(Read Part 1 here.)
About two years later, the wedding was set. Daphne would be tying the knot one Saturday in October—and not with me. An invitation card landed on my office desk, but I didn’t bother checking my calendar or noting the details. I knew I wasn’t going—I just couldn’t. It helped that a very important work meeting was set on the same day.
I didn’t feel pain anymore. Instead I felt a quiet sadness, nothing dark or depressing, but sadness nonetheless. And resignation—there was no ignoring the impending finality of a loss. The time had come for closing a chapter, for the final letting go, for re-imagining life without any hope of spending it with her.
“Dude, this is it—the end of the road. She is getting married. Deal with it,” I self-talked. My heart had already been stitched up and had healed quite well. The days of heartbroken melodrama were past. This was one last hurdle, and then I would be a free man.
Whatever “free” meant.
But then, in a twist that seemed to belong only in TV or movie scripts, the wedding did not happen. Barely a week before the date, all the guests, entourage, and suppliers received a text from the coordinator saying Daphne was calling off the event. I got the text while I was in Cebu staging a weekend surprise for my mother in cahoots with my sister. Like everyone else who cared for Daphne, I was shocked.
Daphne would call the season that ensued “the Great Sadness,” borrowing from William Young’s bestseller The Shack, which I had recommended to her. It was a time of deep pain drenched in torrents of tears that did little to bring relief to a heart shattered in pieces. Along with all who cared for her, I grieved with Daphne. I felt rage, frustration, helplessness, and confusion—but certainly nowhere as heavy as the burden that Daphne had to bear. Through it all, Daphne would be first to testify that God never abandoned her. Friends, church, and family formed a cushion of grace, giving her space to grieve and buoying her up with prayer and love. The body of Christ was at work, being Christ’s arms to embrace her, His eyes to shed tears with her, His ears to listen when she needed to vent, His heart to share her pain, and His voice to gently speak truth to her when powerful emotions clouded her mind and heart.
“Did you feel ecstatic when her wedding did not push through?” It was a curious (and slightly insensitive) question posed by some “by-standers” who were obviously detached from the story, like one watching a TV drama while munching on chicharon. How could I celebrate when someone dear to me was suffering? The prospects of rekindling an old flame were set aside in favor of being a friend and brother in Christ. Daphne did not need further complications, and I needed time to discern and seek God’s heart.
In His time the Great Physician brought healing and hope to Daphne. As for me, for over a year since the Great Sadness, not a day passed when I did not think, analyze, pray, agonize, deliberate about the next step. Wise friends counseled that if I should “make a move,” I ought to wait it out a bit. (Male friends suggested three months; they were immediately overruled by female friends—some of who were wives of the male friends—urging me to take one year to wait.) The “waiting” was a journey of discerning God’s leading; being honest with myself about the situation and its challenges; sorting my feelings and how they had evolved; challenging myself and my perceptions about relationships and marriage; submitting my heart and mind to the scrutiny and correction of Scriptures. While going through this process, I kept in regular contact with Daphne, but not without some help from mutual friends, who, I would later learn, had been rooting for us.
I was getting to know Daphne again, and she was also getting reacquainted with me. Interestingly, the years we spent apart because of her previous relationship did not seem that wide a gap to bridge. In no time, we were laughing again, talking about books again, goofing around with friends again, sharing about God and how He was working in our lives again.
Everything was at once familiar and new. Many things had changed, no doubt. And yet some things had remained the same. It was up to me to figure out which was which and what I needed to do about the whole thing. The end of my self-imposed year of waiting was looming. From where I was standing, Daphne seemed to have recovered quite gracefully from the Great Sadness: her walk with the Lord vibrant, her friendships and relationships blossoming, her heart mended and hopeful again…
I had a decision to make.
I read somewhere that whenever you are torn between two options, you should simply toss a coin. It is effective not because it banishes your quandary, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, everything is suddenly much clearer and you know what you are hoping for.
To pursue Daphne with the intention of marriage. Or to simply remain friends with her and continue with the single life. Heads or tails?
In my mind I tossed a coin.