We kissed. It was twenty-five years later after we first met, and thankfully, it was not just a dream.
Sammy tenderly held my face as we kissed. I felt like precious china in his embrace. My tears continued to fall as I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this moment that had brought us together. I felt him tremble as he controlled his emotions.
We did not stay long at the restaurant. He brought me back to the hospital, and gave me a private tour at the hospital where we first met. My friend Althea, the Chief Nurse of the hospital who arranged the emergency preparedness symposium, was unreachable (by purpose, I’m sure), so Colonel Dr. Samuel drove around the huge campus to give me a funny and entertaining narrative of the changes in the landscape.
I used to be his student nurse, but I flew away to the United States to fulfill my American dream. He was my one-eyed patient; a victim of the wars in Southern Philippines. We never spoke of our feelings about each other until the last day of my clinical rotation; but there was an undeniable attraction, that just could not be fulfilled at that moment in time.
He went on to become a medical doctor in the army. He continued to serve his country and helped the soldiers that he is still is. Sammy recounted that I served as his inspiration to move to the medical field. Despite being devastated by my leaving, he took comfort in the fact that I cared for him, even for just a short time.
We spent the rest of the day together, driving through Makati and Intramuros. I ditched my blazer and bought some cheap sandals from a sidewalk vendor. Sammy changed into a simple t-shirt. Pretty soon, after Sammy had safely parked his Mercedes in a hotel parking lot, we opted out of fancy restaurants.
We were like any other couple strolling hand-in-hand along the boulevard. We sat closely on a bench and watched the famous Manila Bay sunset, and talked, argued about politics, and laughed at each others’ jokes.
Dinner was Chicken Joy, fish balls, and halo-halo. Cheap date, but the best I ever had. Priceless.
I pushed back all the other concerns, and all that mattered was that moment. I went into his warm embrace willingly; basking in the upsurge of emotions. We just held on to each other; fearful of being brought back to the reality that in just three days, I would be going back home to New York.
But reality stinks. I had to go back home to New York, back to my 20 year old son who still needed my presence. Although he was preparing to go into medical school, I still needed to guide him as he transitioned to his own adult life. Sammy had thought that I was staying for a month as I had posted on Face Book, but I explained to him that my plans had changed because my son had to transfer to his new dorm in a week.
He drove me home and met my mother, who eyed him with suspicion.
“He looks like a movie star. Even with just one eye, and his grey hair, he would still get all the girls. Have you not learned from your no-good ex-husband.?“, my mother asked right after he left.
In two days, he had totally charmed my mother. Sammy came back the next day, and brought all of us in the family to his house in Tagaytay. He was a humble man, despite the opulent surroundings and his well-furnished mansion.
Up there in the mountains, away from the teasing eyes of my family, Sammy spirited me away to another secluded place. We shared sweet kisses and fierce embrace.
He pulled out an old picture; it was a group picture of me and my classmates looking towards the make-shift stage when the patients in Sammy’s group gave us a short program. I was at the center of the picture, in profile, my long hair pulled back in a pony-tail and my lips curled up in smile.
“I took this picture, and it has been in my possession for twenty-five years.” he sighed. “I knew you had your dreams to follow. That’s the only reason I did not pursue you after you left.”
He said, “Last November, I woke up from a deep sleep, and as if somebody was calling me and touching my face. For whatever reason, I remembered the picture I have of you.“
I gasped. I told him, “It was November of last year on Veteran’s Day, when I was watching a Sam Milby movie. I paused the film, covered Sam’s left eye, and thought of you.”
Sammy hugged me close, and we both shivered at the strange coincidence. I believe that it was Divine Providence. Running his hands on my hair, Sammy confided that he prayed and asked God to help him find me.
“I found you; I will never let you go again.”
And yet, I went back home to New York, back to my son. Sammy could not come to the airport because of a hospital emergency. On the phone, I said goodbye to him, my voice cracking with emotion. He was trying to tell me something but the sounds of the planes flying overhead drowned out any more conversation. I never even got to tell him that I love him.
I walk down the aisle with my handsome son escorting me. He tells me that I have never looked better. All around me, my friends and family smile and applaud; all sharing in the joy of this blessed moment.
I am marrying Sammy, twenty-six years after I met him.
Unbeknownst to me, Sammy and his two sons followed me to New York after my vacation, and met up with my son to ask for my hand in marriage.
My son arranged for me to meet him at the Roosevelt Tram station on Roosevelt Island, only to surprise me when he arrived with Sammy and his two sons. And there we were, just the five of us, up in the air in the tram when Sammy proposed to me.
Just as I have written in another blog post (where Sammy took the idea), the glorious orange, red, and purple colors of the sky over the East River on one side and the Manhattan skyline on the other side provided an awesome backdrop to the proposal.
I jumped in delight and the tram swayed in agreement. The four men all paled and grabbed the siderails inside the tram. Just after I said a resounding “Yes”, all four men had tears in their eyes. It was perfect.
And here we are, back in the Philippines for the grand day. The chapel is bedecked with flowers. My friends had gone crazy; they’ve been waiting for this as a payback for those wacky bridal showers I have thrown before. So, why are they all wiping tears as I march under the outstretched swords of the military guards?
My groom, the colonel, the chief medical officer, my one-eyed soldier is waiting for me at the front of the chapel. Although we had only been together for a short time, I am certain that he had never looked better. Tall, and fit with salt-pepper hair and his left eye patch. My handsome Sam Milby/ George Clooney soldier. His full-dress white military uniform commands attention; his insignia gleaming on his shoulder board. He is a prince. Mine.
His beautiful smile makes my heart sing. I want to run towards him; he’s just a hop-scotch away but decorum insists that I march along with my handsome son. Besides, haven’t we waited all these years already, so I can wait for just a few more minutes. We have the rest of our lives to spend with each other, but would one lifetime be enough?
The minister delivers a great sermon. I try to hold back my tears. But then I see the choir members crying.
Now, it’s time for the wedding song by the soloist. To my surprise, the minister hands a microphone to Sammy.
My eyes widen in alarm that Sammy will sing “My Skyline Pigeon” here on our wedding day. It is a special song for us, and will always be “our song”, but even I feel that it would not be appropriate for a wedding song.
Sammy winks at me, and as he holds my hand, he makes a promise with this song.
“I Do.” Two words that seal the deal. And on this hour, I am being wed to my prince charming, who had held me in his heart and in his mind all these years.
I say “I do” for all the right reasons, for all the beautiful things that have happened to me since we’ve found each other, for these wonderful feelings of being cherished for who I am today.
I do want to spend the rest of forever with my soul mate. To discover more of the man that I love. I do want to make up for the lost time, not really regretting the years in between because I am today for what I’ve gone through. I do, because he makes me deliriously happy.
And so we will love each other, for all eternity, more than twenty-five years.
PART 1- http://jcerrudocreations.blogspot.com/2010/11/soldier-nurseand-skyline-pigeon.html (Actually happened)
PART 2- http://jcerrudocreations.blogspot.com/2012/05/soldier-nurse-kumusta-ka-skyline-pigeon.html (Absolute Fiction)
PART 3- Of course, like Part 2, not happening. 🙁