It was already dark when I arrived at my flat. I fumbled in the right pocket of my suitcase for my keys as I reached for the door. When I entered the room, a gloomy face of a perturbed man suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It was Greg standing awkwardly near the kitchen table. “Is he waiting for me?” I asked myself. I closed the door, I waited for him to talk but he just kept mum. There was a long silence, profound and sullen. His eyes are now fixed on the floor as if he’s searching for words to say. He raised his melancholic face, his eyes roamed around the room, again searching for words. I’ve never seen that look on his face before. His sulky eyes couldn’t hide it. I know something isn’t right but he just held his tongue. A moment of awkward silence continued.

“Hey, how’s everything going?” was all I said as I walked past Greg.

“I don’t know, Vlad.” Greg replied quickly. “I’m so burdened with so many things.”

“Is there something wrong?” I asked.

“I thought everything’s gonna be okay. I thought she can be with us for more years but it’s not going to happen now. I’m going to lose her still. After all the prayers, God didn’t listen to us. All I ask is to give us more time to be together. But time is so unfair. It’s so hard to accept that she’s going to leave us soon. I don’t think I can ever accept that. I’m not ready” he said with a lot of sadness in his voice.

I looked into his eyes, completely baffled. I have no idea what he was talking about. But the elegiac lamentation flowing from his voice completely broke my fragile heart. I just listened to Greg as he continued to pour out his anguish, frustrations and resentments from the tragedy his family is going through.

“I talked to Mariam today,” he continued. “She went to the hospital a couple of days back to see her doctor” he mumbled.

“Why, what happened to her? Is everything alright?” I inquired. That melancholic voice, the sullen face and the sad look in his eyes, I know everything isn’t alright. But I have to ask.

“She has this pain in her lower abdomen, so they ran some tests on her. She came back today for the result.” A deep and heavy breath followed. His voice sounds like he wanted to cry. I thought tears would burst any time soon but he was quick to control his emotions. I held my breath for the next words he’s going say.

“The Doctor says it’s metastasis.” Again, the room was filled with forlorn silence. Greg became more subdued as he continued to relate the story.

“The cancer has reached to her liver that’s the reason for all the pain. I am so afraid, Vlad. I am not yet ready to lose her. Not yet. Not now” his voice filled with agony of hopelessness.

I was totally in shock… speechless.. as if my tongue was pushed back deep into my throat that I can’t even swallow my saliva. I don’t know what to say. I never thought that he’s been burdened with this kind of problem since day one I met him. Anxiety struck Greg since this tragedy befell unto them. That explains everything about his bizarre behavior and unexplained sleeping habits. He often times confined himself in solitary contemplation.

Sometimes in the morning, I wake to the subdued voice coming from Greg’s room. I used to think that he was talking to himself. But no he wasn’t. He was talking to God; asking for a miracle.

I can’t imagine the pain he’s feeling now. I don’t want to imagine. It must be unbearable.

“What kind of cancer?” the only words I managed to say after I heard the terrible thing that has stricken his wife and his family. “She was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer 2 years ago when we visited Manila for a short vacation” his reply. A supposed regular checkup turned out to be a major turning point in the life of Greg and Mariam.

Mariam moved permanently to Manila in the mid of 2010 for the medications while Greg remained in the land of deserts and camels to work as an engineer. He needs the job to support the medications Mariam needed. I know Greg wanted to be in Mariam’s side during these difficult times of their lives but circumstances kept them worlds apart. He felt so helpless about the situation. It must be difficult. It must be…

“I sometimes wonder why God is so unfair. I am not a bad person nor did I take advantage of others. Doesn’t God want us to be happy? Why God is so selfish, that I don’t understand. You can’t blame me if I sometimes ask why He let these kind of things happen to us. I just don’t get it. Why us?” Greg lamented.

I wanted to console him but I couldn’t find the right words to say. I guess I was emotionally devastated as well from what I’ve heard. I used to have some things to say when ask to but this time it’s totally different. It’s like my whole body was frozen, depleted of energy that I can’t figure a thing to say to Greg. Perhaps Greg’s tragic story consumed the fire within me.

“Sorry for that, Vlad. Sorry if I have to tell you all these things. I just needed someone to talk to. Thanks for listening. I’m glad that you are here” was all he said after.

I don’t have the answers to Greg’s questions. Why God allows certain things to happen, good or bad, that we really don’t know. People questions the bad things that happen to their lives while never questions why good things come to them even when we do not ask for it.

It’s hard to comprehend why bad things happen to people like sickness and bad luck. I don’t have concrete answers but all I know is that God’s rewards for good people will not come in this life but in the next. Where happiness never ends.

If we experienced hardships and have suffered in this life, it is not because God has forsaken us, but because God has chosen us to participate in His sufferings to save souls. If we continue to trust in God amidst the sufferings and hardships, then our sufferings will not be in vain. Our rewards may not come in this life but in the next. This is the promise God has given to those who participate in His sufferings. Sufferings and persecutions are not signs that God has abandoned us, but signs that He trusts us to overcome sufferings and hardships.

It is better to suffer in this life for a hundred years than to enjoy a 100 years of abundance and suffer for eternity in the next.

Indeed, God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Mysterious it may sound but in the end, it is the faith in our hearts, the hope that we cling to, and the love that keeps us alive that matters in times where everything else fails.