She’s leaving, too

My friend dropped a bomb on me last night (October 12, 2012).

Ever so graceful, my good friend of many decades said during a ride home from a Wilson Phillips concert in Manila Bay that she and her long-time boyfriend are getting married soon so they could legally go together to the Middle East and re-start a life together after many years apart.

My mind raced. I struggled on what to process first: that she’s settling down (she doesn’t ‘settle’); she’s leaving a cool job; she’s leaving the Philippines again, and…What about her family she has nurtured and led financially and emotionally as the ever-responsible first-born child? A part of me was sad: I will lose another single friend, someone to just hang out with and ready to listen.

“Really? Why? What led to this?” I fumbled. I was stalling, hoping to let her do the talking as I processed what she just said. They had planned to marry before, with the tall American boyfriend she met at work years back wanting to do the usual ‘pamamanhikan‘ as show of respect to her parents. Timing, work, distance and more made them push back their plans. She stayed here. He stayed there. They Skype.

I entertained the fact that I was being selfish, wanting her to just “be there,” as my pool of single friends thin out, with many getting hitched, having babies, moving abroad, or, just like me, attending to a demanding job.

She went on to give details about their plans. They’ll do a no-frills wedding next month, she leaves work by mid-2013, and off they go to the Muslim world to re-start their life together.

“Of course, you should come visit. You’re single!” Hmmm, dear, thanks for the reminder. But I knew–as I always do–that she meant well.

She always means well, sometimes in a naive way that I envy, given my journalistic tendency to be second guessing people’s intentions or words. She’s one of the few I’m most transparent with. She keeps me grounded.

I never got to visit her when she was abroad, lived in various countries for a period at a time, missed her when she makes pit stops in Manila. Last week, she and another friend from our Ateneo MBA days invited me for a drink and chat. I missed that, too.

Our time at the concert was one of the few we spent together during her year-long stay in my city. We sang along as Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips re-lived the cool and soothing ’90s rhythms. Her news an hour after we left Mall of Asia Arena concert venue brought me back to 2012.

I snapped out of shock, went on to being sad (for the possibility of losing another Manila-based buddy), then moved on to feeling joyful for my dear friend. It was a marathon of emotions during the short ride from Manila Bay to her condo in Makati.

It is never easy to physically lose anyone–and make a tight grip on emotions, including letting go. I’m guilty of instinctively giving in to making these milestones about me. But it’s about their happiness and the future they long for.

Now, let me help with that wedding, girl. What no frills?!

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