Once Upon A Time

Not too long ago while walking at the mall, I was captivated by the music being played. You might ask, on what occasion does mall music captivating? Many times the music is just blaring and quite annoying.

Not in this store. Actually I was in a large department store that you would consider old-school, a holdover from the classic era, if you will. Though it is in the mall, this particular store has a quiet and serene environment. The music is calming and not loud. Most of the time it is provided by a grand piano in the center of the store, near the escalators. And they employ a live pianist to play the piano.

So when I heard the certain song being played, I was drawn to the place where the piano was, to see the musician who was providing the music. Though I was not familiar with the tune, somehow it stroke a nostalgic chord.

When I came down the escalators, I was surprised when I saw the pianist.

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He was a bit older than what I was expecting. He was perhaps in his late 70’s or even 80’s. His mobility was not very good anymore, as substantiated by the presence of a walker beside the piano. Yet the dexterity of his fingers were still impeccable. And the emotion in his playing was still very much palpable.

I was enthralled that I had to sit down on one of the sofas near the piano so I can watch him a little longer. He has no notes or music piece that he was reading. He was playing by memory with his eyes closed. Perhaps he has played this song so many times, that he’s performing it all by finger or muscle memory. Yet I can feel the deep sentiments on those fingers as it runs through the piano keys.

Maybe he was reminiscing the good ole days. Maybe he was reliving bygone happy moments. Or maybe he was lamenting a lost Valentine’s.

What was the song? I didn’t know, so I asked him after he finished playing.

He answered, “Once Upon A Time.”

Such an appropriate piece.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

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“Once Upon a Time” is a song composed by Charles Strouse, with lyrics by Lee Adams, from the 1962 musical All American. It has been sung by Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Bob Dylan among others.

Here’s a version by Alex Bird (taken from YouTube):

 

For all the lovers out there, including those who loved and lost, and who loved once upon a time, may you have a memorable Valentine’s.

The Wedding

The young couple looks gorgeous that day. He looks impressive in his impeccable Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform. While she looks beaming in her gorgeous flowing white dress with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in her hands.

The minister was ready. The most important guests were in attendance and ready. The place was basking in radiant lights and ready. It was time for a wedding.

Many would dream to have their wedding in a big historic cathedral. Others would prefer in a more Edenic scene, like an enchanting garden. While some would choose a more relaxed yet romantic place, like an exotic beach.

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photo I took in a beach at Ilocos Norte

But the wedding that I witnessed did not happen in any of the above special places. Instead it happened in one of our mundane Intensive Care Unit (ICU) room.

Yes, you read it right, a hospital ICU room.

At least the room has a big window with a view of an old nearby church. At least the room was warm and bright, as it was gloomy and cold outside in that wintry afternoon. Not to mention that it was a very expensive room to be in. A day’s stay in the ICU is far more costly than a night in Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City.

The groom’s mother had been sick for a while. She had been in and out of the hospital for several months for a variety of medical problems. And now she got seriously ill and had been lingering and languishing in our ICU for about a month. She had been on mechanical ventilator and we were unable to get her weaned off of it.

The groom’s father had been sick as well. In fact, he was admitted also in the hospital and just got out a few days ago.

But the young couple wanted to commit to their vow to each other, whatever the circumstances may be. Perhaps they have been planning for their wedding for some time. The groom even came home from overseas where he was stationed. And I’m sure that the original plan was not to get married in a hospital. But you roll along with what life offers you. It must go on.

So in the presence of their parents and choice guests, in that cramped hospital room; there was no bright glare of church’s grand chandelier, but instead a glow of ICU floodlights; no wedding bells were ringing, instead intravenous pumps were alarming; no melodious birds were singing, instead the constant chirping of the ICU monitors; no sounds of ocean waves lapping on the sand, just the low hum of the ventilator: where the two lovers exchanged their sacred “I do’s.”

There is no such thing as a perfect place for a wedding. No such thing as a perfect day to get married. There is no perfect circumstances. Not even perfect couple. Just perfect love.

In the midst of sickness and suffering, when life hangs precariously in a dance between life and death, in a world of uncertainty and unclear tomorrow, love still conquers all. It always will.

May you all have a meaningful Valentine’s.

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(*This is the second ICU wedding I witnessed; read the other one here.)

Pag-ibig ang Dahilan

“Pag-ibig, ‘pag na’sok sa puso nino man, hahamakin ang lahat masunod ka lamang” …..Florante at Laura

Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit ikaw ay di makatulog hanggang alas tres ng madaling araw, nangangarap ng gising at nagbibilang ng mga tala. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit ka nagpupuyat sa kaka-telebabad makausap mo lang siya, kahit na alam mo na bukas ay final exam mo sa Calculus. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit ang tagal-tagal mo sa harap ng salamin, kahit wala ka namang dapat suklayin. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit pagsasapalaran mo pang mag-cutting classes, masundo mo lang siya sa kanyang pag-uwi. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit titipirin mong pilit ang iyong baon, at maglalakad ka na lang kaysa magtricycle, makabili ka lang ng roses sa Valentine’s day. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kaya ka lalabas kahit signal number 3 ang bagyo at lulusong sa hanggang tuhod na baha, madalaw mo lang siya.

Pag-ibig rin ang dahilan kung bakit ka naghahanap ng manibalang na mangga ng alas onse ng gabi sa Divisoria, dahil gusto ito ng naglilihi mong asawa. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit mo tinalikuran na ang barkada at nagpanibago na ng pananaw sa buhay, dahil may mga supling na, na umaasa sa iyo. Pag-ibig ang dahilan, kung bakit madaling araw pa lang ay nagbabanat buto ka na, para magkaroon ng pagkain sa inyong hapag-kainan. Pag-big ang dahilan kung bakit mo tinitiis ang sobrang lungkot at init ng Saudi, magkaroon lang ng pambaon si bunso. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit mo piniling magpaalipin sa ibang bayan, mabigyan lamang ng magandang bukas ang iyong pamilya.

Pag-ibig din ang dahilan kung bakit nilikha ang langit at lupa. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit nilikha pa rin ang tao, kahit alam na ito’y magrerebelde at mahuhulog sa kasalanan. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kung bakit ibinigay ang Bugtong na Anak, para mamatay, upang ikaw at ako ay maligtas.

“Wala nang hihigit pang pag-ibig kaysa rito, na ang isang tao ay mag-alay ng kanyang buhay para sa kanyang mga kaibigan.” Juan 15:13

Sa lahat ng umiibig, (may ka date man o wala sa Valentine’s), Happy Valentine’s Day.