Yellow Daisies

Yellow1

By Kate Alvarez
www.KateWasHere.com

“If, as a culture, we don’t bear witness to grief, the burden of loss is placed entirely upon the bereaved, while the rest of us avert our eyes and wait for those in mourning to stop being sad, to let go, to move on, to cheer up. And if they don’t—if they have loved too deeply, if they do wake each morning thinking, I cannot continue to live—well, then we pathologize their pain; we call their suffering a disease. We do not help them: we tell them that they need to get help.”
-Cheryl Strayed, “The Love of My Life”

September 4, 2012 at The Farm in San Benito, Batangas. Anton loved it there. I went back there alone in November 2012.

September 4, 2012 at The Farm in San Benito, Batangas. Anton loved it there. I went back there alone in November 2012.

I’ve always abhorred monthsary and weeksary couples. Anton knew that. In fact, when I told him that I don’t celebrate monthsaries and I hate receiving red roses, he was so relieved that he didn’t have to put up with expected monthly teddy bears, flowers, and fancy dinners. “Thank God!” he joked.

But I soon realized that there was more to the nonchalant facade Anton often showed. He was the one who constantly reminded me every 4th of the month that it’s our monthsary. “Oops, sorry!” I would reply whenever he called me at midnight to say, “Aha, you forgot!” Sometimes he’d call on the 5th to say, “It was the 4th pala yesterday, you forgot!” My smart-alecky self would argue back that he forgot, too, and since we both forgot, then we should call a truce.

But September 4th is more special. It was a date I never forgot. For the first one, he took me to Singapore for a week. I kept breaking into a YMCA chorus whenever we returned to our hotel, the YMCA International House, and Anton would do a face-palm.

For anniversary #2 last year, it was my turn to organize a trip, but to my surprise he bypassed my beach plans and booked The Farm in Batangas instead. It turned out he had a personal ulterior motive. He wanted to get away from it all. Little did I know that he was already suffering from deep clinical depression and was searching for a peaceful refuge.

Our two-day getaway opened Anton’s mind to my interests that he once made fun of—Yoga and vegan food. But two days of Yoga and organic salads couldn’t lead him to recovery. He lost the battle with depression on October 5, 2012.

Today is particularly sad for me because it’s September 4, 2013.

Yellow3

Many friends who have never lost any loved one to suicide are rushing me to go back to normal and pestering me about my marital plans and life decisions. I hate wishing anyone harm, but sometimes I hope you’d walk in my shoes and hold my heart for just one day to understand what it’s truly like.

How many of you expert advisers can actually say you comprehend the pain of losing the love of your life to suicide, and then months later, getting diagnosed with clinical depression yourself?

Don’t you worry; I have more than a semblance of a life. I work, I play, I laugh, I cry. I live one day at a time. I’m not stuck in the past; I’m just lost and lonely in the present, especially when majority of you stigmatize us. Yes, us. I’m part of this marginalized sector now more than ever. But I won’t give up this fight, even it means treading the waters alone with people pouring more and more water into this deep, dark pool.

Today is September 4th and I’m buying flowers for a boy. I wonder what color he’d like.

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