My Safe Refuge – 19 (Finale)
“Maya, hija thank you very much for being here. Naku akala namin ni Roberto hindi kayo makakarating ni Luke.” Esmeralda Lim said as she welcomed Maya with an embrace.
“Happy Anniversary po sainyo ni Tito Roberto. Siyempre po pupunta kami sa importanteng selebrasyon nyo.” Maya shyly greeted Richard’s mother with a smile.
Then Esmeralda turned to Richard, “Ikaw talaga Ricky. Sabi mo hindi makakapunta sina Maya. Nalungkot pa naman ako.”
“Ma, surprise nga di ba?” Then he laughed at his mother’s expression while now putting his arms on Maya’s shoulder to lead her inside his parents’ house.
Luke already went ahead as Nikki excitedly brought him to the backyard where the children of their neighbors and employees were playing.
It was Roberto Lim and Esmeralda Lim’s 50th wedding anniversary. They celebrated it with close friends, neighbors and their employees. The Lims don’t have relatives in the Philippines and Roberto and Esmeralda were very happy that Maya and Luke celebrated with them. They already treated Maya and Luke as part of their family.
The mother and son returned to their normal lives in San Nicolas. Despite what happened to them, Maya and Luke were able to recover, not only from the physical pain inflicted by James but they were also able to accept the emotional scars he gave them and treat them as part of God’s way of making them stronger.
They were able to move on from that dark chapter of their lives with the help of Richard, his family and their friends as well.
Luke was allowed to continue his studies even after being absent for months. With the help of Roberto and Esmeralda Lim who were benefactors at Luke’s school and Richard who was also a PTA officer, they were able to convince the school to accept Luke again. Luke didn’t have difficulty in catching up with missed lessons as his teachers and Nikki helped him.
Six months after being rescued from James Ventura, Maya and Luke now looked very happy and determined to move on and move forward. Richard was beyond blessed to have been given the chance to be with them again.
“Ricky kung hindi agad kinuha sina Tatay at Nanay siguro ganyan din sila sa Mama at Papa mo. Di ko na masyado maalala pero si Tatay sobrang sweet din kay Nanay noon. Siguro magcecelebrate din sila ng anniversary nila at sasayaw din ng ganyan.” Maya commented while watching Esmeralda and Roberto dancing to a Tony Bennet medley. They were just seated as they already danced to a couple of songs earlier.
“Maya I’m sure they’re also celebrating every occasion up there.” He smiled at her and held her hand.
She smiled back but there was obvious sadness in her voice, “Sana hindi naman sila kinuha ng maaga sa ganun na paraan. Sana nabigyan ko din sila ng mga handaan na ganito. Sana nakilala ka nila Ricky.”
“I bet they already know me Maya and they’re watching over us. Atsaka sigurado ako mas engrande ang celebration nila doon. I’m sure your Nanay and Tatay also have the chance to dance. Mas maganda ang music nila doon at for sure mas masarap ang pagkain.” Richard was trying to make her laugh and lessen the sadness Maya is feeling.
Aware of his attempt to make her smile, Maya tried to hide her sadness.
“At ano naman ang kinakain nila dun?”
“Yun manok ni San Pedro ginawa nilang lechong manok.” Then Ricky stared at her expecting for her to laugh at his joke.
“Naku Ricky ang corny mo!” But she was already laughing.
“Corny pero bumenta naman sa’yo.”
“Siyempre. I don’t want to hurt your feelings eh.” Then she leaned on his shoulder. She was also very blessed to have Ricky by her side.
“Seriously Maya, I am very sure that your parents are watching over you and Luke. And I’m really sure that they already know me.”
“Naniniwala naman ako dun Ricky. At alam ko na kilala nila kung sino yun taong nagligtas sa amin ni Luke. Alam nila na ikaw yun Ricky. At alam nila na mahal na mahal mo kami ni Luke.” Then she shyly added, “Alam din nila na mahal na mahal kita.”
He lovingly stared at her, touched by what she said. He kissed her forehead as they continue to watch his parents.
A few days after his parents’ wedding anniversary, Richard surprised Maya with a beautiful flower arrangement and her favorite cake and coffee. He also brought some goodies for Luke, Manang Fe and even Leah.
“Ricky ano na naman to? Di ba sabi ko wag mo na akong bibilhan ng mga ganyang flowers. Ang mahal nyan eh.” She appreciated it but she also wanted to let him know that he didn’t have to continue giving her flowers as his presence alone is enough for her.
“Shhh. Ang reklamo mo. Of course I have to give you one kasi baka magselos ka sa bibigyan ko. I actually had two of those. At sige para makalma na ang kuripot side mo, this one is not as expensive as the other one doon sa car.” Then he chuckled as he saw her raising her left eyebrow at him.
“Alam mo hindi nakakatuwa ang mga ganyang biro mo.” She acted pikon. Actually she really is and Richard loves teasing her all the more.
“Halika nga, paakap. You’re really cute when you’re like that.” He hugged her tightly and gave her a reverent kiss on her forehead. “Sige na bihis ka na muna at may pupuntahan tayo. Magdedeliver tayo ng flowers. Let’s just drink the coffee sa car.”
“Saan tayo pupunta?”
“Stop asking na. Bihis na sweetheart. We have to go there while it’s early.” Then he kissed her again and she blushed. She still feels giddy whenever he’s overly sweet. She just lightly slapped his arm, “wag ka nga. Makita tayo ni Manang, nakakahiya. Sige na magbibihis na ako.”
Ricky maneuvered the car to the place where he planned a surprise for her.
Maya suddenly became quiet.
She was transported back to time and the many memories she’s been wanting to forget and bury all these years. She never visited the place. She just sends Manang Fe and Leah to clean the place and to regularly bring flowers and candles.
Ricky brought Maya to the old San Nicolas cemetery, to the grave of her parents. Because of the nature of how they died and because she badly wanted to erase that traumatic memory of witnessing how her parents were killed right before her eyes, Maya refused to visit the place. She would always find a reason not to visit the place. Richard didn’t know this because Maya never mentioned it to him.
When he parked the car, he glanced at her and was expecting to see her happy but instead he saw apprehension and sadness in her eyes.
“Ricky matagal na akong hindi nakakabisita kina nanay at tatay. Actually sinadya ko kasi kapag pumupunta ako dito naaalala ko yun nangyari sa kanila.” Now she was getting teary eyed and Richard got worried.
“Maya I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I just wanted to pay my respects kay nanay at tatay.” He held her hand then faced her.
“Alam ko naman yun. Sorry ha. Di lang kasi ako handa. Atsaka naguguilty ako kina Tatay at Nanay kasi never ko silang dinadalaw dito. Kahit si Luke hindi alam ang lugar na to. Sobrang sakit lang kasi. Nahihiya akong humarap kina Tatay at Nanay. Feeling ko ang sama sama ko…”
“Maya they would understand. Alam nila that you have reasons for not going here. Alam rin nila na wala kang nakakasama noon going here but now, I will always accompany you to this place. I will also help you forget the bad memories you associate with this place. Papalitan natin yun ng good memories okay?” He lovingly stared into her eyes while holding both her hands reverently wanting to let her know that everything will be okay.
He then tried to dry Maya’s eyes. “Hey stop crying. Baka akalain nina Nanay at Tatay pinaiyak kita. Baka kurutin ako mamaya while I’m sleeping.”
She smiled at his attempt to make everything bearable. He always does it and Maya appreciates that Richard always acknowledges what she feels and understands her reasons for that emotions she’s been harboring all these years. He also has his way of making everything seem okay.
She wanted to be okay. She wanted to face everything now and not hide in fear, in pain. She knows that with Richard by her side she would be able to do it.
“Sweetheart if you really don’t want to, ako na lang ang pupunta to bring the flowers. You can just wait here.”
“Hindi Ricky. Sasama ako. Pipilitin kong maging okay.”
“You’re sure? Maya ayaw ko namang…”
“Okay lang Ricky. Napagisip isip ko na kailangan ko naman talagang harapin yun malungkot na pangyayari sa buhay ko. Alam ko na hindi na ko kailangan iwasan kahit sobrang sakit. At alam ko na kailangan kong ipakilala at ipagmalaki ang napakabait, napakamaalaga at napakagwapong boyfriend ko kina nanay at tatay.”
He smiled at what she said. He was relieved that Maya seemed okay now, though he knows that it took her a lot of courage to decide to visit her parents.
“Wag mo naman akong masyadong ibida Sweetheart baka madisappoint sila sa looks ko. Baka they would expect me to look like Robert Downey or Ryan Gosling or even Park Bo-Gum and JinYoung.”
Maya laughed this time. “Sweetheart hindi naman nila kapanahunan yun mg yun, ikaw talaga. Atsaka mas gwapo ka pa sa mga yun.”
“Sabagay you are right, I even look better than them, kaya nga you fell for me.”
“Uy hindi ah! Hindi lang kagwapuhan mo minahal ko, yung buong pagkatao mo.”
“Oo na. Oo na. Pero we better go inside na kasi baka magalit na talaga sina Tatay at Nanay. Baka akalain we’re doing something…” Then he winked at her. She smiled now forgetting about what being in this place makes her feel.
He reached for the bouquet of roses for Nanay Teresita and Tatay Arturo at the backseat of the car.
“Do you think they’ll like these Sweetheart?” He was asking her opinion but instead of answering him, Maya was unable to contain the appreciation and love she felt for him so she planted a kiss on his lips then hugged him very tight. “Thank you Ricky. Thank you dito. Thank you sa lahat. I love you so much.” Then she was teary eyed again.
“Hey hey… you just said you love me tapos naiiyak ka na naman. Tama nang iyak sweetheart. Swollen na ang eyes mo. Haharap pa naman tayo sa parents mo.”
“Ikaw kasi eh.”
“Ako pa ngayon? Tara na? Let’s go.”
Then they walked hand in hand towards the resting place of Arturo and Teresita dela Rosa.
Maya led Richard towards her parents grave. He laid the flowers on top of the stone bearing the name of Nanay Teresita and Tatay Arturo. He also had candles and lighted them while Maya was watching him.
“Nay Tay, kumusta na po kayo? Sorry ngayon lang ako dumalaw.” Maya was starting to be emotional again.”Pero promise ko po magmula ngayon, lagi na akong pupunta dito. Isasama ko rin po yun apo nyo. Si Luke po ang laki na nya. Hindi man nya kayo nakita, kilalang kilala po kayo ng apo nyo at mahal na mahal nya kayo. Okay na po kami ni Luke. Masayang masaya na po kami. Sana nakikita nyo kami ni Luke.”
Ricky was just listening to her. He was relieved that Maya seemed okay now. She was really talking to her parents like they were really here.
She held his hand. “Nay, Tay ipapakilala ko po si Richard, boyfriend ko. Siya po yun naging sandigan namin ni Luke. Siya po yun nagligtas sa amin ni Luke doon sa bagyo at kay James. Inaalagaan nya po kami ni Luke. Kahit magulang nya po itinuring na rin kaming parte ng pamilya nila. Siya po yun nagpapasaya sa akin.”
Richard was so touched with what Maya said. He squeezed her hand gently. “Maya may I?” He asked her permission. He also wanted to say something to her parents.
Maya nod her head.
“Nanay Teresita, Tatay Arturo…ako po si Richard or Ricky na lang po. I am very blessed to have known your daughter and your apo. They both made my life brighter. If Maya said na pinapasaya ko sila, well, she is like that to me and my family as well. You have raised a very loving daughter po and she genuinely shares that with anyone she meets. Napakaswerte ko po to be able to experience being with her. I also promise na aalagaan ko sila ni Luke. I won’t give her any reason para maramdaman nya ulit yun mga masasakit na nangyari sa kanila noon.” Then he glanced at Maya who was silently crying. He smiled at her and wiped her tear-streaked cheeks. “Nay Tay, actually gusto ko talagang pumunta dito para magpaalam para ligawan ko yun anak nyo,” he paused and again stared at her whose eyes were also staring into his, “kaso Nay, Tay, ipinakilala na ako ni Maya bilang boyfriend nya kaya po…”
He fished for a small box in his pocket.
He opened it and smiled at Maya again, who was now staring at him in disbelief.
He continued, “Nay, Tay… Gusto ko pong hingin ang kamay ng anak nyo. Please allow me to propose to Maya.” Ricky was also getting emotional. He wasn’t supposed to do it here but he decided that this is the perfect moment to propose to her. Her parents need the assurance that their daughter will now be safe and taken cared of.
“Ricky…” Maya leaned hugged him.
Ricky then kneeled on one knee as he removes the diamond ring from its box.
“Maya dela Rosa, with your parents as witness to my pure and noble intentions, will you marry me? Will you allow me to be your husband and your son’s father? Will you be my Mrs. Lim?”
Maya was now crying and she was no longer trying to stop it. She was overwhelmed with everything. She never expected the surprise Ricky did.
“Ricky yes! Yes I will marry you.”
Then he stood up and carefully slid the ring to her finger. Then he gently kissed the back of her hand then her cheeks. “I love you so much Maya. Thank you for saying yes.”
“I love you too Ricky. I love you so much. Salamat. Extra special to kasi nasa harap tayo ng puntod nina Nanay at Tatay.
Both were now facing her parents grave with her leaning on his chest. They were quiet but they were aware that both their hearts were beating with happiness.
“Maya you think payag din sina Nanay at Tatay?” Richard asked her but before Maya could reply, a cool yet gentle breeze was felt in a rather sunny and hot morning.
They didn’t voice their observation but they just smiled at each other. They knew that they now have the blessings from Maya’s parents.
Richard admired the strength of Maya to have endured every storm in her life. He vowed to never leave her in whatever storms she had to encounter in the future.