On July 17, 1993, Larry Henares’ wife Cecilia suffered a fatal heart attack in a hotel lobby in Paris, followed by five minutes of the tenderest love scene that ever was. President Ramos made the first public announcement and stayed two hours at the wake. This book is a labor of love dedicated to the memory of Larry’s “dimidium animae meae,” the other half of his soul.
He describes his last moments with her, the shock of her loss, and memories of their life together. There was his Valentine story of their love and passion in Boston, of her way of the cross as a victim of war — the history of her family, and the gathering of the clan — the day of the EDSA revolt when heaven was suddenly empty — the evening when they dined on French cuisine and ended up in a fast-food place — and the day when democracy was first introduced into the family with hilarious consequences.
Larry waxes sentimental when he writes of the death of his brother Teddy and his uncle Unca Tong, and how they made the act of dying a celebration of love and life and joy. And the roads of destiny that sometimes separate those who love each other and about to embark on their life’s journey together.
He brings us to one of his trips with Cecilia, to Spain for the Seville Expo and to Kenya for a wild game photo safari, tells of his first girfriend in grade school and the poem he wrote for her in iambic pentameter, and about the his old professor, the legendary Father James Reuter who won the Magsaysay Award.
But when he writes of women in general, of Saint Rina David and the feminists (whose Lord’s Prayer starts with “In the name of the Parent, the Progeny and the Sacred Ectoplasm, A-Person”), the brilliant and beautiful Ting Philipps, of Pearl Doromal (his wife’s best friend who once shared his bed), the saints and sirens of Sta. Escolastica, and the raiders of the lost art of Maryknoll College, Larry Henares is really in his element. And when he writes of sex, first love and unrequited passion in his essay, “Out of the darkness into the light,” one is moved to tears at the remembrance of pain.
“To read Henares is to be in the company of an educated man” quoted 14 year-old Miss Cherrie Grace Datol. Not only a man of culture and learning, but also of passion and compassion, a lover, a father, a friend.