Apr 25, 2013

When the Fireworks Begin (Chapter XXVIII)

Three days.        

Three days have passed and James still sits on the same spot on the hill. The only time he would go home was to take a bath and change his clothes.

Every dawn, before the sun rises, he will drive back to their apartment.  After taking a quick and changing his clothes, he’ll grab whatever it was on the kitchen table or in his refrigerator and take it with him.   He would be back at the hill before the sun emerges from the mountain peaks.

One thing is certain, James doesn’t want Devon to see him in his worst.  He wants to be in his best appearance every morning, as he patiently waits in the hill. But by the time dusk settles in, he would look distraught, crumpled and tired.  By night time, he already looked defeated. Defeated but still in denial.

She will come back,  he would often assure himself. 

And then after a quick sleep, he will wake up at dawn and go home to take a bath again. Trying to look his best for someone who won’t be coming.


It was the last night of the wake in the local memorial chapel.  The room is overflowing with people, funeral bouquets almost covered the entire room walls, the flowers’ scent overpowering.  Over sad murmurs and whispers, a faint sob will be heard, a soft mournful wail which will eventually fade into huddled silence. 

The mass has just finished with tons of family, relatives, friends, colleagues, and workmates attending.  People have been constantly approaching Aling Linda, Mang Tony, and the rest of the family, expressing their condolences, sharing their grief, offering prayers and support. 

The Rocafort family was there, as well.  They haven’t missed a single night.  They were even there during the days. Aling Linda and Mang Tony were grateful for their help.  Malcolm and Jacqueline, efficient as ever, coordinated with the sisters regarding the family wake.  They have tried to make-up for the fact that James refused to in his wife’s wake.

The stream of people approaching the family has finally thinned.  But the memorial chapel remained thick with grievers. 

In the front pew, Mrs. Rocafort was gently holding the tear-stricken Aling Linda. 

“Is he coming tonight, ” Aling Linda asked.

Mrs. Rocafort sadly shook her head.  “All of us tried to talk to him.  But he refused to believe that Devon has already...” she struggled to finish the last of her sentence.

Aling Linda squeezed her hand.

“It’s hard for him,” Aling Linda sadly explained.  “My daughter is really fortunate to have somebody like James.”

“It is my son who should be grateful,” Mrs. Rocafort disagreed.  “Your daughter has managed to change my son and our family for the better.” 

Both of them looked at each other, grateful for each other’s presence.

 In the back of the chapel, Mr. Rocafort was drinking coffee from a paper cup. 

“How is he,” Mang Tony asked, approaching Mr. Rocafort.

“Still the same.  He refuses to leave that hill,” Mr. Rocafort sadly stated, shaking his head. 

“He has to face the truth,” Mang Tony answered.

“I know,” Mr. Rocafort agreed.  “But he rejects everything that other people say. He keeps on saying that Devon will come back.”

“Do you think he will be attending the funeral tomorrow?”

‘I am not sure,”  Mr. Rocafort sighed.  He looked around the room. 

It was almost midnight, but the seats were still fully occupied. There are still people arriving, ready to stay awake until morning. Many would be spending the night at the chapel, spending the last hours with Devon.  Tomorrow, they will be saying goodbye to her. 

But James was still on the top of the hill, overlooking the city, trying to push the thought of Devon’s impending funeral. 


On the fourth day, James did not leave at all.

It was almost early afternoon and sleep is trying to conquer James. He did not go home this morning to change clothes. He fears that if he leaves now, she may pass by and he would miss her.

He was quietly seated under a tree, fireflies quietly fleeting by. 

James immediately looked around at the sound of cracking leaves and branches.

She finally came back, he thought excitedly.

But his excitement was ruined when he saw Sam striding towards him.

“You selfish sonofabitch,” Sam angrily muttered.  He was approaching him fast and suddenly lunged a punch. It landed squarely on James jaw. James fell down on the grass.

James struggled to stand up, his legs remained uncooperative. He was just too tired to defend himself. Sam picked him up through his shirt collar.

“All you care about is yourself, you asshole,” Sam said, shaking James’ shirt.  “It’s your wife’s funeral today and all you do sit here, pitying yourself. Why can’t you just be there for her.”

James did not answer Sam’s question. Sam angrily pushed him away. 

“You’re a coward. You can’t even say a decent goodbye at her,” Sam accused. 

Still James refused to answer, slowly standing up.  Sam pointed a finger at him.

“And you have the guts to call her your wife?”

James stood up angrily and quickly walked towards Sam. This time is was James who pushed Sam.

“Because that was not my wife!” James shouted.  “My wife is not dead!”

“She is!” Sam shouted back.

James immediately shot after Sam and pinned him to the tree, holding Sam’s shirt.

“That was not my wife!” James angrily shouted, again. “My wife is not dead!” James repeated.

Sam looked at James’ angry, tired, and stricken face. 

“She is, James,” Sam sadly stated. “She’s gone.”

James leaned over the tree, his forehead against the trunk, dropping on his knees. “She is not dead,” his voice breaking into sobs.

Sam was also leaning against the tree. His tears were also starting to flow.  Moments passed, James sobs had stopped but he was still kneeling against the tree, perhaps borrowing its strength. Sam’s tears were on finally held back, he was sitting besides James.

“You had time with her,” Sam said quietly to his friend.

“It was not enough,” James sadly answered. 

“Sometimes,” Sam sadly whispered, he felt a spasm of pain on his chest.  He closed his eyes and swallowed hard.  “We have to make do with what we have.”

James did not answer.  Sam gave his friend at look of pity. His heart was breaking for the loss of the woman he loves, and for his bestfriend’s grief and denial. 

“Devon’s dead, James. And you have to accept that,” Sam stated forcefully, before standing up and leaving James to deal with the hard truth. “You’re not the only one who lost her. We love her and we lost her, too.”


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