Have you ever lost the first person you loved? You were young naive and free from responsibilities then you meet the one you want to spend your time with. But after awhile, the relationship turned sour and you had your heart broken then you moved on – and that romance seemed like a distant dream from afar. Lucky are those who have closure after they break up, but others take years before it happens or – unlucky for some – never. There are those who get married with their first love and those who felt lucky they escaped that toxic relationship, before it turned even worse.
But would you ever think in a million years, your first love would die? Well, my ex-boyfriend died recently. But 10 years ago, I never thought he would passed away so young. But I guess, life is fleeting, when it’s your time to go – the most inevitable will happen.
It was a summer night when I saw on Facebook that his wake was held at a funeral parlor. I was surprised but I wasn’t hurt. It just felt surreal as if it was a dream or more like a nightmare.
The night before, my mom saw a butterfly at the door of our house. It was brown and typically, a tradition from my family in Bulacan, means that when you see one with a black stripe on its wings, someone died. Usually a relative passed away but that night, I told my mom, it’s not a mariposa (or a big butterfly) but she said check for black lines on its wings. It had them so I thought it was probably a relative. But never did it pass my mind it was my ex-boyfriend.
You would think that it’s been a long time since you were with him so you shouldn’t feel anything anymore. But what caught me by surprise is that as the days went by, it was beginning to sink in that he is now gone. He was sick with cancer, we knew about it roughly a few years ago, but he was okay after undergoing treatment – so although we knew that his illness can come back, I didn’t expect it would hit him harder the second time around.
So yes, I was broken, at least my 23-year-old self was. That time we were together, I had Lupus, and as wrong as it sounds, I felt like it should have been me who is dead and not him. I guess in this instance, you can really say that you don’t hold your life and only the higher being knows until when you’re supposed to be alive on Earth.
I wasn’t able to visit him at his wake or burial, though my friends urged me to go, but I didn’t want to because of some reasons I would rather leave out of this article. The conflict I had to face with, wanting to say a proper goodbye but I wasn’t able to, was breaking me apart. Even writing about this is difficult. A friend said pour it all out through writing and treat it as some sort of therapy.
It was a bit comforting when my mom told me that he visited you when you saw that butterfly. Yes but still I just wanted to bid him goodbye, my 23-year-old love. It was bittersweet, I was going through my days with work, responsibilities at home then we went to Bohol; went out with friends but it was a nagging feeling and at the back of my mind, I needed to have closure already with that part of my life. I thought I already did a long time ago, but I guess it was only with the person I broke up with a long time ago – and not the one who died.
So when I came back to the city after a month since my ex-boyfriend passed away, I decided it’s time to visit his grave. I had no idea which part of the cemetery and I was going to go there blindfolded one weekend I had free time. I was pushing it back doing errands but my friend, who knew our story, told me ask your common friend because the cemetery is so big.
Good thing he replied and told me the area but he can’t pinpoint the exact spot. Luckily when I went to the cemetery, the guard was quite helpful and also asked the staff working there. It took awhile as I couldn’t remember the exact date of his burial but when I remembered what week it was that month, they found it listed on the log book. So the staff on a bicycle told me to follow him as he knew where he was.
Upon reaching his grave, the man told me, “Ma’am this is where he is (or was). I was one of the people who buried him that day”. I was left for words with what he uttered, that I will never forget. He left me alone afterwards so I can say goodbye.
I wrote a short letter for my ex-boyfriend and said in my mind what I wanted to say, prayed for him and yes – shed some tears. I don’t expect others to understand as some would say, “How can you still feel hurt or grieving, it has been a long time ago”, but it’s me saying goodbye to somebody I used to love.
I don’t have the heart to hold a grudge for a long time who has hurt me deeply especially in this circumstance. I’ve forgiven him a long time ago. I learned a lot and grew up from the experience. I also prayed for his family that they heal and carry in their hearts the good times. He is now their guardian angel. He is now laid to rest and free from pain caused by cancer. As young as he is, there’s nothing left to do but to accept and move on.
So here’s to you for the good memories, lessons learned and me saying goodbye to my 23-year-old heart.