V. “KARINA, MY DARLING…”
“KARINA, MY DARLING…”
By Ermin Garcia
March 1, 1964
Karina, my darling:
It’s been four months since we bade goodbye. I have gone through 120 arid days—days and nights spent on the precipitous brink of insanity, dizzying moments of alternating despondency and inspiration, when my mind swirled through a dark fog of ever-despairing, ever-dimming hope.
In the interim, even as I tenaciously held on to my tottering wits, this body, buffeted by the deep-cutting lash of a father’s grief, broke down. And for the first time in 42 years I conceded I was truly, seriously ill.
While in the preceding days I prayed to God “to hasten my reunion with my Karina,” the few days in bed gave me an opportunity to pull myself together and reappraise my thoughts in the light of my responsibilities to God and you. I realized then that I must live on and be strong for the family you and I love so much—the once-jolly brood of which you will always be a cherished member.
Like the dawning, the realization came to me that Up There our reunion will be of the spirit and that I do not have to abscond from my paternal responsibilities here to be really reunited with you—that with the grace of the Almighty, I only have to find the will and strength in order for me to be with you here and now.
You really have never left us. It is that in your journey to beatitude, you are somewhere there beyond the horizon of our limited, because selfish, sight. And I know, with a faith rekindled by the impact of our parting, that all that I have to aspire to, if I am to regain the joy and the blessedness of your company, is to grasp the Hand that is just waiting to lift me up to see beyond the horizon, and to overcome the distance between us.
The privilege and the faculty of seeing beyond the horizon are accorded only to those who would be worthy of the grace and blessedness that can only exist yonder. In my iniquity, in my weakness, I try to pull myself up from the morass into which I had long fallen. I try to be worthy of you, to walk in your footsteps. My initial attempts, like the spiritual invalid’s that I am, have been wobbly. And after each fresh attempt, I tried to rise again, only to fall flat anew on my puny efforts.
In this my desperate and uphill battle against myself, my weakness, allow me, my darling daughter, to count on your tender assistance—your prayers and your fervent intercession. I need your help. I need you beside me always, as you were at home, and abroad, in church and in our outings—before November 1, 1963. We were a team, you and I—remember? In church it was on you that I always counted on to look for a seat where we could be near each other, and, together in silence and mutual unspoken caresses, we prayed.
As it was then, so it is now that I look up to you, my Karina, for assistance in my feeble efforts to seek a place beside you in God’s grace. I pray to the Lord you honor and glorify, and to His Beloved Mother, to allow me your comforting inspiration and guidance. I have strayed too far out, and I know that in my frailty I may not have the grace and the strength to find my way back to Him, without assistance. And who else can I lean on for spiritual support and comfort but my own beloved daughter and constant companion, other than God Himself and His Beloved Mother?
Our team has not really been broken up by the seeming distance between us now. I say “seeming” advisedly because I realize that I’m only as far away from you as the distance I keep from God; and, on the other hand, I can be as close to you now as we ever had been before November 1, 1963 if I only try to unite myself with Him.
Our teamwork is even closer than ever, with a slight revision in our line-up. Where before I used to be the captain and coach, now you must be Muse and coach. Anyway, it never did quite work out with our previous set-up. I bungled most of the plays, and our team would have been routed but for the magnificent yeoman work you did, doing practically all of the scoring, by improving on my erratic coaching. Because of your standout performance, the Divine Critic and Judge has put you in the Big League. And I still have yet to make it—with your inspiration.
This time I mean to play it for keeps, to at least qualify for the Big League. Now I know it’s the only goal worth aiming at—the only one anybody should have. If I’ve learned anything that can give meaning and worth to living, it’s this simple lesson, arrived at through an arduous, dolorous, circuitous route that took me all of 42 years to get to.
And but for the light you struck for me, flaring to its stunning full intensity last November 1, I might not have found it at all. In my blinding cupidity, I could not see my way through, until the Good Shepherd got you to lead me and to show me the way—to sort of blaze the trail for me. With you leading me on, laboriously treading on each little footprint you left for me to follow, I now think I can see the faint glimmer of the light of that HOME I seek.
I know you’re there, you’re HOME. And if I finally succeed getting to Heaven’s threshold, all I must do is knock, and I’m sure Our Father will let me in. And once more, my darling, together we shall bask in the warmth of His dwelling. I know only too well, my darling, how keen you were about being always at my side. Now, with the afterthought of near-certainty that you are among GOD’S ELECT, the pride in me is sobered down by a feeling of unworthiness.
I have since learned that when the family had plans for everybody, except myself, to live in Manila for all of your schooling in the coming school year, 1964-65, you told of your own plan to remain with me here in Dagupan, to keep me company, to minister to my needs. This much you confided to your friend at Blessed Imelda’s, Mother Amparo.
Because of the knowledge that you did not wish to be separated from me, I feel that the least I can do now is to try to keep and fulfill that desire as nearly as possible.
Before you were called to your reward, I had committed myself to run for the Board of Directors of the National Press Club, with the arrangement that upon election to the Board, I would be chosen President. When I was called to Manila to campaign, I underwent an agonizing soul-searching.
I knew that if I got elected as planned, I would have to stay mostly in Manila. I knew that you would not like it, not only because your remains are in San Fabian, but because of the tempting distractions that were bound to plague me. On the other hand, I also felt that you would not wish me to renege on my commitment to my friends at the NPC.
So, I decided to go to Manila and campaign only for a week, keeping my exertions to the bare minimum. I left it to you to pray for whatever was best for me. I would not be honest to myself it I did not admit that I would be disappointed somehow if I missed out in the Board.
So, I decided to offer my defeat, if I did not make it, for your own eternal happiness. And that if I should win, I would dedicate my election and my work to God’s greater glory.
Well, I lost. But I wasn’t much disappointed. I felt that having missed it by only three votes, I was able to assuage my human weakness for prestige. And I’m convinced that you indeed had intervened and that it was best that I am not now the President of the NPC. There is so much to be done in our paper. For this, I’m humbly grateful, my dear one.
In the rush and shelter-skelter of work during the day, I manage to drown my thoughts and hide somehow from the bleaching heat of my misery. But as the sun recedes in the west, and the day’s business peters to its close, I am with you. As darkness mercifully blots out the distractions of the day just ended, I return to you and to thoughts of you, eager to clasp to my bleeding heart the balm of your memory.
Each recollection of my naked failures towards you opens wider still the wounds in my heart, and yet it is only in the full contemplation of this my bitter gall that my heart and mind find peace. And I know it’s because in thoughts of you, I find my way to God, in Whose bosom I wish, more than anything else, to believe you now cuddle in genuine happiness.
Through the mist of my eyes and the bloody tears in my heart, I smile my humble gratitude to Him for sending you to me as the instrument of His Love and His Mercy. Looking back through it all now, scanning every detail and circumstance of your arrival on November 7, 1951 through the ebullient twelve years that you brought days of joy and nights of gladness, to the dark days when shock and grief tottered on the brink of lunacy on November 1, 1963, I realize you came to my life as His ANGEL.
BY YOUR OWN EXAMPLE, YOU SHOWED ME THE TRUE LOVE I HAD BEEN MISSING BECAUSE I WAS AVOIDING IT. THE LOVE YOU SHOWED ME OPENED MY EYES TO THE GREAT LOVE I HAD IN MY FOLLY SPURNED. BY YOUR OWN CONSTANCY TO HIM AND HIS BLESSED MOTHER, I AWOKE TO THE SENSELESS FLIGHT I HAD LONG PURSUED.
By all the things you stood for and quietly labored for, you proved to me I was merely thrashing in a wallow of egoism and iniquity. By what you were, I saw, in the contrast, my own ugliness—the various aspects of which elicited from you an upturned, quizzical brow, a silent chastising glance, and sometimes a misty, if not tearful eye.
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