The Sweetest Sound In All the World



     My God, how fast time flies! It seems only yesterday that I lost my wife Cecilia in the lobby of Hotel Intercontinental in Paris. She suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away cradled in my arms, on July 17, 1993, 12 years ago, a dozen years, and it seems only yesterday.
     I saw her for the first time during the Japanese Occupation, playing basketball in Sta. Escolastica College where she studied together with Cory Aquino. She was only 14 years of age, and beautiful beyond compare, like Susan Magalona, a family friend of hers, who was a few years older. I always thought Cecilia was much too beautiful for the likes of me and was content just admiring her from afar, and envying those good-looking mestizos who came to visit her in her house on Pennsylvania Street. I knew her sisters, Helen and Luisa, and her cousins, but I did not know her then.
     Then during the Liberation of Manila, while she was fleeing from the bombardment in front of the Philippine Women’s University, with her family, and in the company of Susan Magalona, Cecilia was shot in the leg by a sniper and was dumped into an army truck to be brought to the UST Hospital. Her leg developed gangrene and had to be amputated. By God, she was only 16 years of age. I finally met her on August 23, 1946 in the birthday party of her sister Luisa.
     I went to Boston shortly after to study at MIT, and Cecilia followed to have a series of operations on her leg in the Massachussetts General Hospital. There I visited her, bringing a rose bud growing out of a flower pot, with a note that said, “Friendship is a bud that withers in the coldness of indifference, but when nursed in the warmth of an understanding heart, blossoms into a flower.” She liked that. My God she was only 16 and she looked like a Goddess on Mount Olympus. I stared at her beauty in awkward silence. Then she asked, Do you like music, Larry? What is your favorite song?
     Well, I stammered, my favorite song was composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, it is called All the Things You Are. Oh I know that song, Cecilia said, and she sang: You are the promised kiss of springtime that makes the lonely winter seem long. You are the breathless hush of evening that trembles on the brink of a lovely song. You are the angel glow that lights the star. The dearest things I know are what you are. Someday my happy arms will hold you. And someday I’ll know that moment divine when all the things you are, are mine. Oh, how I wanted to tell Cecilia that those beautiful words were meant for her from the bottom of my heart, my soul, my life. And what is your favorite song, Cecilia? I asked.
     Oh mine was composed by Richard Rodgers, both words and music by himself without the help of Hammerstein. It is called The Sweetest Sound In All The World.
     Favorite songs are those which reflect deeply one’s desires and aspirations. And I often wondered what a beautiful girl like Cecilia, hardly 16 years of age, and having her leg amputated during the war, never been kissed, never been embraced, never been made love to, so innocent, so virginal, trembling at the brink of womanhood and blinking at the stars of hope and great expectations. What thoughts, what prayers, what visions lie within her breast? Then she sang her favorite song, and it came from the heart and echoed and re-echoed in the aching void of her soul. It was the sweetest sound in all the world: The sweetest song I’ve ever heard, is still inside my head. The kindest words I’ve ever known, is waiting to be said. The most entrancing sight of all is yet for me to see. And the greatest love in all the world, is somewhere waiting for me, is somewhere waiting, waiting for me. It was precisely at that moment when I fell in love with her.
     The sweetest song I’ve ever heard was the song Cecilia sang to me. The kindest words I’ve ever known is when Cecilia said Yes when I asked her to marry me. The most entrancing sight of all was when I saw her in her bridal gown walking down the aisle towards me. And the greatest love in all the world was mine forever when she said I do and married me.
     And the greatest love in all the world is somewhere waiting for me, somewhere waiting , waiting for me.
     I am already 81 years of age. Wait for me, Cecilia, I’ll be with you soon.
     July 18, 2005, DWBR-fm