A Brief Memoir
by Henry Velez
Some people go through life in the same manner that a stone falls downward into the ocean. They sink along at a steady rate, seemingly unaffected by their surroundings, constant in only one thing.. their descent. At life’s end they hit the bottom and the story is over. Gaby is not one of these people.
You ask me, “Who is Gaby?” and I ask you, “Which Gaby do you speak of?” Gaby, in one sense is the same nine year old girl who loves her parents, has a pure love for her friends, family, God and her dog. Yet, in another sense Gaby is the fierce lioness that will defend her family, her honor and principle no matter who or what opposes her. She is the sentimental romantic with an impeccable memory and an appreciation for the smallest details. She is the frail, sobbing, broken-hearted soul who caves in under the pressures of life every so often. She is the resilient Phoenix who rises from both her ashes and tears with a smile on her face the next morning. Often at the brink of exhaustion, yet unstoppable until her last ounce of energy is spent each day.
I can’t speak for all, but I can speak for myself truthfully that I remember the very moment I first saw her. Without speaking a word or making eye contact, she makes an impression. To not notice her is to not notice the brightest light in the room. To not acknowledge her is to not hear the only sweet song in an otherwise silent day. Such was the strength of her impression that, despite not speaking with her at any time.. I found myself thinking of her even four years later. And I was amazed that she remembered me.
I have no shame in admitting that I am a man cursed by my own foolishness. Many people want Gaby’s time. Even children love being near her. She brings a smile to the elderly. She catches the eye of the young men. She is the friend women want to socialize with. And for over eleven years I was the one man on this entire planet that she loved with all her heart. Perhaps now you can understand that perhaps the only thing worse than never to have met someone like Gaby is to have lost the love of someone like Gaby. They were perhaps the most magical and memorable years of my life thus far. Now.. well, suffice it to say that only for the great respect we have for each other we remain faithful friends to the end. But the closeness we once shared is now my own personal pain to bear.
She is not one to raise a flag to her own virtues. For this reason I will make mention of it for her. Years ago she won my respect when I witnessed her ability to create hope out of thin air. This is a talent of hers that has amazed and confounded me to no end. Even when she was working a very difficult job at meager wages, with no understanding of English and existing on a mere pittance to meet her own daily needs.. she still managed to come to the aid of others in need. On one occasion she took an ordinary coffee can, sealed it with duct tape, cut a hole in the lid and went systematically from friend to friend until she had raised a sizable amount of money to assist a person with medical bills they had no money for. And neither hell nor any desire within her could entice her to even think to pilfer a single, thin dime for herself. So many more times over the years I would see this synergy of hers with the needs of others as she produced one minor miracle after another purely out of the compassion in her heart.
Gaby is an honorable woman. One of the very few I have ever had opportunity to know. A truly honorable woman. Not one who pretends. Not one who tries. She simply ‘is’.
This is not to say she is a perfect woman. As is common to the human condition she is as imperfect a creature as any one of us. Specifically it is that trait of stubbornness that she herself will readily admit to. When she is right, it is a good thing. But when all odds, data and counsel advise her to turn the ship about.. she stays the course until collision convinces her to re-route. This alone is enough to drive any logical man to near insanity. Yet, in the end one finds themselves drawn into her strange, faith-driven logic and sometimes.. sometimes it turns into magic. Other times, it results in a foreseeable mess that begs of a man all his strength to refrain from saying those useless words, “I knew this would happen.” So, rather, with Gaby it is better to simply move forward and salvage the situation for she herself is her own worst critic. Even the gentlest reprimand would be too great to add upon her sincere repentance.
A man does not merely have a marriage with Gaby. As I was oft to remind her, it was always ‘an adventure’, and nothing less. Say goodbye to anything that might resemble a boring life, that shore is long gone. It is the open seas with her and full sails ahead to the horizon. Steadfast patience, kindness and love must a man be sturdily made of to run the helm with her aboard. But one thing is certain.. you will know that you are alive.
As previously alluded to, of all the many mistakes and errors of judgment I have ever made.. my decision to part ways with Gaby will go down as perhaps my greatest. Most men would look back and say to themselves, “never, ever again could I possibly know such a grand adventure”. Hence they would drift forward through life a mere specter of who they once were and constantly look back to “what once was”. Their memory would be their Punisher. Her absence would be their prison.
But, in my own case, I guess just as being with her daily confirmed God’s goodness all those years.. I have been blessed to move forward into new adventures. The tearing that occurred at first of two that had become one was a bloody and painful experience for both of us. But God is kind. Despite the searing misery we each experienced, never an ill will did we bear to one another. And despite our own frailties, God had mercy on both of us and granted us each yet a new chapter to pursue. New horizons. New songs. New hopes, new dreams.. new adventures.
The story we wove was a great one. And while life does not always turn out as we hope, for us it is a story that redirects into an alternate glory. I truly wish her well and all joy in her new adventures. And I confidently know she wishes the same for me. We were for each other what we needed. Few people in this world ever encounter that even once in their lifetime. But God has been gracious enough to grant each of us that opportunity yet again in our own separate paths.
So, in my concluding comments I leave you with this to ponder. Should you happen to meet such a one blessed of God as Gaby.. treasure that friendship. Do not take it lightly. Consider yourself fortunate and enjoy the adventure. Because it may not be easy at times.. but it most definitely will prove to be some of the most exciting times of your life.
Author: Henry Velez
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.