Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 28.
A/N: Super thankie to Nanette. If she didn’t strongly suggest to include Notre Dame Cathedral in Richard and Maya’s tour, I would’ve totally neglect that place and would’ve totally missed writing this plot. So Nanette, thank you so much! The info you gave me is nowhere to be found on the net kaya super duper salamat!
Finally, salamat sa google! A couple of lines you’ll find in this chapter and Richard’s thorough knowledge about the place came from the blog Paris for Travelers: Inside The Cathedral of Notre Dame and About.com: Paris Travel.
So after the lengthy intro, let me now give you the next chapter for this series, and hopefully, one way or another, mapasaya at mapagaan nito ang inyong mga loob. Medyo puro heartaches ang nakikita ko from the recent episodes on TV and most fan fics as well.. God bless everyone!
It was already past midnight when Richard and Maya got back to the hotel. Richard walked Maya to her room, hands entwined. As they stopped in front of the door, Richard faced Maya and held on to her shoulders while the latter held on to his waist. “Did you have fun?” he asked. “Sobra sobra! Salamat honey ha,” she answered and closed the gap between them as she hug him tight and leaned comfortably on his chest. Richard hugged her in return and caressed her hair lovingly.
“Anything for you my angel. Sige na. Pasok ka na sa loob para makapagpahinga ka na. Kahit tomorrow evening pa ang flight natin, I don’t think makakapag-pahinga ka ng maayos sa plane. More than 14 hours din ang travel time natin,” explained Richard. “Okay,” she answered but no one seemed to want to let go from the embrace. Realizing what they’re doing, they both started to laugh.
“Ok angel. Sige na. Pasok ka na at matulog ka na,” he said, finally letting Maya go. Maya smiled back at him, “Ok. Good night honey.” “Good night my angel. I love you!” “I love you too.” Richard bent down and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Smiling at her, Richard watched Maya finally enter her room. After seeing Maya to her room, he then turned and left for his room.
As Richard was already about to sleep, he heard his phone ring. “Hi Rafi!” he greeted. “Hi Chard! Busy ka ba? Am I disturbing you or something?” “Am not busy pero patulog na sana ako ng tumawag ka. What’s up? May problema ba?” “Well, kukumustahin ko lang sana kayo ni Maya. Wait! Patulog ka? Isn’t it close to 1PM palang jan sa Manila? Kelan pa nauso sayo ang pag siesta Mr. Lim?” inquired Rafi teasingly.
Richard let out a chuckle. “Am not in Manila Rafi. I’m in Paris right now. So it’s technically close to 1AM here right now.” “Paris? And what are you doing in Paris?” “I’m here with my girlfriend.” “Girlfriend?? Teka lang Chard! Kelan ka pa nagka-girlfriend?? How come wala ka manlang nasasabi sa akin?? Richard Lim! Kelan ka pa natutong maglihim sa akin ha?? Did you ever plan to tell me about it or you really intend to hide it from me??” burst Rafi in anger. “Teka lang Rafi! Isa-isa lang. Mahina ang kalaban!” chuckled Richard.
“Well you better have a damn good explanation Richard Lim for not telling me about this news!” said Rafi irritatingly. “Ok. Ok. First, I’m sorry kung hindi ko nasabi sayo agad. A lot happened and everything happened so fast, one after the other. If it’s any consolation, wala pa kaming 1 week ng girlfriend ko,” he explained. Rafi let out a sigh, “How come I never heard you courting anyone or seriously dating anyone? Alam ba ito ni Maya? How come pati siya wala namang nasabi sa akin eh lagi kayong magkasamang dalawa?” she asked. Richard simply laughed at the other line. “What??” she asked. “It must’ve slipped her mind as well.”
“So Maya knows about it?? Richard Lim!! How come naipaalam mo agad kay Maya pero ako na una mong naging bestfriend hindi mo nagawang ipa-alam! Grabe ha! I know that you and Maya are now best friends pero sana manlang naalala mo rin ako! Your original best friend! Sobra ka ng nakakatampo Richard ha!” said Rafi angrily but Richard simply laughed at her.
“And you have the nerve to find it amusing?? There’s nothing amusing about it Chard! You totally forgot about me and that’s completely unforgivable!!” she said hotly. “Wait Rafi! Ok, I’m sorry if pinagtawanan kita. The reason why Maya knows about it is because she is my girlfriend. Maya is my girlfriend.” Richard heard Rafi gasp on the other end of the line. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Chard!! Are you serious?? Maya’s your girlfriend??” asked by a shocked Rafi. “Yes Rafi. Maya is my girlfriend,” he confirmed.
“Oh my gee!!” squealed Rafi, “Chard! I don’t know what to say! Chard! I’m so happy for the both of you! Oh my Chard! I’m totally lost for words right now. I don’t know what to say. I’m just so happy!” Richard smirked. “Chard I want to know the whole story. I want to know how you courted her and pano ka niya sinagot!!” “Ah Rafi. Can I tell it to you some other time? Just to remind you that I’m in Paris and not in Manila.” “Ay! Oo nga pala! Sorry! I just got carried away! This is such a good news Chard! Which reminds me, so you brought Maya to Paris Chard? That’s just so sweet of you!” she complimented.
“Well, no. I didn’t bring Maya here. It just so happened that she has flight here and will be returning to Manila later tonight. So I decided to follow her here and be with her.” Richard heard another squeal from Rafi. “Chard! Kelan ka pa naging ganyan?? That’s just oh so sweet & romantic! I never knew you had that in you!” teased Rafi.
“So I guess you toured her around Paris?” she asked. “Yes. We went to Musee d’Orsay, had a private cruise at Seine river, and went to Eiffel tower,” narrated Richard. “Oh Chard! I’m simply lost for words. I’m pretty sure Maya got overwhelmed as well.” “You can say that.” “Oh! Have you gone to the Notre Dame Cathedral yet?” “Huh? No. We actually saw it nung nag-cruise kami along Seine River but never got inside. Why?” “Ok. You need to go there before you leave for Manila. I read an article that said Notre Dame Cathedral is celebrating their 850th anniversary. As I’ve read, there are a lot of major projects launched to enhance the world-famous building to tie in with this historic milestone. They’re putting in place a new sound system in the cathedral towers, new interior lighting, and even major overhaul of the great organ!” explained Rafi excitedly.
“I see. Well, we’ll try to drop by later if we still have time.” “Oh and one more thing. I’ve also heard that as part of their anniversary, they’ll be putting a big book on the altar wherein you can write your wishes. I don’t know if they do that on a regular basis or if they just did it for this special occasion. Chard, I strongly believe that’s something that you cannot simply let pass.” Rafi said, matter-of-factly.
“Ok, ok. Baka magtampo kang lalo sa akin niyan if I won’t follow your advice,” chuckled Richard. “You bet! Talagang magtatampo ako sayo niyan!” said Rafi jokingly. “Ok. I’ll bring Maya there later.” “Ok, good. O sige at matulog ka na Mr. Lim. Oh, kindly send my hugs and kisses to Maya, ok? And Chard, please take good care of Maya. Don’t ever dare make her cry again ok?” Richard simply laughed, “I won’t. And if she’ll ever cry, I’ll make sure that they’re tears of joy.” “Sinabi mo yan Chard ha! Aasahan ko yan!” “Yes. You have my word,” he said. “Alright. You two enjoy the rest of your stay there. Take care Chard. Bye.” “You take care as well Rafi. Send my regards to Charlie. Bye,” then they both hung up their phones.
“A big book to write our wishes? Placed on the altar? Hmm..” thought Richard. A few seconds later, a smile formed on his face as he thought of the right words to write on the said book. A couple of minutes later, Richard dozed off to dreamland with a smile on his face.
11:00AM the next day, Maya’s still sleeping peacefully on her bed that she didn’t hear the doorbell rang nor notice that Eds had already left the room leaving her with Richard sitting at her side. Richard gazed at her face for a while then he started to caress her face. Smiling down at her, he slowly moved his face towards hers. “I love you so much my angel,” he whispered then planted a kiss on her temple.
Maya stirred. Slowly she opened her eyes and saw Richard, smiling lovingly at her. “Good morning my angel,” greeted Richard as he caressed her face. “Good morning honey ko,” greeted back Maya as she tried to stifle a yawn. “What time is it?” she asked. “10 minutes past 11.” Surprised, “Huh? Tanghali na pala. Nasaan si Eds?” she asked as she noticed that Eds is nowhere to be found in their room. “She already left. Tulog na tulog ka pa kasi kanina kaya hindi ka na niya ginising. Ibinilin ka nalang niya sa akin.”
“Angel, you have to get up now and get dressed. We’ll have our lunch and we’ll be going somewhere,” grinned Richard. “Huh? You mean hindi pa tapos ang mga surprises mo sa akin?” “Well you can say that.” “Eh saan ba tayo pupunta?” “It will no longer be a surprise if I told you, wouldn’t it? Sige na. Bumangon ka diyan.”
Maya lazily propped herself up and sat up straight. “Ok sige. I’ll just take a bath first then magbibihis na ako.” “Ok,” replied Richard. For a couple of seconds, she simply stared at Richard. “What? Bakit hindi ka umaalis dito sa kama mo? Kala ko ba maliligo ka na?” he asked. “Eh oo nga. Aantayin mo akong matapos?” Richard simply laughed at her response. “Of course. We’ll have our lunch together at may pupuntahan nga tayo di ba?” “Oo nga. Pero,” scratching her head, “Pwedeng dun mo nalang ako antayin sa kwarto mo or sa restaurant? Nakakailang kasi eh. Hindi ako makaka-kilos ng maayos pag andito ka,” explained Maya shyly.
Richard simply laughed some more seeing Maya’s hesitation. “Ok, I understand. I’ll just wait for you sa may lobby. Don’t take too long ha? Baka masyado kang malibang sa pag-shower mo at makalimutan mo na ako,” chuckled Richard. “Ikaw talaga. Sige na. At ng makapag-start na ako agad.” “Ok.” With that, Richard kissed Maya on her cheek, turned around to leave and proceed to the lobby.
After an hour, Maya finally approached Richard at the lobby. They greeted one another with a light kiss on the lips. Hand in hand, they walked towards the restaurant and started to have their lunch. “By the way, Rafi called me up.” “Talaga? Kumusta naman daw siya?” “She’s fine. Apparently, she’s surprised that I’m here in Paris and much surprised to hear that I already have a girlfriend.” Maya almost choked on her food. “Hindi mo parin nasabi sa kanya?” asked Maya in surprise. Chuckling at her reaction, “I don’t know what got into me. It totally slipped my mind.” Feeling guilty herself, “Nakalimutan ko ring sabihin sa kanya. Nagalit ba siya?” “She did. She was angry at first. She thought I’m already keeping secrets from her. Mas lalo nga siyang nagalit ng malamang may alam ka. Nagselos pa ata sayo kasi siya naman daw ang first and original best friend ko pero ikaw pa daw ang mas nakakaalam na may girlfriend na ako,” explained Richard, laughing at the thought.
“Ha?? Sinabi niya talaga yun? Naku! Nakakahiya naman kay Rafi! Nagalit pa tuloy siya!” said Maya, thoroughly embarrassed about the whole thing. Richard simply reached out for her hand and squeezed it tight. “There’s nothing to worry about my Angel. I already explained to her everything. Besides, nung una lang siya nagalit. After kong magpaliwanag and after kong sabihin na ikaw ang girlfriend ko, nawala nalang bigla ang galit niya. She’s even beyond words happy for us.” “Talaga?” she asked. Richard simply nodded his head. “I bet she’s feeling proud herself for playing cupid for the both of us,” grinned Richard. Maya simply chuckled in response.
Shortly after their lunch, the two made their way outside the hotel and boarded their rented car. As soon as they reached their destination, Richard immediately got out of the car and helped Maya out. “This will be our last and final stop,” he said, gesturing to the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral. “Here?” she asked. “Yes,” grinned Richard. Maya simply gazed at the Cathedral, amazed by its French gothic architecture, the flying buttress, and the gargoyles seen on the outside. A smile slowly crept up her face.
“This place still never fail to amaze me,” she said. “So I assume you’ve already been here before?” asked Richard. “Yes. During my previous flights. Nagpupunta kami dito, nung minsan nga kasama ko pa sila James at Emman. Pero ang hindi namin nagagawa is umakyat sa tower. Ang haba lagi ng pila eh.” “So I guess this time it’ll be different.” “Why? Aakyat tayo sa tower?” asked Maya expectantly. “Yes. So let’s go?” Hand in hand, they both entered the Cathedral.
The awe inspiring grandeur of the cathedral gave them a magnificent and somber feel. With the low lighting effect, the atmosphere gave a medieval feel where one can linger and be lost in thoughts. “Medieval architects represented their idea of human earthliness in relation to heaven through structures that were at once grandiose and ethereal–and Notre Dame’s interior achieves exactly this. The cathedral’s long halls, vaulted ceilings, and soft light filtered through intricate stained glass help us understand the medieval perspective of humanity and divinity. There is no access to the cathedral’s upper levels, obliging visitors to remain earthbound, gazing upward. The experience is breath taking, especially on a first visit,” explained Richard.
Maya simply gazed up at him. Stunned at his thorough knowledge about the place. Richard noticing her stunned reaction, “What?” “Ang dami mo kasing alam eh. Kinabisado mo ba ang history ng Paris? From Musee d’Orsay hanggang dito sa Notre Dame parang alam mo lahat,” said Maya. Richard laughed amusingly at her reaction. “My interest got piqued when I first saw the museum and when I first set foot here in Notre Dame. I guess curiosity got the best of me and I end up researching about the history and facts of both places,” smiled Richard. “Hmm. Mukha nga. Ibang klase ka din ma-curious!” quipped Maya.
As they made their way to the towers, “Angel, are you up for the climb? Mataas taas din ito. 422 steps.” “Ok lang yun. Exercise din yun. Saka sa mga nadinig ko naman sobrang worth it naman daw ang climb.” A notorious smile forming on her face, “Honey, baka naman ikaw ang di kayang akyatin yun? Don’t tell me nirarayuma ka na?” teased Maya. “Excuse me! Ako nirarayuma? Of course not! Gusto mo buhatin pa kita paakyat eh!”
Richard immediately bent down and was already about to carry Maya when the latter immediately backed out. “Honey ok na! Ikaw naman. Binibiro ka lang naman eh!” laughed Maya. “By the way, hindi na natin kailangan pumila? Di ba may pila para maka-akyat sa towers?” “I have my resources my angel. Let’s go.”
After a long exhausting climb at the tiny enclosed winding staircases leading to the towers, the two finally made it on top. The towers gave them a noteworthy view of the Ile de la cite, the Seine, and the entire city of Paris. They were even face to face with the statues of grimacing demons and menacing carrion birds.
“Ang ganda,” voiced out Maya, still in awe by the stunning beauty bared before her. “The climb’s all worth it, don’t you think?” “Sobra honey! Nakakawala ng pagod ang view dito sa taas.” Maya drowned herself with as much magnificence that she could take while Richard on the other hand, took a couple of pictures of the breath taking views and numerous pictures of an awestruck Maya.
Richard, having a thorough knowledge of the cathedral and the towers, toured Maya around. He brought her to the north side which features a portal with a stunning 13th-century statue of the Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, the Christ child she is holding was decapitated by the 18th-century revolutionaries and never restored.
Next, they went to the rear façade which dramatically displays Notre Dame’s flying buttresses and decidedly gothic spire. Finally, they went to the South side which features the Saint-Etienne Portal, depicting the life and works of the saint of the same name and displaying elaborate sculptures. Also, there they found Notre Dame’s infamous 13-ton bell.
After resting for a couple of minutes, the two finally made their way down. Richard toured Maya on the interior of the Cathedral. Maya’s gaze fell on the cathedral’s three stained-glass rose windows. Following her gaze, “Those are the interior’s outstanding feature, the three stained-glass rose windows.” “Rose Windows?” asked Maya. “Yes. The North rose window depicts the Old Testament figures surrounding the Virgin Mary. The South rose window, meanwhile, depicts the Christ surrounded by saints and angels,” explained Richard.
Shortly after, Richard showed her the rest of the attractions found inside the cathedral including Notre Dame’s organs, the choir, and Notre Dame’s treasury. After touring around inside the cathedral, Richard led Maya to one of the pews to rest for a while and pray.
“O bakit?” asked Maya consciously as she caught Richard staring at her. Richard holding her hand, smiled at her and said, “Wala. I’m just happy. I just wish we’ll be this way forever.” Smiling back, Maya moved closer to Richard and rested her head on his shoulder. “I also wish the same.” “Did you know that this year, this cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary?” Maya suddenly sat up straight and with a surprised look on her face, “Talaga?” “Yup! It was Rafi who mentioned it to me. I simply would have let this pass but she mentioned something to me that’s too tempting to resist.” Bewildered as to where Richard’s leading at, “Ano naman yun?” she asked. Richard simply smiled, holding her hand, he stood up and brought her to the high altar.
Gesturing at the big book located on the altar, “This.” Maya saw the book that Richard was pointing at. “Rafi said that this is a big book of wishes. As part of their anniversary, they have this book wherein people can freely write down whatever they wish for,” explained Richard. Taking out a pen, “Let’s write on the book. Let’s write our wishes,” he said. Maya smiled and nodded in response and they both started writing down their wishes.
After they’re done writing down their wishes, Richard asked if he can read what Maya wrote. Maya agreed and at the same time, also read Richard’s wishes. Maya was astounded to see that Richard only wrote one wish and that is to be with her and remain in-love with one another forever. She was too stunned and overwhelmed to even react to what she read.
“Ang dami mo namang wish angel ko but I’m pretty sure matutupad mong lahat yun,” he said but gained no response from Maya. As he looked at her, he noticed that Maya was still staring at what he wrote, apparently lost in her own thoughts. “Angel?” he said as he gently held her shoulder. Maya slowly lift up her face and looked at Richard. “Honey..” she muttered. Grinning down at her, “What? Bakit bigla ka namang natulala diyan?”
Overwhelmed by emotions, tears welling up in her eyes, she immediately hugged Richard. “Masaya lang ako. Masayang masaya.” Richard simply smiled, hugging her back and caressing her hair softly. “You know what my angel, at this point in my life, I can say that I’ve already achieved a lot and been through a lot. I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career, have loved and lost, learned how to truly live, appreciate life and be content and complete, and learned to love again. If there’s one thing left for me to wish, that is you my angel.”
Richard cupped Maya’s face and looked intently in her eyes. “You’re all I have left to wish for. I just want to be with you and stay in-love with you forever. I just want us to be together for the rest of our lives, be happy together forever. I know may mga mapagdadaanan din tayong mga hirap at lungkot but I know, together, we’ll see past through them. All I want is for you to always be happy by my side.”
Maya saw the love, affection and sincerity in every word she heard and saw them in his eyes as well. Richard smiling sweetly at her, looked up to the cross and back to her, “And now, with God as our witness, I promise you my angel, that I’ll always stay in-love with you forever, always try to make you happy by my side, always be there for you, always be your lover and your best friend,” he paused for a while and gathered Maya back in his arms, “I’ll make it a point to regularly sing to you, be your music when all the music dies.”
Maya gave him a soft laugh. “Kanta naman yun honey ko eh!” “Kahit na ba. I feel the same way eh,” chuckled Richard. Finally he said, “If ever I need to leave earth to fall, I’d be glad to do so. As long as that fall would lead me back to your arms, and fall in love with you all over again.” “Alam mo honey, sobrang cheesy mo!” chuckled Maya but could already feel her face heating up. “Para naman tayong kinakasal nito eh!” Richard looked at her, “Bakit? Gusto mo ikasal na tayo? Pwede naman. Gusto mo ikasal na tayo ngayon na!”
Caught by surprise, “Oy honey ha! Parang lahat nalang dinadaan mo sa short cut! Una, naging tayo ng hindi ka manlang nanligaw. Tapos ngayon gusto mo ikasal na agad tayo? Eh ni hindi ko pa nga nakikilala ang parents mo, hindi ka pa nga nagpo-propose, kasal na agad-agad?” Richard simply laughed. “Ok, ok. We’ll take things slowly and properly. Don’t worry, you’ll be meeting my parents soon.” “Talaga? Uuwi sila sa Pilipinas?” “I plan to ask them to come home kahit for a couple of months lang. So I can properly introduce you to them and you guys get to know each other.”
After hearing this, Maya got excited and anxious at the same time about the idea. “Sa tingin mo magugustuhan nila ako?” Laughing, “Of course they’ll do! You don’t have to worry about them. I know they’ll like you and accept you as their own,” assured Richard. “Eh di ba may tradition ang mga Chinese na kailangan sa isang Chinese lang din sila ikakasal?” “Yes, the Chinese community do have that tradition but we don’t necessarily have to follow all traditions naman. We still have the discretion to follow them or not.”
Richard looked intently in her eyes and assured her some more. “Angel, introducing you to my parents is just for formality. Of course gusto kong ipakilala sa kanila ang babaeng nagma-may ari ng puso ko. Someone whom I want to spend the rest of my life with. I wanted to share my happiness with them and have their blessings for our relationship. Angel, their blessing and acceptance is important for me but regardless, what matters is us. Nothing will ever sway the love that I feel for you. And may God allow, I simply wanted to be with you forever, no matter what. Kaya don’t worry about it, ok?” Maya simply nodded in response.
“Kelan naman kaya sila bibisita sa Pilipinas?” she asked. “I plan to give them a call once we get back to Manila and request them to come over as soon as possible. We may expect them in a week or so,” explained Richard. “Ok,” replied Maya. “Basta Angel, promise me not to stress yourself thinking about the possibilities when you meet them, ok? They’re good people and I know they’ll love you as well. Mababait din sila gaya ko. Sa kanila ako nagmana eh,” said Richard proudly.
Maya simply gave him an incredulous look. “Hindi kaya mas dapat akong matakot niyan sa sinabi mo na kagaya mo sila?” teased Maya. “Ah ganon.” Without warning, Richard started tickling Maya on her sides. “Honey tama na! I’m just kidding!” said Maya as she tries to catch her breath for laughing hard.
Hugging each other once more and looking at each other’s eyes, “I love you so much my angel.” “I love you too honey ko.” “Angel, promise me no matter what, we’ll always stay this way forever? Promise me that you’ll always stay in-love with me, the way I am with you?” asked Richard. “Umm.. Pag-iisipan ko!” teased Maya. “Angel!” said Richard impatiently as he pouted his lips. Maya simply laughed, amused with his reaction. “Angel naman eh! I’m serious! Please? Promise me?” Smiling sweetly at him, “Yes honey ko. I promise. With God as our witness, I promise to always stay by your side forever and stay in-love with you forever.”
After declaring their promises and love for one another, they sealed their promises to one another with a kiss, unmindful of the other people around them.