manang,” replied Richard, smiling back at Manang Fe. “O sige at babalik na ako sa kusina,” she said as she turned around and went back to the kitchen.
By 10PM, Richard decided to call it a night and decided to retire to bed. He remembered the envelope that Manang Fe gave him. He then took it from his table and brought it to his room. As he was prepping up to sleep, he decided to open the envelope and check its contents. As he opened it up, he was surprised to see that it was a letter from Alex. He then started to read it what it says.
Thank you for loving me unconditionally, thank you for the sweet smiles, warm hugs in the evening making me feel so secured that I really felt no one can harm me, for the butterfly kisses in the morning, for the best coffee in the world and most of all those love letters you gave me. From the very start, they make me feel young, they make my mood lighter, and they never fail to inspire me & renew my love for you. Those letters are full of love and tender care. Thank you for everything. Sorry if I was not able to tell you these things all the time because I think it’s so “corny” so made this letter instead.
I don’t want time to simply pass by without telling you how much I love you and how much I care for you. You are my gem, my best friend, my lover, my refuge, my man and my hero. When I wake up in the morning, the mere thought of you by my side and simply hearing your bedroom voice already completes my day. When I first saw you, I know that you are the man God made especially for me.
It’s still fresh in my mind and in my heart the very first day I saw that serious, head-turning face of yours. That was the day when you were lecturing and teaching something to your classmates – a preparation for your final exams, I think. I do not know why I suddenly stopped and started staring at you without blinking my eyes. I felt like I was hypnotized! Though I’m completely aware that I was smiling at you. That was the very first time I had experience the so called “torete” – that was so silly of me and it’s not my cup of tea in doing such crazy things. I was just awakened by laughter and shouts when suddenly, you are already in front of me! Standing so close that I can already smell your scent, your breath even! And hear your heart beating. Oh dear! I really don’t know what to do that time. And then you asked me, my first time to hear your voice closely “Miss, whom are you looking for?” And All I can manage to say is “I was just looking for my friend, we’re playing hide and seek” trying with all my might to steady my breathing but all I could do is turn my heel and walk fast just to get away from you. And even when I’m already far from your room I can still hear them telling “Uy! Pare ganda nun ah? Sino yun? Akalain mo nakatitig lang sayo? Ikaw na ang natatanging gwapo dito!”—– Im sure Chard, you remember that great day, maybe you are laughing at me right now while reading this.
Time is running swiftly, parang kelan lang noong college tayo, now you are my husband. These last 7 months are the best days in my life. Ok, ok, I admit. The best days of my life not only started 7 months ago when we got married but started when I first met you. Wag masyadong lalaki ang ulo ha? But seriously Chard, I’m so lucky to have you in my life. You taking care of me, cooking the best meals on earth, staring at me when I sleep—wag ng i-deny! I know that you are.
I want to say sorry for my shortcomings, when I get irritated immediately, maybe I’m just tired. I’m sorry for not kissing you before we sleep sometimes. Sorry if I forgot to put toothpaste on your toothbrush this morning. Sorry hon and I’m sorry I miss you all the time. Sorry if I keep on calling you even if you are at the middle of an urgent meeting. I simply wanted to hear your voice.
I love gazing at the stars with you. I love sharing the sunrise and sunset with you, it feels like I’m always with you no matter what, the time we wake up and sleep together. I know, in my heart, we are destined to be one and till death do us part.
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!
Richard felt a tug in his heart while reading Alex’s words for him. He felt his heart sank. As he finished reading it, “Alex,” was the only thing that could get out of his lips, as once again, tears started rolling down his cheeks.