Sallymar comes home
BULACAN, Philippines - It is Saturday and Sallymar is coming home, one day early.
He used to come home on Sundays, every Sunday, his day off. His wife says he would take them all to the mall when they had the money, or they would all stay in the small house with the pink and green curtains and red felt flowers.
Her husband is a good man, says Lilibeth. He is kind, and thoughtful, and calls to ask if she’s had dinner. He is a company driver, has always been a driver, like his father before him. She says he works hard. She says many things about the man Sallymar is.
Sallymar is, not was. Present in tense, present in memory, to his young widow of less than a day.
But Sallymar is dead, died on the driver's seat of the Abenson delivery truck going down 22nd Avenue at 10 minutes past 8 on the evening of May 31st.
She loves him, she says, loved him for the man he was when she married him 14 years ago before a local judge, loves him for the way he loves the two children in the three-roomed house, certainly she loves him the way she decided she did when she was a teenager surrounded by boys who thought she was young and pretty and sweet, including the boy who nicknamed himself Mar and said she was beautiful.
This morning, at dawn, there was a knock on the wooden door. The men who came said they worked with her husband. They told her not to be shocked. She thought that they were going to say that there had been an accident, not that he was gone.
She is not angry, because there is nothing left to be angry at. She saw him on a metal slab with the side of his head smashed in. She knows he is dead, she has told their two children he is dead, and maybe someday she'll believe it too.
She is pretty, the widow of Sallymar Natividad, in spite of the awkward waddle and the faded cotton pajamas and the damp red eyes that brim over every few minutes.
Mar was so happy, she says, when he found out they were having a third child. They didn't know whether it would be a boy or a girl, and had yet to decide on a name. Mar, says Lilibeth, is so terrible at naming and has such awful taste.
He wanted to name their first baby Rowena, until Lilibeth put her foot down and named her eldest Ivy. The neighbors call her Aybee, but it does not matter. Ivy is a pretty name, a unique name, and so is her son’s—Franz Hope—and Lilibeth was ready to battle Mar for the right of naming the third.
Now there is no need to fight, because Lilibeth will be naming this next baby, two months after she buries her husband. Forever and after she will be both father and mother, she can never tease her Sallymar, can never pretend to be angry, can never laugh him out of his sulks or hold his hand in a movie theater.
Lilibeth’s daughter Ivy is a high school senior, she is thinking of quitting school, has been thinking about it the last 12 hours ever since she realized her father wasn’t coming home and she would be a burden. Franz Hope does not understand, he thinks this is a game, a joke, or a way to bring the flashing lights and black boxes with eyes into his house. He does not understand why his mother is crying.
It doesn’t matter, because he will understand soon enough. His father's coffin will arrive this evening. It will lie in state outside the house with the pink and green curtains, a few feet and a wall away from where he used to lay in bed.
Sallymar is coming home today. He wouldn’t have come today if he had been one minute late, or just one second early. - Rappler.com