(In which I got someone who somehow understands in the form of printed text.)
After finishing The Four Temperaments, which is about the complex love affair of a ballerina with a violinist and his son as well as with her dream of becoming a star, I started reading the novel I bought together with it on a secondhand books store.
The Nightingale’s Nest is about Pamela Griffe, a girl who lost his husband three days after their marriage when the man was sent to fight in The Great War. She then works for a couple who owns a gallery years after. Their home and the people they know will eventually add another life-changing chapter to Pamela Griffe’s life.
Here are two paragraphs relating to how she felt when her beloved husband was taken because of his duty to defend his nation.
We only had those few days, but they changed my life forever. It wasn’t only grief that separated me from other single girls of my age; it was that I joined the ranks of the widows. We were no rarity value; there were tens of thousands of us, each dragging her individual tragedy like an untidy packed suitcase, a disobliging memento mori for the as-yet unbereaved. Even my parents managed to give the impression that for me to miss Matthew too much, or to show that I did, would be something like bad form, when so many others out there were in the same position. And many of them, their tone gently implied, almost as if comforted by the fact, had been married for years, and had children. It was as if my fledging marriage to Matthew did not, could not, count for so much as all those longstanding ones, exemplary or otherwise.
. . . In telling me that I was in some in some way fortunate to have lost Matthew before things went any further, before we had built a life together or got to know each other better, or had a family. . . they were driving the very aspect of my loss which I found more agonising.
I always hear people – whether celebrities or common people – console a brokenhearted person after a breakup by saying that it is better that it had ended rather earlier before too many times were spent together and too many memories were made. They would even give the example of a couple being together for ten years, got married and later found out that they were not really meant for each other and have to separate.
“See? At least you were saved from that fate!” they will say.
But, regardless of the consolation the early parting might give you for saving you of more sweet days to be recalled painfully and be forced to extinguish from your mind forever so as not to incur any more pain, the fact that you have lost never changed. You don’t need ten years, or children or a marriage to know that you loved and were loved in the same manner that you don’t need any of those to know that you have just lost someone. True. Telling anyone who just had their hearts broken by whatever or whoever, that they somehow do not have the right to mourn the way they are mourning since the relationship hasn’t even lasted for how long it should have based on whoever’s standards, doesn’t give any cure to the wound. So what if it lasted for only two months and the relationship was a goner ever since it started?
I too had my own share of this tragedy, only not about death of a physical body but death of a dream. But as far as I know mourning I also know that life doesn’t end with a parting and my life needs to continue. When I think of him deserting me, I thought of Maria Clara and Ibarra. Though they love each other, Maria Clara was forced to marry Linares to spare his father, Kapitan Tyago (not that he has any reason close to Maria Clara’s). But when she heard of Ibarra’s death, she’d rather die.
“While he lived, I could have married–I thought of running away afterwards–my father wants only the relationship! But now that he is dead, no other man shall call me wife! While he was alive I could debase myself, for there would have remained the consolation that he lived and perhaps thought of me, but now that he is dead– the nunnery or the tomb!”
- Maria Clara, Noli Me Tangere, CHAPTER LXII, "Padre Damaso Explains"
Perhaps, that’s the only consolation I have from everything that happened – that he was alive and might probably be thinking of me.
The Nightingale’s Nest by Sarah Harrison
Music playing on my mind:
Think of Me (from The Phantom of the Opera)