I cannot even come close in imagining the grief you are undergoing right now. Death is loss that is profound and devastating as cuts through the most intrinsic part of your being: your own very heart.
To say that the grief you carry is understandable would only but trivialize the emotional burden of the moment. No one can truly understand it, no one can comprehend the monumental blow his departure has dealt on you.
Therefore, you have every right to weep for his loss. So cry, HIM. Do not let the sense of propriety stop the tears from streaming down your eyes that are already swollen and reddened. Let it all out. In doing so, may it alleviate the storm of feelings that is surging within you.
Dealing with your grief would be a personal path that you will have to tread. It would not be smooth trek; rather, it would be an arduous one that you will have to face, one day at a time. You would have to struggle just to stay in place and not flounder amidst the pain and misery.
However, do not let fear and apprehension overcome you. I am with you, HIM. I may not be able to fight your own battle for you, but I will hold your hand as you face the challenges that lie ahead. Though you may trip and fall, here is what I will assure you: I commit myself to prop and steady you up, without any pause or hesitation whatsoever.
Allow me to end this letter by leaving you with my favorite quote from St. Therese of Avila. These are the words that give a sense of hope and comfort whenever I face difficult moments in my own life:
"Nada te turbe...Todo que pasa"
Let nothing disturb you...Everything passes.
No matter how dark and disconsolate this period may now seem, trust that there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel.
And trust I that I am here to take that journey with you.
4. No matter how you put it, yes, he is still in a relationship. That has never been equivocal to me, and has always been clear from the very start. That's why I never make a fuss when he says he's going to the hospital to visit the boyfriend. There are no assurances, perhaps only borrowed time.
Save for weekends, we have been going out almost on a nightly basis. We usually have dinner, then hangout and talk. He seldom brings up the topic of his boyfriend's condition, but when he does, I make it point to lend an empathetic ear to the situation. I myself never broach the topic out of a twisted sense of delicadeza.
I may have stolen kiss from his back shoulders once or twice. A kiss on his nape, once. Even a kiss on his cheek. Yet, no physical intimacy has happened between us. I won't be a hypocrite and say I don't want to. There are times I have to call on my will of steel and self-discipline so I wouldn't end up grabbing him to get it over with. He's handsome, my physical type, and a hottie, to boot. But I am not ready to agitate the status quo yet. And I feel, neither is he, too.
In the meantime, all I want to do is to create that safe space whenever he is with me. No dramas, no complications, no worries. If for nothing else, I want to build his memory of me as someone who gave him genuine happiness at that point in his life.
Spoken like a true querido.
Does that leave me then in the precarious position of being the kept man?
Truth be told, I don't know.
What I do know is that in trying to make him happy, I create my own happiness as well.
What I do know is that he also likes me. That is something I hold on to, no matter how flimsy it is.
And what I know is that I that I will lay out the naked truth, right here, right now: I am truly and honestly starting to love him.
In the interim weeks following that dinner, I would often catch him hanging out on the floor past his shift. When asked why he was still at the office, he'd often times reply that he'd prefer to do internet rather than wade through the traffic. Sometimes, I'd invite him to have dinner at the pantry. Other times, he'd approach my station to do the invitation himself.
After a period of not having dinner with HIM due to conflicting schedules, I found myself having lunch with him, along with a straight guy and another straight girl.
Out of the blue, HIM suddenly blurted out, "Uy, miss ko na ang mga dinner dates natin."
I almost choked on the food. Better yet, I wanted to choke HIM.
Straight guy cracked a joked to the effect that HIM and I were dating all this time. Straight girl added a chortle of her own.
"Date agad-agad," I hastily answered back, perhaps a little too self-defensively. "Hindi ba pwede kumakain lang muna ng sabay sa pantry?"
That double whammy of being closeted at work and, looking back, being a tad guilty as well. No, I don't remotely consider those dinners as dates. What I'll admit to is that I found his company pleasant and congenial, if nothing else.
2. He is a subordinate of mine at the office. Not a direct report, but still, I have tried to keep a strict ethic of not shitting in my own backyard. Needlessly said, I am also not out at work.
Fast forward two or three months down the road. By that time, we already started to have dinners outside the office setting as well. I'd like to think I was getting to know him better and better. The opposite wasn't true though. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fish it out from me that I'm gay. I myself wasn't prepared to share that part of me to to him. Not in that way.
It's ironic how an epiphany can arrive at any given time, without much
of a fanfare whatsoever. Mine happened to happen, in all the places, at
HIM broke down while we were having dinner past 10 of
the hour. He was particularly stressed out that he had to spend the
nights at the hospital. In between sobs, he said that he hadn't gone
home in days, and that he didn't expect that it would come down to that
situation. I just listened and let him cry it all out. I let it be a
catharsis for him. After he calmed down and wiped his tears, I stood up,
hugged him, and kissed him on the head.
From a recent conversation over beer at a bar somewhere in Ortigas.
Me: I have a question.
Him: What is it?
Me: Do you like me?
Him: Yes, I do.
I started noticing HIM on the floor when he came in as a new hire. Tall and cute, one really can't miss out on him. Eye candy, so to speak.
Then he started to talk.
"Ay puta, babakla-bakla," I said to myself. I thought that was the end of it as I focused my attention back to the reports on hand.
"Hi, can I join you?"
I was planning to have a quiet dinner at the office pantry as I went up the 8th floor. It was a particularly long and tiresome day, and I was looking forward to some downtime before heading home. As I looked up from the food that I was about to eat, there he was, standing right by the table and holding the tray of his own dinner.
"Sure," I replied in a indifferent manner.
"I'm HIM, by the way.
"Ay. Were you the one who evaluated me? I got kasi an email."
"No. You're not on my list. Someone else did, I guess. They just used my credentials to generate the evaluation."
He chirped away animatedly all throughout dinner. To be fair about it, I was polite all throughout the interaction, even interested and conversant. In the span of probably 40 minutes or so, I learned a lot about him. I did ask all the right questions for him to latch on to. Not that he needed coaxing, of course. He's a natural conversationalist, picking off at any topic on hand.
And here I was, hoping for some peace and downtime.
1. He is out. He's also soft and effeminate enough that he won't be mistaken for a straight guy (unless he stands still and keeps quiet). I always tease him that if it's the last thing I'll ever do, I'll make a man out of him.