A lesson in retrospect

She was always hesitant to make friends over the internet. Most men she met were gross slobs, and correspondence with women would stop after a couple of messages. But this guy seemed very different. He was well-spoken, formal, even. It was as if one of Jane Austen’s characters time travelled and made a Facebook profile.

It took some time, but slowly, and through heated political (virtual) debates at first, she started to learn more about him: he was a ballet dancer, he was not much older than her, but possessed an old soul’s wisdom, he was American but considered himself Canadian, he was gay, he sent money to many Filipino families, and he loved the Philippines. His age, former profession and exposure would explain his online demeanor. She was in awe.

Pretty soon, they started swapping life stories. He learned about her love for writing, she discovered about his foster son; he told her about his poor beginnings, she shared about her dreams; he confessed his concern for the Philippines, she owned up having authoritarian tendencies; he admired her mastery of the English language, she praised the athletic discipline ballet dancers possess… and so forth.

The messages they exchanged, whether long or short, interesting or trivial, personal or professional, got her through the day. She was thankful for the distraction at first, but eventually, she developed a real appreciation for this peculiar, interesting and bordering-the-eccentric man. Her admiration for him grew when she discovered that he held the title of a “Ballet Master”. He told her that himself, but she already knew it, thanks to her Google searching abilities.

She would respond to him no matter what her mood was, regardless of the battles she was waging. As a personal challenge, she set herself up to always reply with the same courtesy, richness in vocabulary, and coherence that caught his attention. She never told him so, but his correspondence provided her a peaceful oasis amidst the terrible sandstorms in her heart- choking her tears, clogging her chest, blinding her sight. At least when she wrote to him, she was forced to breathe right and dry her eyes so she could type correctly. It gave her a purpose for herself, she felt useful and appreciated. Lifted and encouraged. She never thanked him for that.

Because she was sinking deeper and deeper in her quicksand, she had to excuse herself from their exchanges. He, gentleman that he was, acknowledged how tough her situation must be, and sweetly bid her adieu.

That was the last time she heard of him.

That would also be the last time she would neglect the people in her life, no matter what issues she has.

To regret is to waste time. But to mourn the deceased, whether superstition or not, could help ease their final journey. So mourn, she will.

Farewell, Edward. Thank you.

*This article has been updated on January 1st. Edward was not octogenarian, as was previously written.